Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

FE and training bill


It is perhaps a sign of the Cinderella syndrome that has affected further education that the tribulations of the FE and Training Bill have not had the attention that the Education and Inspections Bill did.

Despite opposition from the Conservatives - who argued that it fails to cut red tape and is not demand-led - the bill has had its second reading in the Commons and is likely to go forward without significant changes.

The bill's most controversial areas have been the proposal to allow FE colleges to offer foundation degrees in their own right rather than through a university, and the proposals in relation to the powers given to the LSC to dismiss principals and senior post holders and order co-operation or amalgamation, where a college is thought to be failing to maintain proper educational standards.

The secretary of state will have the power to require college principals to achieve a stipulated leadership qualification before commencing a new post.

Another proposal, objected to by the Conservatives on the basis of unnecessary cost, is the abolition of local LSCs and their replacement by regional LSCs (shades of the old FEFC).

The ability to form companies of a charitable nature and to provide services to partners may be more successful than similar provisions for schools.

Of more interest in the long run, perhaps, are the provisions for those areas where training levies still linger on. There is more interest in compulsory schemes than at any time since the in-coming Thatcher government abolished them.

At present the great and the good are unanimous in preferring a voluntary system; but for how long? The provisions in the bill may be the first signs of a change of heart.

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