NIACE submits response to FE consultation

18 October 2011

NIACE’s full response to the Government’s New Challenges, New Chances consultation – and its responses to the two accompanying consultations on FE loans and informal adult and community learning – are all available to read online.

Alastair Thomson, NIACE’s Principal Policy and Advocacy Officer, said:

“NIACE welcomes the Government’s commitment to consultation about proposals for the reform of further education in England. However New Challenges, New Chances appears uncharacteristically timid in setting out a compelling vision for the sector which addresses the fundamental question of how to re-balance public funding with the private contributions of employers and individual learners.”

In its full response to the consultation – which closed on 21 October – NIACE has highlighted eight key issues which it urges the Government to consider. These are:

  • the purposes of further education in building social cohesion and responsibility as well as raising economic productivity;
  • a commitment to making the sector no less attractive to people throughout their lives than it is to young people completing their initial education and preparing to enter the labour market;
  • a fees policy which allows public funds to be used more effectively to lever-in private contributions, thus increasing participation numbers overall;
  • the way in which the Government expects to resolve tensions between a system based on competition between providers and one which encourages collaboration to make best use of resources;
  • how (and to whom) the reformed system is to be accountable as Government and the Skills Funding Agency strip ‘red tape’ out of the system;
  • the way that information, advice and guidance can empower learners of all ages to make informed choices;
  • map out, systematically, the degree to which its proposals align with the policies of other Departments of State and where there are inconsistencies; and
  • how the system will be incentivised and motivated to reach out to those furthest from the labour market, who often need high levels of state investment.

NIACE has also submitted its full response to the two detailed consultations on Further Education loans and informal and adult community learning, which are part of the New Challenges, New Chances consultation as well.

In addition, to complement and form part of the Government’s review of informal and adult community learning, NIACE has been commissioned by BIS to host an online survey. There have been over 5,900 responses to the survey, which is open to individuals and groups until 31 October.