Memorandum from the Learning and Skills
Council (FEF 14)
1. The attached document has been prepared
for Members of the Education and Skills Committee of the House
of Commons, as background information for the meeting of 12 November
with Bryan Sanderson (Chairman) and John Harwood (Chief Executive).
2. The document provides a briefing of the
work undertaken so far by the Learning and Skills Council, and
the way it is approaching its remit.
3. The Learning and Skills Council was established
by the Learning and Skills Act 2000. The LSC is governed by that
Act, the remit letter from the then Secretary of State and by
annual guidance letters from the Secretary of State.
4. The creation of the LSC was a central
feature of the Government's radical proposals for post-16 education
and training, and brought together work undertaken previously
by 72 Training and Enterprise Councils, the Further Education
Funding Council, the National Advisory Council for Education and
Training Targets (NACETT) and parts of the (then) Department for
Education and Employment. In addition, from April 2002, the LSC
will be responsible for the funding of sixth forms in community,
voluntary, foundation and special schools.
5. The LSC itself comprises a national office,
in Coventry, and 47 local councils throughout England. The transfer
of over 4,200 staff from 74 different organisations was one of
the largest and most complex legal transfers carried out under
the Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment (TUPE) regulations.
The transfer was carried out successfully after full consultation
with all the organisations and individuals involved. The jobs,
pay and main terms and conditions of each individual have been
protected as part of their employment with the Learning and Skills
6. The LSC was established as a corporate
body in July 2000. The Chairman, Chief Executive and members of
the Council were appointed by the Secretary of State and the first
board meeting of the Council was held on 31 October 2000. The
appointments of members of the 47 local councils were announced
during November and December. The LSC came fully into effect from
2 April 2001.
7. Enclosed with this document are copies
of the Council's Remit letter and the Council's first corporate
1. THE LEARNING
"The creation of the Learning and Skills
Council is the most significant and far-reaching reform ever enacted
to post-16 learning in this country" (Remit Letterparagraph
1.1 The LSC was created under the Learning
and Skills Act 2000 to integrate the planning and funding of all
post-compulsory learning in England other than higher education.
The strategic priorities for the LSC were set out in more detail
in the remit letter from David Blunkett, Secretary of State for
Education and Employment, of 9 November 2000.
1.2 The LSC became operational on 2 April
2001. The first seven months have, of necessity, involved tackling
some key internal process issues and tackling problems that arise
in setting up any new organisation. But these have been largely
overcome and our focus now is increasingly on ensuring that, with
our partners, we are having an impact on learner participation,
retention and achievement.
1.3 The LSC is required, by the Act, to
establish two national advisory committees: the Young People's
Learning Committee and the Adult Learning Committee. Details of
the membership of the National Council and of the two statutory
committees is provided in the Corporate Plan.
1.4 The Secretary of State appoints members
to the National Council. Members of the statutory committees,
and of the 47 local councils, are appointed by the National Council,
with the approval of the Secretary of State. The Secretary of
State also appoints the chairs of the statutory committees and
the local councils, after seeking the Council's advice.
1.5 The remit letter to the council indicates
that the Secretary of State expects the National Council to invite
to its meetings as observers:
the Chief Executive of the Employment
a senior official from the DfES;
the Head of the Connexions Service
the Chief Executive of the Small
Business Service; and
the Chief Executive of the Higher
Education Funding Council for England.
1.6 Similarly, the Secretary of State expects
local Councils to invite to their meetings:
the Employment Service Regional Director;
the Government Office Regional Director;
the Head of the local Connexions
a representative of the relevant
local Business Links.
1.7 The staffing structure of the Council
has been developed in the context of its responsibilities and
the guidance from the Secretary of State, and is intended to support
most effectively the achievement of the Council's Corporate Plan.
An overview of the organisational structure, and of the senior
management of the Council, is provided in the Corporate Plan.
1.8 The LSC is a single corporate body,
but its success will depend on its ability to understand and respond
to local needs. The LSC does, therefore, have a considerable local
presence, with around 500 staff being based in the national offices
in Coventry, and an average of 80 staff in each of the local offices.
The areas covered by local LSCs vary enormously, in terms of geography,
population and current participation levels. The first budget
allocations to local LSCs (which did not include funding for school
sixth forms) ranged from £20 million to £362 million.
On average, however, a local LSC might expect to fund further
education and training costing £135 million for around 100,000
young people and adults, studying in:
three local education authority adult
and community services;
53 private training providers; and
However, this is a national average: individual
local LSCs vary considerably.
1.9 Local LSCs have been given substantial
discretion in how they organise their work, both at board level
and in their organisational structure. The models adopted broadly
reflect those of the national bodies, and the commitment of members
and staff at local level has been equally important to the establishment
of the Council.
1.10 The National Council has already delegated
a number of functions to be undertaken locally, and local LSCs
have some discretion in the use of funds. Such discretion is essential
to ensure that local action most effectively contributes to a
1.11 One of the first decisions of the national
council, local LSCs and of the statutory committees was that individual
members would demonstrate their commitment both by acting as champions
for learning and by contributing their own skills to the development
of the work of the council. We are extremely grateful for the
time and expertise members have given, which has played no small
part in promoting the LSC and its work.
2. MISSION AND
"Our vision is of a learning society in which
everyone has the opportunity to go as far as their talents and
efforts will take them" (Remit letterparagraph 3)
2.1 The Learning and Skills Council has
set out its mission and vision in its first corporate plan, published
Our mission is to raise participation and attainment
through high-quality education and training which puts learners
Our vision is that, by 2010, young people and
adults in England will have knowledge and productive skills matching
the best in the world.
2.2 At the end of compulsory education in
the UK, at age 16, 84 per cent of the population continued to
be enrolled in full-time or part-time education in 1999. This
was somewhat lower than the OECD mean of 89 per cent. Participation
rates were over 95 per cent in Belgium, France, Germany, Japan,
Korea, the Netherlands and Sweden.
2.3 At age 17, participation in the UK was
73 per cent. This compares with the OECD average of 82 per cent,
and rates of 90 per cent or higher in countries such as France,
Germany, and Japan.
2.4 The charts on pages 7 and 8 show the
position of the United Kingdom as compared with other countries
in terms of: participation in education by 17 year olds; and the
highest level of qualification of people of working age.
3. BUILDING PARTNERSHIPS
"The success of the Council will depend upon
strong partnerships and effective linkages with a wide range of
organisations" (Remit Letterparagraph 8)
3.1 The LSC has established partnerships
at two levels, both nationally and locally.
3.2 Senior staff have regular meetings with
representatives of a wide range of bodies, representing learners,
providers and employers.
3.3 For some other partners, the Council
has a day-to-day working relationship. With those bodies, staff
at all levels may be in contact, sharing information and working
jointly on particular projects. The Council considered that, for
those bodies, it would be helpful to enter in a formal Memorandum
of Understanding, setting out the commitments of each partner
to the relationship. The benefits of such arrangements are in
making it clear, for example, what information would be shared,
in what format, and the purposes for which the information could
be used. The memoranda also commit the partners to an integrated
approach, and the most effective use of resources.
3.4 Memoranda of Understanding have been
entered into between the Learning and Skills Council and:
the Office for Standards in Education;
the Adult Learning Inspectorate;
the Employment Service;
the Small Business Service;
the National Training Organisations
Regional Development Agencies; and
Investors in People UK.
3.5 Local LSCs are forming good links with
Learning Partnerships, local education authorities and as they
are established, Connexions Partnerships.
"Funding learning is a key task for the Council"
(Remit Letterparagraph 18)
4.1 The LSC is tasked with integrating into
a single system the funding and planning of: further education;
work-based learning; adult and community learning; and school
4.2 This single system work is being developed
through wide consultation, and the establishment of a variety
of focus groups. Examples include groups of LSC staff meeting
with staff from DfES and concentrating on the practicalities of
a new funding system, groups including representatives of providers,
and groups including representatives of other partners, such as
the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority.
4.3 The aim is to have an LSC funding formula
in place from August 2004 across all routes.
|April 2001||April 2002
||August 2002||August 2003
|Work-based learning||Interim formula
|Further Education||FEFC formula retained
|School sixth forms||New formula introduced
|Adult and Community|
|Local Development Plan funding
5. EQUALITY AND
"I expect the Council to be an exemplary public service
organisation" (Remit Letterparagraph 32)
5.1 Flowing through all our work is a focus on equality
and diversity. We are currently in the final stages of consulting
on our national equality and diversity strategy. The strategy's
four main objectives are:
(a) to develop the Council as an equality and diversity
(b) to embed equality and diversity into all LSC policies,
programmes and action;
(c) to develop the Council as a champion of equality and
(d) to report on progress towards equality to the Secretary
5.2 The Council has established a working group on Equality
and Diversity to help develop this strategy. We are also setting
up an external advisory group, with membership drawn from the
public and private sectors. Its first meeting will be in November.
5.3 The local LSCs are currently developing their local
strategic plans within which equality and diversity will be an
6. CORPORATE PLAN
"The Council has a very challenging task ahead of it"
(Remit Letterparagraph )
6.1 The LSC published its first national Corporate Plan
in July 2001. This document sets out the LSC's strategic framework
to 2004. It reflects the remit letter, in which the Secretary
of State asked the LSC to:
raise participation and achievement by young people;
increase demand for learning by adults and equalise
opportunities through better access to learning;
raise skill levels for national competitiveness;
improve the quality of education and training
improve effectiveness and efficiency.
6.2 The draft Corporate Plan was launched in early March.
Copies were distributed widely, both nationally and by local LSCs.
6.3 A wide-ranging series of consultation meetings across
the country, some initiated by the National Office and others
by local Councils. Direct meetings were held with most of the
LSC's key partners, including open audiences with officials from
Department for Education and Skills), the Treasury, the Department
for Trade and Industry, the Department for the Environment, Transport
and the Regions and the Cabinet Office's Performance and Innovation
6.4 Over 300 written responses were received, a number
of which were extensive and detailed. In almost every case the
responses were positive, agreeing to the ambitions set out in
the Corporate Plan and seeking to help us achieve them. The only
significant point disputed by a minority of responsesand
these included both key partners and individualsconcerned
the balance between learning to enrich lives, and skills development
to improve employability, progression and productivity.
6.5 The draft Corporate Plan was amended to take account
of the responses to consultation. The National Council considered
and approved the final version of the Corporate Plan at its meeting
on 5 July 2001.
6.6 The Corporate Plan opens with our vision that:
"by 2010, young people and adults in England will
have knowledge and productive skills matching the best in the
6.7 That will be a major challenge, but is essential
if we are to maintain international competitiveness. Our target
is that participation rates in education and training in England
should be in the top 10 internationally. The current position
is shown in the statistical annex, together with a graph demonstrating
the step-change in participation that will be required. In particular,
we do not assume that our competitors will wait for us to catch
6.8 Our approach is that planning should be both top-down
and bottom up: the approach is summarised in the chart
on page 19.
Targets for 2004
6.9 We have set ourselves five key objectives with interim
targets for 2004. It is too early to assess our progress towards
these but the latest indicative position against each target is
set out below, together with our expectation of when definitive
data will be available.
6.10 The key objectives, and associated targets are:
|Key objectives||Targets for 2004
|1. Extend participation in education, learning and training
||80% of 16-18 year olds in structured learning (2000: 75%)|
Set baseline and target for adults in next year's Plan
|2. Increase engagement of employers in workforce development
||Develop measure of employer engagement in next year's Plan
|3. Raise achievement of young people
||85% at level 2 by age 19 (2000: 75%)|
55% at level 3 by age 19 (2000: 51%)
|4. Raise achievement of adults||Raise literacy and numeracy skills of 750,000 adults|
Percentage of adults at Level 2: target to be set in next year's Plan
52% of adults at Level 3
|5. Raise quality and effectiveness of education and training and user satisfaction
||Set baselines and targets in next year's Plan
Extend participation in education, learning and training
6.11 We have inherited a target from FEFC which is for
a 700,000 growth in FE learners from 1997/98 to 2001/02. The latest
full year data available is for 2000/01 which shows an estimated
3.5 million learners (FEFC funded) which is close to the numbers
in 1997/98. Since the target was set, there has been a trend for
institutions to deliver increased numbers of funding units while
maintaining (or reducing) learner numbers. Curriculum 2000 has
reinforced this trend, as the average number of programmes per
learner has increased. Concerns about deadweight and the lack
of added value have led to a reduction of franchising which has
had a particularly marked effect on reducing FE learner numbers.
6.11 We estimate that our allocations for 2001/02 would,
if delivered, lead to an additional 360,000 learners compared
to those funded in 2000/01. Early signs are that institutions
are making excellent progress with very early forecasts showing
307,000 additional learners for 2001/02.
Increase engagement of employers in workforce development
6.12 Our measure of employers' engagement in workforce
development will start from the base of employer recognitions
as Investors in People and extend significantly beyond it to ensure
full value for employer involvement in training at all levels,
and commitment to the development of management and leadership.
6.13 The LSC strategic paper on workforce development
will be issued in March 2002 as we finalise our rolled forward
Corporate Plan. This timing allows us to take full account of
the local strategic plans of the 47 local Councils, which start
from an analysis of the skill needs of each area. The opportunity
for improving employer engagement is being demonstrated in the
large number of sectoral pilots which the national and local offices
have initiated, starting with five sectors (gas, automotive, construction,
rail and ICT). Skills gaps identified by the workforce are shown
in the chart on page 20.
6.14 The LSC is pursuing initiatives to improve incentives
to adults and their employers to train at or near the workplace,
through targeted tax credits aimed especially at smaller employers.
We are also pursuing objectives related to an improved framework
for defining occupational standards and incorporating them rapidly
into revised qualifications where appropriate. Finally we are
looking to develop good regional frameworks of co-operation in
skills analysis and development, working closely with sector bodies
and the RDAs as well as national agencies.
Raise achievement of young people
6.15 Our network of 47 local offices means we are uniquely
placed to take a strategic overview of both planning and funding.
Our work to accelerate progress on achievement of level 2 targets
is a good example of local strategic action. Each local Council
has drawn up a plan to identify young people who will only achieve
level 2 if they are given additional support. The LSC has made
nearly £40 million available, which is being used in various
ways, such as enabling smaller teaching groups, providing child
care and travel support.
6.16 The targets for young people are expressed as national
targets. There is, however, wide variation in starting position
between local LSCs. For example, 95 per cent of 16 year olds in
Hertfordshire LSC are in structured learning, compared to 78 per
cent of 16 year olds in Norfolk LSC. The actual form that structured
learning takes differs also, with 87 per cent of 16 year olds
in Hertfordshire LSC being in full-time education, compared to
58 per cent of 16 year olds in South Yorkshire LSC. Examples of
the variation in participation rates at 17 between local LSCs
in the South West are shown in the chart on page 21.
Raise achievement of adults
6.17 We want to raise achievement of adults, in particular
the literacy and numeracy of 750,000 adults. We are working closely
with the Basic Skills Unit to deliver this target, against a background
of seven million adults with literacy or numeracy difficulties.
Progress to date is encouraging. Including key skills qualifications
to level 2, FE colleges estimate an increase of at least 175,000
learners studying basic skills qualifications between 1999-2000
and 2000-01. Very early forecasts for 2001-02 from FE institutions
are for a further increase in participation of around 125,000
learners. Literacy levels in the United Kingdom, compared to other
countries, are shown in the chart on page 22.
Raise quality and effectiveness of education and training and
6.18 The national learner survey, to be completed early
in the next financial year, will be used to establish a baseline
of learner satisfaction. Much of our activity this year has been
focussed on raising standards.
6.19 Our strategy is to introduce robust arrangements
to tackle deep-seated problems of inconsistency of standards by
challenging poor and coasting providers, and by ensuring excellence
in teaching and learning.
6.20 The programme of 16-19 area-wide inspections began
in autumn 1999. A total of 25 reports have been published. Although
12 of those reports were published before April 2001, the LSC
is responsible for taking forward work on all reports, including
ensuring the implementation of action plans.
6.21 Reports have been published on 16-19 area-wide inspections
of the following areas:
|Barking and Dagenham||Middlesbrough
|Bath and North East Somerset||Newcastle-upon-Tyne
|Coventry||City of Nottingham
|City of Derby||Rotherham
|Hackney and Islington||Tower Hamlets
6.22 Final action plans for nine of the 10 area inspections
where the final plan was due after 1 April 2001 have been prepared
within the deadline. In the case of Bath and North East Somerset,
Ministerial permission was given for an extended deadline. Of
these plans, five have been accepted by Ministers with minor modification
and four require revisions by the end of November.
6.23 The main messages from the post-inspection action
planning and implementation phases are:
in most cases partnerships are working well;
partnerships are often complex and involve key
agencies including: local education authorities; local LSCs; Connexions;
colleges; schools, training providers;
improved guidance for pupils aged 14-16 in particular
has been given an immediate high priority; linked to young people
making informed choices and to the critical goal of improved post-16
focus is also being given immediately to improving
learners' attendance and retention;
in all areas, there is a need for improved provision;
sometimes this will require new providers; and
a number of action plans include a strong emphasis
on broadening learners' choice of subjects in post-16 provision,
by developing close collaboration between schools with small sixth
forms, as well as between schools and colleges. Some new sixth
form centres are being set up within colleges, and work is in
hand to establish new sixth form colleges where this was identified
as the way forward.
6.24 We are addressing the issue of poorly performing
colleges as part of taking forward the areas of concern raised
in inspection reports. One hundred and sixteen inspection reports
of colleges and training providers were published from 1 April
2001 to 22 October 2001. These include five colleges. Action is
being taken to address urgently the weaknesses disclosed by the
college inspections, and standards funding is being drawn down
to help accelerate improvements.
6.25 Performance reviews of providers are a key part
of the Council's strategy for raising standards in post-16 provision.
They will take place each year in June, October and February.
Their purpose is to:
assess the provision offered by providers to ensure
that it is at least of an acceptable standard;
ensure there is appropriate observance of the
Council's statutory responsibilities; and
promote continuous improvement.
6.26 Of the 58 providers inspected by the TSC (and included
in the 1999-2000 TSC Chief Inspector's annual report) that had
80 per cent to 100 per cent grade 4 or 5, the LSC no longer contracts
with 28. The LSC has 38 contracts in place with the remaining
30 providers. These providers are subject to regular monitoring,
and there remain some, or serious, concerns about their provision.
Local LSCs are very actively engaged with all providers giving
cause for serious concern, developing, agreeing and monitoring
action plans for quality improvement.
6.27 Just as we are determined to raise standards of
those providers that are under-performing, or "coasting",
so we will praise those many providers that are excellent.
6.28 In July 2001, the Council announced the first 16
pathfinder Centres of Vocational Excellence:
|Accrington & Rossendale College||Construction Crafts
|The Arts Institute at Bournemouth||Lens based media
||Bournemouth, Dorset and Poole|
|Barking & Havering College||Automotive Engineering
|Bradford College||Applied Science
|Birmingham College of Food Tourism and Creative Studies
||Hospitality and Catering||Birmingham and Solihull
|Bishop Burton College||Agriculture
|Lancaster & Morecambe College||Hospitality and Catering
|Richmond Adult and Community College||Business and IT
|South Birmingham College||Childcare
||Birmingham and Solihull|
|South East Essex College of Arts and Technology
|South Tyneside College||National Nautical Centre of Excellence
||Tyne and Wear|
|Sparsholt College||Game, Wildlife and Countryside Management and Fishery Studies
||Hampshire and Isle of Wight|
|Warwickshire College, Royal Leamington Spa and Moreton Morrell
||General Engineering||Coventry and Warwickshire
|Leeds College of Technology||Print Media
6.29 Ministers agreed in 1999 to award Beacon College
status to colleges which demonstrated overall excellence, as confirmed
by inspection findings and recommended by the inspectorate. Since
April 2001, Beacon College status has been awarded to Shrewsbury
Sixth Form College, Runshaw College and Winstanley College. Beacon
college status had been awarded previously to:
|Bishop Burton College||Blackpool and The Fylde College
|Greenhead College||Havering College of Further and Higher Education
||John Leggott Sixth Form College|
|Knowsley Community College||Lewisham College
||Northern College for Residential Adult Education
|North Lindsey College||Park Lane College
||Sir John Deane's College|
|South Cheshire College||St Charles Catholic Sixth Form College
"I expect the council to have secured a step-change in
the performance of the learning and skills system by March 2004"
(Remit Letterparagraph 70)
7.1 The Secretary of State's remit letter indicated that
we should regard the priorities for the period up to March 2002
to be the establishment of the Council, transition, building relationships
and undertaking a comprehensive analysis of local and national
learning and skills needs. It was from April 2002 that the Secretary
of State expected to see significant changes.
7.2 A key concern of the LSC, and of Government, is the
country's current position in terms of participation in education
and training when compared with our international competitors.
The National Council was concerned, therefore, that the UK was
already trailing behind our competitors, and could not afford
to pause to let them move even further ahead.
7.3 Seven months into our first year, it is too early
to measure performance against the national targets. However,
some initiatives by the Council are described below which have
demonstrated already our ability to produce a step-change in post-16
education and training.
28 March 2001
"Bite Size Learning"
A nationwide programme of bite size training courses, announced
at the official launch of the LSC.
The programme was aimed at attracting more than 1,000 new
adult learners in each of the 47 local council areas.
Courses, lasting between one and two hours, were designed
to give adults a taste of achievement across a wide range of activities,
from using a computer to basic numeracy, literacy and communication.
The target of 50,000 adults was exceeded, with between 70,000
and 80,000 adults taking advantage of the opportunities offered.
3 May 2001
Aid Package to Cammell Laird apprentices
Greater Merseyside LSC, working with the RDA, Wirral Metropolitan
Council and other partners, put together a package, which included
the payment of a training allowance, to ensure that all apprentices
at Cammell Laird shipyard could remain in post while receivers
negotiated with potential buyers.
Cammell Laird and its associated companies had 310 young
people training in a range of skills, including electrical, fabrication,
joinery and mechanical engineering.
26 July 2001
Centres of Vocational Excellence
The first sixteen FE colleges selected as Centres of Vocational
Excellence (CoVEs) were announced.
The Pathfinder colleges are part of a £100 million,
three-year initiative to improve vocational skills. The initiative
encourages the FE sector to forge strong relationships with employers
and to play a central role in meeting the current and future skills
needs of the nation.
The target is that, by 2004, half of all general FE colleges
have at least one established vocational specialism with CoVE
7.4 We are making good progress on delivering our agenda
to raise quality and standards, particularly through local LSCs
working directly with providers in developing area and other inspection
7.5 Arrangements to implement the new funding system
for school sixth forms are on track and substantial progress has
been made in the last few months.
7.6 We have adopted the Government target published in
"Skills for Life" and a national delivery plan will
be published by the end of October. All local Councils will have
a delivery plan which will link to their local strategic plans.
7.7 We have developed funding arrangements which simplify
earlier funding mechanisms, for example, we have established a
single work based learning funding system to replace the previous
72 systems operated by TECs.
7.8 The objectives and targets contained within the Corporate
Plan set the framework for delivery through the 47 local offices.
They are currently drafting local strategic plans which will develop
the local targets and show how the step-change we need will be
achieved at a local level.
7.9 The LSC is developing a range of measures of performance.
Those measures will be introduced progressively, as data become
available to inform those measures. In the interim, a statistical
annex is provided, which provides the detailed performance information
that is available currently.
7.10 In August this year, Margaret Hodge wrote to Bryan
Sanderson setting out details of a proposed review of the FE sector.
The review, to be carried out on behalf of Ministers, will include:
identifying and disseminating good practice in
widening adult participation by FE colleges; and
the prospect for future growth in adult participation
through the FE sector over the 2003-06.
7.11 A small group of Council members will steer the
LSC's contribution to the review. Work is in hand with DfES officials
to take forward the review. In particular, statistical analysis
is being undertaken of data identifying growth in colleges between
1997-98 and 1999-2000. This will produce six institutions to be
used as case studies for the review.
7.12 The FE review is closely linked to the work of the
HE sector in meeting the target of 50 per cent of all young people
in higher education by the year 2010, and may also impact on the
spending review for 2003-06.
7.13 We are working currently on the next round of applications
for potential CoVEs and are also extending the concept of other
parts of the post-16 learning and skills sector.
Learning and Skills Council