Select Committee on Education and Skills Minutes of Evidence

Exmination of Witnesses (Questions 277-279)




  277. We have heard some rather disturbing sentiments about what you might do in ILA mark 2. Former witnesses gave the distinct impression they were concerned you might turn it into an over-weening bureaucratic scheme. Do you think you have been rather unfairly treated this morning in terms of some of the remarks about the Learning & Skills Council?

  (Mr Hall) We have broad backs, Chairman. Michael Stark, who heads our Workforce, Development and Skills Division will answer your question. Michael is in the middle of drafting the Learning and Skills Council's Workforce Development Strategy, which will go to our Adult Learning Committee, chaired by John Monks, early in March, and it will have plenty to say about demand-led approaches, including ILAs Mark 2. May I tender the apologies of Bryan Sanderson to you, Chairman. As you know, he very much wanted to be here in person, but unfortunately he is abroad this week, and he thought that as I had had the pleasure of appearing before your two predecessors, Margaret Hodge and Malcolm Wicks, as it is my last week at the Learning & Skills Council, he would let me come instead.


  278. Can you say what your job is, in distinction to Michael Stark's?
  (Mr Hall) Michael is part of the directorate that I head up. I also cover 14-19 policy, adult community and funding policy.

Mr Shaw

  279. Many of the witnesses who have come before us, when we have asked them to give the solution of quality assurance, have pointed to the Learning and Skills Council. Whilst, as the Chairman says, there is this criticism of the bureaucracy in terms of setting up the organisation, nevertheless you are seen as part of the solution. We know that your predecessor, TECs, were involved in the pilots. Can you tell the Committee what the TECs were able to do in terms of assuring quality within their localities, and whether you are up to the job in the future, should the Government decide that the son or daughter of ILA is the responsibility of the local LSCs, in terms of providing quality, for example whether it is providing accreditation? Will you be able to perform that function?
  (Mr Hall) Yes, indeed. I can tell you what the Learning and Skills Council intends to do with those providers that can get access to our funding: we have established a threshold which providers have to satisfy. They have to be able to perform the basic data collection and be able to audit it, and they will be liable to inspection, in most cases through the Adult Learning Inspectorate. That inspectorate was set up precisely so that all those providers outside the traditional college sector would be inspected, and quality assurance would be secured. That is how we do it. I think that Michael made that clear to you in his memorandum; that we are looking at a threshold quality. As far as the previous TEC schemes were concerned, neither Michael nor I were directly involved with that, but I think that the TECs used providers from their approved lists. Obviously, we would have to establish that for sure, but I think that is how they operated.

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