House of Lords - Explanatory Note
      
House of Lords
Session 1999-2000
Publications on the internet
Other Bills before Parliament
Arrangement of Clauses (Contents)

Learning And Skills Bill [H.L.]


 

These notes refer to the Learning and Skills Bill [H.L. ]
as introduced in the House of Lords on 16th December 1999 [HL Bill 14]

Learning And Skills Bill [H.L.]

——————————

EXPLANATORY NOTES

INTRODUCTION

1.     These explanatory notes relate to the Learning and Skills Bill [H.L.] as introduced in the House of Lords on 16th December 1999. They have been prepared by the Department for Education and Employment (DfEE), with assistance from the National Assembly for Wales (NAW), in order to assist the reader of the Bill and to help inform debate on it. They do not form part of the Bill and have not been endorsed by Parliament.

2.     These notes need to be read in conjunction with the Bill. They are not, and are not meant to be, a comprehensive description of the Bill. So where a clause or part of a clause does not seem to require any explanation or comment, none is given.

SUMMARY

3.     In June 1999, the Government published a White Paper, Learning to Succeed on its proposals for post-16 learning. It proposed reforms to modernise and simplify arrangements for the planning, funding, delivery and quality assurance of post-16 education and training (other than higher education (HE)). It sought to ensure coherence with secondary education. It also sought to bring together other bodies responsible for learning opportunities and the development of skills in the workforce. The White Paper built on the principles first set out in the Government's Green Paper, The Learning Age and two consultation exercises launched in July 1998 and March 1999 on, respectively, a review of Training and Enterprise Councils (TECs) and the structures for post-16 education and training. Linked with the White Paper were further consultation exercises: the first on the funding of school sixth forms and the second on proposals for a new support service for young people recommended by the Social Exclusion Unit (SEU). The Secretary of State for Education and Employment published his conclusions following those consultation exercises and set out his proposals for how the new post-16 structure would work at national and local level in the Learning and Skills Council Prospectus, published on 14 December. He plans to publish his conclusions on the new youth support service in January.

4.     Following public consultation, the Education and Training Action Group for Wales published its Action Plan for post-16 learning in March 1999 and submitted its proposals to the National Assembly for Wales. The National Assembly has considered the plan and has endorsed the principal recommendations for modernising the planning and delivery of high quality post-16 education and training in Wales.

5.     At annex 1 is a list of relevant documents. The Bill will give effect to the proposals which are set out in these documents.

6.     The core of the Bill is the establishment of a new Non-Departmental Public Body, the Learning and Skills Council for England (LSC) which will be responsible for post-16 learning, other than higher education. It will take over functions performed by the Further Education Funding Council for England (FEFCE) and the functions currently contracted by the Secretary of State to TECs. The LSC will operate through a network of 47 local councils. It will take on from Local Education Authorities (LEAs) their duties in respect of adult and community learning. The divisions between the responsibilities for the provision of further education in colleges, work-based training and adult and community learning will be removed.

7.     The Bill also brings about reforms in Wales. The Bill will create a new National Council for Education and Training for Wales (CETW) with broadly similar functions to the LSC in England, but with some variations to reflect Welsh circumstances.

8.     The new structures will be supported at local and national level by rigorous and independent external inspection. In England the Bill will provide for a new Adult Learning Inspectorate (ALI) which will inspect all further education for those aged 19 and over and work-based training for all ages. The Bill will extend the functions of the Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED) enabling it to inspect provision for 16 to 19 year olds in the further education sector as well as in schools. The Bill provides for a single common framework for inspection to be drawn up and agreed by OFSTED and ALI; provides for joint inspections where the provision falls within the remit of both bodies; and also provides for inspections of provision across a geographical area. In Wales, the current inspectorate, Estyn, will take on wider responsibilities for all post-16 inspection. The LSC and the CETW are to have powers to intervene where inspections have found that 16 to 19 school provision by LEAs in schools is inadequate.

9.     The Bill will enable the Secretary of State to establish a new youth support service in England. The aim of the new service will be to work with young people of all abilities to give them advice, guidance and support to participate effectively in learning. It will provide a universal service and pay particular attention to removing the barriers to participation in learning from the young people most disadvantaged. The Bill will place a duty on other statutory bodies to co-operate with and support the new service and enable effective collecting and sharing of relevant information about the status of young people. The Bill will require the Secretary of State to make arrangements for inspection of the service provision. The youth support service will also perform a new duty imposed on the Secretary of State to make an assessment of the special educational needs of young people moving from school into other post-16 education and training.

10.     The Bill aims to improve the coherence between the secondary education and further education (FE) systems by providing for funding for school sixth forms to flow to LEAs from the LSC and the CETW, by removing obstacles to collaboration between the national funding body, schools, LEAs and FE institutions and by enabling the creation of new 16 to 19 schools maintained by LEAs.

11.     Other provisions of the Bill include:-

  • the approval of external qualifications by the Secretary of State and the National Assembly for public funding purposes;

  • powers for the Secretary of State and the National Assembly to make a direct financial contribution to the cost of training to be undertaken by individuals holding an 'individual learning account';

  • enabling newly qualified school teachers to meet the requirements for induction in the FE sector;

  • assessments of young people with special education needs in transition from school to other post-16 learning.

  • powers for the Secretary of State and the National Assembly to incorporate designated sixth form colleges

ANNEXES

12.     There are three annexes following the statement on Human Rights:

  • ANNEX 1: A bibliography of relevant documents;

  • ANNEX 2: A glossary of terms and abbreviations, and

  • ANNEX 3: A table summarising the contents of the schedules.

BACKGROUND

13.     This section provides a brief description of the current legislative and operational framework for the planning and funding of post-16 learning outside higher education; of the inspection of provision for post-16 learning and of careers and education services to young people.

14.     Broadly speaking, there are three routes for securing the provision of post-16 learning: the Further Education Funding Councils of England and Wales, Training and Enterprise Councils and Local Education Authorities.

The Further Education Funding Councils

15.     The FEFCs are statutory corporations created by section 1 of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992. The FEFCs have a duty to secure for the population of England and Wales the provision of sufficient facilities for full-time education for all 16 to 18 year olds wanting such education. The FEFCs have a duty to secure the provision of adequate facilities for part-time education for those over compulsory school age and full-time education for those aged 19 or over, where education is provided by means of a course described in Schedule 2 of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992. The FEFCs also have a power to secure the provision of courses which do not fall within Schedule 2. The FEFCs may only fund institutions in the FE or HE sectors. The only exception is where they consider it might be better to meet the needs of people with learning difficulties outside the FE sector. The FE sector consists mainly of former LEA-maintained FE and sixth form colleges, which were incorporated as statutory FE corporations in 1993, and other institutions, including former voluntary aided schools, that were designated as being eligible for funding from the FEFCs. The Further and Higher Education Act 1992 established the FE sector and provided for the incorporation of FE institutions. That Act's provisions will continue to apply, subject to the amendments and repeals specified principally in Schedule 8 and 9 to this Bill.

Training and Enterprise Councils

16.     There are 72 TECs in England and 4 in Wales and they are all private companies, usually limited by guarantee. Some have merged with Chambers of Commerce to form Chambers of Commerce, Training and Enterprise (CCTEs). They are funded by Government, under powers contained in sections 2(1) and 2(2) of the Employment and Training Act 1973 as amended by section 11 of the Industrial Development Act 1982 and section 25 of the Employment Act 1988, to provide training programmes and to give support and advice to local businesses. They operate on a licence made with Government supported by annual funding contracts. The Government contracts with TECs to deliver a wider range of programmes and activities including funding from the Single Regeneration Budget. In addition, TECs can bid for and receive funding from other sources including the European Social Fund and can generate money by selling services to business. The Government issued contractual notices to TECs in England in July 1999 informing them that their licences will expire on 25 March 2001.

Local Education Authorities

17.     LEAs are responsible for the funding of school sixth forms. Section 20 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 sets out the types of schools which are maintained by LEAs and section 22 of that Act sets out the extent of the LEAs' obligation to maintain such schools. The financing of maintained schools is covered in detail by sections 45 to 53 of that Act.

18.     LEAs are also responsible for certain categories of further education. Under section 15(1) of the Education Act 1996, local authorities have a duty to secure the provision for their area of adequate facilities for further education. Section 15(2) qualifies this duty by saying that it does not apply to education to which section 2(1) and education to which section 3(1) of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 apply. Provision under these sections is made by means of a course listed in Schedule 2 to that Act and is the responsibility of the FEFCs. Under section 15(3) of the Education Act 1996, LEAs may, in respect of part-time education for those over compulsory school age and fulltime education for those over 18, secure the provision for their area of appropriate facilities. They may also secure the provision of further education for persons of other areas.

19.     Essentially, the duty of local authorities in relation to further education begins where the remit of the FEFCs ends: provision which is not covered by Schedule 2 of the 1992 Act (generally, therefore, further education that does not lead to formal national qualifications or otherwise meet the criteria for funding by the FEFCs). Under section 15A(1) of the Education Act 1996, LEAs also have a power to secure full-time provision for 16-18 year olds (for which the FEFCs have the statutory duty). Sections 55(4) and (5) of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 place a duty on LEAs to keep under review the quality of education in institutions maintained or assisted by them and allows them to cause inspections to be made by authorised persons who are suitably qualified.

20.     Section 508 of the Education Act 1996 states that is the duty of every LEA to make sure that further education provided in their area includes adequate facilities for recreation and social and physical training. For that purpose an authority may establish, maintain and manage (or assist therein) a number of types of facility: e.g. playing fields, gymnasiums, swimming baths, and may organise expeditions and other activities for such persons. Although the words "youth service" do not appear in section 508, the section is regarded as the statutory basis for the youth service provided by local authorities. The youth service provides a range of services including youth clubs, information centres and specialist centres and is increasingly working with young people at risk.

Inspection

21.     Currently there are three inspectorates which inspect publicly-funded post-16 education and training provision in England. OFSTED is the Office for Standards in Education, a non-Ministerial Government Department, comprising Her Majesty's Chief Inspector (HMCI) and his staff, including inspectors known as Her Majesty's Inspectors of Schools. The School Inspections Act 1996 set out HMCI's functions in relation to the inspection of schools, including school sixth forms. Section 55 of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 deals with HMCI's inspection of LEA provision other than schools and the youth service. Section 9(1)(a) of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 places a duty on the FEFCs to secure that provision is made for assessing the quality of education provided within the "further education sector". The Further Education Inspectorate is the inspectorate arm of the FEFC(E) and is responsible for assessing the quality of education provided in institutions within the FE sector. The Training Inspectorate is the operational arm of the Training Standards Council (TSC). The TSC is a private company limited by guarantee, set up to inspect all publicly funded work-based training. It is funded by Government, under powers contained in section 2 of the Employment and Training Act 1973, to undertake inspection. It operates on an annual contract with Government.

22.     The Office of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector for Wales (Estyn), a non-Ministerial Government Department comprising Her Majesty's Chief Inspector and her staff, inspects post-16 education and training provision in Wales. The School Inspections Act 1996 sets out Estyn's functions in relation to the inspection of schools, including schools' sixth forms. Section 55 of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 deals with Estyn's inspection of LEAs' post-16 provision other than in schools. Section 9 of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 places a duty on the FEFCW to secure that provision is made for assessing the quality of education provided by the further education sector, and the Funding Council contracts with Estyn for this purpose. The Teaching and Higher Education Act 1998 enables Estyn to inspect TECs' training and training-related programmes in Wales.

Careers Services and services for young people

23.     Sections 8 to 10 of the Employment and Training Act 1973, as amended by sections 45 and 46 of the Trade Union Reform and Employment Rights Act 1993, form the basis of the Careers Service. This legislation places a duty on the Secretary of State and the National Assembly to secure the provision of information, advice and guidance for people in full-time education (except higher education) or in part-time vocational education in order to assist them in deciding what employment will be suitable for them, and what education and training will be necessary to enable them to obtain that employment. The Secretary of State and the National Assembly also has a power to secure careers services to assist people who are not engaged in full or part-time education. The Secretary of State and the National Assembly can make arrangements and give directions to other people in order to arrange for the provision of careers services. These duties are discharged in England and Wales through contracts with careers service companies. In England, the provision is inspected by DfEE and Government Office staff and is the subject of an annual report by the Secretary of State to Parliament. In Wales, the provision is inspected by Estyn under section 35 of the Teaching and Higher Education Act 1998. The new youth support service for England will include work currently undertaken by the Careers Service.

24.     Section 44 of the Education Act 1997 requires the heads and governors of publicly funded schools and colleges to provide careers advisers on request with the names and addresses of pupils or students, information about pupils or students that careers advisers need in order to give guidance, and access to those pupils or students at reasonable times. A "careers adviser" is defined as a person employed by a body providing services under Section 10 of the Employment and Training Act 1973. Section 43 of the Education Act 1997 requires maintained schools to provide programmes of careers education in years 9 to 11; such programmes are a necessary foundation for careers information and guidance. Section 45 of the Education Act 1997 requires the heads and governors of schools and colleges to give pupils and students access to careers guidance materials.

OVERVIEW OF THE BILL

25.     The Bill is in 5 parts:

     PART I -      THE LEARNING AND SKILLS COUNCIL FOR ENGLAND

     PART II -      NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR EDUCATION AND TRAINING FOR WALES

     PART III -      INSPECTIONS IN ENGLAND

     PART IV -      INSPECTIONS IN WALES

     PART V -      MISCELLANEOUS AND GENERAL

PART I -     LEARNING AND SKILLS COUNCIL FOR ENGLAND

26.     This part will establish an LSC which will be responsible for the development, planning, funding and management of post-16 education and training. The LSC will have local arms (of which the Secretary of State intends there to be 47) responsible for raising standards and securing provision to match local learning and skills needs.

PART II -      NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR EDUCATION AND TRAINING FOR WALES

27.     This part establishes the National Council for Education and Training for Wales. The majority of its duties and powers replicate those of the LSC.

PART III -      INSPECTIONS IN ENGLAND

28.     This part will establish the Adult Learning Inspectorate (ALI), which will have responsibility to inspect education provision for people from the age of 19 and for work-based training provision for all ages. It will also extend OFSTED's remit to inspect provision for 16 to 19 year olds in schools and colleges. It will establish a common inspection framework and make arrangements for joint working in institutions where the inspectorates' remits overlap.

PART IV -      INSPECTIONS IN WALES

29.     This part extends the remit of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools to inspect all post-16 education and training and renames the office holder as 'Her Majesty's Chief Inspector for Education and Training in Wales'.

PART V -      MISCELLANEOUS AND GENERAL

30.     This part covers various areas, such as:

  • the dissolution of the Further Education Funding Councils in England and Wales;

  • the approval of qualifications for public funding purposes;

  • 'individual learning accounts';

  • the new support service for young people;

  • enabling provision to allow LEAs to maintain 16 to 19 schools;

  • provision to amend FE and HE corporations' powers, and to remove obstacles to their collaboration with schools, in respect of secondary education;

  • provision enabling newly qualified school teachers to meet the requirements of induction in the FE sector;

  • powers for the Secretary of State and the National Assembly to incorporate designated sixth form colleges;

  • provision in respect of repeals, amendments, extent and citation.

COMMENTARY ON CLAUSES

PART I - THE LEARNING AND SKILLS COUNCIL FOR ENGLAND

Clauses 1 to 29 and Schedules 1 to 3

31.     These clauses and schedules make provision for the establishment of the LSC, its functions, the establishment of local councils and other committees, and powers of the Secretary of State in relation to the LSC.

Clause 1 and Schedule 1: The LSC

32.     Clause 1 and Schedule 1 provide for the establishment of a new corporate body, the LSC. In making appointments to the LSC, the Secretary of State must have regard to the desirability of appointing people with experience relevant to the LSC's functions. The LSC Prospectus has stated that, in performing this duty, the Secretary of State intends to have regard to people with current or recent business experience. The LSC's functions are to be carried out only in relation to England.

33.     Schedule 1 makes provision about members of the LSC which will include the chief executive, the appointment and employment of staff and about procedural matters, including the LSC's accounts. It makes provision for the Secretary of State to remove any member from office on the grounds of persistent non-attendance, inability or unfitness for office. The LSC is permitted to set up committees and to delegate functions. The Schedule sets out provisions for disclosure of members' interests. The LSC will not be an agent of the Crown and its staff will not be civil servants.

Clauses 2 to 4: The main duties of the LSC

34.     Clause 2 sets out the duty of the LSC to secure the provision of 'proper' facilities for the education and training of people from 16 up to the age of 19 year olds. Facilities are 'proper' if they are of sufficient quantity and adequate quality to meet the reasonable needs of young people. Clause 3 sets out the duty of the LSC to secure the provision of 'reasonable' facilities for the education and training of people 19 and over. Facilities are 'reasonable' if they are of a quality and quantity which the LSC can reasonably be expected to provide taking account of the resources available to it. The effect of the exercise of these two duties is that the LSC will give priority to meeting the learning and skills needs of the younger age group. The duties do not extend to the provision of higher education which is the responsibility of the Higher Education Funding Council.

35.     In performing the duties in respect of both age groups the Council must take into account a number of factors. They include taking account of the fact that other bodies, both statutory and private bodies, also provide education and training and therefore that it might reasonably expect education and training to be secured by other bodies without its resources.

36.     Unlike the duties of the FEFC under the 1992 Act, no distinction is drawn in the education and training provision which the LSC must secure for the two age groups between full and part-time education. Nor is there a limitation on the education which may be secured by reference to a particular type of course. In practice the LSC will secure provision of education and training in school sixth forms (through funding LEAs, cf Clause 7), in FE colleges, in work-based training on the premises of employers, with private training providers and with voluntary organisations.

37.     The reference to 'organised leisure-time occupation', which is included in the definition of further education in section 2 of the Education Act 1996, in practice covers a wide range of organised activities offering opportunities for non-formal types of learning and which do not necessarily lead to a qualification.

38.     Clause 4 sets out the LSC's duty to promote participation in post-16 education and training and to encourage employers to get involved in its support and delivery.

Clauses 5 and 6: Provision of Financial Resources

39.     Clause 5 sets out the powers of the LSC to give funding to other persons for the purpose of fulfilling its duties and exercising its powers.

40.     In respect of its duties, the LSC will have the power to pay persons who provide or are proposing to provide post-16 education and training, and to pay persons who may not be providers themselves but who supply services which support the delivery of post-16 education and training by providers. A person may be any natural or legal person and would include FE colleges, schools and private training providers, whether incorporated or unincorporated, and individuals. The LSC may also make direct grants to students. Payments may include money intended for awards to students for distribution by persons, for example, the Access Funds.

41.     In respect of its wider powers, the LSC may pay persons for activities including:

  • the start-up costs to persons proposing to provide post-16 education or training, including the establishment of an institution in the further education sector;

  • a limited range of higher education provision of a vocational and professional nature (paragraphs 1(g) and 1(h) of Schedule 6 to the Education Reform Act 1988);

  • secondary education for those of compulsory school age provided by FE and HE institutions (see also clause 111);

  • research and development activities related to education and training generally;

  • the provision of work experience and links between the education world and employers (clause 8); and

  • information and advice to people on learning opportunities.

42.     In paying persons for anything which the LSC is empowered to do, the LSC may:

  • use its own financial resources, for example, the grant provided by the Secretary of State (clause 27);

  • assist in the transfer of financial resources from one person to another; and

  • do either of these jointly with other persons or assist in the transfer of financial resources from other persons who are acting jointly.

43.     If the LSC makes its own financial resources available to persons it may attach conditions to those payments. Clause 6 provides that such conditions may include:

  • that the LSC must be able to have access to the education and training provider's accounts and records, including computer records; or another person specified by the Council (such as an accountant or the National Audit Office) must be able to have such access;

  • a requirement that the post-16 education and training provider must give the LSC such information as it requires for the purpose of exercising any of its duties and powers;

  • a requirement that persons providing post-16 education and training must set fees, make awards and recover costs from other persons in accordance with criteria established by the LSC;

  • a requirement that the post-16 education and training provider must publish statements in respect of its facilities for disabled people (section 30 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 provided a similar power to the FEFC in respect of institutions in the FE sector);

  • a requirement that resources provided be repaid to the Council, with interest, if any of the conditions attached to the provision of the resources are not complied with;

  • a requirement that the provider of post-16 education and training must make provision of a type specified in an assessment of learning difficulties made under provisions at clause 110.

 
contents continue
 
House of Commons home page Houses of Parliament home page House of Lords home page search Page enquiries

© Parliamentary copyright 1999
Prepared: 17 December 1999