House of Lords - Explanatory Note
Learning And Skills Bill [H.L.] - continued          House of Lords

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Clause 7: School Sixth Form Funding

44.     Between June and October 1999, the Government consulted on 2 options in relation to recurrent LEA maintained school sixth form funding, as outlined in the consultation paper 'Learning to Succeed: school sixth form funding'.

45.     Following the consultation, the Government has decided that the LSC should fund LEAs for their sixth form provision. LEAs would continue to make the allocation decisions for each school, and would retain their power to provide additional funding to schools if they so wish. This decision will involve further consultation on the details of how and when changes will be implemented. This is unlikely to be before 2002-03. The Government committed itself in the consultation paper to maintaining school sixth forms' funding levels in real terms (where pupil numbers do not fall). There are no plans to change the capital funding system in relation to schools sixth forms.

46.     Clause 7 will secure the LSC's power to fund LEAs in respect of their school sixth form provision, including that made in non-maintained special schools and independent schools approved for the requirements of pupils with special education needs. No primary legislation is required to facilitate the implementation of the new mechanisms for the distribution of recurrent funding from LEAs to school sixth forms. There are the necessary provisions in the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 and regulations made under that Act.

Clauses 8 to 11: other powers of the LSC

47.     Clause 8 gives the LSC powers to secure provision of work experience for those in their last two years of compulsory schooling and those in education up to the age of 19; and to provide for 'education business links' between, on the one hand, the world of work and, on the other, pupils of compulsory school age, young people in education or training up to the age of 19 and teachers. In practice, the LSC will have a key role in ensuring that local partners (such as Education / Business Partnerships) work closely together to provide high quality opportunities for all young people which meet the needs of schools and the business community.

48.     In Clause 9 the LSC is given the power to assess the quality of the provision it funds, and take judgements about quality into account in deciding which providers it will continue to fund. This will form part of the LSC's quality improvement strategy. The intention is that the LSC secures value for money and that learners are offered provision of high quality. Findings from the two inspectorates, OFSTED and ALI, may inform these judgments, but their input will not provide regular, comprehensive information on all providers. Therefore, in practice, the LSC will take steps to investigate on its own behalf the quality of the provision it funds, through for example, visiting providers, putting arrangements in place for investigating complaints and acting on those which are well-founded. It will also have clear published performance indicators and benchmarks against which to measure quality of provision. The LSC may also draw up a list of accredited provision which meets certain quality thresholds, and cease to fund provision which does not.

49.     Clause 9 also provides for the LSC, when making resources available to individual students, to calculate the amount made available by reference to fees and charges and also to other expenses associated with the education and training such as transport or childcare.

50.     Clause 10 provides for the role of the LSC in relation to what are currently known as individual learning accounts (see also clauses 93 and 94). The LSC has the power to promote these learning accounts. It is also given power to enter into arrangements with the Secretary of State to make grants (in practice, discounts on learning provision), to specify the kinds of learning provision which qualify for the discounts and to approve providers to make them eligible to offer learning provision which qualifies.

51.     Clause 11 provides for the LSC to appoint up to two additional governors to the governing body of any institution in the FE sector if there are vacancies in membership. It may wish to use this power if it has concerns about the way a college is being run. Paragraph 10 of Schedule 8 provides a similar power to the Secretary of State to make appointments to any vacancies on the governing body.

Clauses 12 to 18: other functions of the LSC

52.     Clause 12 sets out the role of the LSC in relation to research and information-provision as regards post-16 learning and skills. The LSC will be under a duty to report to the Secretary of State on such matters as he may require and will have the power to offer such information and advice to the Secretary of State as it thinks fit. In practice, this is likely to include information about progress towards the Government's National Learning Targets (and advice on the setting of future targets); analysis of the learning and skills performance of England in comparison with other countries; a description of the LSC's learning and skills strategy, based on an analysis of local skills needs; and information on the quality and quantity of provision available locally to meet learning needs. The LSC also has the power to provide an information and advice and guidance service in respect of learning opportunities. In practice, the LSC, through its local councils, will provide information and advice services to adults which complement the support service for 13 to 19 year olds (clauses 99 to 108).

53.      Clause 13 requires the LSC to pay particular regard to the needs of people with learning difficulties. In particular, the LSC must have regard to a report of an assessment made under provisions at clause 110 which indicates that they have learning difficulties. Learning difficulties are defined within this clause at 13(3). This definition is derived from current provisions for further education in section 4 of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992.

54.     Clause 13 also describes the LSC's main responsibilities regarding the funding of boarding accommodation for those with learning difficulties. For those under 25, the LSC must provide boarding accommodation where it is satisfied that it cannot otherwise make arrangements. For those over the age of 25, the LSC has a power to make such arrangements.

55.     Clause 14 requires the LSC to make an annual report on the progress it has made during the year and its future plans for the provision of post-16 education and training for people with disabilities. It must send a copy of the report to the Secretary of State. Section 30(4) of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 placed a similar duty on the FEFC.

56.     Clauses 15 and 16 set out the planning the LSC is required to undertake. Plans need to include any measures the LSC intends to take to meet objectives the Secretary of State may set; financial proposals; and a strategy for the future development of activities and provision funded by the LSC. Two separate types of plans are envisaged: a three-year rolling strategic (corporate) plan and an annual business plan.

57.     Clause 17 provides for the LSC to have regard to any information received from a body designated by the Secretary of State. This might include, for instance, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) who hold information likely to be relevant to the activities of the LSC on the nature and availability of accredited provision in particular areas and on issues of financial propriety connected with this provision. 58.     Clause 18 gives the LSC additional general powers which it may exercise to enable it to perform its other functions. The powers enabling the LSC to form companies or take shares in limited companies may in practice involve facilitating appropriate partnership-working at the local and national levels for local workforce development, regeneration and economic development objectives. Clause 18 also enables the Secretary of State to confer by order additional functions relevant to education or training in England on the LSC (section 8(4) of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 constitutes a similar power in respect of the FEFC).

Clauses 19 to 20: local councils

59.     Clause 19 and Schedule 2 provide for the establishment of local learning and skills councils for each area specified by the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State has already announced that he intends to specify 47 such local areas. His intentions, and the boundaries of those areas, are set out in the LSC Prospectus, published on 14 December. Clause 20 provides that the local LSC's duties and powers will be those of the national LSC which it chooses to delegate. The Secretary of State has set out in the LSC Prospectus those activities which he expects the local LSCs to engage in exercising those powers and reforming those duties. They include:

  • planning to meet the National Learning Targets locally; ensuring that all local young people, including those with disabilities and learning difficulties, have access to high quality learning to meet their individual needs; and encouraging adults to engage with learning;

  • identifying and meeting local needs;

  • working to improve the quality of local provision; promoting excellence, widening participation and promoting equal opportunities;

  • deploying locally-managed development budgets to meet learning, skills and workforce development needs and using discretionary expenditure to provide support for activities such as:

      -- workforce development;

      -- adult and community learning;

      -- education-business links;

      -- promoting equality of opportunity in learning and information; and

      -- information, advice and guidance to adults on learning opportunities.

60.     Schedule 2 makes provision about members and staff of local LSCs, and about delegation of functions.

Clauses 21 to 24: guidance to local councils and their plans

61.     Clauses 21 and 22 set out details of the planning arrangements the LSC and local councils must put in place. The LSC must prepare guidance and local LSC must prepare and publish plans in response. In preparing a plan, a local LSC must consult any relevant Regional Development Agency and have regard to their regional economic strategies. It must also consult LEAs within its area and any other body which the Secretary of State specifies. The Government intends that such bodies may include Local Learning Partnerships and the support service for young people.

62.     Clause 22 and 23 provide a particular role for LEAs in respect of adult and community education. The duties of LEAs in respect of FE will change (see schedule 8, paragraphs 23 to 25), since the LSC will have the duty to secure provision of reasonable facilities for people aged 19 and over. However, the intention is that LEAs should continue to play an important role in securing opportunities for adults to learn in the community. The local LSC must therefore set out in its plan its proposals for the provision of education and training which the LSC would like the LEA to secure and the financial resources which it promises to give to the LEA for this purpose. If the LEA has not secured education and training in accordance with the plan, the Secretary of State may then direct the LEA to do so.

Clauses 25 to 29: Miscellaneous

63.     Clause 25 gives the Secretary of State a power to give directions to the LSC, with which the LSC has a duty to comply. Directions may not relate to the funding of individuals or individual bodies. The Secretary of State currently has a similar power to give directions to the FEFC(E) (see section 56 of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992.)

64.     Clause 26 and Schedule 3 require the LSC to set up a young people's learning committee and an adult learning committee (as well as giving the LSC the power to establish such other committees as it thinks fit). These two committees will advise the LSC on the learning needs, respectively, of young people (up to the age of 19) and of adults. Schedule 3 specifies the remit of the young people's and adult learning committees and contains general provisions about committees of the LSC.

65.     Clause 27 gives the Secretary of State the power to fund the LSC by making grants, which may be subject to conditions including conditions on the funding of others by the LSC. Those conditions may not relate to the funding of particular individuals or of individual bodies. Clause 28 requires the LSC to report annually on its activities, including a financial report, for the Secretary of State to present to Parliament. Clause 29 defines the LSC's financial year.

PART II - NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR EDUCATION AND TRAINING FOR WALES (CETW)

Clauses 30 to 48 and Schedules 4 and 5

66.     These clauses and schedules make provision for the establishment of the CETW, its functions, the establishment of committees, and powers of the National Assembly in relation to the CETW.

Clause 30 and Schedule 4: The CETW

67.     Clause 30 and Schedule 4 provide for the establishment of a new corporate body, the National Council for Education and Training for Wales (CETW). The CETW will be an Assembly Sponsored Public Body and its members will be appointed by the National Assembly for Wales. In making these appointments, the National Assembly will seek to appoint people with experience relevant to the CETW's functions, including people with current or recent business experience. The CETW's functions are to be carried out only in relation to Wales.

68.     Schedule 4 makes provision about members and staff of the CETW; procedural matters, including the CETW's accounts and provision for the National Assembly to remove any member from office on the grounds of persistent non-attendance, inability or unfitness for office. The Schedule sets out provisions for disclosure of members' interests. The CETW will not be an agent of the Crown and its staff will not be civil servants.

Clause 31 to 33: The CETW's main duties

69.     Clause 31 sets out the duty of the CETW to secure the provision of 'proper' facilities for the education and training of people from 16 up to the age of 19. Facilities are 'proper' if they are of sufficient quantity and adequate quality to meet the reasonable needs of young people. Clause 32 sets out the duty of the CETW 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 CETW 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 CETW 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 for Wales.

70.     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.

71.     Unlike the duties of the FEFCW under the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 no distinction is drawn in the education and training provision which the CETW 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 CETW will secure provision of education and training in school sixth forms (through funding LEAs, cf Clause 36), in FE colleges, in work-based training on the premises of employers, with private training providers and with voluntary organisations. 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.

72.     Clause 33 sets out the CETW's duty to promote participation in post-16 education and training and to encourage employers to become involved in its support and delivery.

Clauses 34 to 37: The CETW's main powers

73.     Clauses 34 and 35 set out the funding powers of the CETW. The clauses makes similar provision to that relating to the English LSC in clauses 5 and 6 and these powers to fund will be used in relation to the CETW's functions. The CETW may disburse funding itself, or by arrangement with others. The clauses provide for the CETW to have regard to fees payable for education and training and makes provision for the CETW to apply conditions as to its funding, including charges, awards, recovery and amounts, and for exemptions. Clause 35 enables the CETW to impose conditions on the funding it provides, including access to accounts and documents, and information from persons in connection with the discharge of its functions. The clause also provides for the CETW to require providers of post-16 education and training to charge fees, make awards and recovers sums of money against specified criteria. The conditions set by the CETW can relate to provision made by providers with respect to people with disabilities.

Clause 36: Funding of school sixth forms in Wales

74.     Clause 36 provides for the CETW to have the same role in respect of funding of school sixth form provision in Wales as the LSC will have in England (see clause 7).

75.     Clause 37 provides for the CETW to assess the quality of the provision it funds, and to take judgements about quality into account in deciding which providers it continues to fund. The intention is that the CETW secures value for money, and that learners are offered high quality provision. Findings from the Inspectorate, Estyn, will inform these judgements, but this input will not provide regular, comprehensive information on all providers. Therefore, in practice, the CETW will take steps to investigate on its own behalf the quality of provision it funds, through for example, visiting providers, putting arrangements in place for investigating complaints and acting on those which are well-founded, and having clear published performance indicators and benchmarks against which to measure the quality of provision. The CETW may also draw up a list of accredited provision which meets certain quality thresholds, and cease to fund provision which does not.

76.     Clause 38 provides for the role of the CETW in relation to what are currently known as individual learning accounts. The CETW has the power to undertake activity to promote these learning accounts. It is also given power to enter into arrangements with the National Assembly to make grants (in practice, discounts on learning provision), to specify the kinds of learning provision which qualify for the discounts and to approve providers to make them eligible to offer learning provision which qualifies. These powers are identical to those of the LSC in clause 10.

Clauses 39 to 43: The CETW's other functions

77.     Clause 39 provides for the CETW to carry out research and for it to provide the National Assembly with such information and advice as the National Assembly may require or as the CETW thinks fit regarding any of its functions. The clause also provides that the CETW must establish systems for collecting information to help inform the quality of its decisions about post-16 education and training. It enables it to provide information and advice services to individuals.

78.     Clause 40 requires the CETW to pay particular regard to the needs of people with learning difficulties. "Learning difficulties" are defined within this clause at 40(3). This definition is derived from current provisions for further education in section 4 of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992. This clause also describes the CETW's responsibilities regarding the funding of boarding accommodation as part of an education or training opportunity. For those under the age of 25, the CETW must provide boarding accommodation where it is satisfied that it cannot make proper arrangements for an individual unless it also secures boarding accommodation. For those aged 25 and over, the CETW has a power to fund such facilities if it is satisfied that without it, provision for an individual learner would be inadequate.

79.     Clause 41 requires the CETW to make an annual report on the progress it has made during the year and its future plans for the provision of post-16 education and training for people with disabilities. It must send a copy of the report to the National Assembly. Section 30(4) of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 placed a similar duty on the FEFCE.

80.     Clause 42 provides for the CETW to have regard to any information received from a body designated by the National Assembly. This might include, for instance, Awdurdod Cymhwysterau, Cwricwlwm ac Asesu Cymru (ACCAC, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority for Wales) which holds information likely to be relevant to the CETW's activities concerning the nature and availability of accredited provision in particular areas and on issues of financial propriety connected with this provision.

81.     Clause 43 gives the CETW additional general powers which it may exercise to enable it to perform its other functions. With the exception of the power in respect of companies limited by guarantee, the provisions in this clause are similar to those in clause 18 and will enable the CETW to exercise fully its functions with regard, in particular, to property, contracts and investment. The CETW may not borrow money, nor can it lend money without the consent of the National Assembly. The clause also enables the National Assembly to confer additional functions on the CETW.

Clauses 44 to 48: Miscellaneous

82.     Clause 44 gives the National Assembly a general power to give directions to the CETW, with which the CETW has a duty to comply. Directions may not relate to the funding of individuals or individual bodies. The National Assembly currently has a similar power to give directions to the FEFCW (see section 56 of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992).

83.     Clause 45 and Schedule 5 enable the CETW to establish such committees as it thinks fit. Schedule 5 also contains general provisions about committees of the CETW.

84.     Clauses 46 to 48 relate to financial and reporting matters. Clause 46 gives the National Assembly the power to fund the CETW by making grants, which may be subject to conditions including conditions on the funding of others by the CETW. Those conditions may not relate to the funding of particular individuals or of individual bodies. Clause 47 requires the CETW to report annually on its activities, including a financial report, to the National Assembly. Clause 48 defines the CETW's financial year.

PART III -      INSPECTIONS IN ENGLAND

Clauses 49 to 68 and Schedule 6

Chapter I: Clauses 49 - 56 and Schedule 6: The Adult Learning Inspectorate

85.     Clause 49 and Schedule 6 provide for the establishment of the new Non-Departmental Public Body - the Adult Learning Inspectorate (ALI). ALI will have nine members appointed by the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State will appoint one member as chairman and another as Chief Officer, and the latter will be known as the Chief Inspector of Adult Learning. The Chairman and Chief Inspector of Adult Learning cannot be the same person. This clause also allows the Secretary of State to make grants to the LSC with conditions as he sees fit.

86.     Schedule 6 makes provision about members and staff of the Inspectorate and about procedural matters, including salaries, pensions and 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 Inspectorate is permitted to set up committees and to delegate functions to the Chairman, Chief Officer or to committees. Committees may include persons who are not members of the Inspectorate. The Schedule sets out provisions as to members' interests and conduct should conflicts of interest arise. The Inspectorate will not be an agent of the Crown and its staff will not be civil servants.

87.     Clauses 50 to 56 set out the remit for the Inspectorate, with details of the functions, duties and powers under which the Inspectorate is to work, including a reasonable right of access to providers. They also set out the circumstances in which the Chief Inspector and the Inspectorate must make and publish written reports, and what providers of education and training must do in response to a written report of an inspection.

88.     Clause 50 sets out the Inspectorate's remit to inspect further education for people over the age of 19 funded by the LSC or an LEA; training made wholly or partly on employers' premises for people aged over 16, which is wholly or partly funded by the LSC; and training funded (through the Employment Service) under the Employment and Training Act 1973. There is a regulation-making power to enable other education and training to be prescribed as being within the remit.

89.     Clauses 51 to 53 set out the functions of the Chief Inspector of Adult Learning and the Inspectorate to inform the Secretary of State of the quality of provision, standards achieved and whether the financial resources made available to such providers are being managed efficiently and in a way which provides value for money.

90.     Clause 51 places a duty upon the Inspectorate to keep the Secretary of State informed about the quality, standards and value for money of education and training which are within its remit (at clause 50). It also places a duty upon the Chief Inspector of Adult Learning to conduct inspections at intervals and at particular instances as requested by the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State may require the Chief Inspector or the Inspectorate to do other things which are within their remit as he things fit and both the Chief Inspector and the Inspectorate are required to have regard to Government policy.

91.     Clause 52 Where an inspection is required by the Secretary of State, the Chief Inspector of Adult Learning must make a written report to the Secretary of State where requested to do so. The report must state whether the quality of provision is adequate to meet the reasonable needs of those receiving it. The Inspectorate must send copies of any such inspection report to various listed parties and make arrangements for publication.

92.     Clause 53 The Inspectorate has a power to give advice to the Secretary of State and to inspect and make reports upon provision within its remit. It also provides the Inspectorate with a power to inspect training which is funded wholly by an employer, when requested to do so by that employer. In such circumstances, the Inspectorate may charge an employer for the cost of an inspection.

93.     Clause 54 provides that inspectors will have a reasonable right of access to the premises of the providers being inspected, including access to electronic information held on computers. They will also be able to take copies of any records and documents relating to the education and training provision being inspected. Obstruction of an inspector in this way will be an offence.

94.     Clause 55 requires a provider to prepare an action plan following the publication of an inspection report, indicating the actions, and the timing of the actions, he proposes in the light of the findings within the report. There is a regulation-making power to govern publication and dissemination of the plans.

95.     Clause 56 provides a duty on the Inspectorate to produce an annual report on its activities which the Secretary of State must lay before Parliament. The Inspectorate may make and arrange for the publication of these reports on education and training provision within its remit.

 
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Prepared: 17 December 1999