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Lord Tope: My Lords, I, too, put my name to the amendments of the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, and I am sorry that he cannot be here to move them. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, for speaking to them so well in his absence. It may be that when the noble Earl reads what has been said, he may want to speak on these important issues at Third Reading.

I put my name to the amendments because they raise important issues. We find ourselves concentrating on preparing people for work without having a wider vision of global issues. I thought that we could have a useful debate on that subject and remind ourselves that learning for life involves learning about the world, global issues, international development and so forth.

I offer brief but heartfelt support to the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne. I understand and share his concerns. It is right and probably inevitable that the Bill concentrates on preparing young people for the workplace. But we are not talking about learning for work; we are talking about learning for life. Work is part of life, but in this place it seems that work is not all of life. Therefore, if we are talking about learning for life, we must pay proper and full regard to the issues which are described extremely well in the noble Lord's amendment. I congratulate him on redrafting it.

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I am pleased that the noble Lord has raised his concerns because I share them. In terms of the Bill, I am not sure how best to approach them, but we are being given an opportunity to register them and to hear the Minister's response.

Baroness Warnock: My Lords, I support the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, and the others in the group. The danger is that the proper and admirable concentration on getting young people into work may give a wrong impression in particular to teachers and pupils in schools in which the new council will be responsible for pupils of 16 plus. It might seem to them to overemphasise the vocational aspects of education and to forget an equally important aspect; that is, to give young people interest, excitement, creativity and opportunities for pleasure and involvement in issues in which they would not otherwise have been involved or understood sufficiently if they had not been in further education.

I believe that in particular as regards this age group and those who may have been disaffected during adolescence, it is important to emphasise the pleasure and possible excitement of education as well as the monetary reward and the possibility of contributing to society. Therefore, I believe that in our discussions on education we should not completely omit the concept of life outside the workplace. That is why the noble Lord's formula is particularly important and I support his amendment.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, the best schools and colleges in this country get this aspect right and therefore the amendment is not necessary for them. A large proportion of children have the joy of support at home and in school and receive a good education. There is no concern about them, but the noble Lord has spent a good deal of his life concerned about other children who do not have support at home. For them, school and college are often their only anchor.

The point that is being made is therefore most important. The best schools and colleges deepen intellect, raise understanding, and widen young people's knowledge and experience. They are encouraged not only to read the textbook relating to a particular course, but to read around and wider than the subject and to gain enjoyment from that.

When I pressed for business representation on the council, the noble Lord expressed his anxiety that the Bill appears to be concerned only with getting young people into work. I want to support the Government in the sense that getting young people into work is a real mission. Nowadays, very few people can go through life without having to earn a living. We know that the quality of life for a large number of people and their families would be much enhanced if they could partake in the world of work. Therefore, I have no difficulty in supporting the Bill's main thrust of getting young people sufficiently equipped to take their place in the world of work.

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However, I do not want to see one aspect pursued exclusively, at the expense of the other. I believe that the widening and broadening of education go hand in hand and that the wording of Amendment No. 23 particularly brings that together. I have no difficulty in supporting the amendment. I believe that it would help all of us to understand that the Bill does not only focus narrowly on equipping someone to take their place in the world of work; it concerns improving the quality of life of the individual. I believe that that then spills out to the quality of life of everyone. There is a powerful argument for supporting the amendment. I do not believe that it at all inhibits the main policy aim of the Government to get as many of our young people as possible into the world of work.

6.30 p.m.

Lord Lucas: My Lords, I, too, support everything that has been said in support of Amendment No. 23. It is enormously important that we do not focus only on the skills required for work, although the range of those skills is fairly broad. Other things that lie immediately alongside them, such as parenting and citizenship, are equally important for a child of that age. There is also a need to offer to someone who is just growing wings--someone who is gaining the ability to act independently and to be independent--the opportunity to catch a glimpse of what is out there in the world and what else is available to them beyond the confines of home, school and the town in which they have been brought up. It is enormously important that those things should be on offer to children of that age.

If she was involved in further education at the time when the FEFC came into being, the noble Baroness will remember the difficulties that sixth-form colleges had in preserving their extra-curricular curriculum, as it were, against the pressures of the funding formula, which were designed merely to fund units of work on A-levels. Sixth-form colleges were to be funded at exactly the same rate as FE colleges, but FE colleges provided none of the extra-curricular provisions available in sixth-form colleges. Finally, the problem was solved through various fudges and by allowing sixth-form colleges to be funded for courses outside the immediate A-level provision. In fact, that extra-curricular provision has survived well in sixth forms.

However, when faced with a new piece of legislation and a new body, it is difficult to settle the argument between those who provide extra-curricular provisions and those who do not as to what the rate of funding for a particular course should be. I believe that the Government should make it quite clear that there will be separate funding for courses outside the main A-level or, indeed, the main vocational tramlines. To my mind, it would be much better if the opportunities available in sixth-form colleges were extended to those training in FE colleges, rather than, as almost happened at the time of the creation of the FEFC, a narrowing of opportunities for those in sixth-form colleges and, with this Bill, those in sixth-forms in schools.

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I am extremely sympathetic to a great deal of what has been said in

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this short debate on these amendments. The Government's vision of the learning age is to build a new culture of learning which should not only underpin national competitiveness and personal prosperity but also encourage creativity and innovation and help to build a more cohesive society. We want everyone to benefit from the opportunities that learning brings in terms of personal growth and the enrichment of communities. Certainly, I entirely accept that the issue of employability should not in any way preclude people from learning for its own sake.

Again, I agree entirely with the noble Baroness, Lady Warnock, about the pleasures and excitements of learning. We want all our young people to realise that it is there if they would only reach out and take it. I also agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, that there should not be an exclusive emphasis on getting young people into work, important as that is. I do not believe that any of those things are mutually exclusive. Our aim is to equip people with the right skills for the global world in which we all now live. We agree wholeheartedly that the values and purposes which underpin education include enabling individuals to respond positively to the opportunities and challenges of our rapidly changing world.

However, both the noble Lords, Lord Tope and Lord Northbourne, are quite right that education should engage on all levels with economic, social and cultural change, including changes that arise from being part of a global world. Those principles are already reflected in the national curriculum, and we should reflect them in post-16 learning as well. However, if noble Lords care to look again at the introduction to the Learning and Skills Prospectus, they will see clearly that our objectives embrace all the issues mentioned in this debate.

That is why the LSC will, for example, continue to support the various EU training projects and programmes, such as Socrates and Leonardo, which offer young people an opportunity to benefit from a different learning experience, not only within the EU but also in eastern Europe, Africa, Latin America and elsewhere. Since 1995, over 80,000 young people from the UK have undertaken education, training, youth placements or exchanges abroad. I believe that that is greatly to be welcomed. In the future, those and similar ventures will be one route by which the LSC can encourage a sharing of experiences and effect a mutual understanding of the challenges to be faced in the context of the global world.

I very much welcome the valuable work of the Development Education Association in raising awareness of the need for people to have the skills for a global society. I believe that the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, who, unfortunately, is not able to be here today, has close contacts with the Development Education Association. However, I do not believe that the amendments in the name of the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, and others are necessary to achieve the objectives that we all share. As I said, the LSC prospectus sets out the values which we intend the

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LSC to pursue. They will continue to be reinforced by guidance which the Secretary of State gives to the council.

I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, will recognise that much of what I have said already is relevant to his concerns. We do not view education in a narrow way, and the duties of the LSC and CETW are not framed in a narrow way either. The education which they are required to provide for young people must be suitable to their requirements and needs in a very broad sense. Those needs will vary greatly and, in many cases, provision will not be directed towards entering the workplace but rather to higher levels of education, whether at college or at university.

Such provision should certainly include the enrichment activities to which the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, referred. They are a very important supplement to formal education which leads to qualifications. In addition to vocational education, social, physical and recreational education will be included, as will organised leisure time occupations connected with such education. Therefore, the noble Lord should be in no doubt that our shared intentions and aspirations are already reflected in the Bill, taken together with the related legislation already on the statute book, and that "education" has the broader meaning that he seeks. I hope that, with that assurance, the noble Lord will not feel that he needs to press his amendment.

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