Select Committee on Education and Skills Minutes of Evidence

Supplementary memorandum submitted by the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (DR07)

  I thought it would be helpful if I expanded on the answer I gave the Committee on funding issues affecting Further Education Colleges.


  As part of the transformation programme for the further education and training sectors, I announced on 19 June extra one-off funding of £43 million in 2002-03. The money is from reallocated underspends and will fund:

    —  extra capital grants for the delivery of E-learning and upgrading vocational training facilities;

    —  innovative activity to improve retention and success rates among young people who have dropped out or require extra support/mentoring to succeed;

    —  qualifications and training for college support staff, where only about 20 per cent are known to have a relevant qualification; and

    —  newer areas such as developing new teaching and learning frameworks.

  I also announced that I would only consider additional funding for pay initiatives in 2002-03 for FE teachers and non-teaching staff in the light of the spending review settlement because such funding would generate new commitments for future years.


  A greatly simplified Learning and Skills Standards Fund was introduced in April 2002. The Fund available to the LSC for 2002-03 is £179 million compared with £160 million in 2001-02. The growth includes £15 million, originally to improve apprenticeships, which has been merged with the Fund. The new Fund also covers Adult and Community Learning for the first time. Thus it is incorrect to think that the fund has grown significantly compared with last year.

  At present the LSC have only allocated part of the Learning and Skills Standards Fund for 2002-03. This first round of allocations was from the local standards fund and was based mainly on student numbers or contract value. A further allocation from the local fund will follow shortly and take account of improvement needs.

  Around 30 per cent of the Fund is held centrally in an "Investment Fund", which will all be allocated to providers during the year in response to inspection findings and serious concerns, to reward Beacon colleges and to help develop Centres of Vocational Excellence.

  Amersham and Wycombe College were allocated £80,386 in the first round of allocations from the local element of the standards fund, not £32,000 as reported in the hearing. The college will receive a further allocation shortly.

  The LSC now target the standards fund on need. This is made clear in the Grant Letter and in the LSC's Quality Improvement Strategy. Colleges do not have a right to the same level of standards funds year on year. Under the previous fund many of the strands designated for specific purposes were time limited. Colleges usually receive above average funding to remedy weaknesses but we expect them to improve so that the need and support can then be directed elsewhere.

Estelle Morris

August 2002

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