Select Committee on Education and Skills Fourth Report

1  Preface

1. This report arises from a series of evidence sessions on the subject of further education held between November 2005 and April 2006. This is the first in-depth inquiry into further education that the Committee has undertaken for some years; it has also taken place concurrently with a number of reviews that have been carried out by or on behalf of the Government. In November 2004 the DfES and the LSC commissioned Sir Andrew Foster to carry out an independent review of further education and chart a future direction for the sector.[1] This review reported in November 2005, and we sought evidence on its findings from a wide range of witnesses. We also examined closely a particular area of current concern which was largely outside the scope of the Foster Review—the funding of learning for those adults outside the Government's current priority funding groups.

2. During the inquiry, the Committee heard oral evidence from Sir Andrew Foster and Dr Robert Chilton, The Association of Colleges, the National Institute for Adult Continuing Education, the National Union of Students, National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE), Ofsted, the Adult Learning Inspectorate (ALI), the Association of Learning Providers (ALP), The Sector Skills Development Agency , Lifelong Learning UK (LLUK) and ProSkills. We also took evidence from Bill Rammell, Minister of State for Higher Education and Lifelong Learning and Phil Hope MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the DfES.

3. Our inquiry has also been informed by our visit to the Republic of Ireland. We would like to extend our thanks to all those involved for organising a highly informative visit. We are grateful for assistance with this inquiry from Chris Hughes, formerly Chief Executive of the Learning and Skills Development Agency, Professor Prue Huddleston, Centre for Education and Industry, University of Warwick and Annette Zera, formerly Principal of Tower Hamlets College.

1   Sir Andrew Foster Realising the potential. A review of the future role of further education colleges, 2005.  Back

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Prepared 12 September 2006