Letter to the Chairman submitted by David
Bell, Permanent Secretary, Department for Children, Schools and
MACHINERY OF GOVERNMENT
I wanted to take this opportunity to write to
you to confirm the role of DCSF in managing the transfer of funding
for 16-19 learning to local authorities.
As set out in Jim Knight and Bill Rammell's
letter to you of 20 March 2008 enclosing a copy of the joint DCSF
and DIUS White Paper Raising Expectations: Enabling the System
to Deliver, our proposals have two key objectives. First,
to give local authorities (LAs) the necessary funding and commissioning
powers to deliver the new entitlements and raise the participation
age, so that more young people have the necessary qualifications
and skills to succeed on entering further or higher education
or employment; and second, to streamline the post-19 skills system
to better support the policies set out in World-Class Skills,
and therefore make faster progress towards our 2020 skills ambitions.
In line with the split of responsibilities between
my Department and the Department for Innovation, Universities
and Skills (DIUS), the DCSF remains responsible for delivering
16-19 education. Officials in my Department are taking forward
the 16-19 transition arrangements set out below. In doing this,
they are working closely with colleagues in DIUS who are responsible
for the changes to the adult skills landscape.
From 2010, the Government has proposed that
responsibility for ensuring that there is sufficient learning
provision for all 16-19 year olds (including full participation
up to 17 by 2013 and up to 18 by 2015) will pass from the Learning
and Skills Council (LSC) to LAs. Each LA will have a duty to ensure
that there is sufficient provision for learners in their area
within reasonable travelling distance, whether situated within
or outside their own local area boundaries. We expect that LAs
will fulfil this duty by working together across a local area
to commission the best quality provision to meet learner demand
and provide access to the new curriculum and qualifications entitlements.
In commissioning this provision, LAs will look across a range
of providers, including school sixth forms, FE colleges, sixth
form colleges, and third sector and work-based learning providers.
Whilst we expect that LAs will need to work
together in sub-regional groupings to agree and plan their provision,
it is important that each provider has a clearly defined single
lead authority with which they can work. For school sixth forms,
sixth form colleges and many third sector organisations, we expect
that the home LA (ie that in which the provider is based) will
have the lead role in commissioning and performance management.
For FE collegeswhich typically serve much larger areassub-regional
groupings of LAs will need to identify a single lead authority
or agree a joint governance arrangement to work with colleges
across the grouping. This arrangement will ensure that the commissioning
process will engage with all providersincluding school
sixth forms and othersat the right level, enabling the
best provision capable of meeting the needs of every young person
to be allowed to grow and flourish.
This process will be supported by a new Non-Departmental
Public Body (NDPB), the Young People's Learning Agency. Drawing
on the expertise, knowledge and resources of the LSC, this new
slimline agency will be responsible for securing budgetary control
and national coherence for provision.
The DCSF is working closely with LAs over the
coming period to develop their capability and capacity to discharge
their new role whilst ensuring that we minimise any additional
burdens. We are working with the Local Government Association
(LGA) and the Association of Directors of Children's Services
(ADCS), who have welcomed the proposals, to develop a support
package for LAs to help them with the transition. We are also
ensuring that LAs and the LSC are working closely together to
plan for the transition and build capability.
Alongside this, DIUS has proposed a new dedicated
single funding agency for adult skills (ie post 19) the Skills
Funding Agencywhich will build on the successes of the
LSC but be better placed to respond quickly and flexibly to national,
regional and local skills needs.
I hope that this clarifies the proposed new
arrangements. In taking forward these changes, we are particularly
conscious of the need for the Department to work closely with
our partners and stakeholdersincluding, crucially, the
LSCto manage the transition.
As you will appreciate, it is very important
to sustain momentum to deliver our ambitious Level 2 and Level
3 and NEET targets for all young people by age 19.
I will of course keep the Committee updated
on further developments in this area.