The work of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills - Business, Innovation and Skills Committee Contents

Memorandum submitted by Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

  Nearing the end of the evidence session at the Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee on 19 January you raised a point about prison education services:

Q115 Ian Stewart: A little anomaly that has always niggled me is I have a prison in my constituency, and I have every respect for that prison's education service, they are stunning in their work with prisoners, but why should prison educators be on less terms and conditions than mainstream educators in this country?

I promised to write.

  Although I understand your concerns, I cannot comment on the specifics of this situation as the Government is not the employer of FE staff. FE colleges were established as independent organisations following the enactment of the Further and Higher Education Act in 1992 and as such, they are responsible for their own terms and conditions, pay and workforce modelling.

  Under the Learning and Skills Act 2000, the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) has funding and planning responsibilities for all post-16 education and training other than higher education. The LSC determined aggregate contract values for offender learning delivery in custody based on the cost of delivering efficiently managed provision. Offender Learning and Skills Service (OLASS) providers have five year contracts with the LSC which set out volumes of delivery based on policy priorities, developed in close co-ordination with the National Offender Management Service. These volumes in turn determine the resource available to the OLASS provider.

  As we outlined in the 14-19 Education & Skills White Paper 2005, the Government recognises the concern about the pay differences between different types of provider. This is partly driven by the overall funding gaps between the schools and the FE sectors, which we are committed to narrowing. We have already taken steps to narrow the gap—between 2006 and 2008, and we expect to see this narrow further as resources allow.

  The Government has, however, no plans to impose a national pay structure on further education colleges. We envisage that with increased resources over time, greater flexibility over use and a longer term funding framework, colleges should be able to address structural barriers in their current pay arrangements.

  I appreciate this may be a disappointing response but I would stress that the Government's commitment to the further education sector, demonstrated over recent years in a series of reforms designed to raise professional standing of the FE workforce, remains.

12 February 2010

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