A re-structuring of post-16 education will fail to deliver all the benefits it should and will waste public money unless the structures around it are radically slimmed down, council leaders have warned in a hard-hitting new document.
The Local Government Association (LGA) and Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) are calling for layers of bureaucracy in the new system which will provide education and training for 16 to 19 year olds to be cut out to ensure resources are focused on the frontline.
Responsibility for the Ã‚Â£7 billion budget returns to local government from April 1st this year. Councils will carry out their commissioning role with 950 staff transferred from the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) but the freshly localised system will have more than twice as many former LSC staff working within national quangos.
Ã‚Â The new structure breaks down as follows:
|Organisation||Function||Approximate staff numbers|
|Young People’s Learning Agency (YPLA)||Oversees councils’ role commissioning Ã‚Â£7 billion of education and training for 16 to 19 year olds.||500|
|Skills Funding Agency (SFA)||Responsible for commissioning Ã‚Â£2 billion worth of adult education.||1300|
|National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)||Part of the SFA, responsible for handling a Ã‚Â£1 billion budget for apprenticeships for all ages.||370|
Regional government offices will also have an intermediary role to play in overseeing councils’ work.
The new arrangements contrast with the handling of the Ã‚Â£35 billion pound annual budget for schools, which is handed direct to councils without any equivalent body in the YPLA role.
The LGA and ADCS are calling for layers of administration to be stripped out to ensure the maximum amount of funding is available to help and support the younger generation, which has been hit hard by the recession. Removing excessive oversight will also free up staff time to focus on delivering the right courses and opportunities to students within each area.
Ã‚Â Cllr Shireen Ritchie, Chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said:
Ã‚Â “Councils can’t wait to get on with the work of delivering the courses and opportunities for over 16s which will help them become the people they want to be. Returning this funding to the control of local government means young people have a single body overseeing their education and development, from nought through to nineteen.
Ã‚Â “Councils have better knowledge of job opportunities in their region than any national body and are best placed to provide the training and learning which will help students progress, particularly during difficult economic times. While town hall staff do the work of organising education and training courses, the new system means twice as many people will be looking over their shoulders.
Ã‚Â “Public money is a treasured resource. All public funds have to work as hard as possible and it is wrong to have money tied up in layers of administration and oversight which should instead be committed to helping people achieve their potential through education and employment.”
Ã‚Â Kim Bromley-Derry, Chair of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, said:
Ã‚Â “The transfer of responsibility for education for 16 to 19 year olds is a fantastic opportunity to tailor courses to the needs of local people and communities. This is where resources must be focussed if the transfer is to encourage all young people to fulfil their potential and help to contribute to the local economy. It is vital that the balance between national and local organisations gives local areas the freedom to do this.”