Carrot and stick used to drive new training reforms

Effective colleges and training providers will be rewarded while those that
do not hit targets will be forced to address their failings under a new
strategy to transform the learning and skills sector.

The Education and Skills Secretary Estelle Morris announced the launch of
the new strategy at the Learning and Skills Development Agency’s annual
conference last week.

Supported this year by one-off funding of £43m, the strategy will set new
targets for each college and training provider alongside minimum levels of
performance to improve accountability. Providers that deliver will have
increased freedom to innovate and expand but where failure occurs there will be
intervention to ensure change.

Morris praised the overall excellence of provision, but she did highlight
the lack of clear direction and wide-ranging quality among learning providers.

"We have some world class colleges which we should not hesitate to
celebrate," she said. "But there is not enough good quality overall
and standards are not as high as learners deserve."

The strategy includes plans to review post-16 learning provision to pave the
way for wider choice for learners and better training for local businesses.

Under the proposals there will be an extension of proven teaching methods
based on evidence of what works and an overhaul of weak curriculum areas.

There will also be a major programme of training and professional
development for teachers, support staff and workplace supervisors. In
particular, the Learning and Skills Standards Fund will be extended to pay for
qualifications and professional development for staff working in non-teaching
roles, such as classroom technicians.

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