"There has been too much of a laissez-faire approach. Those with the power to set standards of quality - including training and enterprise councils and the Further Education Funding Council - have failed to do so under the guise of not wishing to be prescriptive. Some element of prescription ... is essential if quality is to be assured in each basic skills programme," said the agency in its response to the post-16 review.
The agency also said that three different inspection agencies have not helped coherence. There should be a single agency, separate from the funding body. There was also an argument for having a single inspection agency for schools and post-16 education and training. A reconstituted OFSTED might be appropriate.
A "bidding culture" had meant that the development of staff training had suffered. Competition between organisations had bedevilled the creation of effective programmes for adults.
The agency said it was not convinced about a continuing role for training and enterprise councils, which it said had a seeming fixation on simplistic outcomes and had done little to produce a skilled and educated workforce. But the FEFC funding mechanism was too complex, said the agency.