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Blunkett's fairness pledge;FE Focus

David Blunkett, the Education and Employment Secretary, has pledged to raise the status of further education in the second year of the Labour Government's life and guarantee fairer funding in the longer term, writes Ian Nash.

Reforms would guarantee a system where the same standards were offered in FE and the schools' sector, he said in an interview with The TES (page 3) on Labour's performance in its first year.

"It is a real challenge - the funding arrangements," he said. "The gap is widening between school sixth forms and the rest, and I need to do something about it."

With an enormous load of primary legislation on school standards and university fees out of the way, Mr Blunkett said the Government would pay closer attention to the needs of the FE sector and its 3.5 million students.

Unprecedented efficiency measures under the Tories - 22 per cent more students and a 30 per cent cut in five years - left him "in no doubt" that the sector needs urgent help. Mr Blunkett suggested he wanted colleges to have a wider role in reforms for the "lost generation". "The real challenge in 16-19 is those not in education or a job," he said.

Labour's year, page 30

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