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Cash for reforms on its way to colleges

But only if you raise standasds, Education Secretary expected to say. Ian Nash reports

ESTELLE Morris will reveal measures to improve college pay in a major speech on the future of further education next week.

The Education Secretary is expected to announce a package close to the pound;30 million demanded by unions to extend the teachers' pay initiative to support staff and management. The initiative is on top of the annual pay rise and rewards selected staff for qualifications and performance.

Ms Morris is also expected to give reassurances on more substantial pay reforms, to be unveiled in the summer following Chancellor Gordon Brown's comprehensive spending review.

She will not attempt to spike the Chancellor's guns by giving details of the bigger package. But she is expected to say the cash will be linked to raising standards and eliminating poor provision.

Mr Brown signalled his intention to boost college resources - but with strings attached - when he addressed the annual conference of the private-sector union Amicus this week. Citing colleges as a priority, he pledged "resources for reforms".

Ms Morris is expected to make clear, in her speech to the annual conference of the Learning and Skills Development Agency in London next week, that she wants a "clarifying of the mission and culture of colleges".

Her speech will be accompanied by a discussion paper for consultations which are expected to last into late autumn. Both will be an extension of the ground laid by Margaret Hodge, lifelong learning minister, in a speech in March to the LSDA, in which she said colleges must define their strategy more clearly.

This and a subsequent speech to the Social Market Foundation, in which she attacked poor standards in the sector, roused the wrath of colleges, which accused her of unjustified criticism.

But Department for Education and Skills sources told FE Focus that a series of forthcoming inspection reports "will send shockwaves through the system". Reports on "star" colleges such as Lewisham were not going to be anywhere near as good as expected.

Vocational education and colleges' failure to work out how best to serve their community presented the biggest problems, the source said.

Ms Morris, in her speech to the LSDA conference, is expected to tell the Learning and Skills Council that more urgent detailed reviews are needed to create centres that meet local needs.

She will also call for more innovative teaching styles in colleges. This has already been flagged up as a priority by Ms Hodge when she announced the appointment last month of a tsar to head a government standards unit for FE.

While Ms Morris has promised a package of reforms to "transform" FE, she will stop short of introducing wholly specialist colleges or splitting FE colleges into 16 to 19 and post-19 institutions.

The DFES source said the idea of restricting general FE colleges had been considered but was seen as "implausible." Instead, Ms Morris will call for local LSCs to take urgent steps to encourage more distinctive 16 to 19 provision in schools, sixth-form colleges and centres within general colleges.

Work-based training failing, 33 Chris Hughes, 34

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