As part of Labour's attempt to widen debate on education, the DFEE has published Learning and working together for the future, a consultation document described as a strategic framework for the department.
Education Secretary David Blunkett said it demonstrated Labour's determination to create "a revitalised public service that adopts long-term objectives for addressing deep-seated problems and that wishes to be judged on results".
The 20-page document sets out the changing context of education in the coming five years, the main challenges the DFEE faces, its new aims, the start it is making with the White Paper, and the style of working it aims to adopt.
The document identifies six key challenges and four key objectives.
They include the challenges of creating a world-class education system and a culture of lifelong learning which helps people into work and tackles social exclusion and inequality.
The department's aim is to offer the best possible education, training and work to "enable everyone I to enjoy a fulfilling life, to have a stake in society and to contribute to increasing Britain's competitiveness in the 21st century".
Its four objectives are to:
* ensure everyone reaches 16 with the highest standards of basic skills and a secure foundation for lifelong learning, work and citizenship;
* encourage people to continue to develop knowledge, skills and understanding and improve their employability;
* help people without a job into work;
* promote equality of opportunity in education, training and work.
Particular emphasis is placed on raising literacy and numeracy in primaries and overall achievement in secondaries.
It resolves to combat discrimination on grounds of gender, age, race or disability and to help people combine work with parenthood or other caring responsibilities.
Free copies of the consultation document are available from DFEE Publications, PO Box 5050, Sudbury, Suffolk CO10 6ZQ or by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. co.uk. Comments are invited by December 23.