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Leaders' work on reform wishlist;FE Focus

COLLEGE leaders are to challenge the Government on its proposed shake-up of post-16 education and training by presenting their own blueprint for change.

As The TES revealed exclusively last week, the Government review - which excludes universities - would see the abolition of both the Further Education Funding Council and the training and enterprise councils. In its place it is considering a single body, likely to be an executive agency, which would give the Government much more power over the sector.

On Monday the Association of Colleges is to hold a meeting of chairs and principals to prepare a new manifesto for the sector.

"We are going to show how we think the post-16 sector should look in a decade's time," said John Brennan, development director. "We are going to urge the Government to be bold and radical. We want it to think about what it will need in the early years of the next century, not just about how to fix the current problems."

All options are up for consultation but AOC leaders see the need for a single, unified body, not directly controlled by Government, but acting as a buffer. They want a common, national funding system, but with flexibility in the regions to cater for local needs.

They want a single inspection system to replace three different teams, from the Office for Standards in Education, the funding council, and the Training Standards Council, all checking up on colleges. It also advocates an inspection process that is separate from funding.

Dave Gibson, chief executive of the association, said: "I do not read many reports, critical of colleges, which say that funding is inadequate. In some of these cases colleges may be cash-starved." Mr Brennan added: "HMI used to say things like that, and the then government got rid of it."

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