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London's weak link must not wreck regional rule

We read with great interest Alan Thomson's article ("RPG trial fires warning shot for regional autonomy", February 26) on 14-19 planning and funding in London. We agree the configuration and complexity in number of local authorities is exacerbated by the complexities of the London labour market.

We welcome the proposals that London be treated as both a region and sub- region in the new structures. Yet while we are pleased that the trials so far seem to have gone well, the University and College Union (UCU) London remains concerned at the comparative weakness of the London Regional Planning Group (RPG).

We have put forward an alternative proposal that seeks to strengthen the RPG by creating a new regional body to coherently co-ordinate the boroughs' strategic 14-19 plans and subsequent commissioning. Such a body would, in part, mirror the existing London structure for adult skills, the London Employment and Skills Board (LESB).

The proposed 16-18 body would, like the LESB, have representatives drawn from London local authorities, employers and providers, including schools, colleges and work-based learning providers. It would include student and London-wide trade union representatives of the teachers, lecturers and support staff. This body would empower those working and studying in the sector to have a full say in what kind of curriculum offer should be made available to learners to ensure their needs are fully met.

We hope that others involved with 16-18 education in London will give these proposals serious consideration so that we can have an urgent and authentic debate about the future direction of learning for the capital's young people.

Jenny Sutton, FE chair, UCU London; Louis Wood, FE secretary, UCU London.

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