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No 'fixed' study

In an article headed "Study fixed by Ministers" (TES, February 9), you reported a number of claims made by the Association For Colleges in relation to a Department for Education and Employment study of the public funding costs of provision for 16 to 19-year-olds (which was itself published on December 13).

In particular, the department is claimed to have:

* "tailored the findings of the study to help make the case for a voucher system";

* "amended its formula to make the disputed findings more convincing";

* "tried to steer the formula back, having been rumbled by trying to manipulate the figures".

These claims are wholly without foundation and cast entirely unjustified doubts on the professional integrity of the department's staff.

We have in fact made a detailed report of our methodology and results available to a wide range of organisations, including a number of colleges, and have considered and responded to their comments. Where their comments justified it we are refining details of our methodology.

As part of this consultation, we are due to have a meeting to discuss the methodology with the AFC and others on February 23.

DENIS ALLNUTT

Director of analytical services

Department for Education and Employment

Sanctuary Buildings

Great Smith Street

Westminster

London SW1

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