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'One tariff, one inspectorate';FE Focus;Post-16

Ngaio Crequer reports on a call for national coherence as the Government's post-16 review draws to a close

A NATIONAL funding body, operating at arm's length from government, should hand out the money for all those who provide post-16 education outside the universities, according to the FE Funding Council.

In its submission on the Government's post-16 review the council called for a common funding tariff across colleges, local authorities, school sixth forms, private training-providers and employers.

Colleges and larger private training-providers should be funded directly by the new body, but sixth forms and adult education would get their money via local authorities. In time it might be better to fund sixth forms directly and eventually fund 14-16 education via a single body, the FEFC said.

As well as a core funding stream, there should be a small amount of money given to local partnerships for them to allocate. This would allow them to respond to emerging skills needs and improve the access to education for those people who feel excluded, said the council.

Local partnerships would have to advise the national body on whether their education was adequate and sufficient. In its turn the national body would have a statutory obligation to consider what the local partnerships said when setting the national tariff and determining the funding for local priorities.

The council said there should be a single inspectorate across all post-16 courses. It should be independent and objective but have "strong links" with the funding body to promote quality and have a comprehensive view of deliverers. "This is essential to enable early warning," says the council, and to make possible a "rapid funding body response to deliverers causing concern".

Employers would need "real influence" over both core and local priority funding, rather than "detailed involvement", said the council. They would have a key role in identifying skills needs, both locally and nationally.

The national body would have regional arms which would be well placed to rationalise provision "where necessary".

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