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Post-16 proposals under attack by TUC

THE GOVERNMENT'S plans for radical post-16 reforms look set for a rough ride at the Trades Union Congress conference in Brighton next week.

Motions from the National Union of Teachers and the lecturers' union NATFHE, while offering qualified support for the Learning to Succeed White Paper, also voice serious reservations.

NATFHE is calling for a "fundamental review" of the pay, conditions and training of workers in lifelong learning. It also calls for full representation of staff, users and union members on the proposed new learning councils. It warns that efforts to promote workplace learning may be insufficient to provide the training that the country needs and calls for paid educational leave for all workers.

The union describes the decision to remove benefit from those refusing New Deal options or leaving the scheme early as "conscription for the unemployed". It says: "Lifelong learning must be based on voluntary participation. People cannot be forced to learn."

The NUT says the 16-plus White Paper includes "weaknesses and omissions", accuses the Government of "unnecessarily complex" bureaucratic arrangements and expresses concern at the proposed majority business membership of the new learning skills councils.

It "deplores" the decision to give the Office for Standards in Education responsibility for inspection of college provison and calls for a "fair and balanced" system of externally moderated self-assessment. A group of union members in post-16 education should be established to monitor the development of the proposals, it suggests.

Delegates will also be asked to support proposals to give 16-year-olds the vote. The Community and Youth Workers Union's motion to lower the age of majority also calls for statutory funding of the youth service to the tune of pound;500 million a year.

The union's general secretary Doug Nicholls said: "There needs to be a rounded approach to social inclusion and what better way of indicating to young people that they are included in society than giving them the vote."

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