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Post-16 shake-up gathers pace;FE Focus

Ministers are working at breakneck speed to publish a White Paper by July on a new, streamlined post-16 sector.

Legislation is needed for the fundamental shake-up - revealed exclusively in last week's TES - and ministers want their proposals to be ready for the next Queen's Speech. At the heart of the policy is a single body for the sector, subsuming the Further Education Funding Council, the training arm of the training and enterprise councils, and the careers service.

The 16-plus review team is being led by John Hedger, director of operations at the Department for Education and Employment and Peter Lauener, divisional manager, based in Sheffield, where officials are putting together a paper.

This week civil servants called together 28 organisations for consultation on the review. They included the TEC national council, the FEFC, council representatives, the careers service, the Training Standards Council, chambers of commerce and the Confederation of British Industry.

All responses to the review must be in by the end of this month; a White Paper will be published in July, with implementation intended for April, 2001.

The speed of the proposed changes disturbed many participants, especially the CBI. The TEC review only became a "wider assessment" on March 10, and has overnight become a 16-plus review. Many felt government minds were already made up.

At the consultation, presentations were made by the FEFC, the TEC National Council and the Local Government Association. Many saw the need to build on existing lifelong learning partnerships.

There was overwhelming support for a single inspectorate, combining the FEFC, OFSTED and the Training National Council.

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