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Sector's success

The Further Education Reputation Strategy Group was delighted to see the strengths and improved performance of the FE sector acknowledged in your article "Sector exceeds success targets" (April 17).

We are also keen to highlight the vital contribution of independent learning providers in achieving these impressive results. While they are not always given a significant public platform, independent learning providers are responsible for delivering about two-thirds of all apprenticeships in England.

According to the education foundation Edge, private training companies were responsible for 39 per cent of the NVQs achieved in 2006-07, with 40 per cent being delivered by colleges and 10 per cent by employers. Contracts for Train to Gain are also held almost equally between independent learning providers and colleges.

The strategy group is looking at ways to build the reputation of the sector, including that of independent learning providers. As such, we will be hosting a seminar at the Association of Learning Providers' conference on May 13, in Nottingham, where we will explore ways we might work together to do this more effectively.

Certainly, across the sector we see countless examples of how FE works to change lives. We also know that we deliver high-quality education and training more and more successfully. I have no doubt that our vibrant and diverse sector will build on this success in the years to come, and it will be significantly easier to achieve the recognition that it justly deserves.

Alison Birkinshaw, Chair of the FE Reputation Strategy Group.

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