A question of planning

30th January 2004 at 00:00
Q What are three-year development plans?

A They are part of an attempt by the national Learning and Skills Council to link funding to planning in further education colleges and a wide range of other providers of work-based and adult and community learning. They should allow providers and local LSCs to plan with greater certainty and provide the Government with evidence of improved performance.

Q What exactly does everyone have to do?

A They have to agree with their local LSC on the range of education and training they are going to provide over the next three years and show whether they are meeting a series of targets.

Q Not more bureaucracy, surely? They must be furious.

A In the majority of cases, it appears they are not. Three-year development plans are intended to be clear and succinct documents rather than lengthy strategic papers. Most of them are about 20 to 30 pages long, but some are much longer.

Q How many plans does each provider need to produce?

A Colleges that also provide work-based and adult learning tended to put everything in one plan. Some local authorities also opted for single plans while others produced different plans for each type of learning.

Q What were the targets?

A Colleges and other FE providers were obliged to cover four targets: recruitment, achievement, employer engagement and staff qualifications. In the case of work-based learning there were two - recruitment and achievement - while those providing adult learning had just one target: recruitment.

Q So were there any problems?

A A few local LSCs got a bit carried away and insisted on extra targets, but nearly all providers completed their plans by the end of October.

Q What does all this mean for providers?

A In the case of colleges and other FE providers, it means an extra 2 per cent on top of this year's budget. But there have already been some complaints that overall funding for the next few years is too low.

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