A sector so incoherent that 'nothing gets done'

16th May 2003 at 01:00
Educationist says new bureaucracy has made post-16 learning far too complicated. Steve Hook reports.

EDUCATION guru Leisha Fullick says London is getting bogged down by bureaucracy created by the plethora of organisations responsible for post-16 education.

Ms Fullick, pro-director of the Institute of Education in London, says there is a lack of cohesion among the organisations, which include five local learning and skills councils and 33 local education authorities.

She was giving the John Baillie memorial lecture, in honour of the former Southwark College principal and trade unionist, on Tuesday. The event was organised by lecturers' union Natfhe, of which he was a founder member.

This week, FE Focus publishes her speech in full on its website.

Ms Fullick said she was concerned about the "plethora of agencies, partnerships, policies, structures and funding regimes that at times contradict each other and at times are in danger of swamping the whole system so that nothing gets done".

Her career began in adult education in the 1970s. She later went on to become an inspector of further and adult education, specialising in subjects including social science. She has been education director of Lewisham LEA, chief executive of Islington council and a founding member of the LSC. She is also a vice-president of the National Institute of Continuing Adult Education, which advises ministers on post-19 education.

She added: "In London, the range of bodies now concerned with post-16, and indeed post-14 provision and lifelong learning policy is legion and there are few unifying structures or principles.

"We have five local learning and skills councils, the London Development Agency, the Government Office for London, the Mayor, 33 LEAs, and at least 30 local strategic partnerships. There are lifelong learning partnerships and neighbourhood renewal strategies.

"While LSC executive directors are working hard at developing a strategic London overview, their programme-related people can't and don't. They are overburdened, and the expertise and experience simply isn't there. Adult and community learning plans are of very different quality from borough to borough. The learning partnerships don't match LSC boundaries and their efficacy varies widely across London.

"The expertise in delivering the essential education component of neighbourhood renewal varies widely across London, as it would not have done in the days of the Inner London Education Authority. Local Strategic Partnerships, which have responsibility for neighbourhood renewal, will in many cases not have much of a clue as to what to do about it. Nobody has an overview of adult and community learning."

For a full transcript of the speech, see www.tesfefocus.co.uk

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