Challenge priority

8th May 2009 at 01:00

Following the Chancellor's Budget statement, the Learning and Skills Council is commencing its capital building recovery plans for the college sector with a rigorous approach to prioritisation, but limited new resources available.

Is this not the moment to suspend its policy about sixth form presumption?

At a time when, clearly, resources will be stretched for all public infrastructure support, why should the LSC continue to assume that all presumption capital applications take priority? The impact on wider economic and social regeneration and student learning experiences is surely more important than sticking to presumption dogma? Enhancing the quality of the learning environment in sixth forms remains very important, but has to be set in the context of the adequacy and sufficiency of other local college provision.

There have been a number of examples where sixth form capital projects have been agreed, because of the presumption priority policy, when it was clearly evident that the local college had capacity, excellent Ofsted evidence and a proven track record in delivering similar curriculum activity.

Assumptions about presumption should be properly challenged and prioritised, not given the wave-through. Otherwise, in a few years, I guess questions will be asked about these potential proverbial white elephants.

Steven Broomhead, Chief executive of the Northwest Regional Development Agency.

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