Education to be at the heart of government
Schools must now get used to the DCSF, the Department for Children, Schools and Families. Headed by Ed Balls, Gordon Brown's close ally, it will take in wider aspects of children's policy. This will mean working with eight other departments on areas including child poverty, youth sport, and drug abuse among young people.
Mr Balls, the Children Schools and Families Secretary, said: "The whole point of this department is to see children in the round. It's to see that a promise on school standards is for all children, not just for some. It's to see schools have a central role in the community and in the whole lives of all children."
The teaching unions have given the new arrangements a cautious welcome. But there are concerns because FE colleges will now have to answer to both departments.
Responsibility for further education will be split, with the DCSF co ordinating education for 14- to 19-year-olds, encompassing the new vocational diplomas.
A new Department for Innovation Universities and Skills, or DIUS, led by John Denham, will look after the adult side of FE along with higher education.
John Brennan, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, said the changes meant an uncertain time for his members.
The new structure also means a huge reduction in the role of the Learning and Skills Council. By 2009 the quango will see its pound;11bn annual budget slashed: the pound;7bn it used to hand out for 16-19 education in schools and FE colleges will be distributed by local authorities. Raising the education and training leaving age to 18 will involve both new departments as under-19 apprenticeships will be a DIUS responsibility.
Powerhouse policy, pages 16-19
FE Focus, page 3