FE sector deserves praise for bringing a vision to life

18th May 2007 at 01:00

Your editorial "How the vision just melted away" (FE Focus, May 11) presented a picture of the FE sector and the Learning and Skills Council which I simply did not recognise.

You missed a great opportunity to thank and encourage the thousands of people in colleges and other providers around the country, as well as organisations like the LSC. It is, in fact, quite clear that the FE sector is critical to the success of this country, not just in terms of the contribution to the economy but also in terms of offering more people opportunities to achieve their goals in life.

That's why there has been an unprecedented level of investment in FE in recent years which is now paying dividends. There are more young people in education than there have ever been before. We are seeing improvements in achievement rates across the system for young people and adults. Look around the country and you will see dozens of iconic, world-class buildings that stand as beacons in the community, inspiring people to learn. The cost of administering this investment actually fell when the LSC was established by about pound;50 million per annum. In addition, the LSC has reorganised to work more effectively and efficiently with the sector and our partners.

Savings of about pound;40m per annum have been redirected into funding learning.

This is not a vision that's melting, but a vision that's coming to life.

There remains a lot to do. We must ensure we provide the education and training employers and individuals want. We must deliver what the country needs in terms of improving the skills of young people and adults. We must ensure that our focus on skills for employment includes those who are vulnerable or need extra help. We must reduce the bureaucracy and simplify the way we all work.

I am not claiming the system is perfect or that there is not a huge amount still to do - far from it. But as the sector becomes yet more successful, so it will continue to grow in confidence.

I, for one, will be celebrating the success and encouraging that confidence. I urge you and your readers to do the same.

Christopher N Banks Chair, Learning and Skills Council

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