Mayor's motives

31st March 2006 at 01:00
As someone involved in college senior management I am wary of the outcome from the review being carried out by the Government on funding within the capital. Has Ken Livingstone actually come up with a decent reason to change things? His record on public spending has raised eyebrows in the past and will do so again unless we keep him at arm's length. The capital's needs are those of the rest of the country and Mr Livingstone's attempts to say otherwise belie his real motives.

Perhaps the erstwhile Red Ken should now be re-titled Ed Ken. If he gets his way, does that mean other cities will apply for a similar arrangement? This would set a dangerous precedent, one that might lead to widescale disruption just when the sector doesn't need it. According to the regional director for London's LSCs, David Hughes, the capital boasts the highest number of young people staying on in post-16 education and the lowest proportion of employers reporting a skills shortage in the country. That doesn't fit well with Ken Livingstone's argument. I was also interested to read the principal of Newham College describing "bespoke" courses initiated by his college in response to the inflexibility of NVQ models. These courses are achieving precisely what the mayor implies isn't working under the current funding arrangement; namely to provide courses specific to the needs of local employers, local people and by extension the greater economic wellbeing of the capital. At the same time, the principal of Newham appears to be agreeing in part with Ken Livingstone when he says that while it is all right to have broad national policy, the finer details should be the responsibility of those at the front line. The solution is surely for the mayor to work more closely with LSCs, not the widescale change he desires for whatever reason.

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