Mudie set to be reshuffle casualty;FE Focus

25th June 1999 at 01:00
GEORGE Mudie's last act as lifelong learning minister is likely to be as a minor player in the unveiling of the post-16 White Paper next week.

He is expected to go in the government reshuffle, which is now expected in late July, as he has failed to impress the Prime Minister and senior colleagues.

He is seen by ministerial colleagues as weak and ineffectual, and unable to drag the FE sector onto the grand stage.

The appointment of the former deputy chief whip was a surprise last year as he was a virtual unknown outside Westminister and his constituency.

One name being touted to succeed him is Malcolm Wicks, who was a shadow social security spokesman in Opposition, and has chaired the Commons education select committee since the autumn.

He is a former director of the Family Policy Studies Centre and has been long involved with low pay and lone parent issues. He is particularly concerned about the effects of poverty on those in education, and about social exclusion.

If he was appointed, the most natural successor to chair the select committee would be Anne Campbell, who was named as a possible chair when Mr Wicks won the post. A statistician, she once lectured at Cambridgeshire College of Arts and Technology.

All of the rest of the education team are considered safe. David Blunkett, seen to be doing a very good job, was said to be in line to move to the Home Office with Jack Straw moving to the Foreign Office. But the war in Kosovo has meant the Prime Minister has had to put on hold some of his changes as it would not be sensible to move Robin Cook at this time.

If and when Mr Blunkett is moved, the name being put forward to succeed him is Steve Byers, the Trade and Industry Secretary. Margaret Hodge and Charles Clarke, newly promoted junior ministers, seem to have done good jobs.

Baroness Blackstone, the further and higher education minister, is seen as a safe pair of hands and will play the leading role in taking forward the post-16 agenda. Blackstone, representing education and training, and Mr Byers, whose department will be taking over the enterprise function of training and enterprise councils, will be the double act spurring on the revolutionary changes to be announced next week.

The post-16 White Paper has had another date change and is now scheduled for publication next Wednesday. As exclusively revealed in The TES, there will be a single agency for the delivery of all education and training outside the universities, with the abolition of the training and enterprise councils and the Further Education Funding Council.

Lifelong learning partnerships, a consortia of colleges, local authorities, youth and careers services and employers would be the bottom-up providers of education and training. There will be up to 50 new regional offices to manage the revamped sector.

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