We've been quangoed

23rd June 2006 at 01:00
I do it for a living, but it is increasingly difficult to track the changing names and formations of the quangocracy that runs FE. It's like spooning out alphabetti spaghetti every time you want to refer to one of the many FE quangos.

There's the funding body, the LSC, which was the FEFC, which was the Tec, which was the MSC, which was spawned by the DfE, which became the DFEE, which became the DfES. And, checking up that you were doing a good job was the role of the HMI, but it's now done by Ofsted and ALI and, increasingly, in indirect ways, by LLUK when it sends SVUK to endorse your ITT and CPD training programmes.

Worryingly, the hydra-headed quangocracy is multiplying. This month sees the launch of the QIA and the LSN where once there was just the LSDA, which was Feda. The QIA is self-declared not as a quango, but an NDPB. Its first job is to find out what excellence in FE means, which must be a clear answer to those cynics who say that quangos are a waste of money! Challenged recently, when musing on quangos, I was informed that many of the bodies I thought were quangos were actually "private companies".

One, the CEL, was even described as a quasi quango. My view is that if it looks like a quango, acts like a quango, it is a quango. One such "private company" quango has already been mentioned. LLUK, an SSC, which was a TDLB, and its wholly-owned subsidiary, the SVUK which replaces Fento and sets standards for professional development. It has also spun off the IfL (PC) which was the IfL (FE) which is the FE version of the IfLT HE which is now the HEA, which is the HE version of the GTC (E).

We've got used to quangos and don't worry about them. When they started to have influence, it was all too common to try to ignore them. When I first applied for a job in FE, the head of department told me that I almost hadn't got the job because I hadn't read ABC by the FEU which was based at the FESC.

But I got the job with the LEA as this was before Gerbil which became ERA and turned colleges into PLCs. The alphabetti spaghetti was in evidence then but mostly it referred to mysterious groups of students.

I remember lecturers talking about organising Weep for NTIs, then YTS and YOPs. Now the main quangos are preoccupied by NEETs, who affect NETTs.

The quangocracy seems to have lost interest in the majority of students and is now turning its attention to lecturers. It's much worse than the simple times when NCVQ promoted NVQ verifier awards.

To teach YTS and YOPs, all you needed was courage, now to teach NEETS, you need to go on Inset and ITT endorsed by LLUK, in a framework set by the QIA, graded by OfstedALI and then the LLSC will fund you. That will be for as long as lecturers keep up their CPD record and membership of the Ifl (PC).

Confused? The thing about quangos is that they keep changing name, although I've noticed that the people running them seem to stay the same. There is a good research project for the LSDA, sorry, LSN. What gets more difficult to see, through the quangocracy, is the DfES.

They might be responsible for education but they don't want the responsibility, and perhaps that's why the quangocracy was created - to confuse FE lecturers about who's responsible for the Cinderella sector?

So, if you teach in FE and find it's impossible to know who's controlling your working life, you know you've been quango'd !

Dennis Hayes is based at the Urban Learning Foundation (ULF)


ALI Adult Learning Inspectorate

CEL Centre for Excellence in Leadership

CPD Continuing Professional Development

DfE, DFEE, DfES Education Department

ERA Education Reform Act

Feda FE Development Agency

FEFC FE Funding Council

Fento FE National Training Organisation

FESC FE Staff College


Gerbil Great Education Reform Bill

GTC General Teaching Council

HEA Higher Education Academy

HMI Her Majesty's Inspectorate

IfLPC Institute for Learning Post-Compulsory

ITT lnitial teacher training

Inset Inservice training

LEA Local education authority

LLUK Lifelong Learning UK

LSC Learning and Skills Council

LLSC Local Learning and Skills Council

LSDA Learning and Skills Development Agency

LSN Learning and Skills Network

Ofsted Office for Standards in Education

MSC Manpower Services Commission

NCVQ National Council for Vocational Qualifications

NDPB Non-Departmental Public Body

NEET Not in Employment, Education or Training

NETTs National Education and Training Targets

NTI New Training Initiative

NVQ National Vocational Qualification

QIA Quality Improvement Agency

SSC Sector Skills Council

SVUK Standards Verification UK

TDLB Training and Development Lead Body

Tec Training and Enterprise Council

Weep Work Experience on Employers' Premises

YOP Youth Opportunities Scheme

YTS Youth Training Scheme

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