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Tories slam new quango

The Conservatives have blasted the Government's plans to give the agency in line to replace the Learning and Skills Council the job of running its academies programme.

The Young People's Learning Agency (YPLA) was initially expected to take control of funding for all 16-19 education, but in January the Government wrote to all academy heads and sponsors to say day-to-day control would be transferred to the new body.

The quango is not expected to start work until the autumn - when the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Bill, which will create it, is given Royal Assent.

But this week, the Tories said it is "the wrong agency" to control the academy programme. Shadow schools minister Nick Gibb said: "We are very concerned as the role is clearly just an add-on. The body was set up to deal with funding for 16 to 19-year-olds, academies cater for 11 to 18-year-olds and some three to 18. It doesn't seem to fit - the areas two need staff with completely different skill sets."

The Liberal Democrats have also criticised the decision to shift the management of academies to a non-governmental organisation.

David Laws, the party's education spokesman, said that the Government should allow local government to oversee academies.

"When the Government comes up against a problem, its knee-jerk reaction is to create another quango," he added.

A spokesperson for the Department for Children, Schools and Families, said: "The YPLA, as an organisation with a presence in all local government regions, will be able to provide a more personalised service to academies."

Quango in a tangle, page 30.

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