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A whole-in-one approach

Many local authorities are providers of FE and work-based learning as well as adult and community learning. Instead of producing separate plans for their local learning and skills council, about a quarter opted for single development plans that sought to demonstrate coherence across the different types of learning. But this did not mean they were larger than plans produced by colleges and other trainers.

Derbyshire County Council's consists of 32 pages. Donald Rae, assistant chief education officer, says single plans should signify a more strategic approach. "In time it will be helpful," he says.

He believes authorities such as Derbyshire are getting to grips with data collection, but warns against introducing an achievement target in adult learning that leads to more bureaucracy.

The other problem facing local authorities is that the learning and skills councils' new system of funding based on three-year development plans, due to start later this year, only applies to FE. The national LSC says it would be tricky to introduce three-year funding elsewhere because of the contracts held by private trainers. "Until we get funding sorted, it's difficult to have a single plan," says Mr Rae. "It'll be a mess for some years."

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