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Chief Executive of the Association of Learning Providers Claims the Battle is Not O

Following the Association of Colleges (AoC) Conference last week, which saw the launch of the Foster Review of Further Education amongst other things, Graham Hoyle, Chief Executive of the Association of Learning Providers (ALP) insists that the debate over the proposed merger of the Adult Learning Inspectorate (ALI) and the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) is not over yet.

The Foster Review, apart from stating that Further Education generally needs to be more focused on the skills agenda to create a workforce that is skilled and trained in the areas required to compete globally, also commented that he believes that the two inspectorates ““ who currently share the responsibility for inspecting different areas of FE ““ should be merged into a single body. He also recommended a much stricter regime for re ““ inspection, saying that changes to management structures of FE Colleges should be more rapidly enacted following a failing grade at re ““ inspection after one year.

Should Be Separate?

The audience of the AoC Conference were also treated to the views of David Bell, the Chief Inspector of Ofsted, who spoke briefly on the proposed merger. In his speech to the assembled delegates, he said that the merger would represent an “economy of scale” and pledged that the enlarged inspectorate would build on the skills of the ALI inspectors. It must be said that the majority of his speech focused on the success of colleges in improving since the previous year, when his somewhat unguarded comments caused a minor storm of protest.

Mr. Hoyle, speaking to FE News on a cold November early evening, said that the Foster Review’s approval for a single inspectorate was the “one disappointing element” of the document. He maintains his belief that there should be two separate inspectorates, and continues to fear for the comprehensive nature of inspections should the merger go ahead.

Shaky Start a Distant Memory

After what he called a “shaky start”, he believes that the ALI has improved substantially in recent years, and would be loath to lose this advance through a government drive across all public services to lighten oversight. He stated that, should such a merger take place, it would be vitally important for there to be a safeguarded section for Work Based Learning (WBL) Providers” inspectors thus keeping the focus upon WBL Providers.

Mr. Hoyle was unwilling to be drawn on the exact details of the situation following a merger which has yet to be accepted, for instance regarding staff security in their roles. He stated, however, that job cuts are extremely unlikely and that he expects that ALI inspectors will move to new roles within Ofsted should the merger take place. In conclusion, Mr. Hoyle is in complete accord with the desire to slim down bureaucratic procedures ““ but not at the expense of dumping expertise that has been hard ““ won.

Jethro Marsh

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