From education to employment

Council Urge Government to Reconsider Delay to FE Proposal in Hastings

In the ongoing saga of local post ““ 16 education provision, the East Sussex County Council have called on the Government to explain itself and the new attempt to change the initial proposal.

In a clear statement of intent, the council expressed their support for the Learning and Skill Council (LSC) Sussex and its plans for the sixth forms in the area. This plan, which involved the creation of a centrally organised college in four locations in Hastings, Bexhill and Battle, was compiled in conjunction with the County Council and has been fully consulted and costed.

Putting Funding in Jeopardy

There is a fear on the part of the council that this sudden and abrupt change in direction on the part of the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) could jeopardise the £53 million funding package that is waiting in the wings. There are also concerns over the proposed changes, which would see Bexhill and HCAT Colleges kept as independent bodies, along with the sixth forms at two local schools (William Parker and Helenswood). The new plans also sound the death knell for plans for a rural Rother college.

The council has enquired as to the legal basis of the decision taken by the Government, as well as the timeline for responding by September. They believe that the Government’s proposals will not guarantee the best level of training and education for the young people of the area, and would certainly be less effective than the plams put forward by the LSC and the county council.

Short Notice for Notice Served

The Lead Cabinet Member for Adult’s and Children’s Services, Councillor Keith Glazier, expressed the broad sense of discontent. “We are very concerned that the Governments new set of proposals will not stack up in terms of educational improvement. We are asking for an explanation regarding the reasons for their decision, the legal basis for it and the extremely tight timescale for us to reply.”

He continued on the theme of dissatisfaction with the tight timeframe that they have been given by the DfES, saying: “If you take out the school holiday period, we only have three working weeks to discuss this with our schools and colleges and other partners before we have to go back to the Government at the end of September.” He pointed out the disparity between the time and effort that had gone into the first set of proposals, and the time afforded for their rebuttal: “It has taken three years to develop these proposals through local discussion and we now have three weeks to respond to a completely new set of proposals from central Government.”

Councillor Glazier stressed that this would not affect pupils returning to their courses in September. “We would like to make it clear that its business as usual,” said Councillor Glazier. “No changes have been made to post 16 education and any students starting their studies this September will not see any differences in their arrangements. This will apply for this and the next academic year as it is unlikely any possible future alterations will affect sixth formers in those intakes”.

Jethro Marsh

Swords drawn at the educational Battle of Hastings; share your bird’s eye view in the FE Blog

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