From education to employment

Cross Governmental Report Confirms Proposed Bureaucracy Cuts in FE

Lecturers and tutors in the FE sector will face a lightened bureaucratic load, a new cross ““ governmental report entitled “Reducing Burdens in Colleges of Further Education”, revealed today.

The report was carried through by a combination of the efforts of the Cabinet Office, the Department for Education and Skills (DfES), and the Further Education funding body the Learning and Skills Council (LSC). It aims to cut back on the administrative burdens placed upon the staff in FE, both frontline lecturers and tutors and the “back office” staff.

Cutting Red Tape

The benefits of this effort at streamlining processes include the reduction of the amount of data required from staff at FE colleges by the LSC and the inspectors, both Ofsted and the Adult Learning Inspectorate (ALI) and simplifying the through ““ flow of funding to better target funds at the areas of greatest need. These together would assist in the primary goal, the provision of a top notch FE service to the population, business and the economy.

With this in mind, the report makes certain key recommendations. One of these is an effort to reduce the requests for data through better cooperation between FE partners, and ensuring the greatest efficiency in data sharing. One suggested means for this is the creation of common administrative and qualitative criteria across all funding bodies.

The report also goes on to comment on the need to address the needs of all stakeholders in the FE sector, thus seeking to increase engagement through good practice and reputation. It notes the need for existing funding methodology to be linked, to this end. In another proposal, seeking to tackle the perceived “image problem” of FE, it urges the use of all means of communication to make the public and employers fully aware of initiatives and new policies.

Timely Reminder

At the launch, Bill Rammell MP, the Minister of State for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education, welcomed the report, saying: “I welcome this report as a useful and timely insight into how bureaucracy affects front line staff. The new Bureaucracy Reduction Group” – announced by Ruth Kelly MP, Education Secretary, at the Association of Colleges (AoC) Conference last month, set up to challenge the regulatory burden imposed by new and existing policies within the FE sector ““ “met for the first time on 30 November, and I have asked them to take account of the report findings as they develop their action plan.”

Also present at the launch was Jim Murphy MP, Parliamentary Secretary at the Cabinet Office, who said: “This report will free up front line staff to what they do best – delivering first class further education, preparing the UK workforce for the emerging challenges posed by the global economy.”

Better Regulation Executive

This report is part of an ongoing effort on the part of the Cabinet Office in cooperation with other departments, and is just one of the “Making a Difference” projects. The Better Regulation Executive (BRE), launched in the March Budget, 2005, aims to deliver better regulation and reduce unnecessary bureaucracy. Amongst the areas covered by the BRE are private, public and voluntary sectors, across many domestic and European issues.

Caroline Lewis, Chair of the new Bureaucracy Reduction Group, said: “This is a very timely and helpful report. The Group discussed its findings on 30 November and we are arranging a day in the New Year for action planning. We will publish our plans to the sector in the spring.”

The Project Chair at the Learning & Skills Council, Paul May, spoke at the launch as well, saying: “This is the first time that the Department for Education and Skills, the Learning and Skills Council and the Cabinet Office have worked together on the FE sector. This report highlights many issues that the current reform proposals can sensibly take action upon.”

Jethro Marsh

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