From education to employment

Michael Foster MP Describes DfES Proposal as “Clear Cut and Intelligent”

In the latest twist in the ongoing struggle between the Department for Education and Skills on the one hand and the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) Sussex, a local MP has come out on the side of the DfES.

The MP for Hastings and Rye, Michael Foster, has issued a statement strongly supporting the DfES decision to rethink implementation of the local LSC’s and the County Council’s scheme. He says that this is not a “compromise”, but sees it rather as a “clear cut and intelligent response to the needs of the area and local opinion.”

The Story So Far”¦

This move comes after debate has intensified over the future of post 16 provision in the area, with 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 being held in check. The changes proposed by the DfES include the retention of 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 spell trouble for any plans to establish a rural Rother college.

This decision to change from creating a single tertiary college was seen by some as a step backwards; however, Mr. Foster claims it to be a “perfect fit”. He went on to say: “The changes now backed by the Government are both comprehensive and significant. The Ministers decision will mean both choice and investment in education and regeneration for Hastings. In regeneration terms it remains exactly as it always was.”

Mr. Foster stressed that the £15 million that would have gone towards a rural college in Battle would still be available, thus stating that this was not an absolute reduction in investment. He also pointed out that there was equally a need to focus on education from 11 to 16 in the area as well: “It is important the strengths and specialist expertise in the 11-16 schools are recognised and they have a significant involvement in the new sixth – form College. Hastings Council Leader Jeremy Birch and I intend to meet headteachers, if they wish, to discuss how that might be pursued early in the new term.”

It remains to be seen what the County Council and the local LSC council have to say in response. The arguments, it seems, have only just begun.

Jethro Marsh

And now another banner has ridden onto the field! Parry and thrust in the FE Blog

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