From education to employment

The Recommendations and Findings in the Latest Public Sector Oversight Review

A group organised to reduce bureaucracy in further education and training, the Bureaucracy Review Group, have published the results of recommendations implemented in 2004 as part of their annual report.

The BRG had spoken to many organisations including the Department for Education and Skills (DfES), the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), Ofsted, the Adult Learning Inspectorate (ALI) and the Qualification and Curriculum Authority (QCA) and finally came up with four key recommendations.

Counting Down

The first recommendation was the adoption of a strategic approach to regulation, introducing a proportional, integrated and differentiated regime over 12 months. This led to a reduction of scrutiny by 25% and in turn reduced the number of staff involved. Ofsted and ALI developed a new approach to inspections that were introduced for ALI sole remit providers and FE colleges in 2005.

The second recommendation was that the Management Information System was to be simplified and substantially reduced. A new core date was set, across the sector, and implemented within 12 months, with the aim of reducing the amount of information collected by 40%. As part of its wider agenda for change, the Learning and Skills Council planned a radical overhaul of how data was collected and shared across the sector.

Qualification Modernisation

Third on their list was that the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) should be asked to extend their modernisation programme to encompass all qualifications in the FE and training sector as soon as possible. Also, the QCA examined the scope for rationalising the administration of awarding bodies and scrutiny requirements the place on providers.

This saw them work with the Federation of Awarding Bodies to develop a common centre approval process for vocational and occupational qualifications that were implemented in September 2005. It also standardised core examination requirements and procedures, and improved the co-ordination of exam inspection visits. This helped lead to a 30% reduction in the overall burden imposed by awarding bodies.


Lastly, the framework contract between the DfES and the LSC was renegotiated to give clarity to the role of the DfES and that of the LSC. This contract gave prime focus on strategic leadership and coherence to the DfES while the LSC was given the lead role in managerial implementation. This led to the reduction of staffing levels in the DfES and LSC as planned. So far, the LSC staffing has fallen from 4,800 to 4,000 and the DfES will lose 1460 staff by 2008.

As part of its 5-year strategy for Children and Learners (July 2004), the DfES confirmed that it would become more strategic, smaller and more professional, and very strong in partnership working. The LSCs new role was to take far greater responsibility for the design and development of new programmes, as well as their implementation.

So, the BRG has explained their four key ides to reduce bureaucracy. However, it will take time to implement the changes and effort to continue them, with the aim to reduce bureaucracy, improve efficiency and refocus resources towards teaching and training.

Paul Keely


Related Articles