Adult divide disturbs Natfhe

October 15, 1999

Lecturers' union Natfhe welcomed the white paper but is concerned about its focus on the needs of employment and employers rather than the needs of academic staff.

It criticises the paper for failing "to recognise fully and address the damage done to post-16 education and training over the past six years", particularly to pay, conditions and recruitment.

It is concerned that the white paper may represent a trend to divide education between 16 to 18-year-olds and adults. It wants a single inspection system rather than the two proposed and urges more accountability, with representatives of all stakeholders, including staff, automatically included on the national and local learning and skills council and local learning partnerships.

The union talks of tension between widening participation and improving standards while envisaging savings. It would like the remit of the Learning and Skills Council to include establishing a clearer relationship with higher education, such as a joint secretariat with the Higher Education Funding Council.

It also wants the council to be responsible for collecting and publishing statistics on further education and to have powers to intervene in mismanagement or fraud.

One of its key demands is that the government establish a professional body or institute for lifelong learning staff.

In spite of its reservations, the union welcomes many proposals that "should end the corrosive and harmful division between academic and vocational education and training that has bedevilled English education and put us at a considerable disadvantage compared with our main international competitors".

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