Reactions to Blunkett's blueprint

July 2, 1999

Reaction to the white paper was generally positive.

David Melville, chief executive of the Further Education Funding Council, which will be replaced by a single funding body, the Learning and Skills Council, called it "a landmark event in the history of education", which affirmed the key role of further education.

Gary Johnson, TEC National Council chairman, said "there is much to commend in the white paper in terms of addressing weaknesses in the current system" but said the council would like to see more scope for business leaders to help determine priorities of the local learning and skills councils.

David Gibson, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, welcomed the proposals as a "bold" step that would "reduce bureaucracy, allow proper local planning and work towards fairer funding and more rational inspection systems".

Chris Hughes, chief executive of the Further Education Development Agency, said the review was "one step towards ending the nonsense of the divide between the education haves and the education have-nots" by giving people who left school with few qualifications a clear gateway into training.

Alan Tuckett, director of the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education, called it "a red letter day" for adult learners, criticising the decision to have two inspection schemes, but praising the idea of central planning combined with detailed local organisation.

Lord Dearing, chairman of the University for Industry, welcomed the white paper "unequivocally", saying the new funding principles it set out would help UfI deliver learning in "bite-sized chunks".

But Adair Turner, director general of the Confederation of British Industry, said the new local bodies would have to prove they could play the same independent strategic role as the TECs in engaging local business and meeting their needs.

And Theresa May, shadow secretary of state for education and employment, said the white paper did nothing to clarify issues and only guaranteed additional bureaucracy. She said it emasculated regional development agencies in their education and training role and cast aside the work of businessmen and women who had given company time to TECs.

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