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Commons questions for new Education and Skills ministers


Education and Skills Minister Estelle Morris and her new team faced their first major session of questions in the Commons last week. Among the many questions relating to education was a query about the work of the Learning and Skills Council and a discussion about the current dispute over pay within the FE sector.

Minister for Lifelong Learning Margaret Hodge assured her questioner that businesses would continue to be involved in the Investors in People standard, responsibility for which would come under the Learning and Skills Council. She added that the Small Business Service could maintain links with the Learning and Skills Council for delivering IiP.

When asked by West Bromwich MP Adrian Bailey how the LSC planned to increase participation in post-16 education, Margaret Hodge responded that she could "write an essay on that", but responded briefly that the Council would be setting a strategy and business plan to be implemented by the 47 local arms of the LSC, who would continue to work with the FE sector, private providers, sixth-form schools and colleges to increase participation, something which the current government committed itself to in its manifesto.

On the question of salaries for FE lecturers, John Healy MP admitted that the new Secretary for Education and Skills had yet to meet with lecturers representatives at the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFE), although he himself had met with union representatives. Mr Healy stated that he shared concerns over the current state of industrial relations within the FE sector, but added that "NATFHE's claim for an across-the-board £3,000 increase is simply not on the cards". He pointed to the newly-introduced teaching pay initiative, which is intended to which provides money on top of the general funding for colleges, as a way of providing additional pay increases within individual colleges.

Read about the progress of the Learning and Skills Council so far


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