Committee (5th Day)
Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Bill
Lord Ramsbotham (Crossbench)
I have put my name to Amendment 124 and I support Amendment 152.
I sound another caveat. The noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, who I am glad to see in her place, may recall a conversation that we had when she took over her responsibility. At that time I was extremely concerned about the difference in the provision between different young offender institutions with regard to educational budgets.
I suggested to the noble Baroness that what was needed was an educational needs assessment of what needed to be provided in each establishment for the population that was there. For example, a long-term young offender institution had very different needs than a remand centre, as did people housed between the ages of 15 and 18 to those between 19 and 21. I said that what one should not do was to accept the funding that was currently being provided by the Prison Service, because it was not based on a needs assessment and had been subject to cuts imposed by the Prison Service on the educational budget when it was under pressure to make cuts and was looking for suitable things to do.
I go back to what I said in my first intervention about the need to be quite clear that there is a what and a how here. The what is to be provided and must be laid down quite clearly so that there is no way in which people can interfere; the how is going to be delivered differently around the country, because there will be different providers. Particularly when you are looking at things such as work provision, you may have very different job experience being provided. We should remember that the task is to provide suitable education to meet the reasonable needs. I could not be more pleased that there are now five-year contracts, so at least there can be investment in what is provided, and continuity. But I am concerned that, unless something is done to make certain that there is consistent provision everywhere, you will go back to the problem that used to arise, whereby there is tremendous local variance around the country, which there could be with the number of local education authorities involved, if they are left to decide the what for themselves.