Clause 6

Part of Further Education and Training Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:15 pm on 12th June 2007.

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Photo of Bill Rammell Bill Rammell Minister of State (Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education), Department for Education and Skills 12:15 pm, 12th June 2007

The debate has been short but instructive. I agree with the hon. Member for Brent, East that there should be diversity of not only provision of courses, but providers. We should certainly be seeking the highest possible quality, and we should acknowledge the improvement in quality in both further education colleges and independent providers in the past five to six years. In further education colleges, for example, the success rate has risen from 59 per cent. to 77 per cent., which is a very significant improvement in performance.

I also agree explicitly with my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough that in the provider structure we need a range of provision for the individual at a local level, whether that involves a school sixth form, a sixth-form college, a further education college or an independent provider. Often the judgment will be for the individual to make based on their particular circumstances.

I respect the track record and involvement in the issue of the hon. Member for Daventry. However, I am getting a little confused. In previous debates, I have heard strong demands from the Opposition Benches that we should implement what Leitch said about moving in a demand-led direction. Now we hear that not everything should lead in a demand-led direction and that we should hold back on some things. If there is a need for clarity from the Government, then I think that there is a need for clarity from the Opposition.