Clause 29

Part of Further Education and Training Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:30 pm on 14th June 2007.

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Photo of Angela Smith Angela Smith PPS (Yvette Cooper, Minister of State), Department for Communities and Local Government 2:30 pm, 14th June 2007

I have not said that. That section of the population rarely had access to such provision in the first place. For generations, its needs have been ignored, which is the whole point of my argument. This Government have focused on special educational needs, but it is now time for them to focus on the post-16 educational needs of that section of the population.

I should like briefly to draw attention to new clause 6. The Duke of Edinburgh award is successful in my city. Traditionally, it tended to focus on schools in the richest part of the city, but it has moved forward in recent years. It has worked well with the local authority, and it now works in the vast majority of our schools. That partnership, as well as the wider education partnership in the city, has attempted to reach out to young people from deprived communities, who would not traditionally have thought of achieving a Duke of Edinburgh award. That answers the point that the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth made about state intervention in the voluntary sector. I understand his point, but a sensible partnership between the voluntary sector and state education can encourage and increase young people’s involvement in voluntary activities.

The Duke of Edinburgh award is a sterling example of a programme that is not only enjoyable for young people, but improves their employability. I know for a fact that it is highly regarded by employers, although I do not forget that a number of voluntary leadership and skills development programmes are available to young people, which is important because not every young person is suited to the Duke of Edinburgh award.

I commend the new clauses to the Committee. I look forward to the Minister’s response to the comments of my hon. Friend the Member for City of Durham about the best practice suggested by the new clauses. I hope that the Minister will feel able to tell us how that best practice can be embedded in our education system.