The clause deals with collaborative arrangements for the education and training of 14 to 19-year-olds. The explanatory notes say that it
“also enables local education authorities to set up joint arrangements for co-operation on 14-19 education or training covering the areas for which they are responsible.”
Before I say more on that, I must say that the intervention that the hon. Member for Llanelli made on me about two hours ago, has just winged its way to me via a carrier pigeon from Bognor Regis. It asks,
“Who used to say that about doctors?”
My reply was going to be: a Doctor Who always has an important female assistant, who is usually gorgeous.
Coming back to clause 69, I should like to know whether its scope extends to the new diplomas. Their successful implementation will depend on the collaboration between institutions that is central to the clause. This issue has been raised in the House before by me and others, and I know that Ministers are sensitive about it, but there is doubt about how much collaboration is taking place in pursuit of that end. Will the Minister therefore take this opportunity to say a word about that sort of productive collaboration on diplomas?
The successful delivery of 14-to-19 education depends entirely on there being a collaborative approach within a local area. The local authority, the learning and skills council, employers, higher education institutions and providers of pre and post-16 education need to work together to ensure that the full range of curriculum and qualifications can be delivered. We said in the 14-to-19 education and skills implementation plan published in 2005 that we expected all areas to set up 14-to-19 partnerships that would be led by the local authority and local LSC. We know that that has happened on a voluntary basis, and there are many strong examples of 14-to-19 partnerships, such as the one in south Gloucestershire near the constituency of the hon. Member for Bristol, West. Such partnerships are driving developments locally.
All areas have some sort of collaboration arrangements in place for 14-to-19 partnerships—I hope that helps the hon. Member for South Holland and The Deepings—but we know that their quality varies. The next few years will be crucial for the local planning of the infrastructure needed for 14-to-19 delivery. We need to be confident that 14-to-19 partnerships are consistent, secure and able to have a strong voice in their localities. The clause will strengthen and underpin the arrangements that local authorities have set up for local co-operation in 14-to-19 education by placing a legal duty on them to make the necessary collaboration arrangements. It will also ensure that 14-to-19 education is an important part of local children’s trust arrangements to provide better outcomes for young people. The clause should stand part of the Bill.