The Department for Education’s (DfE) responsibility for education and skills currently cuts off when pupils reach the age of 18, with further and higher education sectors under the remit of the Department for Business Innovation (BIS). It has now been decided that the DfE will take over responsibility for these sectors.
It follows a long period of speculation about the future of education policy across government departments, with the division between DfE and BIS seen as a hindrance to closer working between the schools and FE sectors.
Commenting on the Department for Education taking on responsibility for colleges and skills, Martin Doel, chief executive of the Association of Colleges (AoC), said:
We look forward to working with Justine Greening as the new education secretary as her department takes on the responsibility for skills. Ms Greening has a good knowledge of the further education and skills sector and is a former college student herself.
The move to incorporate skills into the DfE must not be allowed to preface any loss of focus on technical education as embodied in the recently released Post-16 Skills Plan.
Link with industry that were firmly established in BIS need to be preserved and built upon in the transfer of departments. The distinctive contribution of colleges as autonomous institutions needs also to be recognised and promoted – they are not the same as big schools.