Learning and Skills Network
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Local authorities warned to use new education powers carefully

We’ve published a new report advising local authorities to be careful with new powers of commissioning post-16 education and training – or risk jeopardising Government plans to keep teenagers in education to the age of 18.

‘The 14-19 shake-up’ report sets out some of the challenges local authorities face from April 2010. This is when responsibility for funding and commissioning 16-19 education and training transfers from the Learning and Skills Council (LSC). The report is based on a YouGov survey of 1136 parents and 1150 teenagers.

By 2015 the Government intends to make it compulsory for teenagers to remain in education until they are 18. However, the survey indicates that if local authorities reduce choice in an area or increase travel times, teenagers could be deterred from staying on in education. 46% of young people questioned indicated they wouldn’t continue in education or training if their preferred course was not available locally. It also found that teenagers are less likely to stay on in education if they have to travel for more than an hour to do their preferred course.

The reputation of a school or college is another crucial factor. Indeed, it’s the second most important issue parents and teenagers consider when deciding which school or college to choose at 16.

Another important issue the report highlights is public confidence. Parents were asked whether they trust their local authorities to deliver this agenda. Only 15% agreed that local authorities could do a better job of organising 16-19 education than schools and colleges.

As April 2010 approaches and the transfer of powers is complete, local authorities will have to make difficult choices about which education and training provision to commission. The report says this is likely to be met with some public and institutional resistance. It advises local authorities to manage this by consulting parents, teenagers and the wider community about major changes.

Download the report here