Public Accounts Committee announces 16 to 18 participation hearing

The Public Accounts Committee will hold an inquiry into the issue of 16 to 18-year-olds participating in education and training, it was announced today.

It will, on Monday from 3.15pm, look at how the Department for Education aims to pay for an increasing number of learners, while at the same time reducing spending.

A committee spokesperson said: “The DfE is responsible for setting national policy and funding for the education and training of 16 to 18-year-olds. Although the vast majority of young people participate, 81 per cent of around 2 million 16 to 18-year-olds, young people who are not in education and training have been a source of concern to the DfE for some time.

“The DfE is implementing reforms in this area, including a requirement since September 2013 that young people stay in full-time education or training for a full academic year after Year 11. From 2015, they will have to continue learning until their 18th birthday.

“The DfE is implementing its reforms at the same time as reducing spending on 16 to 18-year-olds. In 2013-14, the DfE’s core budget of £7bn for this age group was 8 per cent lower in real terms than in 2010-11.

“This inquiry will look at the challenges the DfE faces, the progress it has made to date, and how it can get better information about the effectiveness of its reforms to increase participation and quality further in future.”

So far, DfE Permanent Secretary Chris Wormald is the only witness to have been called, but a committee spokesperson said the details were subject to change.

It comes after committee chair and Labour MP Margaret Hodge (pictured) raised concerns about the take-up of traineeships following the publication of a report on participation by the National Audit Office in September.

Although the report found that the rate of participation of 16 to 18-year-olds in education and training had increased, it criticised careers advice and lamented the low take-up of traineeships by eligible providers.

For more information, see edition 116 of FE Week, dated Monday, November 3.

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