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Extended Schools

Volume 461: debated on Wednesday 20 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment he has made of the Train to Gain level 3 pilots in the North West. (142435)

The Level 3 trials are now operational in three LSC regions including the north west. Detailed operational information is not held centrally by the Department but it is collected by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC). Mark Haysom the LSC’s Chief Executive has written to my hon. Friend and a copy of his reply has been placed in the House Library.

Letter from Mark Haysom, dated 19 June 2007:

I have been asked by the Secretary of State for Education and Skills to respond to questions you posed regarding what evidence is collected on the performance of Train to Gain skills brokers, what assessment has been made of the satisfaction levels of those using such brokerage services, Level 3 Trials and any assessment that has been made in the north west.

Train to Gain: evidence collected on performance and satisfaction levels

The performance of Train to Gain skills brokers against set targets is monitored and reported on a monthly basis. Monthly management information evidence includes employer engagement, employer size, sector data; skills broker referral destinations; earner profile. and employer satisfaction with the service provided by skills brokers. Performance against these targets has been reported each month since April 2006 and the information is used to manage the skills brokerage contractors.

An independent survey of the skills brokerage service has been in place since the launch of Train to Gain to in April 2006. The survey measures employers' satisfaction levels with the independence, impartiality and responsiveness of the skills brokerage service. The current national satisfaction level with the service provided by skills brokerage organisations is 85.7 per cent.

Train to Gain: Level 3 Trials

The level .and trials have been running in the region since August 2006. In the first six months of operation the Trials did not perform well, with negligible learners on programme As a consequence an early assessment of the Trials was carried out with providers within the region.

The assessment of the Trials resulted in the Department for Education and Skills and the Minister for Skills agreeing to allow the LSC to amend the policy. This has reduced policy conflicts that existed between mainstream further education and the trials.

The LSC spent the early part of 2007 working with providers and skills brokers to both re-contract and communicate the policy changes. The changes are now implemented and the leaner numbers in all trial regions are increasing steadily month on month.

Performance is still lower than we had anticipated but monitoring and further research is ongoing to ensure that issues relating to performance are understood.