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Departments: Languages

Volume 462: debated on Thursday 28 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the views of (a) language teaching staff in her Department and (b) staff in other departments were on the decision to outsource her Department's language teaching operation. (142085)

Language teaching staff are very committed to achieving high standards in their work. They expressed disappointment when told of the decision to outsource the teaching operation. We will be offering them every possible support in managing the transition from the present arrangements. There will be no bar to existing teaching staff providing language training services to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in future, either as an employee or owner of an organisation that successfully tenders for this business.

Language training will continue to be provided for staff from other Government Departments posted into FCO jobs. Those Departments will be offered the opportunity to use the proposed FCO framework agreement to source language training for their own staff who need language skills in the future. Other Departments were not consulted on the FCO's business decision to outsource language training.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what account was taken of the job requirements of staff (a) in her Department and (b) in other departments when making the decision to outsource her Department's language teaching operation. (142086)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) language policy review made a number of recommendations to improve the skills of FCO staff who require language skills to do their job. The decision to outsource training will not impact on the operational efficiency of FCO staff or staff from other Government Departments working in the FCO.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the quality of the language teaching available from outside providers compared with that available from the in-house staff in her Department. (142087)

We do not believe that quality of training will be affected. Language teaching suppliers will have performance targets built into their contracts. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Services Review of Language training, which looked at the examination performance of trainees taught by agency-supplied teachers, concluded that examination performance is not automatically enhanced by having full time teachers. 40 per cent. of FCO priority language training is already outsourced.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what factors are taken into account by her Department when calculating the cost of an average hour of language teaching to (a) a single individual and (b) a group in a lesson provided by her Department's language teaching operation. (142088)

When benchmarking the cost of an average hour of language tuition, detailed analysis considered tuition costs, including value added tax and, for group training, classes of four.

Other costs such as accommodation, registration and set up fee and learning resources subscription were not taken into account when comparing the hourly tuition rates.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the average cost is of an hour of language teaching to (a) a single individual and (b) a group in a lesson provided by (i) her Department's language teaching operation and (ii) external language providers contracted to her Department. (142089)

The current cost of tuition under the current in-house teaching operation and for external providers contracted by Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Services is:

£

Individual

Group

FCO Services

55-65

60-80

FCO Services contracted external providers

41 to 70

47 to 70