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Education: 14-19 Reform

Volume 703: debated on Monday 30 June 2008

My honourable friend the Minister of State for Schools and 14-19 Learners (Jim Knight) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Every young person deserves the chance to succeed in education, work and life. Our 14-to-19 changes will deliver that chance and new opportunities for young people in towns, cities and all settings. We know that rural and semi-rural areas face a particular set of challenges and we are committed to supporting these areas to overcome them.

Today I am publishing a report Delivering 14-19 Reforms in Rural Areas. This shows that rural areas are already deploying a range of solutions to ensure that young people get access to provision. With this report, I am pleased to announce that we are investing £23 million over the next two years in 40 rural and semi-rural areas in the country to drive local solutions and innovation, and ensure that choice is a reality for all young people. Specifically, we are funding the post of a transport and access co-ordinator in the 40 most rural areas and making available £1 million in capital to each of the 20 most rural areas.

I am also publishing an independent research survey that looks at 14-to-19 transport. This research found that in the short to medium term transport is not a significant issue for local areas. It has highlighted some longer-term challenges that we will work with local authorities to address as we move forward.

I am pleased to report that we have made very good progress in the development of the new diplomas. The chairs of the phase 4 diploma development partnerships have an excellent reputation in the areas they are leading on:

Professor Hugh Lawlor, chair of the science diploma development partnership, is a professor of education at Canterbury Christ Church University and director of the AstraZeneca Science Teaching Trust;

Sir Keith Ajegbo, chair of the humanities diploma development partnership, is a former head teacher who has led a government review on citizenship; and

Dr Terry Lamb, chair of the languages diploma development partnership, is a senior lecturer in education at the University of Sheffield and a governor of CILT, the National Centre for Languages.

Although we are still at a very early stage in the establishment of the phase 4 diploma development partnerships I am very pleased to announce that around 40 employers have already been engaged in them, including organisations such as AstraZeneca, ITN, G&J Seddon, Lovell, the Kier Group, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, the NHS, the Eden Project and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

We are also working to encourage independent schools to become involved in diploma delivery. It is important that diplomas be available in all parts of the schools sector. We have held a national conference for independent schools and a seminar for the 14 independent schools which have expressed an interest in diplomas. These include Polam Hall School in Darlington, which is approved for diploma delivery from September 2009, and Wellington College, which has announced that it hopes to deliver the engineering diploma from 2009.

I am also announcing today that we will work with independent schools to produce a protocol that sets out guidance for local authorities, schools and colleges on the arrangements, including fair financial and delivery arrangements, between independent schools and 14-to-19 consortia.