Headlines: June 11th, 2003

A new body has been set up to tackle bureaucracy in the Learning and Skills Sector. The Bureaucracy Review Group has been created by the Department for Education and Skills and the Learning and Skills Council and will be chaired by Sir Andrew Foster.The establishment of the group is a direct response to the Sweeney report on bureaucracy in the Further Education college sector. Sir Andrew, who will initially spend around four days a month in this role, has been appointed by the Education Secretary Charles Clarke and will report directly to him and to Bryan Sanderson, Chairman of the Learning and Skills Council.

The brief for the new group is to develop flexible and innovative approaches to problems of red tape, have the power to review and challenge the impact of new policies imposed across the whole post-16 sector and to – publicly challenge existing policies where they add unnecessarily to bureaucracy and scrutinise proposed plans before they are implemented. Its members will also advise on how to maximise efficiency and effectiveness, and publish an annual report on the progress that has been made and the issues that arise in its work.

Sir Andrew Foster said the learning and skills sector had a key role to play in delivering the government’s policy of life-long learning and in order for it to work effectively, the links between itself and central government, and the administrative structures that underpin it, had to be robust without being over-powering.

“I’m confident that my experience of the public services, and particularly the past 10 years with the Audit Commission, will prove useful in the task ahead,” he said.