The AoC/SKOPE project on localism in Further Education has produced its first Research Paper. Its title is: FE and Localism in the Context of Wider Debates Concerning Devolution.
The paper aims to frame localism and devolution as it pertains to FE within the broader policy context being set by debates and policies on localism, and to identify some of the issues and challenges that these throw up. Localism in the context of FE could be viewed through one of two lenses:
- As a free-standing project that begins and ends with the development of new, more locally controlled and accountable systems for the delivery of skills.
- As simply one component or area nested within, and at least partially dependent upon the success of, a much broader project concerned with the ‘re-scaling’ of governance arrangements for particular areas of policy at a range of sub-national levels, and the potential repatriation of political and fiscal powers from central government to local levels (however defined).
Although some of the discussion about skills and localism adopts the first perspective, this paper takes as its starting point the assumption that on the whole the second lens offers a more accurate and useful approach to viewing and assessing the situation.
Thinking about the concept of localism and associated problems of power and accountability at levels below the national tier in education and training cannot, as this paper aims to demonstrate, easily be separated from wider debates and theorising about role and responsibilities of local and regional government and agencies, city regions, economic geography and spatial economics. Moreover, in practical and political terms, what happens within individual localities to FE and to skills policy more generally is, to some extent at least, bound up with the development and wider long-term trajectory of City Deals, Local Growth Deals, City Region Devolution Agreements, the ‘Northern Powerhouse’, Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), and local government funding.
The paper is available here.