Post-16 or further education is:
“(a) full-time and part-time education suitable to the requirements of persons who are over compulsory school age, and
(b) organised leisure-time occupation provided in connection with the provision of such education,
except that it does not include secondary education or …higher education.” (Section 2(3) of the Education Act 1996).
'Secondary education' (simply) is full-time education suitable to the requirements of pupils aged between 11 and 16, or full-time education suitable to the requirements of 16 to 19 year olds provided in a school.
Section 8(3) of the Education Act 1996 provides that a person ceases to be of compulsory school age:
“at the end of the day which is the school leaving date for any calendar year—
(a) if he [or she] attains the age of 16 after that day but before the beginning of the school year next following,
(b) if he [or she] attains that age on that day, or
(c) (unless paragraph (a) applies) if that day is the school leaving date next following his [or her] attaining that age.”
Simply put, therefore, further education is full or part-time education suitable to the requirements of those over the age of 16 that is not provided in a school and does not constitute higher education (which is provided in universities).
Powers and duties of Welsh Ministers
In addition to their duty to provide facilities, the Welsh Ministers must also encourage individuals to undergo post-16 education or training, and must encourage employers to participate in the provision of post-16 education and training and to contribute to the costs of this.
Further to their general responsibility to provide post-16 education, the Welsh Ministers can require a further education institution to provide education to specific named individuals under section 52 of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992.
The Welsh Ministers have the power to fund post-16 education in Wales under section 34 of LSA 2000. Previously this power has been used to appoint another body to provide resources but now the Welsh Ministers fund further education institutions directly. Section 35 of LSA 2000 provides that where the Welsh Ministers provide financial resources themselves they may impose conditions. These can include a requirement that the Welsh Ministers be allowed access to the provider’s accounts, documents and computers and can enable the Welsh Ministers to require the repayment of sums paid by them to providers of post-16 education. The conditions attached to funding can also require providers of education and training to charge fees or recover costs.
In furtherance of their duty to secure the provision of post-16 education and training the Welsh Ministers can, under section 36 of LSA 2000, make a grant to a local authority to fund school sixth forms.
The Welsh Ministers also have a general power to provide financial assistance to a person in connection with the provision of education in Wales under sections 14 to 17 of the Education Act 2002 (EA 2002). The assistance can be provided directly by the Welsh Ministers or by a person to whom the Welsh Ministers have delegated this function under section 17. The function includes, in particular, a power to provide financial assistance for the purpose of enabling a person to undertake a course of education provided by an institution within the further education sector. This financial assistance can be given by way of grant, loan, guarantee or by incurring expenditure for the benefit of persons assisted and can be given on such terms and conditions as the Welsh Ministers consider appropriate. The conditions can include a requirement for assistance to be repaid or for it to be passed on to other people.
The Welsh Ministers have powers under section 123 of LSA 2000 and section 40 of the Learning and Skills (Wales) Measure 2009 to direct local authorities and governing bodies of further education institutions to provide or secure the provision of services that will encourage, enable or assist young persons (those aged 11 to 25) to participate effectively in education or training, take advantage of opportunities for employment, or participate effectively and responsibly in the life of their communities.
The Welsh Ministers may make regulations under section 136 of the Education Act 2002 to prohibit the provision of education at a further education institution by a person who does not hold a specified qualification or has not met specified criteria. The current relevant regulations are the Persons Providing Education at Further Education Institutions in Wales (Conditions) Regulations 2007 (SI 2007/2220)
The Learner Travel (Wales) Measure 2008 places local authorities under a specific duty to assess the travel needs of learners in their area, including students under the age of 19 who are receiving publicly funded further education. The Welsh Ministers have a power under section 7 of the Measure to make regulations requiring travel arrangements (i.e. arrangements for the provision of transport for students between home and their place of study) to be made for students between 16 and 18 but this power has not yet been exercised.
Powers of local authorities
This includes the power to secure the provision of training, including vocational, social, physical and recreational training and of organised leisure time occupation that is provided in connection with the provision of education or of training.
In exercising this power a local authority must in particular have regard to the needs of persons with learning difficulties.
Section 508 of EA 1996 gives local authorities in Wales a power to provide facilities for recreation and social and physical training as part of the facilities for further education provided in their area. For example, local authorities may establish, maintain and manage or assist to establish, maintain and manage camps, holiday classes, playing fields, play centres, playgrounds, gymnasiums and swimming baths.
A local authority must comply with any direction given by the Welsh Ministers under section 123 of the Learning and Skills Act 2000 to provide or secure the provision of services that will encourage, enable or assist young persons (those aged 11 to 25) to participate effectively in education or training, take advantage of opportunities for employment or participate effectively and responsibly in the life of their communities.
Before taking action to comply with a direction under section 123 a local authority must consult with such persons or organisations as it considers appropriate, including those listed in section 125 of LSA 2000.
Developing the curriculums
Each local curriculum must consist of courses of study each of which fall into one of the categories listed in section 33A of LSA 2000, which are:
(a) mathematics, science and technology;
(b) business, administration and law;
(c) services for people;
(d) arts, media, culture and languages;
(e) humanities, social sciences and preparation for life and work.
In exercising their functions to devise local curriculums, the Welsh Ministers have a duty under section 33B to promote access to and availability of courses of study which are taught through the medium of the Welsh language.
Students are entitled to follow a course of study included in a curriculum that applies to them and the governing body of the relevant school or further education institution must ensure that the course is made available to the student. Local authorities and governing bodies of schools and institutions must maximise the availability of courses in the relevant local curriculum and can work together and make arrangements with third parties in pursuance of this.