Future of many education quangos still under review

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The future of many education quangos was still hanging in the balance today after the Government announced they are still under review.

The biggest education announcement is that the School Food Trust (SFT) will be turned into a charity.

Two other bodies, the Teenage Pregnancy Independent Advisory Group (TPIAG) and the Teachers TV Board of Governors, are to be scrapped.

A further eight are still under consideration, with decisions due to be taken at a later stage.

Ofsted, the schools inspectorate, and Ofqual, the exams regulator, will remain, along with the School Teachers Review Body (STRB) which reports on teachers' pay and conditions.

It means 14 of the 17 education and children's quangos have now been scrapped, changed or are under threat.

Education Secretary Michael Gove said there had been a "proliferation" of expensive quangos in recent years.

The SFT, tasked with improving school food, was established in 2005 around the time of chef Jamie Oliver's school dinners campaign.

As of April next year, it will cease to be a quango and continue as a charity, with a separate community interest company (CIC) established. CICs are limited companies created for people who want to conduct a business for the public benefit, rather than private gain.

SFT chairman Rob Rees said: "Since it was established, the trust has developed an enormous amount of expertise in school food and food education, working with schools, local authorities and other groups to make sure that school lunches are wholesome, tasty and affordable, and to increase the number of children eating them.

"Numbers are now climbing and a recent survey of parents suggested that this is leading to children eating a wider range of foods at home.

"We are confident that our new status as a Community Interest Company and charity means we will be able to work with everyone involved in children's food and drink to inspire improvements in food and education and give our young people a great start in life."

TPIAG was responsible for the Labour government's 10-year teenage pregnancy strategy, while the Teachers TV Board advised the Government on the running of the Teachers TV service.

Three major education bodies, the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency (QCDA), which oversaw the curriculum in schools, the General Teaching Council for England (GTCE), which registers teachers and investigates complaints, and Becta, the technology agency, were scrapped in the first cull soon after the new Government took office earlier this year.

The eight that are now under review are: The Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service (CAFCASS); Partnerships for Schools, which was responsible for the now defunct Building Schools for the Future scheme; Office of the Children's Commissioner; the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA), which deals with teacher training; The National College for Leadership of Schools and Children's Services; School Support Staff Negotiating Body; Children's Workforce Development Council, set up to improve workforce skills; Young People's Learning Agency, which funds teenagers' participation in education and training.

Mr Gove said: "There has been a proliferation of arms length public bodies in recent years with 17 across the education and children's sectors alone.

"These organisations are expensive and by removing responsibility from ministers and handing it to unelected officials they reduce accountability. These organisations have done much valuable work, but I believe there are too many of them."