21 July 2005
Sheerman re-elected Chairman as new Committee begins its work
Barry Sheerman MP was re-elected as Chairman of the Education and Skills Committee this week as the Committee held its first meetings in the new Parliament.
Speaking on Wednesday, after the Committee had agreed on its initial inquiries, Barry Sheerman said "It has taken a long time for the Select Committee to be appointed following the election, but I am pleased that we are now back in business, and I am grateful to my colleagues for choosing me as Chairman once again.
"As ever in education there are many issues calling for our attention. We have decided that our first inquiries will be into public expenditure on education, special educational needs and further education.
"Our regular public expenditure inquiry will give us an early opportunity to question Ruth Kelly and senior officials at the DfES about general trends in policy.
"The way in which children with special educational needs are treated has come to prominence in recent weeks, particularly with Baroness Warnock's comments about the need for change, and our aim will be to bring some clarity and objectivity to the debate.
"Finally, with a number of issues relating to further education which are giving rise to concern in the sector - including the funding of adult education, and the disparity in funding for post-16 provision between sixth forms and colleges - and the outcome of the Foster review awaited in the autumn, it is right that we should be talking to those in the sector at an early date.
"These will be just the first of a range of inquiries over the course of the year, as we aim to hold the DfES to account across the range of its responsibilities".
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Dates for evidence from the Secretary of State and the Permanent Secretary on public expenditure will be announced as soon as possible.
The terms of reference for the inquiry into special educational needs will be made public tomorrow (Thursday 21 July).
Meetings on further education are expected to take place after publication of the Report on FE Colleges by Sir Andrew Foster. Dates will be announced as soon as possible.
Information about the Education and Skills Committee
The Education and Skills Committee is one of the House's Select Committees related to government departments: its terms of reference are to examine "the expenditure, administration and policy of the Department for Education and Skills and its associated public bodies". The Committee chooses its own subjects of inquiry, within the overall terms of reference. It invites written evidence from interested parties and holds public evidence sessions, usually in committee rooms at the House of Commons, although it does have the power to meet away from Westminster.
At the end of each inquiry, the Committee will normally agree a Report based on the evidence received. Such Reports are published and made available on the Internet. Copies are sent free to those who give oral evidence. Reports usually contain recommendations to the Government and other bodies. The Government by convention responds to reports within about two months of publication. These responses are also published.