Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Session 2002-03
5 June 2003 REPORT PUBLISHED INTO THE DELIVERY OF EDUCATION IN RURAL AREAS


Session 2002-03
5 June 2003 REPORT PUBLISHED INTO THE DELIVERY OF EDUCATION IN RURAL AREAS

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee will publish a report on the delivery of education in rural areas at 11.00 am on Thursday 5 June.  The report:

  • notes that the creation of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) established for the first time in England a government department with specific responsibility for representing the interests of rural areas.  Education is a key public service.  As such, the Committee was keen to examine how Defra works within Government to facilitate the effective delivery of education in rural areas.

  • highlights three policy areas on which the Committee felt Defra should take a lead in representing the interests of rural areas because of their cross-departmental nature: education transport; schools and colleges as community resources; and information and communications technology in schools.

  • concludes that Defra has failed to establish a role for itself as the lead body with responsibility for co-ordinating policy responses in rural areas on these issues.

Diana Organ MP, Chairman of the Sub-committee which carried out the inquiry on behalf of the main Committee, said:

"We are surprised and disappointed that Defra is not even monitoring and reporting on the impact of education policies in rural areas.  This is the least that a department for rural affairs should be doing if it is genuinely to represent the interests of rural areas.  Only when Defra is carrying out this work and contributing innovative solutions to the problems and issues facing rural areas will it truly be fulfilling its mandate to be a department for rural affairs.  In the area of education policy, at least, it has a long way to go."


NOTES FOR EDITORS

The Report follows an inquiry conducted between January and April 2003.  The terms of reference of the inquiry can be found in our Press Notice of 5 December 2002 (which is available on our website).

During the inquiry, the Committee took evidence from a range of interested bodies, including the National Governors' Council, the Local Government Association, the Association of Colleges and two Government Ministers: Rt Hon Alun Michael MP, Minister for Rural Affairs and Stephen Twigg MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Education and Skills.  The full report will be available on our website from around 3.30 pm on 5 June.  Details of how to obtain a hard copy of the report, from 11.00 am today, are set out in our Press Release of 2 June 2003.