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Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority Account 2001-2002

“I am concerned that the Authority could not determine how much income was properly due to it. However, I am pleased to report that it is making progress: both in quantifying the level of unbilled income and in developing new procedures which would enable it to demonstrate to me that all income due has been identified.

“I will continue to monitor progress and will consider the action taken by the Authority to resolve this issue.”

Published:
18 Jul 2002

Improving IT procurement: The impact of the Office of Government Commerce’s initiatives on departments and suppliers in

“Government Departments have a chequered history in the handling of IT-enabled projects and programmes. OGC has made significant strides in identifying reasons for past failure and in establishing structures, such as Gateway Reviews, that allow for increased scrutiny and independent check upon the feasibility and progress of IT-enabled projects and programmes. These remain, however, early days and my report makes recommendations to build on these foundations in order to reduce the likelihood of future failure.”

Published:
5 Nov 2004

Improving poorly performing schools

A large proportion of schools in England provide high standards of education, with pupil attainment improving in primary and secondary schools. However, some schools are performing less well. The Department for Education and Skills and Ofsted use several definitions to identify schools that are performing poorly and need additional support; among the 1,557 schools included … Read more

Published:
11 Jan 2006

Improving school attendance in England

“Better attendance at school by pupils improves their educational achievements and, in turn, their lives and prospects. Even a small reduction in absence would result in many pupils receiving greater benefit from their education.

“The rate of absence from schools in England has proved difficult to reduce. However, the efforts of the Department for Education and Skills, local authorities and schools are starting to have an impact. They must keep up the momentum and reinforce in schools and among parents and pupils the importance of attending school.”

Published:
4 Feb 2005

Improving school performance: A guide for school governors

In collaboration with the National Governors Association, the National Audit Office has updated its well-received guide for school governors. The guide was first published in May 2006 alongside our value for money report on Improving poorly performing schools. It is intended to help both new and experienced primary and secondary school governors, as well as school leaders, identify and tackle the issues important to their schools’ organisation and performance.

Published:
1 May 2009

Improving student achievement in English higher education

Student achievement rates in English higher education institutions have remained high during a period of considerable expansion of student numbers, although rates vary widely between institutions. The higher education sector will have to recruit and retain more students from hitherto poorly represented social groups and help them to succeed if the government’s learning targets are … Read more

Published:
18 Jan 2002

Improving Student Performance – How English Further Education Colleges Can Improve Student Retention and Achievement 

“Further education colleges, with the support of the Funding Council and the Department, have done well over the past five years to increase the proportion of students who achieve their qualifications. In particular we were pleased to see that the number of colleges with overall achievement rates below 50 per cent has reduced dramatically.

“Overall success rates remain disappointing, however, and the gap between the best and worst performing colleges is still too wide. Poorer performing colleges need to adopt the good practices of the best if they are to help the Government meet the National Learning Targets2.”

The further education sector provides a wide range of education and training opportunities to people from school leaving-age upwards. There are some 400 further education colleges in England, enabling 3.8 million students to study for some 17,000 different qualifications from about 480 awarding bodies, at a cost to the public purse of some £3 billion.

The Department for Education and Employment is responsible for determining the overall policy for further education and the Further Education Funding Council is responsible for implementing it. From April 2001 a new Learning and Skills Council will replace the Further Education Funding Council and Training and Enterprise Councils. (Training and Enterprise Councils are private sector companies which manage local training and enterprise activities under a performance-based contract with the Secretary of State for Employment).

1 Success rates are the number of qualification aims achieved as a proportion of those started, even though students may subsequently have dropped them. Achievement rates do not take account of qualifications started but not completed.

The National Learning Targets represent the Government’s aim of making a substantial improvement in participation and achievement in education and training at every level

‘ National Vocational Qualifications

” General National Vocational Qualifications

The Comptroller and Auditor General, Sir John Bourn, is the head of the National Audit Office employing some 750 staff. He and the NAO are totally independent of Government. He certifies the accounts of all Government departments and a wide range of other public sector bodies; and he has statutory authority to report to Parliament on the economy, efficiency and effectiveness with which departments and other bodies have used their resources.

Published:
2 Mar 2001

Individual Learning Accounts

“In some respects, this was a very good and innovative scheme: it was popular and encouraged many people to acquire or update much needed skills. But the speed with which the Department implemented the scheme resulted in corners being cut. Poor planning and risk management by the Department led to weaknesses in the system which made fraudulent activities possible. And the Department did not keep their eye on the quality of the learning and on the indications that a few unscrupulous providers were taking advantage of the inadequate security arrangements.

“I look to the Department to take account of these lessons when devising and implementing the new scheme.”

Published:
25 Oct 2002