Learning lessons from LearnDirect
Joe Dromey

To suggest that the coalition Govt was the undoing of learndirect is ludicrous. The reality is that under a Labour administration learndirect had become an organisation that dominated the FE sector in an unhealthy way. By 2011 the funding needs of learndirect for IT could not be met — nor justified — by the public purse and the commitment to privatise was made before the coalition took office.

The point you miss is that the SFA stood by and allowed learndirect to have its funding renewed when it was patently obvious that a gargantuan organisation like learndirect was not in the best interests of further education in the UK. The SFA had it within its power long ago to withdraw funding and was fully aware of the state of the company’s balance sheet and its finances. Because learndirect had become so big, no-one in the SFA had the balls to take action.

This is not to condone the excesses of LDC. Besides, abnormal profits would have continued had not the Conservative Government’s austerity cuts decimated the profitability of learndirect. In that regard the Conservatives did a better job of safeguarding taxpayers’ money than Labour.

The ultimate failing was the creation of learndirect which became the frankenstein of the FE sector.

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