DfE PUBLISHES WAVE 3 AREA REVIEW REPORTS

The Department for Education (DfE) has now published all Wave 3 area review reports, other than for those in London. The reports were published earlier this month (January) and include those for Cumbria, the Black Country, Coventry and Warwickshire, North and Mid-Hampshire, and the Liverpool City region, taking the total published thus far to 18. The London area has been split into four sub-reviews, two of which were initially meant to be included in Wave 2. However, these were subsequently included in Wave 3 so that the reports for the two earlier reviews could be coordinated with the as yet unpublished reports for the two later reviews. Copies of the published reports can be accessed at the links below:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/cumbria-further-education-area-review-report
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/black-country-further-education-area-review-report
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coventry-and-warwickshire-further-education-area-review-report
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/north-and-mid-hampshire-further-education-area-review-report
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/liverpool-city-region-further-education-area-review-report

Recommendations for 5 mergers involving 12 of the colleges involved in these latest reviews were made, of which one has already been abandoned. No recommendations for change were made for a further 18 colleges involved in the reviews.

DfE PUBLISHES ‘A STATEMENT OF CUSTOMER SERVICE TO INSTITUTIONS’

More than half of the area reviews have now been completed, but earlier this month, the DfE decided to publish a guide entitled ‘A Statement of Customer Service to Institutions’. The guide contains information on what colleges can expect to happen during an area review, and provides information on ‘timetables’, ‘milestones’, and the role of ‘dedicated delivery team’ assigned by the Joint Area Review Delivery Unit. It also contains details of the ‘review-related services’ that colleges can call on for help. Some observers have suggested that the guide might have been of more use had it been published prior to the commencement of the area review process, rather than towards the end of it. A copy can be accessed at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/582046/Area_Review_Customer_Service_Statement.pdf

SKILLS MINISTER CRITICISES STANDARD OF FINANCIAL COMPETENCY IN SOME FE COLLEGES

Replying to a question asked during a debate on the Technical and Further Education Bill earlier this month, Robert Halfon, the Minister of State for Apprenticeships and Skills in England said that since 2015 around £140 million has been spent in supporting colleges in difficulty. Mr Halfon went on to argue that the money ‘would have been better spent on education and training priorities’ and said that completion of the area reviews would see ‘the end of ongoing support of this type’. Mr Halfon also claimed that a lack of competency in financial management was the real reason for the financial difficulties that some colleges faced, rather than government funding cuts. The Technical and Further Education Bill has now passed through the House of Commons and is awaiting its second reading in the House of Lords. Amongst other things, the bill sets out proposals for an insolvency regime for FE colleges. Further details can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/563497/Technical_and_Further_Education_Bill_factsheet.pdf