AELP statement on FE Area Reviews
'Area reviews need to take account of all types of providers involved in FE and skills delivery
Following a report published by the NAO this morning on financial stability in the FE sector (http://bit.ly/1Iek4FO), BIS has announced that it is formally launching a series of area reviews primarily concerned with the future provision of FE colleges and sixth form colleges in different parts of the country (http://bit.ly/1gK4hEw). The skills minister has confirmed in the House of Commons that the provision of other types of post-16 institutions will also be taken into account, including for example support for the unemployed.
Stakeholder groups will be established to run these reviews and in their areas, devolved cities will lead them. The first review will start in Birmingham and other waves will be announced and conducted until December 2016.
In response to the NAO and BIS documents, AELP has issued the following statement:
‘The reductions in budgets funding rates over the last few years has affected all providers in the FE sector. NAO has focussed its paper on the FE colleges but the financial impact is just as stark on independent providers who deliver a large proportion of the FE provision. It is of some concern that a significant amount of funds have been used to support the FE colleges in difficulty because these are funds that would otherwise support learners. Clearly there needs to be an effective approach to provision that enables the best providers to deliver which will ensure best value for customers and funding agencies. Both papers recognise the role of the wider sector but it is clear that the main focus is on FE colleges. Many colleges have complex chains of subcontractors so we will ensure that these local reviews take into account the full range of organisations involved in local delivery.
‘The underlying objective of any such reviews must be to maximise the funding that can be focused on delivery through the most effective provider. Many independent providers have excellent relationships with colleges and they provide many of the skills that will be needed in this new and customer focused environment. We agree that it is confusing for all providers when several government departments are responsible for funding provision and now we have the complication of the local partnerships to consider. The reviews must have very clear remits and clear governance. The government partners have to understand the local delivery network and AELP will work with its local provider networks to ensure they can contribute to the review process.’