Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Estyn: Students' Needs Overlooked in Jostle for Funds: Fe News

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Estyn: Students' Needs Overlooked in Jostle for Funds: Fe News

Article excerpt

Learners lose out in competitive regime, inspectorate warns.

The best interests of post-16 students in Wales are often overlooked as colleges and schools compete for students and funding, according to inspectorate Estyn's annual report.

Chief inspector Ann Keane said that attitudes to preparing students for life and work at different providers varied to an "unacceptable degree". The problem was an "unfortunate consequence" of a competitive funding regime, she said.

The Welsh government is carrying out a "root and branch" review of post-16 funding after scrapping the previous process, the National Planning and Funding System (NPFS), which was criticised for being too complex and encouraging competition.

Ministers want a revised system in place for the 2014-15 academic year, but acknowledge it will need an "important shift in culture" from all involved to be successful. Funding for FE colleges and school sixth forms dropped in 2011-12 after the NPFS was scrapped, although budgets are set to rise this year.

Meanwhile, Ms Keane said, students were suffering from continued competition between providers, despite government efforts to encourage greater collaboration.

"Some providers, including schools and colleges, misguidedly retain learners in unsuitable provision or try to duplicate provision in schools that is better delivered in further education colleges or work-based learning providers," she said.

ColegauCymru, the body that represents FE colleges in Wales, said that competition was determined by the educational structures and funding system. …

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