Wales a Shining Example, but Colleges Set to Take a Battering; Colleges in England Face an Uncertain Future Following the Publication of Two Major Reports into the Health of the Nation's Further Education Sector. but, as Education Editor Gareth Evans Explains, Life Won't Get Any Easier for Colleges in Wales Either

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), August 1, 2015 | Go to article overview

Wales a Shining Example, but Colleges Set to Take a Battering; Colleges in England Face an Uncertain Future Following the Publication of Two Major Reports into the Health of the Nation's Further Education Sector. but, as Education Editor Gareth Evans Explains, Life Won't Get Any Easier for Colleges in Wales Either


Byline: Edited by Gareth Evans 029 2024 3638 gareth.evans@walesonline.co.uk

THERE was sure to have been a sharp intake of breath within colleges across England last week following news that major reform of post-16 education and training institutions would be required to alleviate "significant" financial pressures.

A new paper published by the UK government said there was "signifi-cant scope for greater efficiency in the sector" and there would need to be "fewer, larger, more resilient and efficient providers" in the future.

It said changes would enable greater specialisation and create institutions that are "genuine centres of expertise" that can "support progression up to a high level in professional and technical disciplines, while also supporting institutions that achieve excellence in teaching essential basic skills".

The document, entitled Reviewing post-16 Education and Training Institutions, announced that the departments for education, and business, innovation and skills would "facilitate a programme of areabased reviews to review 16-plus provision in every area, and do so quickly".

It said the reviews would provide an opportunity for institutions and localities to restructure their provision to ensure it is tailored to the changing context and designed to achieve maximum impact.

"Our focus will be on further education and sixth-form colleges, although the availability and quality of all post-16 academic and workbased provision in each area will also be taken into account," said the document.

"The aim of these reviews is to ensure that we have the right capacity to meet the needs of students and employers in each area, provided by institutions which are financially stable and able to deliver high-quality provision."

Trial reviews have already been undertaken in parts of Norfolk and Suffolk and in Nottingham, and subsequent reviews will be conducted according to a national framework to ensure consistency in approach.

But while reviews can be initiated independently by a group of institutions in a local area, the UK government has warned it will step in "where it sees a need to progress rapidly, in particular where there are concerns about some or much of the quality of the provision, capacity, or financial sustainability of individual institutions".

A number of colleges facing "significant challenges" have since con-firmed plans for closer collaboration and how best to "strengthen" existing partnerships.

Conveniently, the government's ultimatum was published on the same day the National Audit Office warned that 70 of England's colleges could be rated financially inadequate by the end of the financial year.

In its report into financial sustainability in the further education sector, the spending watchdog said there were "fundamental structural problems" and some colleges had been "over-optimistic" in their financial forecasts - leaving them in diffi-culty when faced with smaller-thananticipated budgets. …

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Wales a Shining Example, but Colleges Set to Take a Battering; Colleges in England Face an Uncertain Future Following the Publication of Two Major Reports into the Health of the Nation's Further Education Sector. but, as Education Editor Gareth Evans Explains, Life Won't Get Any Easier for Colleges in Wales Either
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