Job losses as LSIS faces closure

As many as 162 people face losing their jobs after the government’s confirmation that the Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS) will no longer receive funding.

LSIS announced it had “no alternative” but to begin a managed exit from its delivery of improvement services for FE and the skills sector.

Chief executive Rob Wye told FE Week the body would “support” its 125 permanent staff and 37 contracted workers.

I’ve been writing to all the chief executives of local authorities, universities, colleges and police saying we have a remarkable pool of talent. But we cannot create jobs if the jobs aren’t there.”

“We shall be supporting them with what options they have, making sure they have every opportunity possible. We’ll be talking to the emerging FE Guild to see if they can go there.”

The reins of LSIS will most likely be taken up by the guild, which has begun plans to consult on the creation of a single body to set professional standards and codes of behaviour, as well as to develop qualifications.

Dame Ruth Silver, former principal of Lewisham College and chair of LSIS since it was formed through the transfer of assets from both the Centre for Excellence in Leadership (CEL) and the Quality Improvement Agency (QIA) in 2008, said it was “the potential waste of talent that was most distressing”.

“I’ve been writing to all the chief executives of local authorities, universities, colleges and police saying we have a remarkable pool of talent. But we cannot create jobs if the jobs aren’t there.”

Mr Wye added: “I’d like to express my thanks to all the staff . . . it’s been a sad day for LSIS.”

LSIS will now cease delivering courses, training conferences and other support, including the provision of grants direct to providers.

Mr Wye told FE Week: “It is our aim to provide the planned high quality support and services we have already committed to at least until the end of this financial year, and in some cases through to the end of the academic year.

“We will also be exploring alternative destinations for our programmes and activities, so that the sector may continue to have expertly trained leaders and governors, continued support for teaching and learning, and assistance with its own improvement.”

Dame Ruth said: “LSIS is an Aladdin’s cave of riches. It will disappear as an organisation but its purpose will remain and the functions are on the shelf to be handed over. One thing that will preoccupy me over the next month will be a legacy strategy.”

Both agreed that LSIS’s greatest achievements were supporting colleges and providers who consequently went on to improve by at least one grade in their Ofsted inspections.

A spokesperson for the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) said: “We are working closely with LSIS to analyse the key functions that need to be continued beyond August 2013 and to then decide on the best options for taking these forward.

“This will need to take account of the consultation to be held in January by the new FE guild partnership on its potential scope and activities.

Details of when services will end are being discussed with BIS and partners, and decisions on specific end dates will be released in the new year.