Commissioner details fail to stop ATL questions

Questions remain over the role of the FE Commissioner despite the government having published a detailed outline of the intervention process.

Association of Teachers and Lecturers general secretary Dr Mary Bousted (pictured) has accused the government of “re-inventing the wheel” when it comes to quality assurance in FE.

She said: “We have serious questions about the role of the FE Commissioner, including whether the role will clash with the remit and powers of Ofsted, and about the extent of the commissioner’s accountability to Parliament.

“Under the previous government stakeholders helped plan a quality assurance system to ensure that colleges which were in financial difficulties or failing to meet Ofsted measures would be supported via an action and development plan and get support and help from funding agencies.

“Now, having disestablished the Learning and Skills Improvement Service and reduced the remit of the Skills Funding Agency and other regional bodies, the government appears to be reinventing the wheel with this FE Commissioner role.”

Her comments come after the publication late last month of a document, Intervention in Further Education: The strengthened intervention process, which set out the process followed during interventions by the commissioner, Dr David Collins, and his team.

It also includes detail of plans to publish Dr Collins’s findings in the public domain, as exclusively revealed by FE Week on May 1. A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said the reports were due to start coming out this week (week commencing June 9).

The document further reveals that the Skills Minister’s letter to colleges, including a summary of findings and recommendations, will be published online, but only once the college or institution has responded with its action plan.

An annual report of lessons learned will also be published, including case studies.

Dr Collins and his team are believed to have so far visited LeSoCo, Barnfield College, Stockport College, City of Liverpool College, K College, City of Bristol College, Weymouth College, Bicton College, City of Wolverhampton College and Stratford-upon-Avon College.