Area Reviews: rebuild for resilience

Area Reviews: rebuild for resilience

Right time to reflect on sweeping changes

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It’s been just over a year since the reviews launched, aiming to move towards “fewer, often larger, more resilient and efficient providers”. 

Since that time, I’ve been following the process with great interest – from the first reports of lengthy delays during wave one, to the FE commissioner Sir David Collins’ promise to MPs this month that all reviews were on track to finish on time by next March.

Now that many of the earlier reviews have reached the implementation phase – and the government has at last published its long-awaited implementation guidance – this is a good moment to focus on the work ahead for colleges.

Pages four and five give you an essential overview of the key points of the new guidance – which includes the due diligence framework, as well as key facts about the restructuring facility, and sixth form college academisation guidance.

Many colleges will emerge from the review process wanting to merge with one another, so on page six, lawyer and FE expert Glynne Stanfield outlines the different options for closer working.

On page seven we hear from Theresa Grant, who chaired the Greater Manchester review on behalf of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority. 

She writes about how the combined authority’s analysis of the area’s future employment trends helped shape the outcomes of that review.

Sir David Collins has chaired 14 of the reviews, which have seen him travel the length and breadth of the country – so he’ll probably be looking forward to a break when he retires later this month. 

We meet his successor, Richard Atkins CBE, and his supporting team on pages 10 and 11.

And turn to pages 12 and 13 for a college governor’s views of the reviews, as Beej Kaczmarczyk writes about his experience as a governor at a college involved in the first wave of the reviews.

Joining with another college is obviously a potentially traumatic experience, and on page 14 the former Bath College principal Matt Atkinson, now FEA’s managing director, writes about how to successfully navigate the experience. 

And on page 15 merger expert Chris Mantel looks at how to plan a successful merger.

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