Some of us find sharing difficult, some of us don’t play nice with others…some of us don’t even realise this.

Colleges are not known for playing nice with their neighbouring colleges. The closest college is, in the main, a vicious competitor who knows no boundaries… who will stop at nothing to steal your students, steal your PR and spend more money on advertising than you do.

They do interesting deals with bus companies, might have sparkly new buildings and their principal’s teeth may be whiter than yours… in short, they are the enemy.

The fastest shared mode of transport to incarceration is to set up a cartel and start price fixing.”

So, when it was announced that millions, yes millions of pounds would be spent on college collaborations, agitator was intrigued, wide mouthed even. How could this be?

£2.3million has gone to the AoC and, £2.3million has gone to the 157 Group, yes that’s right readers, £4.6million of government money has been ‘shared’, and this spending of millions to save millions, confounds me. Call me old fashioned, but why would I want to share commercially sensitive services, and valuable information with my competitors.

“Oh grow up”, I hear you say, “we’re big boys playing in a grown up sector, we can be friends, help each other and, once we’ve spent these millions, we will be able to save millions more.”

No, you won’t! Take off those rose tinted specs (they don’t suit you), slap yourself and take a huge whiff of strong black coffee.

Protectionism is rife in FE, the funding and targets that we all strive to meet make it that way, and don’t forget, despite what your principal looks like, we’re all human.

It’s a car crash waiting to happen, a conspiracy of fools…”

Most principals have massive egos; it’s part of the job. It comes with the oversized desk and the dual aspect windows.

Partnership has become a ‘buzz’ word of late and these unnatural collaborations, forced into being, by a pot of money are destined to fail. The fastest shared mode of transport to incarceration is to set up a cartel and start price fixing.

You could screw down the price quoted from awarding bodies, nail building firms to the wall over quotes and, circumnavigate data protection laws, getting the low down on staff and students.

And, when those shared services are up and running consultation can rear its ugly head and, you can brace yourself for an unpleasant round of redundancies.

As one principal told me, “It’s a car crash waiting to happen, a conspiracy of fools…” just wait and see: a high profile EU court case, unfair competition, laws broken and redundancies…

Collaboration will only lead to collusion, that’s not going to be good for staff, learners or colleges in the long run.


Agitator has just seen some of the comments to FE Week’s page three story (click here) about this on line and there may be a saving grace.

Regular commentator Steve Hewitt must have had a large swig of something which got his creative juices flowing (don’t doubt it, agitator has seen his tweets when he’s had a few). Steve  reckons that shared services might be just the thing to sort some of the SMTs out.

He posted: “…wonder whether reducing the number of Senior Post-holders is the easiest way to share a “service”? Can we not just share principals? Think of the savings!

Richard Teare on the other had has suggested: “If shared services are the panacea that politicians and others seem to think they are, why do we have a Civil Service (which apparently administers this country) that is -what?-twice as large now than when we “ruled”/administered 1/3rd of the planet?”

Hmmm… food for thought indeed. Given the weather this weekend, share a two-scoop?