FE Commissioner selection ongoing

The new FE Commissioner is yet to be appointed despite interviews by officials from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), FE Week understands.

A number of candidates have already been spoken to, but none has been appointed to the role — or to any of its seven advisory posts.

“The interview and appointment process is ongoing,” said a BIS spokesperson.

It had been hoped — when the powerful new role was announced in April — that posts would be filled by June. But with that date past, no new timescale was given.

The FE Commissioner’s appointment, and that of the advisers, had been managed through the National College for Teaching and Leadership’s (NCTL) e-procurement system.

BIS and the Department for Education had wanted candidates registered on the NCTL’s operational associate framework so they could issue a request for quotation.

However, it was not clear whether the same system and requirement would apply when the posts were readvertised.

The commissioner will be able to call for a college to be shut down and will be sent in if a college is graded ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted, is in financial trouble or is failing to hit learner success targets.

They will report directly to Ministers with the aim of turning the college around within a year.

They could call for institutions to be slapped with ‘Administered College’ status, thereby losing powers such as staff changes, expenditure or transfer of assets.

They could also recommend governors be kicked out, but ultimately they could also call for a college to be dissolved.

Skills Minister Matthew Hancock announced the intervention measures under the government’s new Rigour and Responsiveness in Skills strategy.

“Where colleges are failing learners we will be knocking on their doors and take swift and effective action,” he said.

“It is a dereliction of duty to let failing colleges teach young people. We will not fail in our duty to act.

“All providers should meet tough standards of rigour and responsiveness. Through these reforms we will be able to intervene without hesitation where they fall short.”

For colleges who require improvement (one grade better than inadequate), Ofsted will provide enhanced support and work with them on a development plan.

But the new skills strategy also includes stronger action to support good and outstanding colleges.