Twenty one general FE colleges and 13 sixth form colleges (SFCs) will be involved in three extra post-16 education and training area reviews announced by the government this morning.
They will be for the Tees Valley, Sussex Coast and Solent regions, launching on October 1 and 22, and November 5 respectively — with the government warning that more area reviews will be announced “shortly”.
It comes after FE Week reported on September 8 that 22 general FE colleges and 16 SFCs were to be involved in the first round of three post-16 education and training area reviews announced by the government.
The reviews for the Birmingham and Solihull and Greater Manchester areas launched on September 18 and 21 respectively, while a further one for Sheffield city region is set to begin on Monday (September 28).
And, just like the first round of reviews, those announced today do not list any schools sixth forms or independent learning providers.
A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and Department for Education said this morning: “We are announcing three further area reviews that are part of the first wave.
“These will be Tees Valley, Sussex Coast and Solent. This statement sets out the scope of six of the first wave reviews. Further area reviews will be announced shortly.”
The reviews will be led by steering groups consisting of college chairs of governors, local enterprise partnerships, local authorities, regional schools commissioners, SFC Commissioner Peter Mucklow (pictured right) and FE Commissioner Dr David Collins (pictured below left).
Dr Collins will chair the steering groups for the Tees Valley, Sussex Coast and Solent area reviews.
He is also chairing the Birmingham and Solihull, and Sheffield City Region steering groups, but the Greater Manchester group’s chair is chief executive of Trafford City Council Theresa Grant.
Each review will start with an assessment of the economic and educational needs of the area, and the implications for post-16 education and training provision, also including school sixth forms and independent learning providers.
The reviews will then focus on the current structure of FE and SFCs, although the BIS spokesperson said “there will be opportunities for other institutions (including schools and independent providers) to opt in to this stage of the analysis”.
Regional School Commissioners will consider the implications of the first stage of the analysis for school sixth form provision.
The process has come in for criticism from sector leaders for not directly including school and academy post-16 providers.
They included James Kewin, deputy chief executive of the Sixth Form Colleges Association, who told FE Week: “A genuine process of area based reviews would be extremely welcome, as it would scrutinise the performance and viability of all 16 to 19 providers – including school and academy sixth forms.”
The results of an exclusive FE Week survey published on September 11 also showed that almost 90 per cent of principals affected by the first three area reviews announced on September 8 were unhappy with the government’s guidance.
It comes after five FE colleges and SFCs facing “significant financial challenges” announced on July 21 that they are “actively considering” collaboration plans, following a review of post-16 provision in North East Norfolk and North Suffolk.
It was overseen by Dr Collins and Mr Mucklow during the first five months of this year.
It came a day after BIS announced plans, in its report Reviewing post-16 education and training institutions, for a “programme of area-based reviews to review 16+ provision in every area” of the country.
The North East Norfolk and North Suffolk review and another for Nottingham, which FE Week revealed had been launched on May 1, were pilots for this.
The colleges involved in the latest three reviews are yet to comment.
Here are the colleges involved in the latest three area reviews announced by the government:
Cleveland College of Art & Design
Hartlepool College of Further Education
Redcar and Cleveland College
Stockton Riverside College
Sixth form colleges:
Hartlepool Sixth Form College
Prior Pursglove College
Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College, Darlington
Stockton Sixth Form College
Central Sussex College, Crawley
City College, Brighton and Hove
Northbrook College, Sussex
Sussex Coast College, Hastings
Sussex Downs College
Sixth form colleges:
Brighton Hove and Sussex Sixth Form College
Highbury College, Portsmouth
Isle of Wight College
Southampton City College
South Downs College, Waterlooville
Sixth form colleges:
Barton Peveril College
Richard Taunton’s Sixth Form College
St Vincent College