DfE launches consultation ahead of college campus performance reporting

The government has launched a consultation on proposals to “strengthen” public reporting on performance for colleges which are in groups and have multiple sites.

Running for nine weeks, the consultation comes ahead of a new college campus identifier which could pave the way for campus-level inspections at mega-colleges.

It seeks views on two proposals.

The first is on the introduction of separate performance reporting for colleges that are part of a group.

“That would mean that performance information was available for all colleges, irrespective of whether they were part of a group or not,” a spokesperson for the Department for Education said.

Secondly, it wants options for separate reporting for delivery sites that are part of the same college.

“That would provide greater transparency on the quality of local provision, alongside performance information relating to the college as a whole,” the spokesperson said.

The consultation web page explains that changes in the “structure of the sector” have “implications for how well the existing performance reporting system now works, including the information that is available to learners, support for local accountability, and quality improvement”.

It says this consultation is focused on supporting the existing educational performance measures, such as achievement rates, progress measures, learner destinations and outcomes. It does not propose any changes to the measures themselves.

The DfE said other, non-educational performance measures, such as financial indicators, are not in scope of this consultation. No changes are proposed to the current system for allocation of funding.

The new college campus identifier will be introduced into individualised learner records from 2018/19. Its intention is to “allow identification of provision delivered across the various sites of merged institutions”.

This new identifier could lead to campus-level inspections at mega-colleges from as early as next year, and would allow for reports on colleges that were previously independent, but which now sit within merged groups.

The nation’s largest college group has welcomed the change. Joe Docherty, the chief executive of Newcastle-based NCG, said moving to inspections of individual campuses was a “logical next step” that the group would “strongly welcome”.

Today’s consultation proposals apply to both general and specialist FE colleges, as well as sixth-form colleges. It closes on June 10.