The Department for Education will go ahead with proposals to strengthen performance reporting for colleges that are part of a group or have multiple sites, it confirmed today.
It means that from next year data on the performance of individual institutions or sites within mega-colleges will be made available – potentially paving the way for campus-level inspections.
Separate performance data for colleges within groups will be reported on an ongoing basis, while for individual sites it is being introduced as a pilot.
“We are changing the way that we report on performance for FE colleges so that people are better informed about their local colleges,” said skills minister Anne Milton.
“This will help people make the right choices for their futures, and make sure that colleges are responsive to local needs.”
Today’s announcement, which follows a nine-week consultation on the proposals, comes alongside the introduction of a new campus-level identifier in 2018/19 individualised learner records.
That now allows “identification of provision delivered across the various sites of merged institutions”.
The first separate data will be made available in 2019/20 as ‘shadow data’ for colleges in groups and ‘experimental data’ for individual sites.
This means it will be “analysed and made available” in that year, but not included in the National Achievement Rate Tables until 2020/21.
In the case of the experimental data, this will be reviewed before any final decision is made on full implementation.
The prospect of campus-level inspections at mega-colleges with multiple sites was first raised during an FE Week interview with Ofsted boss Amanda Spielman last March, who said they were under “active” consideration with the DfE.
According to today’s consultation response, the “implications of our proposals for Ofsted inspection will be considered as part of Ofsted’s current review of the inspection framework”.
The DfE asked for views on two separate proposals: separate performance reporting for colleges that are part of a group, and separate reporting for delivery sites that are part of the same college.
The proposals were intended to provide “greater transparency on the quality of local provision”, according to the consultation document.
The majority of respondents to the consultation – 44 out of 50 – backed the first proposal, while only around half supported the second.