Thirty four general FE colleges and 15 sixth form colleges (SFCs) will be involved in the second wave of post-16 education and training area reviews, it was announced today.

Six reviews have been detailed in the Midlands, London and the North West among other areas, and are set to begin next month.

And just like the seven reviews of the first wave, in which 83 colleges are being reviewed, no school sixth forms were listed.

Steering groups for the second wave, each of which will be chaired by either FE Commissioner Dr David Collins or Sixth Form College Commissioner Peter Mucklow, are expected to get under way between January 18 and March 10.

The government today also gave indications of which areas would be included in the remaining three waves (listed below).

The indicative timings for waves three, four and five to begin were April, September and November next year respectively, and comprising 22 proposed area reviews — although the government acknowledged that some local areas may wish to change the timing of their reviews and circumstances at some colleges may change.

“Together these three waves cover all of the areas in England not covered in waves one and two, although area reviews covering Greater London are yet to be confirmed. We currently anticipate that they will form part of waves two and three,” said a government spokesperson.

In the Marches and Worcestershire area review in wave two seven FE colleges will come under scrutiny, along with four SFCs. Thames Valley will have the greatest number of FE colleges reviewed in the second wave at eight institutions, but only one SFC — The Henley College.

The West of England will have four colleges examined and one SFC, St Brendan’s Sixth Form College, while Cheshire and Warrington will see six FE colleges and two SFCs under review.

In Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire it will be five FE colleges and one SFC, City of Stoke-on-Trent Sixth Form College, and in Surrey four colleges and six SFCs — the great number of SFCs for the regions in this second wave of reviews.

The first group of area reviews to be announced, as reported in FE Week on September 8, covered 22 FE colleges and 16 SFCs in Birmingham and Solihull, Greater Manchester, and Sheffield. More reviews, involving 21 FE colleges and 13 SFCs, were announced on September 25 for the Tees Valley, Sussex Coast and Solent regions.

The seventh and final region in the first wave of area reviews was announced on October 16 as West Yorkshire and included seven general FE colleges and four sixth form colleges.

The government has said the “need” to move towards “fewer, often larger, more resilient and efficient providers,” underlies the area reviews. However, Dr Collins has said “divorces” could also be on the cards.

Main image indicative only and based on local enterprise partnership boundaries


Wave two

The Marches and Worcestershire

FE colleges

Heart of Worcestershire College

Hereford College of Arts

Herefordshire and Ludlow College

North Shropshire College

Shrewsbury College of Arts and Technology

South Worcestershire College

Telford College of Arts and Technology

Sixth form colleges

Hereford Sixth Form College

New College Telford

Shrewsbury Sixth Form College

Worcester Sixth Form College


Thames Valley

 FE Colleges

Abingdon and Witney College

Activate Learning (City of Oxford College, Banbury and Bicester College and Reading College)

Amersham and Wycombe College

Aylesbury College

Berkshire College of Agriculture

Bracknell and Wokingham College

East Berkshire College

Newbury College

Sixth form colleges

The Henley College


West of England

FE Colleges

Bath College

City of Bristol College

South Gloucestershire and Stroud College

Weston College of Further Education

Sixth form colleges

St Brendan’s Sixth Form College


Cheshire and Warrington

FE Colleges

Macclesfield College

Mid Cheshire College

Reaseheath College (specialist land based)

South Cheshire College

Warrington Collegiate

West Cheshire College

Sixth form colleges

Priestley College

Sir John Deane’s Sixth Form College


Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire

FE Colleges

Burton and South Derbyshire College

Newcastle-under-Lyme College

South Staffordshire College

Stafford College

Stoke-on-Trent College

Sixth form colleges

City of Stoke-on-Trent Sixth Form College



FE Colleges

Brooklands College

East Surrey College

Guildford College

North East Surrey College of Technology

Sixth form colleges

College of Richard Collyer

Esher College

Godalming College

Reigate College

Strode’s College

Woking College

The government also announced the following regions for indicative area reviews*:


Wave 3

  • Cumbria
  • Lancashire (Pennines)
  • Liverpool City Region
  • North East
  • Black Country


Wave 4

  • Leicester and Leicestershire
  • Hampshire
  • Dorset
  • South East Midlands
  • York, North Yorkshire and the Humber
  • Greater Lincolnshire
  • Lancashire (Coastal)
  • Gloucestershire, Swindon and Wiltshire

Wave 5

  • Greater Cambridgeshire and Greater Peterborough
  • Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire
  • Essex
  • Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly
  • Somerset
  • Norfolk and Suffolk
  • Coventry and Warwickshire
  • Hertfordshire
  • Kent

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  1. The opportunity cost and the scale and complexity of this task should not be underestimated. It is difficult to see how College leaders and governors will not be distracted from what should be their main focus which is the improvement of the quality of current teaching and learning which has been identified by the recent OFSTED Annual report.

    The recent outcomes of the FE rationalisation process in Scotland should also be heeded?

    • Frank Hughes

      Fair point re Scotland but regionalisation happened at the same time as post 16 education reform and college being classifed differently by ONS resulting in a much greater financial reporting burden. Positives have been reduced costs of delivery, more focused curriculum offering, strengthened regional reputation, greater inclusion in regional decision making and by reducing brand numbers made it easier for external stakeholder identification (and a greater focus on key purpose). My thinking is if it’s inevitable then be ahead of the curve, get someone in who can do a lot of the leg work for you and keep your Board’s and SMT’s minds on the quality and effectiveness of your current core products. This isn’t a sales pitch but having lived through the experience in Scotland I am available to act as a project manager and help you / anyone get there with minimum disruption.

  2. Totally agree with what Bob has said. I’m also concerned about what further college mergers will mean for vulnerable students (if this is the outcome). We already have a situation in the South West where there is very little choice, if a student is excluded from college, or simply asked to leave a course, there are very few places they can attempt to make a new start, particularlyb true if they are outside Bristol. This doesn’t sit at all well with the raising participation age ‘agenda’ (if you can call something so poorly worked out an agenda).

  3. Be interesting to see how much things have moved on from the LSC’s Strategic Area Reviews (StARs)back in the early Noughties……..
    I suspect not much, other than the Independent Learning Providers, who have grown in stature in line with the increasing prioritisation of Apprenticeships.