Colleges invited to bid for £65m Strategic Development Fund pilot – but must collaborate

A new fund that aims to force college collaboration has opened for bids today.

Colleges can now tender to pilot the Strategic Development Fund, which was first mooted in this year’s FE white paper and backed with £65 million.

It is part of the government’s newly named “Skills Accelerator” programme, which also incorporates local skills improvement plans set to be piloted this year.

Both pilots will aim to tackle ministers’ concerns of “skills mismatches” when it comes to the provision offered by colleges and training providers in local areas to the detriment of employers.

The government wants 12 to 16 areas to pilot the Strategic Development Fund. The funding, which will consist of 60 per cent (£38 million) for capital and 40 per cent (£27 million) for revenue, must be used by March 2022.

In the fund’s application guidance, it says the aim of the pilot is to “begin building the local collaborations that will create a stronger and more efficient overall delivery infrastructure and support a more co-ordinated offer across the local area”.

They will also “support the development of a high-value curriculum offer in support of longer-term skills priorities” in a local area and “strengthen the relationship with employers”.

Each bid must be submitted by an Ofsted grade one or two college as a lead applicant which “must consult” with all colleges in the area and “invite them to join the collaboration”.

And where a college in an area does not wish to become a member of the pilot, the lead college “must confirm that the institution has been provided with an opportunity to join the collaboration and the rationale for them wishing to remain outside of it”.

Independent training providers are not permitted to be a lead provider but can be a member of the collaboration.

The proposals “must” provide a “clear justification for the collaboration membership and a high-level outline of the individual contribution of each member”.

Bids can also involve the creation of new college business centres, which were also proposed in the white paper.

Located in one of the colleges within the collaboration but acting as a “shared resource”, the business centres can “enable a strategic response to the needs of a priority local sector and play a pivotal role in connecting employers to the technical expertise and facilities of the collaboration as a whole”, the DfE said.

Proposals for college business centres should “specialise in a local priority sector whose employers would benefit from support to help them better understand and anticipate skills needs, and to make better use of the skills of their workforce.

“They would also be expected to communicate information about the sector’s evolving skill requirements to the providers within the collaboration, facilitating the development of and access to provision which is more closely aligned to the evolving skill needs of the sector.”

The DfE said it anticipates a “small number” of college business centres across the Strategic Development Fund pilot areas and does not expect every bid to include one.

Applications must be made by 25 May 2021 by emailing Skills.Accelerator@education.gov.uk.

No timeframe for when the pilots will formally launch has been provided.

Latest education roles from

Internal Quality Assurance Employability and Distance Learning

Internal Quality Assurance Employability and Distance Learning

Capital City College Group

Distance Learning Tutor

Distance Learning Tutor

Capital City College Group

Curriculum Manager – Maths

Curriculum Manager – Maths

Capital City College Group

Student Welfare Officer

Student Welfare Officer

MidKent College

Regional HR Advisor

Regional HR Advisor

Academies Enterprise Trust

Head of Langdon College (London)

Head of Langdon College (London)

Kisharon Langdon

Sponsored posts

Sponsored post

#GE2024: Listen now as Let’s Go Further outlines the FE and skills priorities facing our new government

The Skills and Education Group podcast, Let’s Go Further, aims to challenge the way we all think about skills...

Advertorial
Sponsored post

How can we prepare learners for their future in an ever-changing world?

By focusing their curriculums on transferable skills, digital skills, and sustainability, colleges and schools can be confident that learners...

Advertorial
Sponsored post

Why we’re backing our UK skills ‘Olympians’ (and why you should too)

This August, teams from over 200 nations will gather to compete in the sticky heat of the Paris summer...

Advertorial
Sponsored post

Is your organisation prepared for a major incident?

We live in an unpredictable world where an unforeseen incident or environmental event could disrupt a Further Education (FE)...

Advertorial

More from this theme

Apprenticeships, Skills reform

HTQs should be at front of Labour’s growth levy queue, say researchers

Public First models economic returns if level 4 and 5 technical quals are funded through a reformed apprenticeship levy

Billy Camden
Apprenticeships, Politics, Skills reform

IfATE loses 30 staff in DfE cash cuts

Second-in-command Rob Nitsch is among the departures

Billy Camden
Election 2024, Skills reform

AoC publishes ‘blueprint’ for new skills quango

It comes as Labour confirms plans to introduce a new body called 'Skills England'

Billy Camden
ABS, Skills reform

Maths to 18: MPs want financial literacy alternative to GCSE resits

Education committee urges ministers to 'prioritise' financial education in post-16 maths

Billy Camden

Your thoughts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *