DfE snatches £1.5m from popular FE leadership and governance scheme

Government slimming down two-year leadership and governance training amid cuts

Government slimming down two-year leadership and governance training amid cuts

The Department for Education is slashing a near-£10 million popular programme aimed at strengthening leadership and governance in further education, FE Week understands.

Last year, the Education and Training Foundation was awarded a £9.55 million two-year contract to deliver continuous professional development (CPD) to around 5,500 people.

The much sought-after programme drew in over 4,000 leaders and governors just in its first year.

But the DfE, which is on a money-saving venture, is planning to reduce the value of the contract by £1.5 million and scale back the programme offer ahead of the final year.

Experts warned last year that nonprotected government budgets are at risk of cuts after chancellor Jeremy Hunt told all departments to “redouble efforts to find savings”.

The DfE just this week ditched a school governor recruitment scheme, slashed subject knowledge enhancement (SKE) courses, and scaled back funding for national professional qualifications.

Value for taxpayers’ money?

The ETF had already been running a CPD programme for FE governors and leaders with other sector bodies since its launch in 2013, but the January 2021 skills for jobs white paper outlined that the government would “build upon” the ETF’s offer.

The organisation won the £9.55 million contract in 2023, which involves 30 programmes for students, professionals, and governors across FE through online, face-to-face and hybrid sessions.

DfE said at the time that it was targeting more than 5,500 people in leadership and governance roles from the contract, which ends in March 2025.

Following the first year, DfE and the ETF claimed to be conducting a “regular review” of the contract to ensure “value for taxpayers’ money”.

Dr. Katerina Kolyva, chief executive at the ETF, told FE Week that the review is to ensure “the offer remains holistic and joined up”.

An ETF spokesperson said they were “not in a position” to specify what parts of the programme will change in year two.

“Contract reviews are not unusual, with contracts being explored across many other sectors and industries during the current economic climate,” they said.

“ETF and the DfE recognise that together we have made great progress in the first year of the leadership and governance (L&G) contract, supporting leaders and governors with their career development.”

The spokesperson added: “We are unable to comment on [the total contract value] until the review is completed. Our priority is mitigating any impact potential changes may have on the sector and those individuals whose ongoing career development we remain committed to support.”

Additionally, through the contract, the ETF commissioned several delivery partners such as the Saïd Business School, which runs a CEO programme to support chief executives and college principals through face-to-face sessions located at the University of Oxford.

Plus, the Association of Colleges was commissioned to develop and run the Governance Development Programme for college governors through a series of online modules.

Other delivery partners include the Institute of Directors, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales, and FE Associates.

Kolyva said: “Before the start of year two, we have been working together to ensure that the offer remains holistic and joined up, and that it continues to support leaders and governors with their continuous professional development. We have explored new opportunities to do things differently; to be innovative, explore new ways of delivery and using new technologies.”

A DfE spokesperson said: “We are confident that our updates will continue to support FE leaders and governors with everything they need for their continuous professional development. This work is part of our regular review of our contracts to ensure we’re meeting our obligations, the needs of the sector, and value for taxpayers’ money.”

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One comment

  1. Tony. Allen

    This is the equivalent of cutting the biscuits from coffee breaks. In other words petty and ill thought out.
    This ETF Leadership and Governance training is a highly valuable resource used by many people. The sector, needs more training of this type if it is to help overcome the real challenges that we all face.
    Shame on you Robert Halfon!