DfE to go public with subcontracted student numbers for first time

The Department for Education (DfE) will publish information on subcontracted student numbers for the first time at the end of this calendar year, FE Week can exclusively reveal.

The total number of learners in roles from sub-contractors will be made publically available in December/January, according to a DfE spokesperson.

The DfE revealed its plans in response to a Freedom of Information request, saying that the newly published information would be made available on the gov.uk website.

The information will be split into students who are fully sub-contracted and those who are only sub-contracted for part of their programme. It will be based on the R14 return — the individualised learner record return for the end of the 2014/15 academic year, which contains details on post-16 students, their characteristics and their learning aims for FE institutions.

Student numbers will be listed by main or sub-contractor and will relate to the 2014/15 academic year. A DfE spokesperson told FE Week that the newly available data would not contain any information on funding, because “funding is based on lagged student numbers”.

Members of the public can already access a list of declared sub-contractors from the Skills Funding Agency via the gov.uk website. This provides infstephen hewittormation on which sub-contractors are linked to which lead providers, and the value of the individual contracts between them.

Commenting on the plans to publish sub-contracted student numbers, Stephen Hewitt (pictured left), strategic funding, enrolments and examinations manager at Morley College, said the release would be good news for transparency around providers that are spending public money, particularly in the context of the government’s post-16 education and training area reviews.

“Imagine a large college in one area trumpeting that it is at the heart of its community and then finding out that they subcontract 20 per cent of their Learner Numbers to someone 100 miles away — that’s not going to be good for business,” he said.

He added that the data would be effective as “another way of keeping providers honest about who they’re really helping”.

A spokesperson from the Association of Colleges also commented on the development, saying: “It would be sensible to have information on subcontracted student numbers available from both the Education Funding Agency and Skills Funding Agency.”

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