Government reveals college cull plans as it launches national review of post-16 education



The government could cut the number of general FE and sixth form colleges in England in a bid to bring “greater efficiency” to the sector, an official document has revealed.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has published its report Reviewing post-16 education and training institutions, which sets out plans for a national programme of area-based reviews.

The document expresses the “need” to move towards “fewer, often larger, more resilient and efficient providers”.

It continues: “We expect this to enable greater specialisation, creating institutions that are genuine centres of expertise, able to support progression up to a high level in professional and technical disciplines, while also supporting institutions that achieve excellence in teaching essential basic skills – such as English and maths.

“This will need to be done while maintaining broad universal access to high quality education and training from age 16 upwards for students of all abilities including those with special educational needs and disabilities.

“We know from experience of structure and prospects appraisals and early area based reviews that restructuring can help to improve opportunities and outcomes for students and secure operational and financial efficiencies.

“We are therefore announcing that the Departments for Education and Business, Innovation and Skills will facilitate a programme of area-based reviews to review 16+ provision in every area, and do so quickly.”

The first area review will be launched in Birmingham this month, with guidance on the reviews themselves expected to be published in August.

The first wave of reviews will then begin in September, with five further waves beginning every three months until December 2016.

Email howard.bines@bis.gsi.gov.uk to let the government know your opinion on the reviews process.



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7 Comments

  1. Eugene Greco

    I wonder who will be excellent at delivering English and maths to people who haven’t got there by the end of their statutory education? Is any FE institution excellent at recovering the situation after schools haven’t been excellent?

  2. Surely if we have fewer, bigger colleges there will be less specialisation, because it will be the smaller specialist providers that get swallowed by the already large GFEs? Whilst I’m not ideologically opposed to fewer colleges, if we end up with one per Local Authority/one or two per LEP they’ll have to do everything, won’t they? Or we’ll end up with people travelling hours to do construction/hospitality/motor vehicle etcetc…
    .
    Also “Institutes of Technology” sound an awful lot like Polytechnics to me!

  3. Andrew Stanley

    Schools with sixth forms should be directed to participate.

    The section on the scope of the reviews states that reviews “… will be able to include other providers where they agree; the availability and quality of wider 16+ provision including school sixth forms and HEIs will also be considered during the analysis phase.”

    This seems to imply that although the breadth of curricula in sixth forms may be inadequate, it merely gets noted. If so, it is hard to reconcile this with the aim of raising productivity.

  4. Andrew Stanley

    Schools with sixth forms should be directed to participate.

    The section on the scope of the reviews states that reviews “… will be able to include other providers where they agree; the availability and quality of wider 16+ provision including school sixth forms and HEIs will also be considered during the analysis phase.”

    This seems to imply that although the breadth of curricula in sixth forms may be inadequate, it merely gets noted. If so, it is hard to reconcile this with the aim of raising productivity.

  5. Bob Smith

    I’m broadly in favour of this and think it is long overdue. It does not go far enough however, and should include Academies and School Sixth Forms, which are a major issue for FE and in my opinion, should not be protected from this process.

    I also find the outline scope of the area reviews a bit deceptive. This is all about money and efficiency……it is definitely not about specialism or improving learner choice.

    The dawn of a new era beckons!

  6. David Butcher

    How any review of post 16 cannot include school sixth forms beggars belief. If the aim is efficiency , cost saving and raising standards ,how can poorly performing, costly and often duplicate provision be left out ? Couldn’t make it up.

  7. Yes, my sixth form/secondary school had a teacher who was later sacked by OFSTED, and she was a nice person, but her teaching, she did not even attend lessons, and the school should of been closed down. Do you think parents can monitor bad six forms, I don’t think so.
    Also where I work students come back and apply for course after course. This is the fist things that should be reviewed. Meaning they are getting a lot of funding to fund their benefits, They should be forced to take out a loan after they have had one chance. They should be given re-sits for free, but should be tested for suitability and why they failed first time round. Additional to the review all teaching staff should be given English and Math tests to see if they are suitable. We have staff who can’t even write emails. Those are the things that matter.
    The only financial suggestion, is students taking as many courses as they want.