Government plan to introduce a ‘Chartered Community College Status’



Colleges and other training providers could be given the chance to gain “chartered” status as a mark of quality, FE Week has learned.

A new “chartered community college” grade would be introduced, with institutions assessed against a range of criteria possibly including the levels of qualifications of their staff, learner feedback and community involvement.

The plans are also being billed as helping immigration officials in their crackdown on “bogus” colleges.

The move is set out in a paper, leaked to FE Week, which was presented to the Further Education and Skills Ministerial Advisory Panel last week.

The document, written by Department for Business, Innovation and Skills civil servant Valerie Carpenter, says the introduction of “Chartered Community College Status” would aim to enhance the reputation of the sector, promote quality and improve the training of the workforce.

It would also have the aim of helping “the border agency to be able to recognise legitimate colleges and training providers,” says the document.

Chartered Community College status would apply to colleges, with an equivalent status available for non-college training providers.

The paper says that many providers would meet the criteria for the status “almost immediately”, but that “others would have further work to do to attain it”. “Experts from the FE sector” would sit on panels to assess bids.

Suggested criteria – included in the document to “stimulate debate” – include:

–          “quality indicators”,including qualification levels in the workforce

–          “learner-centred indicators”:student involvement in running the college, excellent customer feedback

–          “employer-centred indicators”, such as, again, customer feedback or clarity over fees charged

–          “community-centred indicators”: community engagement.

–          “open data”

The paper suggests the status should be voluntary, but that there might need to be “incentives”, such as “further freedoms and flexibilities” – to drive initial take-up.

Community colleges exist in the United States and there was speculation this week that this had inspired the term.

Jim Crawley, chair of the post-16 committee of the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers, said: “I have been to community colleges in the States and they are very close to their communities and seem to have a slightly higher status than FE colleges here.

“Chartered Community College status could be a hallmark of quality. A lot of our colleges do some great work, which never seems to get the recognition that it should.  So maybe Chartered Community College status could help.

“On the other hand, it could be that all the existing models of good practice that already exist in the sector could be ignored if some new status comes out instead.”

The Chartered Community College idea, which was put forward at the meeting chaired by the FE minister John Hayes, is being considered alongside the establishment of a Further Education Guild (see seperate article).

Both could become Government policy in the autumn.



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3 Comments

  1. Lee Davies

    The term ‘chartered’ is a protected title granted by the Privy Council. It has been bandied about before in education, in terms such as Chartered Teacher. The fact is there is no chartered educational body able to grant such a title and it takes 2 – 5 years for a body to become chartered. I imagine the lead civil servant undertook the required research?

    • Mike Cooper

      ‘Chartered’ may well be a working title only, Lee; the concept of comparatively expensive, high-status national badging granted by Them Upstairs largely for reputational purposes is very familiar in FE, certainly (just check the logos splashed all over provider stationery and websites in the past 10-20 years, or look at the walls of reception areas…). For example, think first and foremost of the erstwhile COVEs, and things like Colleges for Business or Healthy FE.

      So, ‘chartered’ may not stick — but I rather suspect that the initiative will stick, to all intents and purposes.

      (And anyway, CCC is an abbreviation freighted with history: anybody with a sense of twentieth-century history will probably spot the link to the ‘Civilann Conservation Corps’ a New Deal initiative from FDR in the USA c. 1934 intended primarily as a job-creation scheme during a Depression! Woody Guthrie, at exactly 100 years old, would be spinning in his grave… So, best perhaps to remove that initial ‘C’ from any abbreviation of this one?)

      • Lee Davies

        Ah but I know the originator of this little brain wave has a fixation on chartered institutes and learned societies, so it is more than a badge – but it won’t stick because it can’t stick. Not a hope in hell that the Privy Council will wear this – and in any case if all colleges can sign up, in the words of Morrissey “what difference does it make?”

        It’s frightening that this is linked to a concept of an FE Guild (won’t bang on about that here – FE Week just published my ramblings) because from what I have been able to take from what has been published (no longer being an informed insider) this leans far more towards an employer accreditation model, meaning we head back to the days when FE teachers were simply a ‘workforce’ ….. and potentially an unqualified one at that.