Intervention regime WILL include college failure to comply with local skills improvement plans


New legislation will enable the education secretary to intervene where colleges refuse to deliver courses decided through local skills improvement plans, the FE white paper’s architect has confirmed.

But the extent of the powers is still being determined by ministers and there is currently no timeline for when the formal regulations will come into force.

Keith Smith, the director for post-16 strategy at the Department for Education, clarified the intent behind the legislation put forward in the white paper during an FE Week webcast on Tuesday.

Central to the reforms are new local skills improvement plans, which will be “led” by employers and “shape technical skills provision so that it meets local labour market skills needs”.

As part of this, “new accountability structures to underpin” the plans will be introduced, including legislation “to put the employer leadership on a statutory footing”.

“New powers” that allow the education secretary to intervene “where local providers are consistently unable to deliver the skills priorities for that area” will also be introduced.

There has been confusion about what this new power would mean in practice since the white paper was published in January, and whether it meant that the DfE’s intervention regime would in the future include college failure to comply with the local skills plans.

Smith confirmed this was the case during this week’s webcast.

“This will be for ministers to set out, which they haven’t yet done, but the intent will be to have a bit of the FE Bill about how we get employers involved in shaping the system. The other part will be about what do the secretary of state’s powers look like where the system is perhaps not working effectively as he or she would like,” he said.

FE Week editor Nick Linford, who chaired the webcast, pressed Smith to be clear that this legislation would give the education secretary more power to intervene where a college or training provider isn’t delivering the courses as laid out in the skills plan.

Smith confirmed there will be a “shift in the ability for the secretary of state to intervene where he or she doesn’t feel that the system is effective”.

“The legislative agenda is a really critical part of the strategy, but I should just caveat all this to say government has not yet laid its formal regulations in the House of Commons and so this is very much for ministers to determine to what extent what sort of articles they want to lay within the Bill,” he added.

College autonomy in deciding what courses they run has been a hot topic in recent years.

At the Association of Colleges conference in 2018, Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman controversially argued that some colleges choose to run courses for financial gain, such as in performing arts, despite the lack of opportunity for progression.

local skills improvement plans
<a href=httpsfeweekcouk20200121ofsted boss still not happy with colleges flooding economy with arts and media students target= blank rel=noopener>READ MORE Ofsted boss still not happy with colleges flooding economy with arts and media students<a>

This, she said, is giving students “false hope” by putting them on courses where there are slim job prospects. Spielman repeated this concern in the watchdog’s 2020 annual report last January.

There have since been a number of reports from the likes of the AoC and former adviser to the skills minister and founder of the think tank EDSK Tom Richmond that suggest colleges should lose some autonomy.

And in November, Education and Skills Funding Agency director Matthew Atkinson told MPs he would “definitely like more power” to intervene in the running of colleges.

The local skills improvement plans mooted in the white paper are set to be piloted this year.

Latest education roles from

A Level Biology Teacher

A Level Biology Teacher

Barnsley College

Electrical Installation Trainer

Electrical Installation Trainer

Barnsley College

Sessional Science Lab Technician

Sessional Science Lab Technician

Merton College

Sessional Lecturer – Plumbing

Sessional Lecturer – Plumbing

South Thames College

Lecturer – Business (x 1 Banking Specialism & x 1 Accounting/Business Finance Specialism)

Lecturer – Business (x 1 Banking Specialism & x 1 Accounting/Business Finance Specialism)

Kingston College

Apprentice Development Leader

Apprentice Development Leader

GP Strategies

Sponsored posts

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...

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)...

Sponsored post

A new chapter in education protection!

Gallagher is a specialist in the Further Education sector, working with over 75% of Further Education colleges in the...

Sponsored post

Pearson is planting the seed for sustainability talent with new HTQ

Sustainability is rapidly becoming a key organisational goal for many businesses looking to make a difference in society, the...


More from this theme

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
Bootcamps, Ofsted, Skills reform

US ed tech giant exits bootcamps after raking in £5m

Struggling firm leaves UK training 'in the best interest of students'

Billy Camden
Colleges, Skills reform

MPs: DfE should include FE in teacher recruitment forecasts

FE is the 'worst impacted' sector yet often ignored by DfE plans

Josh Mellor

Your thoughts

Leave a Reply

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


  1. Bob Smith

    They clearly know what they want a LSIP to look like, so why not fill the void and tell us all? The White Paper is so vague on any operational detail, it’s almost useless.

  2. Philip

    Local Skills Initiative Plans are politically driven, are expensive to set up in bureaucratic terms, and historically deliver little in the way of long-lasting results.

    But hey, when the auditors arrive, they will have all the answers, won’t they!