Lowestoft Sixth Form College hit with EFA financial notice to improve

Lowestoft Sixth Form College (SFC) has been issued with a financial notice to improve from the Education Funding Agency (EFA).

Principal Yolanda Botham was formally told about this before Christmas in a letter from David Jeffrey, territorial director South for the EFA, which was published on the Department for Education website today (February 11).

The accompanying notice to improve ordered the SFC to draw up a financial recovery plan, which it has done, explaining how its plans to merge with Great Yarmouth College and Lowestoft College will help “deliver long term [financial] viability”.

It added Ms Botham and other senior staff would have to attend quarterly meetings with the EFA “to discuss the progress and pace of your financial recovery”.

“The college will continue to undertake a regular review of potential cash flow requirements to inform short-term borrowing needs, and provide the EFA with an update on the position of borrowings as well as direct confirmations of its bankers’ continuing support,” it added.

Ms Botham told FE Week today: “We are a ‘good’ college with growing student numbers and financial reserves, so there is no immediate financial problem.

“This is about forward planning — so looking at the merger consultation we launched last month and how that will affect the college.”

The SFC had around 550 learners when it was rated good-across-the-board by Ofsted last June, but now has close to 700, Ms Botham added.

It comes after FE Week reported on February 5 that the SFC, which was allocated around £2.6m by the EFA for 2015/16 as of October last year, was one of five FE and sixth form colleges involved in a pilot review of post-16 provision in Norfolk and Suffolk last year that now face being revisited in November as part of a wider area review.

Great Yarmouth College, Lowestoft College, and Lowestoft SFC said they made the decision to launch “partnership” plans “designed to combine their strengths but still protect the individual identity of each college”, as a result of the pilot that took place over the first five months of last year.

East Norfolk and Paston SFCs also announced plans to merge and work towards becoming part of a multi-academy trust.

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