Revealed: The 17 colleges to share £2.5m in final strategic improvement funding round

The names of final colleges set to share grants through a government fund designed to support struggling colleges have been announced.

Skills minister Anne Milton today revealed that 17 colleges will share £2.5million in the third and last round of the strategic college improvement fund that was introduced in October 2017.

The winners are:

SCIF recipient college

Lead partner college

Barnet Southgate College
Activate Learning
Bishop Auckland College
Barnsley College
Cheshire College South & West
Bury College
City College Southampton
Fareham College
City of Wolverhampton
Grimsby Institute of Further Education and Higher Education
Colchester Institute
Northampton College
Coventry College
Grimsby Institute of Further Education and Higher Education
Croydon College
Leeds City College
Derwentside College
Gateshead College
EKC Group
North Kent College
Hertford Regional College
Milton Keynes College
North Shropshire College
Herefordshire, Ludlow and North Shropshire College
Northampton College
Harlow College
Oaklands College
West Herts College
Prospects College of Advanced Technology
South Essex College
Stratford Upon Avon College
Solihull College & University Centre
Swindon College
Cirencester College


A total of 80 colleges across the country have been successful in securing funding since its launch, which was originally meant to amount to £15 million but ended up totalling £12.3 million.

Colleges rated ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’ overall, or for their apprenticeship provision, were able apply for grants ranging between £60,000 and £500,000.

Merged colleges without an Ofsted rating were also able to bid.

Each application had to be supported by a stronger college, rated at least ‘good’ at its most recent inspection. The government said the scheme would “enable colleges to access resources that they need to improve their provision for students, including the best practice of other colleges, while at the same time mobilising and strengthening improvement in the FE sector”.

The Department for Education today published the findings of its initial pilot. It required 14 general FE and sixth-form colleges to design and produce self-evaluations related to the activities they had implemented.

The self-evaluation reports were all “positive about the programme, and particularly the opportunity to be partnered with another college”, according to the research.

The colleges said the fund enabled quality improvement work to be completed “much more quickly than would have happened otherwise”, with colleges reporting that they appreciated the development of peer-to-peer relationships between colleges.

However, it also found that targets to improve student retention rates were commonly not met, even though colleges were most commonly able to provide evidence of improving teaching, learning and assessment, developing the student experience and improving the quality of apprenticeship provision.

The Department for Education said today almost three quarters of eligible colleges applied for the fund and 91 per cent of applicants were successful.

“We’ve seen some great success stories as a result of the programme,” Milton said today.

“It’s excellent news that colleges are making progress. Many colleges are intending to continue working together beyond the programme’s end, which can only be for the good of students.”

Bill Watkin, chief executive at Sixth Form Colleges Association, said he was “sure that many of the relationships established through SCIF activities will be sustained for years to come and students will benefit well beyond the end of this programme”.

He called on the government to launch another round of the SCIF in the near future.

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