Twenty college partnerships will receive grants through a fund designed to develop greater collaboration across the sector, the government announced today.
Skills minister Gillian Keegan has named the winners of the £5.4 million College Collaboration Fund (CCF). It builds on the Strategic College Improvement Fund.
The 20 partnerships are:
CCF lead college
Dudley College of Technology
Birmingham Metropolitan College, City of Wolverhampton College
Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College
Harrow and Uxbridge College, West Thames College,The Windsor Forest Colleges Group, Brooklands College
DN Colleges Group
The Sheffield College
London South East Colleges
East Sussex College Group
Middlesbrough College, Education Training Collective, Hartlepool College, Northern School of Art
Wiltshire College & University Centre
Bridgwater and Taunton College
Strode College, Brockenhurst College, The Henley College, Petroc
Wilberforce Sixth Form College
Franklin Sixth Form College, John Leggott College, Scarborough Sixth Form College, Wyke Sixth Form College
Truro & Penwith College
South Devon College, Petroc
Newcastle & Stafford College Group
Shrewsbury Colleges Group
The Windsor Forest Colleges Group
Berkshire College of Agriculture
Heart of Worcestershire College
Grimsby Institute, DN Colleges Group, Grantham College, Boston College, New College Stamford
The LTE Group (The Manchester College)
Bury College, Bolton College, Hopwood Hall College, The Oldham College, Tameside College, Trafford College Group, Wigan and Leigh College
NCG (Carlisle College), Lakes College, Furness College, Askham Bryan (Newton Rigg College)
Birmingham Metropolitan College, National College for Advanced Transport and Infrastructure, South Staffordshire College
Basingstoke College of Technology and EKC Group
Highbury College, Havant and South Downs College
Heart of Worcestershire College
East Durham College
The CCF launched earlier this year but was paused in March due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
It reopened for applications on June 10 but with a twist: the original pot on offer totalled £9 million but was then cut to £5.4 million after the Department for Education had to “reprioritise” its spending decisions in light of the pandemic.
The fund is designed to “support FE colleges to respond to the current challenges around quality improvement and capitalise on good practice, including that developed through new ways of working” throughout 2020/21.
The DfE said activities through the programme can include developing “high quality digital content to provide improved remote and blended learning, make sure students affected by coronavirus can catch-up on lost learning hours and also to prevent young people from becoming NEET (not in education employment or training)”.
Keegan said: “This fund will help colleges work together, to develop cutting edge digital approaches to online learning , to overcome new challenges and continue to deliver high-quality education and training for the communities they serve.
“The past few months have been a challenging time for the sector, but they have gone above and beyond to support their students. This additional funding will help to support further collaborative work as we move forward.”
David Corke, the Association of Colleges director of education and skills policy, added: “The grants will help support collaboration and the sharing of innovative good practice in the college sector.
“Importantly, developing digital content, providing catch up support, engaging vulnerable learners and addressing mental health and wellbeing will all be vital ways colleges will use this money to support students to transition into college or their next academic year.”
Groups of colleges could bid for grants of between £100,000 to £500,000 but are expected to match at least 25 per cent of the total cost of the programme of work.
However, the DfE may waive a proportionate amount of match funding contribution where a college is in formal intervention with Education and Skills Funding Agency, as asking for a contribution would “undermine a college’s financial viability”.
Each submission needed a lead applicant college with an ‘outstanding’ or ‘good’ Ofsted grade and at least one other “improvement partner” college.
Merged colleges without an Ofsted rating could still apply, as long as one of the two previous colleges met the criteria.
Each proposed programme of work must address at least one of the fund’s three “quality improvement themes” identified by DfE: quality of education, financial and resource management, and leadership and governance.
The 12-month CCF follows the Strategic College Improvement Fund – which ended last year after £12.3 million of the £15 million up for grabs was used to help 80 colleges rated ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’ team up with better performing colleges.
Education secretary Gavin Williamson previously said the new fund is needed because there “have been examples where colleges haven’t been getting it right and things that we are not comfortable with have been going on”.
All colleges that receive the funding must complete their activities from the CCF by the 31 March 2021. Successful colleges will receive payment of their grant by 18 September 2020.
The DfE confirmed earlier this month that they will launch another round for CCF funding, but the timeline for this is not yet known.