Area reviews have led to more collaboration

FE could be entering a more collaborative phase in the aftermath of area reviews and with skills devolution on the horizon

Area reviews and devolution of the adult education budget is forcing colleges to adopt a more collaborative approach

Area reviews and the devolution of the adult education budget are forcing colleges to adopt a more collaborative approach.

Speaking to the International Employer Engagement Conference, Ken Spours, professor of post-compulsory education at the UCL Institute of Education, said the area review process, which resulted in a large number of colleges merging, has fostered a more collaborative phase for further education. Devolution of the adult education budget to metro-mayor areas will lead to more working together too.

“As money starts to flow towards budgets in city regions, local government decides that it is a major player now,” he said, adding: “These autonomous [colleges] start to work together and work with other social partners."

Metro mayor areas

Professor Spours said that in London, this was clear with the enhanced role of the mayor of London – with Sadiq Khan’s launch of his Skills for Londoners strategy – and closer working with civic and education leaders in the sub-regions of the capital.

The strategy document says that the mayor “aspires to create a single, integrated skills and adult education offer for London to deliver a more strategic, whole-system approach to post-16 skills”.

The government plans to devolve the adult education budget to several combined authority areas from 2019, a year later than planned.

These areas are Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Greater Manchester, Liverpool City, London, Sheffield City, Tees Valley, West Midlands, and the West of England.

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