The Department for Education has announced it will press ahead with its plans to introduce separate performance reporting for colleges that are part of a group.
This follows a consultation on the issue, which showed widespread support from the sector. Only weeks ago, following Ofsted's largest-ever college inspection, Paul Joyce, the inspectorate's deputy director for FE and skills, said the Ofsted inspection framework, which currently considers college groups as one institution, needed to “reflect changes in the FE sector and provide separate grades for colleges that are part of college groups”.
The idea of campus grades for colleges was first floated in 2016 as a response to the government’s area reviews and subsequent merges, which meant most colleges now had a number of sites, and the number of college groups grew.
In the government’s response to the consultation, published today, it said it welcomed “the strong support from respondents for our proposals for separate performance reporting for colleges that are part of a group. We intend to proceed with implementation of this proposal.”
Proceeding on a pilot basis
The response added that on multi-site colleges, the government had having carefully considered the responses related to the proposal for delivery site reporting, “we intend to proceed with implementation of the proposal on a pilot basis, carefully targeted so as to mitigate the potential practical and technical issues, whilst maximising the likely benefits”.
“We will treat the data collected on delivery sites in 2018-19 as experimental data, and will carry out a review of the quality of the data generated through the pilot before making a final decision on whether delivery site reporting should be incorporated in performance reporting.”
David Corke, director of policy at the Association of Colleges, said: “The government’s consultation is welcome as AoC members believe reporting performance in a more granular way will be fairer for colleges of all sizes. Currently, the reporting of accountability measures, especially for college groups does not function at all well and can impede inspection.
“There must continue to be dialogue with the sector to ensure we get the reporting structures right. AoC looks forward to working with the department and ESFA on the pilot to help introduce this important policy.”
Apprenticeships and skills minister Anne Milton said: “We are changing the way that we report on performance for FE colleges so that people are better informed about their local colleges. This will help people make the right choices for their futures, and make sure that colleges are responsive to local needs.”