Covid-19: Over 40 colleges supported by FE commissioner

EXCLUSIVE: More than 40 colleges are being supported by the FE commissioner's team, the Department for Education has told Tes

Kate Parker

'Public FE commissioner reports berate leaders'

More than 40 colleges have are being supported by the FE commissioner's team during the Coronavirus pandemic, the Department of Education has told Tes.  

A Department for Education spokesperson said the team around FE commissioner Richard Atkins "is supporting over 40 colleges, including in relation to Covid-19 and other ongoing issues". The spokesperson added: "Support provided by the FE commissioner's team has included advice and guidance on governance and leadership, and on maintaining financial resilience and sustainability."

Formal intervention from the team was halted in March, days before education secretary Gavin Williamson told colleges to close their buildings to most students.

In a tweet at the time, Mr Atkins said his team “has paused all activity in colleges except where we can, with their consent, provide support to those colleges we are already working with”.

Department of Education guidance published a few days later said: “Richard Atkins, the FE commissioner (FEC), and his team of highly experienced deputy FECs and FE advisers have offered their services to college leaders that would like to talk through plans, concerns and issues.” 

Coronavirus: FE commissioner pauses college work

Background: 13% of colleges fear their solvency is at risk

News: Colleges to reopen from 15 June, government says

Colleges have felt the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic. An Association of Colleges (AoC) survey at the beginning of May revealed that four in 10 college leaders predicted a deterioration in their college's financial health as a result of coronavirus.

A third of leaders predicted there would be cash flow issues and 13 per cent believed there could be "a significant threat to solvency”. 

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Kate Parker

Kate Parker is a FE reporter.

Find me on Twitter @KateeParker

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