Today, further education commissioner Richard Atkins published the final annual report of his tenure. It summarises the work he and his team did between August 2019 and July 2020 – from diagnostic assessments to reviewing college financial forecasts.
Here is everything you need to know from today’s report:
- As of 31 July 2020, a total of 35 colleges and other institutions were subject to FE commissioner intervention. This number included 19 colleges that remained in intervention from the 2018-19 reporting year, three of which were subject to refreshed intervention in 2019-20. “It also included the 13 colleges and three local authorities that received their first assessment or were re-referred into FE commissioner intervention in 2019-20.”
- According to the commissioner’s report, “of the 13 colleges that have been referred for their first assessment or re-referred into FE commissioner intervention, and the three colleges that have received a refreshed intervention during this reporting period, seven have either been through or are going through some form of FE commissioner-led structural review”.
- Five colleges left FE commissioner intervention during this reporting period, two as a result of mergers, two as a result of the lifting of financial health notices and one where the college had put in place the necessary improvements and no longer met the criteria for intervention.
- During the 2019-20 reporting year, seven new structural reviews were started and two were completed. Seven structural reviews are currently due to be completed in the 2020-21 reporting year. According to Mr Atkins, these are undertaken when “a change to the structure of a college or provision may be needed to maintain financial sustainability and high-quality opportunities for learners”. “The recommendations from completed structural reviews may be subject to negotiations between the department and the colleges, which also undertake their own due diligence process. This will determine the exact form in which the recommended solution may be implemented and the associated timescale”.
- In 2019-20, the outcomes of five past structural reviews were implemented – resulting in three college mergers and two colleges joining multi-academy trusts.
- Thirteen colleges and three local authorities were referred for FE commissioner intervention during the 2019-20 reporting period. Of the 13 colleges, 11 received their first assessment visit during this period. The other two colleges were subject to FE commissioner intervention in previous reporting periods and were re-referred for intervention.
- Of the 11 colleges that received their first assessment visit in 2019-20, eight entered intervention due to financial triggers, one entered intervention due to an Ofsted “inadequate” grade, two entered intervention through escalation from diagnostic assessments.
- A further three colleges were subject to a refreshed intervention during this period due to having been in intervention measures for an extended period
- Prior to the lockdown in March, the commissioner and his team carried out 11 diagnostic assessments (DAs). In total, they have now undertaken 79 DAs since 2017.
- A total of 59 intervention assessments have been carried out since Richard Atkins took up his post in 2016.
- During 2019-20, due to increased workload, the commissioner recruited a new deputy FE commissioner and five new FE advisers – Martin Sim took up the role of deputy FE commissioner, and Laraine Smith, Nigel Duncan, Tracy Kitchingman, Steve Campion and Becky Edwards are the new advisers.