As FE Focus readers are aware, the funding arrangements for colleges and young people are due to change this coming April with local authorities taking over the role of the Learning and Skills Council.
The move brings together colleges and local authorities, which have been separated for more than two decades. Reuniting them and paving the way so the new relationship runs smoothly is, therefore, critical for all involved.
They need to work at getting to know each other properly again beyond the local strategic partnerships up and running in some areas.
Local authority staff need to get a clear insight into what colleges can do for those aged 14 and upwards. Colleges also have to be proactive in helping local authorities see the extent, worth and application of the teaching and training they provide to students and employers in their localities.
Colleges need to make sure they are playing an active part in the many sub and regional groups planning for and impacting on their work, notably the 14-19 Partnership Group and the 14-19 Regional Planning Group. The Association for Colleges is eager that local authorities ensure the memberships of regional groups are refreshed and confirm they represent the full range of educational providers.
Local authorities would benefit from the huge range and extent of college involvement with businesses, industry and people in the area. Colleges are now an important source of information for local authorities, which are able to reveal, for example, the skills needs of employers.
Principals will be able to inform local authorities about what routes young people are choosing for their education, and how their future hopes have to be taken into account to shape the range of learning opportunities needed for the years to come.
Intelligence and advice of this kind would be invaluable in helping local- authority planning and assist commissioning officers to make well-informed decisions. It would help them meet government priorities and provide for the needs of the community.
- Maggie Scott, Associate director, Association of Colleges.