The creation of the role of FE Commissioner has sent a “clear message” to the sector that poor performance will not be tolerated, a new report claims.
An evaluation document published today by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) says the “vast majority” of people it surveyed are positive about the impact of the policy.
It says the FE Commissioner, David Collins, and the intervention process are now “firmly embedded” as part of the FE landscape.
Intervention is triggered by an Ofsted inadequate inspection rating, an inadequate assessment for financial health from the Skills Funding Agency (SFA), or a failure to meet minimum performance standards set by the SFA or DfE.
So far the outcomes of 19 interventions have been published, and the report says the majority of providers have made good progress towards implementing the recommendations made.
The City of Liverpool College was the first institution to successfully be removed from intervention in November 2014, a process that took twelve months following the initial assessment.
The report says: “The progress made by all institutions in intervention has represented a significant reputational and fiscal return for BIS and good evidence of a successful first phase of delivering the intervention policy.
“The work of the FE Commissioner and his team has ensured that action has been taken promptly and before a problem escalates. In some instances, intervention...has prompted action in colleges which have been struggling with financial health for a number of years.”
Although the report says the improvements seen in colleges subject to intervention should be recognised, it says it is clear that BIS, the SFA, sector bodies and the FE Commissioner must continue to work together to deliver improvements in the services to learners and employers.
Gill Clipson, deputy chief executive of the Association of Colleges (AoC), said: “The evaluation report provides a useful analysis of how colleges view the intervention process, led by the FE Commissioner, is operating.
“The clear and transparent reporting is valued by the small number of colleges visited and the FE Commissioner’s termly letters are appreciated by all.
“AoC welcomes the recommendation that there should be greater clarity and definition about how and when intervention comes to a close and would be happy to work with officials to agree this.”