Education minister Lord Agnew and FE commissioner Richard Atkins have written to college principals and chairs of governors urging the importance of early intervention when it comes to dealing with college finances.
The letter, seen by Tes, was sent at the end of last week. In it, Lord Agnew (pictured) and Mr Atkins said that the sooner they could both work with colleges on issues, the less risk there would be to students and staff.
FE commissioner: 'High risk' of college insolvency, warns FE commissioner
They write: “We will be working with the Education and Skills Funding Agency to ensure that all colleges are in a sustainable financial position. We need to be able to identify early on if problems are emerging.
“The sooner we can work with you on issues and solutions, the less risk there should be of disruption to students and staff. We are already supporting colleges by intervening sooner, and drawing upon the knowledge and expertise of our best colleges to build capacity and capability.”
The letter came just days after the ESFA’s chief executive Eileen Milner sent a letter to education and training providers, warning them that action would be taken against providers who "break the rules". She also revealed that there are currently 11 live investigations into FE subcontractors.
Ms Milner wrote that the issues underpinning the investigations "range in seriousness from complacency and mismanagement, through to matters of deliberate and systematic fraud".
The letter stated: “We will be more forensic in our examination of the data and information available to us to hold individuals and organisations to account. We will recover public money where appropriate.
“In response to the evidence gathered so far, we have tightened our requirements and made it clear that we will take action with lead providers who do not exercise control over subcontracted provision.”
Agnew: quality and improvement
In the latest letter, Lord Agnew describes himself as the “new minister with responsibility for the further education provider market, including quality and improvement.”
He writes: “I have already served as minister for the school system for two years, but I am delighted to be taking on this expanded role. Like Richard and Gavin Williamson, the secretary of state for education, I am passionate about the power of further education to give young people the education, training and skills they need to succeed in life.”