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Slim-line performance review welcomed by red-tape tsar

THE latest plans to strip out layers of bureaucracy from colleges have been welcomed by further education's red-tape tsar.

The process by which colleges performance is assessed is to be streamlined under proposals from the Learning and Skills Council.

The council suggests that performance reviews will normally take place twice a year instead of three times, and look at three areas instead of 10. These are participation and recruitment, learner experience and performance and management.

There will be a five-point scale to categorise performance from "outstanding" to giving cause for "serious concern".

"This consultation is an important step in our crusade to strip out unnecessary bureaucracy," said Sir George Sweeney, chairman for the bureaucracy-busting taskforce, which was formed by the LSC to cut red tape by 25 per cent.

"We look forward to working closely with the advisory group and the LSC during the consultation."

The LSC says it wants to create a better flow of information between itself and the colleges it funds in England.

This includes setting up an advisory group to include colleges and other providers, to help develop the performance review framework.

Avril Willis, LSC director of quality , stressed the system must be rigorous as well as less bureaucratic.

The LSC is also to tackle the collection of individual learner records. Over the next five weeks it wants ideas on how to simplify the way data is collected and distributed.

"Data on learners and learning is collected in a variety of ways and at different times," said Ken Pascoe, director of operations at the LSC. "We want to do away with this confusion by making data collection simpler and consistent across all providers.

"Our aim is to collect data once and then use it for a number of purposes, to share information with partner organisations, and to make better use of the new technology."

The LSC has already said colleges no longer have to record students'

previous qualifications, because that information is already held by the Government.

Sir George, who is also principal of Knowsley Community College, urged principals to take part in the consultation.

"We want to cut the amount of bureaucracy to give us enough time to concentrate on teaching. At the same time, we need to gather information to enable us to remain accountable. This is a course we must navigate together," he said.

His taskforce held the first of its nine bureaucracy-busting workshops this week in Durham. They are being held around the country to give colleges a chance to contribute ideas about cutting red tape.

The consultation is welcomed by John Brennan, FE development director at the Association of Colleges ."I welcome the fact the LSC wants to open up a discussion about individual learner records," he said.

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