Failures given a year to improve;FE Focus

26th February 1999 at 00:00
RADICAL plans to turn around failing colleges within a year will be announced by Baroness Blackstone, the further and higher education minister, next week.

An initial three-year programme is planned to rescue the worst colleges identified under the Government's new drive to get tough on failures.

The initiative is to be funded by the Department for Education and Employment, and it will be managed by the Further Education Development Agency and the Association of Colleges.

The two bodies were finishing plans and budgets for an operational team of new and existing staff as The TES went to press.

The team will go into failing colleges to help them to implement action plans agreed with the Further Education Funding Council. The initiative, called the Raising Achievement Programme, will help to develop teaching and management skills and build a culture of self-improvement.

The team will identify high-performing colleges to act as suitable partners, provide an information and advice service, and give training in leadership and governance.

Cash will also be given for 100 sharply-focused development projects to provide good models to improve management and teaching strategies in the areas identified as most vulnerable. Plans also include setting up 80 regional "best practice networks".

The campaign message is in stark contrast to the castigation over failing colleges junior minister George Mudie gave at the FEFC annual meeting last week.

Chris Hughes, FEDA chief executive, said: "There is a tendency to look at colleges only in a bad light at present. We must look beyond this and agree that colleges are mostly doing a good job. But we must also understand the Government's agenda in which colleges are seen as having an important role. We are finding our place in the sun and it's pretty hot."

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