Further education colleges must join forces with neighbouring training providers in order to safeguard certain areas of the curriculum, the FE commissioner has warned. In his first annual report, published this week, David Collins says it would be "foolish" to pretend that the sector is not facing a difficult time as a result of forthcoming funding cuts and the rising demand for skills. When resources are short, he writes, neighbouring colleges should work together and with other providers to come up with joint plans for their communities. "There is a danger that without such a consideration, the more expensive areas of the curriculum (for example, science and engineering) will disappear from areas where they are needed in a college's pursuit of financial stability," he warns. The report sets out the lessons learned from the first 11 colleges referred to Dr Collins since he was appointed as FE commissioner in November 2013. Four of those referrals were triggered by inadequate Ofsted ratings and seven because of financial concerns. Among the issues raised by the commissioner are ineffective clerks, weaknesses in governing bodies and senior leadership teams, poor performance management systems and inadequate financial management. But despite the difficulties, Dr Collins says that the hard work of staff in colleges is producing "significant and rapid" turnarounds for learners. Read the full report.
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