Mourning for a fine college

31st March 2006 at 01:00
You mention the huge costs of closing Bilston community college in 1999 ("LSC will get power to close colleges", FE Focus, March 24). Longstanding readers of FE Focus may recall that Bilston got into a dispute with the former Further Education Funding Council over a pound;3.5 million cut in its budget following the demand-led payment debacle in 1997.

The costs of closing the college were estimated at the time as being more than pound;30m, mainly in massive additional payments to support the Average Level of Funding (pound;35unit in 2000 against a national average of Pounds 17.20).

In addition there were the huge, secret and unquantified costs of a series of audits and investigations which turned up precisely nothing. The detailed costs of closing the college were set out in a paper published by Policy Studies, Vol 22 Nos 3-4 in 2001.

The erstwhile head of the FEFC described these estimates at the time as preposterous. Just for the record, the posthumously published accounts of Bilston community college and the accounts of City of Wolverhampton college (2000-2003) demonstrate the cost turned out to be pound;29.9m (plus the secret costs of audits and investigations).

Aside from the financial costs, the real sadness is that a college commended by the FEFC in 1994 was bulldozed (literally) into extinction.

Paul Goddard-Patel (Former assistant principal and finance director, Bilston community college) 10 Woodfield Avenue, Penn Wolverhampton

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