THE climate of suspicion and hostility which has existed between local authorities and colleges appears to be lifting as both sides show increasing evidence of collaboration.
In 1993, when colleges left local authority control, councils were bitter. Many colleges celebrated independence by rushing ahead with expansion plans, ignoring a wider community approach.
Now colleges are responding to the new Government's agenda and the Further Education Funding Council and the Local Government Association have combined to publish an account of good practice in effective collaboration in post-16 education. The aim is to foster even stronger links between schools, colleges and sixth-form colleges, and end years of mistrust even though there may sometimes be conflicts of interest.
Earlier this year education minister Baroness Blackstone told the two organisations: "In recent years too many institutions have been distracted from their task by the demands of a competitive market in post-16 education. We must do more to improve collaboration, accountability and cost-effectiveness in 16-19 education."
The report cites examples of close co-operation between schools and colleges. In Staffordshire, two local authority deputy chief education officers, another senior official and two headteachers sit on the college corporations. "There are no smoke-filled rooms in which dark deeds are done. It increases trust, " said a principal.
David Melville, FEFC chief executive, said: "This publication demonstrates our commitment to work together, and with others, to improve the quality and effectiveness of post-16 education and training. I hope that college governors and college staff will find it helpful to them in developing ever closer working relationships with local education authorities and schools."