Skills funds and games

28th March 2008 at 00:00

It will be interesting to see how local authorities get on with the job of agreeing with each other about how colleges will be funded.

Under the new proposed funding regime, they will be required to talk to each other about 16-18 provision in their area - leaving post-19 to a new Skills Funding Agency.

As any member of a school senior management team will tell you, dealing with local education authority bureaucracy is simply marvellous - probably even more fun than getting your head around the further education funding methodology.

In the meantime, it's business as usual and - if the current arrangements are anything to go by - the new set-up, which involves groups of local authorities getting their heads together in consortia, should be interesting, to say the least.

At the moment, funding allocations are made by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC).

One organisation coming to an agreement with itself about where to spend its own money should be simple, right? Wrong! Actually, colleges are still waiting to hear about their budgets for September - news they would have hoped to hear in January.

So, why the hold-up?

A mole tells me the LSC has been caught short by schools which are going for growth in the 16-18 provision of around 8 per cent across the country, and this means the college funding round is going to be a bit tricky. Presumably, the LSC is now looking down the back of the sofa to see if it can find the extra cash.

Of course, there is a simple solution, albeit one the council will be keen to sell very carefully. Give the schools what they want and then see what is left over for FE.

The fact is that the LSC didn't make these problems. It has just been left with trying to sort them out.

My college finance chums reckon the council will be missed when it goes.

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