Working to improve funding systems

20th June 2008 at 01:00
Martin Doel's article ("A strong future depends on a clear-cut funding process", FE Focus, June 6) is appropriate, emphasising as it does the need for a process that is timely, transparent and flexible enough to allow colleges to plan to achieve success

Martin Doel's article ("A strong future depends on a clear-cut funding process", FE Focus, June 6) is appropriate, emphasising as it does the need for a process that is timely, transparent and flexible enough to allow colleges to plan to achieve success.

As all principals are aware, this year has brought unprecedented changes that respond to both the 2006 white paper FE: Raising Skills, Improving Life Chances and the Leitch review by creating a system that is able to meet more effectively the demands of employers and learners.

This demand-led system has resulted in five distinct funding allocation processes: school sixth forms; FE 16-18; apprenticeships and entry to employment; adult responsive; and employer responsive.

The complexity within each process has led us to create separate timelines for each to ensure a robust, transparent approach is applied consistently across the country. However, we are aware that to have five processes could be complicated when colleges are trying to calculate the overall impact on their curriculum and finances.

We are committed to ensuring that each process is given the necessary attention and expertise so we can be confident that the new calculations are correct. Next year we will be able to accelerate the process and combine various aspects using the experience we have gained this year.

It is worth noting that we issued school sixth-form allocations on February 29, FE 16-18 allocations on May 9, entry to employment and 16-18 negotiated apprenticeship allocations on May 31, and adult-responsive allocations, including adult-safeguarded allocations, also on May 31. Employer-responsive allocations and other elements, where tendered, are scheduled to be completed by June 30. There have been no delays in the timeline.

However, as Mr Doel, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, mentions, the key thing is that the Learning and Skills Council will work closely with all parts of the FE system to evaluate these processes and improve them for next year.

Verity Bullough, Director of funding, planning and performance, Learning and Skills Council.

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