`The time has come for transparency'

Unions welcome news of release of commissioner's findings

The government is to start publishing summaries of the findings of the FE commissioner, it has been announced.

Dr David Collins - the first person to hold the post - and five advisers were appointed last November as part of a drive to improve standards. He has intervened in about 10 failing providers and will publish his first annual report in the autumn.

Last week the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Bis) announced that it would also be releasing summaries of his findings and conclusions from each of the individual assessments, although it will not disclose the full reports.

It said the summaries would allow governing bodies and senior executives at FE providers to learn lessons and help them to ensure that learners received high-quality provision.

Bis has also published a document setting out how the FE commissioner will tackle underperformance in the sector, how the intervention process works and how it will communicate when and where he will be intervening.

An intervention can be triggered by an inadequate rating from Ofsted, failure to meet national minimum performance standards set by Bis or the Department for Education, or inadequate financial health or management. The commissioner then advises ministers on the actions needed to address concerns and they charge institutions with making the necessary changes.

A University and College Union spokesperson said: "We need to see the details of these reports to better understand what has happened and to ensure lessons are learned. The time has come for proper transparency in the sector."

Martin Doel, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, said: "There needs to be a balance between the need for openness and transparency [and] ensuring that any information published following a visit from the FE commissioner doesn't disadvantage the college in question. The procedure, as set out by Bis, seems a fair compromise between these two factors."

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