The next steps for the Further Education sector in England - governance, accountability and ensuring quality provision
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This one day seminar will assess the future governance and accountability of further education (FE) colleges and how to ensure quality provision.
It follows the announcement by the Government of £400m in funding for providers of 16-19 education to be spread across 257 colleges in England, which aims to alleviate financial uncertainty in the sector.
The conference will be an opportunity to examine the findings of the independent review of how the Government monitors FE college finances and financial management being led by Dame Mary Ney, following its expected publication.
The review is looking at the work of the ESFA and the FE Commissioner’s team, and considering policies that would prevent further colleges from experiencing financial difficulties.
Delegates will discuss the future of the new insolvency regime, following reports of it having contributed to the financial difficulties of certain colleges.
The regime was introduced in January, designed to improve the sustainability of the sector by bringing further education and sixth-form colleges in England into line with insolvency laws that apply to commercial institutions.
There will also be a focus on the new oversight regime for colleges announced in April, which sets out how the Government will support and intervene to improve financial resilience and quality.
Sessions will discuss how colleges are adapting to the new regimes, including the implications for governors.
The seminar also takes place in the context of a number of college mergers that followed the local area reviews, which concluded in March 2017 and looked at the best way of achieving long-term sustainable provision in local areas.
Delegates will look at whether the structural changes introduced as a result of the area reviews have led to a more robust and sustainable college sector and improved learning experience as intended.
With the new oversight regime strengthening the role of the FE Commissioner to review provision in a local area, in local provision reviews - which can recommend mergers, demergers and the closure of colleges - those attending will consider what can be learnt from the initial area review process and applied when the Commissioner is reviewing provision.
Further sessions will discuss how to improve the quality of provision within FE colleges - looking in particular at the quality of the curriculum and careers advice within colleges.
With particular concerns surrounding the quality of maths and English teaching within FE due to shortages in specialist teachers, those attending will look at how this can be addressed and how teacher supply can be improved in these areas, particularly when colleges are competing with schools.
There will also be discussion on strengthening the relationship between FE colleges and employers as well as improving pathways into FE.
It follows the launch of the Independent Commission of the College of the Future which will set out a 10 year strategic vision for colleges and their role in tackling issues such as regional inequalities, developing a greener economy and addressing climate change.