Published first by FE Jobs.

This summer, the Department for Education (DFE) and Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) decided to start a programme of area-based reviews of 16-plus provision. They announced the need for “fewer, larger, more resilient and efficient providers” in the future. Proposing that it will allow greater specialisation, creating institutions that are “genuine centres of expertise” that can support progression up to a high level in professional and technical disciplines. 

Last week an FEweek survey revealed huge unease from the 38 principals of colleges whose future has been put in question by the post-16 education and training reviews.

“Almost 90 per cent of principals affected by new area reviews are unhappy with government guidance outlining how the process will work”

Earlier this month, the government published its guidance separately identifying 22 general FE colleges and 16 sixth form colleges that will be directly involved — but no schools, UTCs, free schools, or independent learning providers. There has since been industry uproar that only including general FE colleges and sixth form colleges paints an incomplete picture of post-16 provision.

One principal answered: “The most significant issue is the exclusion of school sixth forms, university technical colleges (UTCs), free schools and [independent] training providers from the reviews.

“This is not a review of the post-16 sector, but a partial review. It would appear that ‘wasteful duplication’ is only acceptable for A-levels and provision for the most able young people, even to the detriment of quality.”

Martin Doel, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges, said “all provision in an area” should be considered.

The area reviews for Birmingham and Solihull, Greater Manchester, and Sheffield city region will continue this month.

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