The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) is taking a proactive and preventative approach to supporting colleges from September 2021. ESFA will run a pilot where any college will be able to request expert help and support from the FE Commissioner through an assessment.
A new package of support, known as ‘Active Support’ has also been announced that includes a new Curriculum Efficiency and Financial Sustainability Pilot programme. The National Leaders of Further Education and Governance programmes will also offer increased support from peer leaders. The new measures address the recommendations of the Dame Mary Ney report. They will mean a significant shift in the work of both ESFA and FE Commissioner.
Earlier this year, following successful trials, ESFA announced the introduction of annual conversations with colleges. The first of these began in the summer term and will be completed during the 2021 to 2022 academic year. These conversations will provide colleges with the opportunity to showcase achievements and outstanding practice and to raise any concerns.
As part of ESFA’s core function, it will still ensure that there is an effective use of public funding, and the safeguarding of the learner is a priority. ESFA will continue to monitor and analyse the intelligence and data that it collects, and intervene where it is strictly necessary.
The small proportion of colleges that do need more intensive support through formal intervention will be provided with an agreed package of support to secure sustained improvement when they leave intervention. The length of time a college spends on intervention is expected to be shorter than in the past.