SKOPE WORK WITH THE ASSOCIATION OF COLLEGES
Ewart Keep has been working with the Association of Colleges (the body that represents further education and VI form colleges in England) to explore the implications of current and impending reductions in funding, both for 14-19 students, and those aged 19+. Having written a ‘think piece’ for AoC, Keep has presented it to a session at the AoC National Conference, to AoC senior staff, AoC Council, the AoC National Annual Governance Conference, management teams at South Worcestershire and Wirral Colleges, and to the South West AoC Governance Summit, as well as record a webinar for AoC on the topic, and given a talk on the issues at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers’ national FE conference, and to the Federation of Awarding Bodies’ s annual conference. In addition, he has presented and discussed the work with the FE and Skills Branch at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (DBIS).
It is apparent from this work that FE and skills policy is witnessing the end of an era, as central government funding, especially for post-19 activity, dwindles, and the focus for policy making shifts downwards from the centre (ministers and civil servants) to individual colleges and their managers and governors. As more and more money is raised locally, from sources other than central government, the ability of the centre to shape and control how the skills system develops is liable to be significantly reduced. At present, national systems of funding, inspection, policy formation, and governance and accountability have not yet started to adjust to this new reality, but major changes will ensue.