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Independent Review of Financial Oversight of FE Colleges - AoC responds

15 July 2020

Responding to the report of Dame Mary Ney’s review of financial oversight arrangements for further education and sixth form colleges, with recommendations for improvement. Deputy Chief Executive, Julian Gravatt said: "It’s helpful that DfE have finally published Dame Mary Ney’s review on the financial oversight of colleges. She concluded her work in autumn 2019 at a time when many colleges were on an improving trajectory but she describes a system which is complex, backward-looking and not really focused on the key tasks. The Covid-19 crisis has stopped the financial improvement in its tracks, caused deficits in 2019-20 and opened up large financial problems for colleges in 2020-1. Government and colleges should take her recommendations seriously and work out which of them still make sense nine months on. We do not agree with the suggestion that Ofsted should join the long line of regulators assessing college financial health but we do think that the existing arrangements require improvement. “We welcome the Skills minster’s statement that there will be an FE white paper, it is an opportunity to tackle some long-standing issues and put colleges on a firmer footing. Greater strategic relationships with colleges is needed across the wider education system along with businesses and local communities. Supporting strong governance and outstanding leaders is the backbone of a thriving college, it’s good to see that the ETF leadership programme has been given £4.5m for the current financial year to carry on this instrumental work. It is also sensible for DfE to remind colleges to publish their whistleblowing policies. We will be working with DfE and colleges over the summer to make the best possible opportunity of the white paper." You can read the full report here.