Collab Group Statement on EDSK Further Consideration report

"The EDSK think tank recently published a new report titled "Further Consideration". There are recommendations in the report that we would support including 3 year funding cycles for the adult education budget and increases in 16-19 base rate of funding.

However, on the issue of institutions and oversight, the recommendations of the report would be disastrous for learners who are currently well served by their local colleges. The proposals to divide the sector according to community colleges, sixth form and technology colleges would only serve to fragment the sector and reduce the level of choice available to learners. It takes no account of college mergers that successive Governments have actively encouraged since 2015. There is a great benefit to allowing further education colleges to help learners progress through clearly defined pathways within the same institution. Fragmenting colleges in this way could adversely impact inclusion and access.

Further, the concept of "collective autonomy" proposed in the report is nothing of the sort. A new FE Director for each combined authority or local enterprise partnership region, as conceived in the report, would only increase bureaucracy and reduce the autonomy of colleges. The report proposes that an FE Director would be appointed by the FE sector, but what matters more is who this individual would be accountable to. The appointment power means little if ultimately a combined authority or local enterprise partnership is still setting the agenda for local skills priorities. And if this power were to extend to telling colleges which courses they could run and which they couldn't, local progression opportunities could be radically diminished."

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