The Move to Improve

The Skills Commission's newest report has been published. Entitled 'The Move to Improve: An Analysis of Intervention in Further Education and Skills and the wider Public Sector' makes clear recommendations for how the FE sector can refocus its energies on ensuring quality of provision for learners.

The product of a six-month inquiry chaired by Matt Atkinson, Principal of City of Bath College, the report calls for a renewed focus on intervention and quality in UK Further Education. The report makes ten clear recommendations geared towards ensuring the FE sector's systems of intervention are fit for purpose and designed to ensure not just compliance, but increasing quality of education provision for learners.

The report commends the sector’s emerging failure regime as ‘better formed’ than in many other areas of public service, but warns that good practice is not yet fully embedded and that the sector must develop the culture of sharing best practice and leadership that characterises the schools sector. The report warns that changes in the Further Education landscape since 2010 have only increased the need for greater sectoral and institutional self- scrutiny to ensure standards are maintained and improved. The report highlights:

  • Post-LSIS system ‘as yet unclear’; improvement of provision a ‘vital concern’;

  • Requirement for BIS to better communicate new sector roles and responsibilities;

  • Need for greater collaboration and improved early warning signals within sector to share best practice and encourage early interventions on struggling institutions;

  • FE performing well; but important lessons to learn from intervention models in police, healthcare, HE and schools.

  • Need for FE institutions to become increasingly ‘self-critical’ to ensure quality of provision

  • Recommendations for Ofsted and Education and Training Foundation

Speaking ahead of the launch, inquiry chair Matt Atkinson, commented:

“The FE sector is too important to the success of the UK economy for us within the sector to allow institutional underperformance or failure. This inquiry has shown that in many instances, the FE sector intervenes effectively, ensures quality consistently and, in doing so, outperforms other public service sectors. But our report also demonstrates that further reform is still needed. As we move forward in this new landscape, we must keep our eyes fixed firmly upon ensuring quality of provision and preventing failure. We need to start a debate – underpinned by a new, genuine culture of collaboration between providers, regulators and government– about how we do this. This report has laid out clear recommendations to get this process firmly underway.”

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