- What’s involved
- Support process
- Health checks
- Areas that tailored support could address
- Request support
There is no cost for accessing support from the FE Commissioner, but you’ll need to commit both time and resources.
Tailored support is available to any college that’s not subject to FE Commissioner intervention. This includes:
- general FE colleges
- sixth-form colleges
- land-based or specialist colleges
- special designated institutions
Tailored support can include help to understand and address specific issues or challenges and to improve what is already working well in a college.
A key element of tailored support will be to signpost, promote and share examples of effective practices from the further education (FE) sector that we may have identified, for example, through the FE Commissioner team, territorial teams and annual strategic conversations.
Included within tailored support is the option for a health check, which has replaced the diagnostic assessment and has been moved, based on feedback from the FE college sector, to lighter-touch support from the FE Commissioner.
We’ll not publish reports on tailored support, including health checks. We’ll get permission from the college if they wish to use effective practice examples, discovered as part of support, in FE Commissioner publications.
Tailored support is delivered in 3 stages, except in the case of health checks.
Tailored support starts with an initial informal discussion between the FE Commissioner’s team and the senior leadership of the FE college, which could include the chair of the college board, to explore options. During this initial discussion, we’ll agree with you:
- what support we can offer
- terms of reference
- timeline and key milestones
- proposed outputs
- how to evaluate the impact this support has made
If you agree, we’ll arrange a visit (either onsite or online) to have a more detailed discussion about your plans and processes.
If you decide to progress with tailored support, we’ll arrange a meeting to discuss with you, your chair and your senior leadership team, a more detailed scoping of how we might offer support. This could include looking at the range of your current data, and comparing it to similar colleges and sector benchmarks in the area that you requested support.
We’ll work with you to develop suggested actions relating to improvements. This might include working with a national leader of further education or governance, or signposting effective practice in another provider.
The support is intended to be dynamic and shaped by both the college and the FE Commissioner. When the agreed support has ended, we’ll agree with the college if any further help is needed. This could include:
- further support after the college has had time to implement changes
- help to review the impact of the support
- using other types of support such as support from:
- DfE territorial teams
- ESFA provider market oversight teams
- national leaders of further education
- national leaders of governance for further education
As tailored support is flexible, there are no fixed models of delivery, either in the length of time or the deployment of resources from the FE Commissioner’s team. We’ll agree with the college how best to work with them, including whether a face-to-face visit is needed at each stage, or if stage 1 can be completed virtually.
There is no cost to the participating college.
We’ll ask for feedback on the support we’ve given. We may also ask if you’re happy for us to share with the sector any effective practices you’ve developed because of this support.
A health check is intended to provide the college with a free review of its operation. It consists of a 2-day visit to the college by a team from the FE Commissioner’s team to a mutually agreed plan.
Before the visit
We’ll ask for some supporting information from the college before the visit to aid preparation.
The FE Commissioner’s deputy leading the health check will discuss with the college principal or CEO the best way in which to plan the visit.
During the visit
During the 2 days onsite, we’ll talk to a wide range of senior leaders, board members, staff and students to understand the context of the college.
We’ll look at the current financial and curriculum plans, along with a range of statistical information both held by DfE and supplied by the college. We’ll also compare the college to other similar colleges on a range of financial benchmarks to aid leaders’ thinking.
At the end of the visit, we’ll feedback to senior leaders. If applicable, we’ll suggest recommendations as to how the college could improve their plans, along with any suggested active support they could offer to assist the college. We’ll confirm this confidentially in writing to the college.
Areas that tailored support could address
The following list are examples of the areas that the FE Commissioner’s team could support and help with. This list is not exhaustive and support may be provided over a range of other areas, as needed. Colleges should contact us to discuss their individual requests for help and support.
Examples of the areas we can support with include:
- data and intelligence
- estates (including engagement, where appropriate, with LocatED)
- finance and financial reporting
- governance and leadership
- meeting local skills needs
- senior leadership recruitment, sifting and interviewing
- staffing and restructure
- strategic reviews
- training and development of college staff
- post-merger and acquisition reviews
Tailored support cannot offer support in areas where there may be a conflict of interest with DfE, such as funding applications and audit issues. It also cannot provide support where the issue or decision is a legal matter between the college and another party.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or to ask for tailored support.