Dame Mary Ney’s review of the financial oversight of colleges recommended a more pro-active relationship between government and colleges. The ESFA’s published government response included an action to introduce annual ‘strategic conversations’ involving all colleges and sixth form colleges, and this has been reaffirmed in the recent White Paper “Skills for Jobs: Lifelong Learning for Opportunity and Growth.”
The ESFA will introduce annual strategic conversations involving all further education colleges (FEC), including specialist designated institutions (SDIs), land based colleges and sixth form colleges (SFC). Each meeting will be led and managed by ESFA, with an FE Commissioner representative. The aim will be to look holistically at the college’s strategy and plans and encourage colleges to showcase their achievements and raise any strategic issues or challenges. The meetings will include the principal, the college chair, other governors and other college senior leaders as appropriate.
This is not another form of intervention. This is to be a strategic conversation that rises above the normal day to day dialogue. It will focus on current and future plans that the college has, and provide the ESFA with an opportunity to hear directly from colleges about their successful initiatives, as well as discussing risks and challenges, and possible solutions.
The ESFA will start the first of these conversations in the summer term, from late April 2021.The first full cycle will be completed by May 2022. The meetings will be held either at colleges or virtually (dependent upon restrictions with the COVID-19 pandemic).
The content of the agenda will be jointly shaped with each college, and as the programme rolls out the ESFA will be in touch to agree a meeting date with each college and to agree the agenda.