In 2015 the government announced plans to restructure the further education sector, citing “the need to reduce public expenditure” as a major driving factor.
The review document proposes to move the sector towards “fewer, often large, more resilient and efficient providers”. As part of the cost savings, the three main areas the review is focusing on are curriculum, estates and back office. UNISON is concerned about the threat this raises around job security and site closures or relocations.
How will the reviews work?
The review will take the form of a series of area based reviews of provisions. Each review will be led by a steering group composed of a range of stakeholders, including Colleges, local authorities, regional schools commissioners, college commissioners and local enterprise partnerships.
Trade unions, however, have not been included and must instead hold parallel meetings with key members of the steering groups in order to find out what is going on.
The process will begin with an analysis of economic need and current provisions/delivery arrangements in the area. Colleges will be sent questionnaires which will be used to inform the review.
The steering groups will then conduct a series of five meetings, including site visits, to decide on their recommendations.
College boards will be informed of proposed recommendations and have a chance to provide feedback before the final recommendations are made.