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To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how the Skills Funding Agency monitors the effectiveness of (a) sub-contractors and (b) lead contractors delivering (i) the adult skills budget, (ii) 16-18 apprenticeships and (iii) adult community learning programmes; and what its key outcome performance indicators are for each.
The agency manages all providers it contracts with using a national performance management framework. This framework is based on a single account management approach, which partners each college or provider with one account manager in the agency. This approach encompasses all funding provided to them, such as the adult skills budget, 16-18 apprenticeships and adult community learning programmes.
The account manager works closely with the college or provider throughout the delivery of the learning or training, monitoring performance against its contracts with the agency and working with the contractor to ensure that our quality standards are met and ensure that provision is effective:
Performance is measured against the terms and conditions of these contracts and meeting the contract in funding terms. Providers are encouraged to ensure their offer meets the needs of local employers and learners.
The assessment of quality remains the key performance measure within the freedoms and flexibilities of providers to respond to what employers and learners demand.
The agency uses qualification success rate of learners participating in programmes and this is also provided to Ofsted to underpin their inspection work. The agency uses a minimum level of performance policy to intervene where success rates fall below a national standard.
This approach is used in conjunction with wider provider performance management protocols which ensure public funding is maximised and spent effectively.
For all provision funded within the single adult skills budget delivered by private training providers (including 16-18 and 19+ apprenticeships), performance management reviews are conducted at quarterly points throughout the contract year. Adjustments to contracts are made where performance against cash profiles for the period in question is outside of our published tolerance levels. Where there is a pattern of under-delivery, the agency reduces the maximum contract values to reflect some or all of the value of the under-delivery.
For colleges, simplified performance management and payment arrangements are in place. Colleges are not subject to in-year performance management. Their funding is assessed following the end of each academic year. Colleges are expected to deliver their agency funding allocation in line with their assessment of community, stakeholder and employer needs, Government ambitions and funding requirements. This includes a continued emphasis on delivering high quality provision.
The current Adult Safeguarded Learning programme (which will be renamed as Adult Community Learning in the 2012/13 academic year), is used to support the design and delivery of a wide range of learning opportunities in every geographical area. The adult and community learning programme is intended to widen participation and, in particular, to focus some of the activity specifically on deprived areas and disadvantaged groups.
A key effectiveness measure for this programme is the numbers of learners engaged. The numbers of learners are important as Government policy in this area is to maintain the numbers funded through this programme. The agency's aim is to reach as many learners from areas of disadvantage as possible. Agency relationship managers review with contractors:
planned numbers of learners; allocation and funding; actual numbers of learners engaged; cost per learner for each programme.
The Skills Funding Agency is committed to a high quality offer and over time performance and quality arrangements are covered in performance management discussions, and reference is also made to any relevant inspection data and learner management information.