Further Education

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills written question – answered on 26th February 2016.

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Photo of Ian Austin Ian Austin Labour, Dudley North

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, what consideration his Department plans to give to local availability of courses in area reviews of further education.

Photo of Ian Austin Ian Austin Labour, Dudley North

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, whether he plans that his Department's further education area reviews will incorporate equality impact assessments.

Photo of Ian Austin Ian Austin Labour, Dudley North

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, what representations he has received on the timescale for the completion of the area review process in further education.

Photo of Ian Austin Ian Austin Labour, Dudley North

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, what estimate he has made of the cost of (a) completing and (b) implementing further education area reviews.

Photo of Nicholas Boles Nicholas Boles The Minister for Universities and Science, Minister of State (Department for Business, Innovation and Skills) (Jointly with the Department for Education)

Government will produce an evaluation of the area review programme and its potential to impact on groups protected by the Equality Act 2010. The reviews do not however, mandate action, and colleges are independent corporations, so it will be for each college’s governing body to assess the potential impact on groups protected by the Act, as part of its decision to accept or reject any recommendation requiring a change to their provision.

Each area review steering group will consider relevant data relating to current courses delivered within their area, assess the relevance of these courses to local learner and employer needs and determine how current and future demand can be best met through the recommendations of the area review.

Individual area reviews are expected to take about four months, the timescale being dependent on the number of colleges and complexity of the local issues involved in each area. The overall review process has been divided into five waves of area reviews and is scheduled to be completed by March 2017

We expect the costs of completing an area review to be met within existing budgets, with minimal additional costs to the colleges, local authorities or LEPs involved. The Departments and their agencies will undertake this work with no additional staffing. Additional costs will be minimal.

The costs arising from the recommendations of each review will be explored as part of the process. We expect the colleges, alongside local authorities and LEPs with devolved skills budgets, to consider how these costs can be met locally. Where there are costs that cannot be met, but which are essential to the successful implementation of the review, we have announced a facility for transitional funding to support this. We will provide more detail in due course.

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