Future college mergers will tend to be decided through area reviews of post-16 education which are focused on meeting the needs of learners in each area. Area reviews, because they are overseen by steering groups including Chairs and Principals of colleges as well as local authorities, are well placed to ensure decisions are taken which are in the interests of local further education students, taking into account travel to learn distances. The steering group’s recommendations will always be based on the best available evidence, including an analysis of local economic and educational needs, and the mapping of current curriculum provision and travel to learn patterns.
As well as being members of area review steering groups, local authorities have statutory responsibility for transport to education and training for 16- to 19-year-olds. We expect local authorities to make reasonable decisions about the support they offer based on the needs of their young people, local transport infrastructure and the resources they have available. Authorities will need to take account of the recommendations arising from each area review and the impact on transport for learners. Local authorities fund any support they provide for transport to post-16 education through the grants they receive from national government and through generated income, such as council tax.
Most 16- to 19-year olds have access to a discount or concession on local travel, from their local transport provider, their local authority, or from their education or training provider. The 16 to 19 Bursary Fund is also available to support young people with the costs associated with attending education or training, and transport is the biggest single area of expenditure for which this fund is used.