Last reviewed 2 August 2021

From September 2021, the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) is to take a more proactive and preventative approach to identifying and supporting colleges that may face challenges.

Under the changes, it will remove the “Early Intervention” category and some of the restrictions around support that currently entails.

Instead, ESFA will run a pilot where any college will be able to request expert help and support from the FE Commissioner through a diagnostic assessment — a process that was previously only open to colleges where a new principal had been appointed — helping all colleges to proactively request assistance much earlier, where that may be helpful.

A new package, known as “Active Support”, has also been announced, including a new Curriculum Efficiency and Financial Sustainability pilot programme.

This aims to build on the success of the School Resource Management Adviser programme, which has so far helped over 70 multi-academy trusts either save or generate new income of over £35 million.

There will also be increased support available from peer leaders through the National Leaders of Further Education and of Governance programmes, and through access to Local Provision Reviews.

Kirsty Evans, ESFA Director of Further Education, said: “Through a new Curriculum Efficiency and Financial Sustainability pilot we are keen to learn from the sector where efficiencies can be made, and we want to share good practice, ideas and lessons we are learning from the sector to help prevent colleges going into financial decline.”

Looking ahead, the small proportion of colleges that do need more intensive support through formal intervention will be provided with an agreed package of support to secure sustained improvement when they leave intervention.

The length of time a college spends in intervention is expected to be shorter than in the past.

See here for more details.