Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Sixth form college schemes set to transfer to BSF

More than  fifty sixth form college schemes worth an estimated ВЈ1.5bn could be transferred into the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme from the stricken Learning and Skills Council’s college building programme.

From next year capital funding for sixth form colleges will transfer to the control of Partnerships for Schools (PfS), which oversees the BSF programme. The move, tipped by CJ last September, could see 54 sixth form schemes transferred to the BSF programme. The schemes, ranging in value from ВЈ25m to ВЈ80m, are currently stalled under the troubled  Learning and Skills Council's (LSC's) Building Colleges for the Future programme.

Confirming the transfer Jim Knight said: “In “Raising Expectations: enabling the system to deliver” (published March 2008), we stated our intention to bring sixth form colleges within the scope of the Building Schools for the Future programme, so that they can be part of securing the area-wide entitlement. This remains our position, and we are considering the details along with the key partner organisations involved.”


Sixth form college schemes set to transfer to BSF


The transfer will take the pressure off the Learning and Skills Council’s college building programme which is struggling with a funding shortfall of ВЈ3bn. At least 150 further education and sixth form college schemes, including 78 approved schemes, have been halted after the funding crisis was revealed. Sir Andrew Foster was asked to investigate how the LSC approved so many schemes without the necessary funding. His findings, published earlier this week, cited poor management to be at the heart of the programme's crisis.

Observers say the sixth form colleges could be delivered under the PfS National Academy framework programme. One Academy contractor said: “The size of sixth form colleges makes them ideal for delivery under the framework.” The Sixth Form Colleges Forum welcomed the transfer. Executive chairman David Igoe said: "The framework seems an ideal way of delivering these schemes."

The Forum is to meet with the LSC and the Department of Children Schools and Families later this month to discuss the capital transfer.

Three hundred further education colleges will remain under the LSC programme, overseen by the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills.

The LSC said this week it is also carrying out a review  of its programme in the light of Sir Andrew's findings, which also call for a needs-based rather than demand-led approach. A team of property specialists will be brought in to assess each scheme.

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