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Skills Funding Agency Report

We've just read the House of Commons Business, Innovation and Skills Committee report on The Skills Funding Agency and further education funding that was released this week.  Click here if you'd like to read it for yourself.  The Committee have assessed the new structure to administer further education, in this case the new Skills Funding Agency (SFA) which replaced the LSC last week.  

The conclusion is pretty damning about the potential effectiveness of the SFA.  Call us cynical but none of these reports exactly go out of their way to highlight the positives - we don't think they quite have the "identifying and sharing good practice" approach that those of us in the real world strive to have!  

Key points made are:

  • Funding from the SFA is coming from two Departments which may "undermine any benefits which may accrue".
  • The new complexity of the funding streams for capital expenditure won't offer a simplified or efficient system.
  • Restructuring has increased the complexity in the skills system making it more difficult for the system to deliver to objectives, or to meet learner or employer expectations. 
  • The Committee were highly sceptical that the number of bodies involved in the skills agenda will be substantially reduced.  
  • The Committee had "grave reservations about the logic or probable effectiveness of having two organisations running FE" (Skills Funding Agency and the Young People’s Learning Agency).  They expressed concerns about the long-term costs and bureaucracy of this.
  • The National Apprenticeship Service is part of the Skills Funding Agency but is autonomous.  The Committee can't see the point of this.  But can anyone? 
  • The Government were commended on consulting delivery partners but the Committee couldn't resist sticking the boot in to finish this positive comment with, "although, we have serious reservations about the ability of the new structures to deliver a streamlined funding system".

This report really is like shutting the stable door when the horse is a long way down the road.  Maybe there would be value in this if it had been produced in the planning stages BEFORE any decisions were made and BEFORE public finances were committed.   It is so easy for people to sit down after an event and mutter and putter about how bad an idea something was, but is it really helpful when the event has already happened?  We think not.

And if the House of Commons Committees are just being paid to state the obvious after an event and don't actually influence the decision making in the first place, what is the point? Debate!


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