Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

ASCL response to post-16 changes

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As reported in the May Leader, the DCSF/DIUS consultation Raising Expectations: Enabling the System to Deliver will have major implications for schools and colleges.

ASCL's full response to the consultation, which closed on 9 June, is available at www.ascl.org.uk/consultations

Of the many proposed changes, perhaps the most important relates to funding. In its response, ASCL was in favour of the proposed activity-led national formula that delivers funding directly to the institution irrespective of the local of the learner.

Allowing LAs to aggregate such funding and reallocate it according to a local formula, or top-slice it, would undermine institutional autonomy and create a chaos of local differences inevitably castigated as a 'post-code lottery'.

ASCL also argued for a new planning cycle - related to funding cycles - that leaves sufficient time for institutions to prepare for each new academic year (including recruiting staff). That means firm planning and funding decisions at the institutional level earlier in the year than at present.

The capacity of local authorities to provide appropriate expertise in secondary education, and especially tertiary education, is doubtful. LAs will need to make this a priority.

While ASCL supports in principle the notion that decisions should be made at local level, there are serious concerns regarding the potential for added bureaucracy that the new structure will entail.

ASCL also urged caution and patience, as large scale reorganisations often have unintended consequences and cost more than they create in benefit.

Implementation timescales should not be too ambitious, and proposals should be subject to detailed scrutiny with an eye to value for money, limiting bureaucracy and creating a system in which all parties have an appropriate balance of responsibility, authority, powers and resources.

In particular, the roles of the sub-regional groups, regional development agencies, government regional offices, Young People's Learning Agency, Skills Funding Agency and regional assemblies to be clearly and narrowly defined.

Finally, ASCL welcomes a clarification of the particular status and position of sixth form colleges and the creation of a legally separate sector for them. This will also need to be carefully thought through so that it does not create more bureaucracy.

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