Chiefs blamed for sector's failure

March 16, 2001

Further education funding chiefs are responsible for a new wave of failing colleges, education researchers have claimed.

Recent problems at Barnsley, Basildon, Stafford, Rotherham, Broomfield, Soundwell and Oaklands colleges are the latest in a stream of financial and management crises afflicting the sector, according to Paul Goddard-Patel, a researcher at Keele University.

In a draft paper, he says the Further Education Funding Council's attempts to blame these "failures" on governors and managers are "beginning to wear a bit thin".

Mr Goddard-Patel, a former finance director at Bilston Community College, argues that the latest cases are as much the result of the FEFC's "hopelessly complex" funding system as past high-profile problems at Bilston, Wirral, Halton and Matthew Boulton colleges.

The Learning and Skills Council must overhaul the funding system to end the sector's crisis, he says. "Education secretary David Blunkett must be hoping fervently that the LSC will be able to sort out the mess it has inherited.

"The untrammelled market approach of the 1992 act - with its chief executives, corporations, three-year strategic plans, financial forecasts and endless audits - does not appear to have delivered the goods."

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