Area Wide Reviews: Supporting information for ATL representatives

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Position statement
12 May 2015
In July the government announced the 'Review of Post-16 Education and Training' (known as the Area Reviews). The objectives is to achieve 'clear, high quality professional and technical routes to employment, alongside academic routes' and 'better responsiveness to local employer need and economic priorities'.

The government notes that this will mean 'fewer, often larger, more resilient and efficient providers'. ATL has identified a number of issues with the rationale behind the policy, the process for implementing it, and some of the likely outcomes. You can find out more about the issues ATL has identified in our policy response.

Key questions

This set of questions covers the key activity of Area Wide Reviews and aims to ensure that the process is accountable, credible and that the evidence provided in the review process enables a proper dialogue with ATL representatives. Posing these questions will help the reviews retain some accountability and credibility, if not legitimacy.

  • What is the exact timeline for the review and is there any contingency for extending the timeline? If not, why not?
  • Is the cost/benefit impact analysis on learners and local business clear and adequate? (As with any financial analysis this may be at odds with the reality on the ground.)
  • Equality impact assessment. Again, this may seem a simply quantitative analysis but it may hide misunderstandings around local community participation and simply continue a 'neglect' because what is measured is not adequate to the task.
  • What learner representation is the review facilitating and is it adequate?
  • How and when will the affected staff know of the involvement of their institution and what have they been told? Does it match the discussions in the review itself? How is this reported back and what sort of evidence does it present?
  • Are any of the institutions sending s188 and are they informing the Steering group to that effect? Is this an agreed decision? Will it skew the review's findings?
  • Are the minutes of the meetings publicly available?
  • What forms of retraining, CPD and support is there planned for the distinct workforces: College practitioners, support staff, vocational educators in the field (assessors, trainers)?
  • Are the ET Foundation Professional Standards being made visible and adhered to as aspirational standards for staff?
  • What are the change management policies and processes in the participating colleges and institutions? (Communication strategies. Stress surveys; Trade union negotiations; community involvement?).
  • Travel to learn appropriate (NB journey time, modes of transport, routes, number of changes etc)?
  • What are the provisions for SEND?
  • Are Equality Act duties being met?

For any further information on the Area Wide Review, please email Norman Crowther.