Articles from Craig Bentley

To sell, or not to sell - maximising commercial opportunities

Many colleges have understood for some time that reducing over-reliance on learner funding and developing alternative sources of income has been a good way to bolster finances and somewhat insulate themselves from risks to traditional funding. Focusing on training and apprenticeships is an obvious one, but more and more colleges are also finding ways of leveraging their existing resources to grow external revenue, and the benefits are not only financial.

How to save £1m without impacting services

The outcome of the Comprehensive Spending Review has been seen by many as a welcome relief from the continued cuts in the FE sector over the last five years. With core funding for 16 - 19 year olds and adult skills budgets protected, colleges and sixth forms might be tempted to think some of the pressure is off, at least temporarily, while many now turn their attention to the potential impact of forthcoming Area Reviews. 

Doing things right, or doing the right things...

What do you think of when you hear the word 'efficiency'? When leadership say 'we need to be more efficient', do you immediately start thinking that means job cuts are coming? If so, you wouldn't be alone, but that shouldn't always be the case, and there's more to consider. The need for efficiency has never been greater, with continued cuts to funding, increasing competition and commercial pressures, and Area Reviews around the corner, colleges should act now to make sure their operations are not only efficient, but have a plan in place to review their effectiveness in support of their strategy and the coming changes to the sector. The concept that organisations, and processes within them, need to be both efficient and effective is not a new one, but judging by the number of colleges currently in financial difficulty, there is considerable scope to introduce the principles of 'lean thinking' and lessons from the private sector on how to improve services, while at the same time, cutting costs and ensuring readiness for new opportunities as they arise. And, that doesn't always mean reducing headcount...

The Lean Learner Journey

I’ve argued previously that there are two key perspectives to consider when looking at the learner journey - both the efficiency and the effectiveness.  Getting it right on both fronts is not easy, but I’ve seen as many examples of good practice as I’ve seen colleges with scope for improvement; here are just a few things to think about if you believe your college’s learner journey could be improved.

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