From education to employment

157 Group: Collaboration and Shared Services Project update

157 Group Members met on 24th May in London to agree on the principles and processes for the next phase of the Collaboration and Shared Services Project.


The Collaboration and Shared Services Project is designed to develop innovative ways of working to drive forward efficiencies in the FE sector. It is funded by the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) under the FE Modernisation Fund. The Collaboration and Shared Services Project Board is chaired by Geoff Russell, Chief Executive of the SFA and membership includes  the 157 Group; Association of Colleges (AoC); Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS)  SFA and the Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS).

Work to date has been arranged around five strands:

  • Strand 1: Exploring the potential for a national shared service for data warehousing and IT infrastructure.

  • Strand 2: Developing collaborative approaches to reducing costs associated with purchasing qualifications.

  • Strand 3: Supporting the collaborative procurement of goods and services.

  • Strand 4: Enabling more effective use of benchmarking.

  • Strand 5: Testing a range of collaborative models for improved delivery of back office functions and/or frontline services to determine where efficiency savings can be realised and provide solutions to barriers.

The fifth strand is Efficiency and Innovation and is chaired by Lynne Sedgmore CBE, Executive Director of the 157 Group. This strand has commissioned 40 projects focused on achieving efficiencies through partnerships and sharing. The AoC is managing these projects on behalf of the Board and will be responsible through the steering group chaired by Lynne, for the dissemination of best practice ideas.

Next Phase

A second phase of the Project is now beginning, taking forward the ideas raised across the five strands to scale up developments ready for implementation across the wider sector. 157 Group is responsible for commissioning £2.6m of this work for and on behalf of the sector,  opening up opportunities for maximum impact on achieving productivity and effectiveness in FE.


At our meeting on the 24th May, the 157 Group agreed the following principles for the commissioning:

  • Work which will have maximum positive impact for the sector.

  • A transparent, fair and inclusive process for the allocation of funds.

  • Close working with the AoC and across the sector to ensure maximum benefit.

  • Strategic leadership from the sector in shaping the future vision.

  • Drawing on the best known practices and the dissemination of products and learning across the whole sector.

Next Steps

A steering group, chaired by Marilyn Hawkins, principal of Barnet College and a Director of the 157 Group will meet on June 2nd to determine recommendations on scale, scope and areas of work which will be commissioned. The group will recommend a work programme which is both strategic and practical and will include principals and senior managers.

A prospectus will be issued in July and a process for bids and assessment will be published.

Work streams will begin in September / October and will report back to the steering group on a regular basis to ensure optimum learning.

Christine Doubleday is director of innovation and delivery models at the 157 Group, which represents 27 of the most influential colleges in the FE sector

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