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Bid outcomes for the Collaboration and Shared Services Grant

The 157 Group of colleges has announced the outcomes of bids for the its element of the Collaboration and Shared Services Grant.

The grant was launched on 15 June 2011 and aims to develop and implement significant and fundamental changes to the business model within the FE sector to drive innovation and secure significant efficiency savings.

The grant comes via the Skills Funding Agency and was given to the 157 Group and the Association of Colleges (AoC), as sector membership bodies, to ensure sector engagement through an open and transparent process.

Christine Doubleday, director of delivery models and innovation for the 157 Group, said: “157 Group proposes the development of a Framework for Collaboration and Innovation to support “capacity building” across the FE sector as well as a strategic forum, an innovative and creative “think” space through which the FE sector can come together to debate, influence and lobby on the evolving shape of business models and the FE market place.”

The Collaboration and Shared Services grant will:

  • Secure maximum quantifiable efficiencies for the sector.

  • Work, in partnership, across the whole sector to ensure maximum benefit and avoid duplication or confusion.

  • Encourage and develop strategic leadership from the sector in shaping the future vision.

  • Disseminate learning.

  • Produce concrete tools and models which are ready to be adopted across the sector.

  • Produce a clear plan for take up, roll out and sustainability of efficiencies and new models.

The 157 Group and AoC produced a joint prospectus and evaluation process to manage the bids. The prospectus covered the aims, scope and objectives of the programme alongside clarity on the application response content and format, evaluation criteria and minimum requirements.

The evaluation was agreed by senior level representation from the Skills Funding Agency, the Learning and Skills Improvement Service, (LSIS), the AoC and 157 Group, along with two independent evaluators.

The following projects have been accepted for funding under the grant:

– Sunderland College, City of Sunderland College, Hartlepool 6th Form College, South Tyneside College and Tyne Metropolitan College working together as a North East Shared Services Project Limited to build on a joint venture company model for shared services and collaboration.

– Central Sussex College, Northbrook College Sussex, Chichester College, Brooklands College, Guildford College, City College Brighton, Sussex Downs College, Sussex Coast College Hastings working together for services in Sussex / Surrey Colleges to develop ‘share ready’ services collaboration between geographically connected colleges.

– Highbury College, 4 non-157 Group colleges and any 157 Group colleges who wish to take part in collaborative curriculum development and delivery enabling colleges to work together to develop and share learning resources to deliver an effective curriculum.

Additionally, 157 Group has agreed to award the Third Sector National Learning Alliance a sum to support the development of collaboration and shared services across third sector providers.

Marilyn Hawkins, treasurer and director of the 157 Group and principal of Barnet College, said: “The innovative projects put forward in these bids is testament to the quality of FE and the willingness to be adaptable and flexible in an ever-changing sector.

“We hope the legacy to come out of these bids is a powerful new precedent for collaboration and innovation within the sector.”

The 157 Group and AoC are working closely together to ensure effective synergy and ease of application for all interested organisations and will be responsible for commissioning up to £9m of this work on behalf of and for the whole sector.

Aastha Gill

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