From education to employment

FE Commissioner visits and reports

Richard Atkins, Further Education Commissioner

This guide helps colleges understand what happens on an FE Commissioner visit and what reports are produced.

FE Commissioner formal interventions and diagnostic assessments involve the FE Commissioner and their team visiting colleges and preparing reports.


Prior to a visit, the college will receive a letter outlining the:

  • reasons for the FE Commissioner visit
  • postholders or groups who will be interviewed
  • documentation that should be made available in advance

During the visit, the FE Commissioner and their team will interview:

  • senior leaders
  • governors
  • staff
  • students

This will allow them to understand the college’s performance and where improvements are required.

Two members of the FE Commissioner’s team will conduct interviews, during which they may ask the college to provide additional documentation.

A civil servant may accompany the FE Commissioner’s team.

Assessments last 2 to 3 days. They will normally give recommendations to the chair and college principal at the end of this visit.


After the visit, the FE Commissioner will prepare a report setting out their findings, conclusions and recommendations.

The FE Commissioner will give the college a chance to read the draft report to ensure it is factually accurate.

We will publish a summary of the intervention report on GOV.UK, along with a letter from the minister within 3 months of the visit.

We will remove information relating to commercial or confidentiality concerns.

We do not publish diagnostic assessment reports.

In some circumstances, intervention reports may highlight decisions by accounting officers and the college board.

If the FE Commissioner considers that the report identifies and criticises the actions of individuals no longer working at the college, they will give those individuals the opportunity to respond before we publish the report. The FE Commissioner will consider if they need to amend the report in light of these responses.

College action

When the minister has approved the recommendations in the intervention report, they will write to the college chair and ask for an action plan for implementing the report’s recommendations.

The college should write to the minister within 10 working days, setting out its improvement plan.

Complain about an FE Commissioner decision

To make a complaint, email [email protected].

Provide as much detail as you can, including:

  • details of your complaint
  • what you want to happen
  • which member of the FE Commissioner’s team you worked with
  • any relevant communication with us, including reference numbers on letters or emails, and the times and dates of conversations

We’ll investigate formal complaints in line with the DfE’s complaints procedure.

We will reply in writing or by telephone within 15 working days of receiving your complaint.

If it is not possible for us to respond to you within this time, we will let you know when you can expect a full reply.


FE Commissioner visits and reports



This is primarily aimed at:

  • governors
  • principals
  • finance directors and senior leadership teams of further education (FE) colleges
  • sixth form colleges and designated institutions

Published 29 April 2019

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