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FE Commissioner Richard Atkins discusses Area Reviews, the lessons learned and challenges for 2017

FE Commissioner Richard Atkins interview at the AoC conference 2016. Richard is only several weeks into the FE Commissioner role after taking over from David Collins. Richard chats about Leading the new reviews, intervention and sharing the lessons learned from the Area Review Process. 

Richard explains that intervention is usually required when a college has not had a good Ofsted review or they run into financial trouble. Richard says the biggest intervention cause that he has seen is not having an annual detailed costed curriculum plan. Where the finance side of the college and the curriculum side of the college have to work very closely together, so as before the year starts that they have a plan of what courses they are going to offer, where the income comes from for these courses and equally importantly what will the costs of the teaching and support staff be to run the courses. He explains that staffing costs of 65% of turnover is recommended, when a college runs above the 65% of staffing costs they are quickly heading into a financially challenging time.

Finally, Richard discusses the challenges for 2017. His number one challenge is financial, with colleges running on very tight margins and very small surpluses. Richard identifies the need for very good Financial Directors to work with the Principal and the leadership team. The second major challenge is the raft of demanding, yet necessary curriculum changes from Apprenticeship reforms, the Levy, Sainsbury and the skills plan. 

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