UK Further Education funding is a strange culture.
The provider needs to understand they are a business, therefore, avoiding unnecessary risks by management teams.
Retail in contrast
At the local takeaway , I noticed that cameras were directed at the customers and the staff. The owner sent a clear message “this business is monitored!”
An overt and sensible approach. We expect that level of scruntiny in that type of workplace.
However Further Education providers appear to accept much activity on trust.
The average learner has a cash value.
The provider asks staff and subcontractors to complete the learning package. Self assessment and form filling is a primary tool.
The rest is taken on trust. This is unsustainable.
This is a recipe systemic abuse. The results speak loudly. Providers fail audits because the core evidence is missing.
Prevention is the First Step
Prevention of systemic abuse by providers is the goal. However, a recent monitoring visit highlighted:
- The failure to use technology
- Poor monitoring of staff
- Poor internal auditing systems
- Lack of fraud prevention tools
This demonstrated that the Directors failed to understand the importance prevention. The process of their product enables staff to take short cuts.
As both and Assessor and Tutor it has always been clear to me that time was the enemy. They are pressured to get the learners through quickly. This creates issues.
So the first duty of the FE provider is to prevent systemic abuse.
Funding Body Pressure
The College or small provider is also pressured by the funding body. The funding system is skewed. It fails to treat the providers as businesses.
To eat the takeaway we must first pay for it.
To engage a training provider the funder uses instalments. In arrears. Payments include an outcome component paid much later.
This model lends itself to exploitation and corruption.
The immediate answer alternative payment models. Use technology, direct learner linked transfers.
Offer a simple pay you learn system.
Consequently it is the Funding body payment arrangements that create the systemic pressure. Use a prevention model to remedy the issue.
30 years in Adult education and things don’t change. Therefore, create at least two alternative strands of unrestricted income.
FE providers are businesses. Therefore, the product demands protection. Additionally,directors must build the safety measures into day to day activities.
Staff and the learners know the value of the product, consequently they expect you to protect it.
Make learning count, therefore, appreciate quality of teaching. Remember that further education is a business.
Therefore, we provide:
- education funding services;
- business support;
- education compliance support;
- quality system development;
- prevention tools;
- Robust audit systems;
- Create strong income streams; and