Huw Lewis, Minister for Education and Skills
I am pleased to inform Assembly Members that all the provisions of the Further and Higher Education (Governance and Information) (Wales) Act 2014 have now come into force .
The Act was introduced on 1 April 2013, received Royal Assent on 27 January 2014, and the remaining provisions of the Act were brought into force on 1 September 2014. Its primary purpose was to remove unnecessary or technical requirements from further education institutions in Wales. In doing this it is anticipated that the Office for National Statistics (ONS) will once again classify colleges in Wales as having ‘Non Profit Institutions Serving Households’ (NPISH) status. A formal submission seeking reclassification will now be made to the ONS.
The Dissolution of Further Education Corporations (Publication of Proposals and Prescribed Bodies) (Wales) Regulations 2014 also came into force on 1 September 2014. This followed a detailed consultation with key stakeholders earlier this year. I am pleased to report that the responses to the consultation indicated a broad base of support for the draft Regulations with only minor amendments suggested by the sector. A summary report has been published and is available on the Welsh Government’s website.
The Regulations set out the procedures that corporations must follow when considering dissolution and specify that assets and liabilities may be transferred to certain public bodies for the purpose of education.
To further strengthen the Welsh Governments’ relationship with the sector and help navigate the new landscape presented by the Act, I have asked my officials to commission the development of a new framework of best practice in the form of a Further Education Governance Code which will be developed with the close involvement of sector stakeholders. The intention is to publish the new code in Spring 2015. This will ensure the adoption of a consistent approach across the FE sector in Wales.
I have also commissioned the development of a flagship programme to build on the existing leadership profile we have here in Wales, strengthening the capacity of our future Chief Executives and Principals by supporting the next generation of FE leaders in their individual and institutional development. This flagship programme will also be piloted next Spring, following a competitive procurement exercise.
Extending these new freedoms and flexibilities will assist in establishing a newly formed relationship with the Welsh Government, and herald a new era of greater freedoms for the sector. However, the Welsh Ministers will retain the power to intervene in exceptional circumstances.
My officials will continue to engage constructively with key stakeholders involved in further education.