Clapton’s cash-strapped BSix college scraps ‘unwise’ expansion after government says it runs too many courses
PUBLISHED: 12:09 21 September 2017 | UPDATED: 12:09 21 September 2017
Upper Clapton’s flagship sixth form college has been forced to abandon an “unwise” expansion plan and cut staff numbers in order to keep its head above water.
Brooke House, also known as BSix, was slapped with a “notice to improve” in March after Whitehall boffins reviewed its books and concluded it was in dire straits.
The government’s sixth form colleges commissioner Peter Mucklow wrote in a report last month that the college’s position was “unsustainable” and gave bosses 10 steps that must be taken to give them any chance of balancing the books.
Mr Mucklow found the “unusually” wide range of courses on offer was causing problems, and said the drop in students enrolling and the number of dropouts had caused finances to nosedive.
He said: “The corporation and the senior leadership needs to improve the arrangements for oversight and management of financial control immediately.
“The senior leadership team needs to implement a strategy that improves financial resilience by addressing the college’s income and costs to deliver a surplus rather than a deficit. Forward planning should include consideration of whether the wide range of courses currently provided can be financially viable.”
But principal Ken Warman told the Gazette actions were taken to rectify the financial situation in autumn last year – well before the report was published.
He said: “These included not filling staff vacancies and devising a strategy and financial plan. In June and July 2017 the college implemented a major reorganisation to reduce management, service and teaching costs.
“The college had been seeking to increase student recruitment but, in an increasingly competitive post-16 education sector, it would be unwise to continue this, so the college has decided to remain the same size over the next three years.”
Mr Warman said review last year found the college could remain independent as long as it assured its financial resilience and continued to improve the quality of its provision. Results had improved by 14 per cent in the last two years, he added.
The college was opened on the Brooke House school site in 2002. It was set up by education minister David Blunkett, who wanted to build 11 new sixth form colleges in London.