Letter from the Further Education Funding
Council to the Times Educational Supplement (PAC 00-01/95)
I am writing following your publication of an
open letter on the former Bilston College from Paul Goddard-Patel.
The reasons for the closure of Bilston College
and the establishment of a single FE college in Wolverhampton
are well documented in the March 1999 Melia report. This outcome
was supported by Wolverhampton Borough Council, Wolverhampton
Chamber of Commerce Training and Enterprise and by the Wolverhampton
The cost of investigating the former Bilston
College, of verifying appropriate audit trails and properly recording
transactions has been high, both in terms of money and time. Throughout
the process, the Further Education Funding Council's main concern
has always been to concentrate on the best interests of students
and to protect the public purse. These investigations, the preparation
of evidence and police investigations are on-going and for this
reason I am not able to comment on them in public.
In 1999 Bilston Community College received the
worst ever inspection report in the history of the FE sector.
It closed soon afterwards because it was so clearly failing its
students, community and financial obligations. As the former assistant
principal and finance director of the College, Mr Goddard-Patel
may understand that the one question many people would really
like to be answered is, "how could senior management and
governors of the College allow such a failure to occur?"
In particular, how could the finance director and the governors,
as noted by Melia, approve a financial forecast predicting a 276
per cent growth in income from £24.6 million to £68
million over a three year period?
I have become accustomed to seeing Mr Goddard-Patel's
views being repeatedly aired in public. I must admit, however,
that I wonder if other readers question the frequency with which
such highly individual perspectives are published. I think that
more would be gained from focussing on all those staff, students
and governors who have worked so hard to achieve such success
in the new college. Those now working in Wolverhampton College
deserve proper credit for their achievements. Let us hope that
they get it in the future.
Further Education Funding Council
14 March 2001