Research to inform future direction for FE

13 February 2015

NIACE, alongside BMG Research and CFE Research, have been commissioned by the Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills (BIS) to undertake the final evaluation of the FE Reform Programme, which will inform the direction of future developments in FE.

Prior research about the FE Reform Programme was undertaken in 2010 which explored providers’ plans for implementing changes. Further research on progress took place in 2013.

The 2015 final evaluation will build on this research and:

  • provide a comprehensive evaluation of the overall impact of the FE Reform Programme, including an analysis of the changes providers have implemented;
  • examine how partnerships between LEPs, local authorities and others have helped local provision evolve; and
  • understand how providers have reacted to changes in funding and the new requirements around Apprenticeships, in particular the variable requirements within different frameworks.

Fiona Aldridge, Assistant Director for Development and Research at NIACE, said:

“The results of this research will be used as the basis for future developments in FE in the next Parliament. This is why it is vitally important for the FE sector to be involved and share with us their views on the impact and outcomes of the FE Reform Programme. We need to know what’s worked and what hasn’t, and how learners have been affected as well as providers.”

The two main ways in which providers can contribute their views and experiences: 

  • A telephone survey of colleges and private FE providers: All FE providers in England will be contacted and invited to take part in a telephone survey with a representative from BMG Research. Those who take part will answer a range of questions on the reform’s impacts and the reasons for these in a survey lasting no more than 20-25 minutes.
  • Face-to-face in-depth interviews: 50 providers will be invited to take part in detailed qualitative research. This will involve a one-day visit from a researcher to the provider to meet with key staff and discuss their experiences and views in more detail.

Providers from across the sector will receive an invitation to take part in the next few weeks. For further information about the research please contact: or