NA College Trust successfully engages with Partners (or subcontractors) in order to fulfil our ethos of offering ‘Real Life. Real Knowledge. Real Education.’
Our aim is to empower all learners to achieve more through innovative simulated working environments in collaboration with leading employers and college partners.
Our mission is to succeed in becoming a leading independent training provider at the heart of the UK skills agenda, who provide solutions to emerging challenges and opportunities by promoting an innovative and creative curriculum.
By working with well-established college partners, we are able to enhance the opportunities available for our learners and can provide niche and expert provision with access to higher level apprenticeships and provide excellent access to training facilities.
This document sets out the framework for the operation of sub-contracted provision and provides the required information as set out in the Education Skills Funding Agency’s Funding Rules.
1. NA College Trust stakeholders agree that all subcontracting is in line with the providers strategic aims, ESFA and Funding Rules and enhances the quality of offer to learners and that all Partners engaged are of high quality and low risk.
2. We recognise and value the contribution made by Partners in providing a diverse range of learning opportunities, which may otherwise not be available.
NA College Trust enters into contracts for the provision of learning via a Business Partnership where one or more of the following principles apply:
• The qualification or programme is not available as part of the direct curriculum offer.
• Expertise is available in terms of niche delivery or facilities
• To support employers with a wide geographic operation.
• To support delivery of ESFA funded provision when a partnership delivery model is a specific requirement.
• To provide employer choice and meet diverse needs of employers.
We primarily support subcontract provision within the North East region, exceptionally, extending nationally to support employers’ operations and funding agencies’ specific requirements.
We invest resource in supporting Partners to improve the quality of teaching and learning, to ensure that the expectations set for the quality of provision are met at all times. In addition, resources are dedicated to ensure that we and our Partners meet the compliance requirements of ESFA Funding Rules.
We undertake a monthly performance review with each College Partner to measure performance against contractual KPIs and agree support requirements which can include the following;
• Supporting improvements in Quality of Teaching, Learning & Assessment, a dedicated Quality Reviewer to support and mentor College Partner staff to improve teaching and learning practice. In line with internal department practice. All College Partners are subject to annual Teaching, Learning & Assessment Reviews against the Ofsted grading framework and ESFA programme requirements. Observation feedback is recorded and used to inform staff development.
• Dedicated department responsible for procurement, contract compliance and supporting the operation and monitoring of subcontracted provision.
• A partner CPD programme of events and information is in place to support the CPD of staff. The primary focus is improving teaching, learning and assessment, as well as discussion of key issues facing the sector e.g. Ofsted requirements, funding changes, the sharing of good practise amongst Partners and key policy drivers such as the Prevent Agenda, Bribery & Corruption and Designated Safeguarding Lead Training
• Management Information Service and data controls advice, timely checking and processing of ILR data to ensure completeness and accuracy of ILR data and payments.
• Funding and Audit Guidance Assistance with interpretation of Funding Rules for all types of provision and liaison with regard to audit evidence and other ESFA compliance requirements.
• Guidance on Self-Assessment and Quality Improvement Planning Support and regular feedback is given in respect of the quality of documentation in order to meet our, Ofsted and Funding Agency requirements.
• Internal audit review by the NA College Trust to ensure that operation of subcontracted provision is in line with inhouse procedures.
Before a subcontractor relationship is agreed, NA College Trust agree a detailed list of costs for managing the Partner outlining specific costs for quality monitoring activities and other support activities listed above. These costs are authorised by the Chief Operating Officer to ensure they are reasonable and proportionate to the teaching and learning delivered by the Partner and how each cost contributes to delivering high quality learning.
Selection, Due Diligence and Appointment Process for New Business Partners
· NA College Trust’s selection and appointment process for Partners complies with ESFA Funding Rules and meets OJEU and Public Procurement Regulations.
· All subcontractors are selected fairly and have sufficient capacity, capability, quality and financial standing to deliver the contracted services.
· A comprehensive due diligence process is completed, covering the potential Partner’s organisational policy and practice in key areas such as health and safety, quality assurance, data management, capability of staff, financial standing, equality and diversity.
· NA College Trust ensures that there is in place a legally binding sub-contract with each Partner before delivering commences, that includes terms specified in the Funding Rules.
· We commission an external auditor to undertake an annual assurance review of the procurement and contracting processes to manage and control subcontracting. An assurance certificate is signed by the external auditors, authorised by the Chief Operating Officer and supplied to the ESFA, on an annual basis.
· Partners are reviewed against a range of performance criteria and to ensure high-quality delivery is taking place that meets the Funding Rules.
· Regular monitoring visits are required both at Partner premises and inhouse. Visits to review provision may include announced and short notice and will involve observation and assessment of teaching and learning practice, discussion with staff and learners and review of documentation.
· There are high expectations for the quality of provision and minimum levels of success are prescribed in the contract. Notices to improve may be issued where the quality of provision does not meet requirements and where there are serious concerns recruitment will be suspended.
· A risk register is maintained to monitor quality issues raised as part of the review process. The risk register and corrective action is reported to the Partners on a termly basis.
· A Learner Contingency Plan is agreed in the event that the subcontract arrangement ceases or the Business Partner goes into liquidation or administration or the contract is removed due to quality concerns.
· Each Partner is required to prepare and submit an annual Self-Assessment Report and Quality Improvement Plan meeting NA College Trusts requirements and reflecting the Ofsted Framework.
NA College Trust operates a model of regular monthly payments in arrears to Partners according to the value of provision recorded on the Individualised Learner Record (ILR) and the submission of a valid claim by Partners.
Partners issue an invoice each month, following liaison with the Partner Engagement Officer, and are paid within 30 days of receipt of a valid claim for payment.
As required by the Education Skills Funding Agency, details of Business Partner activity will be published on NA College’s website each year following closedown of the ILR including actual level of funding paid and retained for each Partner.
Subcontracting arrangements are outlined in the Subcontractor Declaration Form which is submitted to the ESFA twice an academic year.