When I was invited to lead this review by the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning he made it clear that he wished it to be undertaken independently of Government. The way in which the review was to be conducted, and the conclusions reached, would be entirely my responsibility and I was delighted to proceed in this way.
However, I was determined that the review would take into account the views of as wide a group of people and organisations as I could connect with, in the time available. These are listed in Annexe A. I also wanted, at the core of the review, a group of people who could provide me with the advice and challenge that is needed, as you become immersed in these projects and sometimes lose sight of all else.
Therefore I cannot thank enough the knowledge, reality and pure common sense that the following have given me throughout this task.
Dr Mike Cantlay - Businessman, Chair Visit Scotland and ex-Chair of Forth Valley College
Graeme Kirkpatrick - Depute President NUS Scotland and ex-Student Association President and College Governor at Aberdeen College
Brian Lister OBE - Principal and Chief Executive, Stevenson College Edinburgh
Ken Wimbor - Assistant Secretary with the Educational Institute of Scotland ( EIS) and Head of the Organisation Department which includes responsibility for Further and Higher Education within the Institute
And for keeping us all sane, the great team of Scottish Government officials who provided not only assistance but good advice and knowledge as well.
Graeme Malcolm - Administrative Officer, Colleges and Adult Learning Division
Stephen O'Neil - Policy Executive, Colleges and Adult Learning Division
George Reid - Head of the Colleges and FE Student Support Team
I am also delighted that I, and those who have advised me, are as one on the issues and recommendations within the review. This to me is critical, as without the learner and the staff being at the heart of what the sector seeks to do, nothing will be achieved.
We are also issuing the report of the review, at the request of the Cabinet Secretary, slightly later than our initial schedule. We believe that the Cabinet Secretary will now be in a position to consider this report within a timescale which fully matches his consideration of the responses to the other papers and documents which have recently sought views on specific issues affecting the sector. In seeking to identify the optimum governance arrangements for the FE sector, this report seeks to draw together a very wide range of issues affecting the sector.
Also while we have tried to ignore it as much as possible, we cannot totally put aside the challenges the difficult financial climate that we all find ourselves in at present bring, and will continue to bring for some time to come. In this way we have sought to deliver an integrated and co-ordinated suite of conclusions. Notably, we have made our recommendations on governance in the context of the landscape which we believe needs to exist. We believe this approach has avoided the risk posed by considering issues in isolation, with the consequent risk of moving the sector to the wrong place should we not get the whole package in place at the same time. Therefore, we are flattered that recent consultation papers from Scottish Government and the Scottish Funding Council have included structures and ways of working which reflect the discussions which the review team had with both organisations, and which are consistent with those which this review recommends. We believe however that the creation of a truly cohesive sector rests on the implementation of the full range of recommendations made in this report.
Professor Russel Griggs OBE