Subcontracting post-16 education and training with Education and SKills Funding Agency (ESFA) funding

Closed 17 Mar 2020

Opened 4 Feb 2020

Feedback updated 6 Jul 2020

We asked

The consultation set out ten proposals for reforming the future arrangements for subcontracting of ESFA funded post 16 education and training. The proposals sought to reduce the overall volume of subcontracted delivery across the sector by eliminating provision that is poorly managed and delivered, and provision undertaken for the wrong reasons. It also sought to strengthen the ESFA’s oversight of subcontracted activity.

You said

In general, respondents felt that some of the proposals, particularly where we have suggested obtaining prior agreement from the agency, would be excessively bureaucratic, both for providers and the agency. Many have pointed out where some of the proposals may be suitable for some funding streams but not for others.

We did

We have reflected upon the responses and have made changes to our final approach taking account of the views expressed. We have, in some cases, decided to differentiate our approach by funding stream and to take account of particular structures/modes of delivery. Overall, we have tried to eliminate proposals that would be excessively bureaucratic and will build more of our oversight and assurance into the development of the Standard for the Management of Subcontracting (proposal 9).


We are seeking views from providers who have an interest in subcontracted delivery to inform our thinking about reforms to subcontracting arrangements.

This consultation is now closed but providers can still submit a response to the consultation by emailing       before Tuesday 31 March 2020.

Why your views matter

The subcontracting of education and training for learners over the age of 16 is a long established and widespread practice in the sector.  

We are committed to strengthening ESFA’s oversight of the approach to subcontracting in the sector.  

The review aims to:

  • strengthen our monitoring and improve our assessment of risk to identify problems earlier
  • intervene more quickly and decisively
  • harmonise and clarify the rules and requirements across post-16 funding streams
  • reduce the overall volume of subcontracted activity in the sector
  • eliminate subcontracting that is undertaken for purely financial reasons
  • retain subcontracting that meets niche or specialised needs, improves access and provides opportunities for disadvantaged learners

What happens next

Thank you for your responses. We’re using these to inform our thinking about the nature and extent of reforms to subcontracting arrangements and the timing of them.


  • Headteachers
  • Governors
  • Training providers
  • Local authorities
  • Adult education providers
  • Further education colleges
  • Sixth form colleges
  • Independent specialist colleges
  • Designated institutions and 16-19 academies
  • Designated safeguarding leads
  • Young people
  • Employers
  • Universities


  • Education
  • Governance
  • Intervention
  • Planning
  • Pupil data
  • Travel to school and colleges
  • Keeping children safe in education and other settings
  • Post-16 funding
  • Participation of young people in education, employment and training
  • Equality
  • Apprenticeships
  • Work based training
  • Community learning
  • Lifelong learning