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Hadlow Group has 'inadequate financial health' and told to improve by government

Colleges within the troubled Hadlow Group have been told to improve by the government, after being assessed as having "inadequate financial health".

The group which runs Hadlow College and West Kent and Ashford College hit the headlines earlier this year when it emerged two senior leaders had been suspended following an investigation into its finances.

The departures came following the formal intervention of the Further Education Commissioner, which recommends what actions college governing bodies could make to improve performance.

Ashford College (7788480)
Ashford College (7788480)

Now the Education Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) has served the group with a notice for the 2018/19 year, due to its requirement for exceptional financial support.

It means the FE Commissioner team is likely to continue to intervene and means its position will be taken into account by the ESFA when determining whether it's eligible for growth funding.

It may also affect the group's ability to be successful in tendering for other funds and other competitive tendering processes, the government warned.

A series of conditions have now been imposed on the group, including a requirement to submit all monthly individualised learner record (ILR) returns for all funding streams for the rest of the academic year.

It must also submit monthly management accounts to the ESFA, including a 12-month rolling cash flow, and invite the agency to its governing body meetings, while working with the commissioner to help protect students and identify a structural solution to the financial woes.

West Kent College (7788428)
West Kent College (7788428)

The agency says it will confirm in writing when the group has made sufficient progress for the notice to be lifted, but warns it will take "further action" if it fails to take the necessary actions within the timescales set out, or if evidence of progress is not appropriate or not available.

It was revealed earlier this month, discussions had been held between Department for Education officials and representatives from other college groups in Kent to discuss "a clear resolution to the issues that Hadlow Group has been facing".

The Hadlow Group has been approached for comment.

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