Introducing the ESFA

By: Andrew Gladstone-Heighton

Policy Leader

Thursday 20 April 2017

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In a move that has been anticipated in the education sector for some time, the Education Funding Agency (EFA) and Skills Funding Agency (SFA) have been merged to form the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA).

Following the Skills Portfolio being brought back into the Department for Education (DfE) after the cabinet reshuffle last year, the ‘Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) brings together the existing responsibilities of the Education Funding Agency (EFA) and Skills Funding Agency (SFA), creating a single funding agency accountable for funding education and training for children, young people and adults’.

The new, unified funding agency will sit within the DfE and be operational from April 2017.

According to the press release, ‘the creation of a new single agency - will complete the process started in November 2014 when we appointed a single Chief Executive for both agencies. Since then significant progress has been made in bringing the two agencies together through shared services and close working arrangements. Creating the ESFA will bring benefits to the individuals and organisations we support as well as to the taxpayer. It will enable a single, joined-up approach to funding and regulation to improve accountability’.

This is a welcome move as it brings decision making into one department, and hopefully will help the artificial break we seem to have in education funding once a learner turns 19. My concern is that, with government money flowing into one funding agency, it would be a very easy move to divert funding away from one age group to allow for extra funding for another. Considering the fate of funding for adult education over the past 5 years, we’ll be pushing to ensure that this isn’t forgotten in the push for this new agency.

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