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FE Transformation and Project Consulting

The Further Education industry is experiencing widespread and profound transformation. Area reviews are well underway for all colleges in England, with many now under pressure to take action in the form of a merger, federation, collaboration or for some, to embrace “fresh start”. It is essential to rigorously understand the process, options and outcomes. Some of the hardest challenges in Further Education mergers involve managing the vast number of work streams, stakeholders, legal requirements, governance demands and deadlines.  Securing the right skills and the right people are vital to effective management. Outsourcing certain work streams such as project management support for the pre-merger planning and post-merger integration, allows leadership to focus on other areas of high importance, most notably doing the “day job”. Added value can be gained from looking out of the industry for specialist restructuring skills to oversee the transformation process.

Where we help:


  • Preparation of the strategic business plan (or review and refinement thereof)
  • Providing constructive challenge of key assumptions
  • Understanding  key ratios and impact on financial health impact of proposed actions
  • Review of debt structure by entity, debt consolidation risks, break clauses, security issues
  • Review and modelling of forward debt structure and repayment profile
  • Assessment of working capital requirements, headroom and sensitivity analysis
  • Analysis of the level and nature of financial support needed (loan, grant)
  • Assessment of what level of cashflow is available for debt service (CFADS)
  • Understanding and working with the PMO’s CFADS model
  • Understanding and working with the ESFA’s financial model
  • Consider likely conditions of funder / lender support, and key milestones
  • Explore alternate funding sources
  • Consideration of any additional funding needs up to merger / fresh start
  • First hand experience of merger and fresh start scenarios
  • Deep understanding of PMO expectations

Stakeholder Management

  • Stakeholder management (pre and post merger) across wide stakeholder group (agencies, Bank, LEP, Local Authority, pension scheme, internal, etc)
  • Leading the difficult conversations; ensuring management are prepared
  • Liase with and motivate internal stakeholders and workstreams (Curriculum planning, HR, Quality, Estates, Governance, Students Services etc)
  • Assistance with Restructuring Facility and Transaction Unit communications
  • Agreeing what happens to existing agency loans and potential clawback risks
  • Engagement with funding agencies and lenders
  • Engagement with incumbent Banks re existing and forward facilities, and terms
  • Inter-funder/lender negotiations
  • Experience of engagement at ESFA case conferences and with commissioner team

Management, Reporting and Advisors

  • Integrating quickly and smoothly alongside management, setting project plan and driving progress
  • Reporting and advising at key Corporation and Shadow Board meetings / Steering Group meetings
  • Provide support and guidance to Corporations on direction and progress
  • Working with Principals and key personnel to ensure timelines are met
  • Working with other key professional advisors (due diligence (legal and financial), estates advisors, curriculum planners, pensions, local authorities etc)
  • Progressing actions arising out of third party reports, notably financial DD
  • Monitoring progress of project plan and taking prompt action to keep it on track
  • Development and maintenance of a merger risk register
  • Post-merger integration management

We want to hear from you, if you have concerns about your college; please contact us for a no obligation conversation.

Related Case Study:

Project Hills

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