Further education and skills

The sector is going through a period of unprecedented change and organisations are facing many challenges, with over 20 years’ experience of the sector, our team of specialists, based across the UK, understand the ever changing issues and regulatory needs that affect your organisation, and will help you to minimise risk, increase efficiency and meet your responsibilities.  

A comprehensive understanding of your needs is the foundation of our professional philosophy. We regard the development of strong and supportive working relationships as being essential in delivering the range and quality of services you need to meet your objectives. 

We have been providing audit and assurance services to the sector for more than 20 years and in that time our client base has grown significantly to over 200 colleges as well as many training providers. Our training provider clients include not only charities and third sector bodies but also commercial organisations of many sizes.

Where appropriate, we work with sector regulators, funders and advocacy bodies to help shape sector policy and guidance. This allows us to provide you with the latest information and advice on emerging issues and provide a full range of compliance and advisory services, including:

Audit and assurance

We are the largest supplier of external and internal audit to colleges and work as auditor and adviser to some of the largest Education and Skills Funding Agency-funded commercial and charitable training providers. 

Our Board Assurance Framework toolkit can help your board identify the risks that might stop your organisation achieving your objectives and where you will gain assurance that those risks are being mitigated.


We are actively involved in providing governance advice and assisting organisations in establishing effective structures and modes of operation. We can support your board in reviewing its effectiveness. 

Data and funding reviews

We carry out a variety of funding audits, organisational reviews, reviews of plans, audits of work based learning and apprenticeship provision, as well as classroom based, and specific reviews where there were concerns about data and provision, for the funding agencies. We also carry out funding assurance work directly for providers.

Mergers and acquisitions advice

If you are considering a merger or collaboration we can support you with services including:

  • strategic option identification and evaluation;
  • Structure and Prospects Appraisal;
  • independent review of board decisions;
  • due diligence reviews;
  • support in preparing merger proposals; and
  • merger implementation.

We have worked with colleges, sector bodies and private training providers and are currently seeing an increase in merger activities.

Forensic work

We have undertaken work for the EFA, SFA and LSC looking at the potential misapplication of funding by several colleges. These assignments required research not only into the validity of application of funds, but also the identity and veracity of sub-providers of learning.

Business process improvement

There is continuous pressure for the sector to drive through cost savings and improve efficiencies. Eliminating unnecessary costs from day-to-day operations is a major part of focus for senior management. Our team can advise you on areas such as efficiency and effectiveness of systems and processes, adequacy of reporting, control and risk procedures.

Social impact evaluation

We have supported a number of individual sector skills councils in evaluating and developing measurement tools to help them to understand the impact their organisations have on society. These studies of social impact have been well received and were influential in Ministerial discussion around the future direction and funding of the Sector Skills Councils. We have also assessed the social return on investment for specialist providers.

Risk management

Your organisation needs robust risk management procedures to support your strategic objectives. We provide a range of solutions from the facilitation of workshops, identifying risk, assessing likelihood and impact and developing action plans. We assist in reviewing and updating existing and new risks, the embedding of risk management, linking to strategic planning and reporting to the board.

Strategic planning

We can help management in assessing and implementing changes to existing strategies, as well as developing new ones. We work with institutions to help plan and examine current and future strategies and formulate action plans.

Corporate finance

We have a specialist team who work with institutions on mergers, acquisitions and group reorganisations, including lead advisory and due diligence; raising alternative funding including corporate bonds, pension and investment funds.

Corporation tax

Our dedicated team offers a range of innovative and effective tax mitigation techniques that can enable you to implement appropriate internal procedures to optimise your tax position. We have advised a number of colleges on group structures.


Our expertise and experience in this area can assist you in reducing the burdens VAT compliance brings. We can ensure that the available VAT reliefs are fully utilised, planning techniques are adopted and compliance tasks are simplified.

Contact our team today to discuss your compliance and financial needs.

Managing risk in a post-pandemic environment for higher education and further education Webinar

Watch our webinar where our speakers Lisa Randall and Theresa Guermellou, alongside the Education team at Gallagher’s addressed the issues relating to the current environment and provided insights on how best to navigate through these unprecedented times.

Watch our webinar

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Determining your college/academy risk appetite 

Download our guide on how the board should determine the risk appetite and how it should be used. 

Download the guide