The SCIF was introduced following calls from the sector for a peer-to-peer support programme. It is playing a vital role alongside the Government’s National Leaders of Further Education (NLFEs) programme helping to share best practice and boost standards throughout the further education sector, so more people can access high quality education and training.Funding will help pay for training and services to improve best practice and with it the quality of education on offer to students. Thirty six colleges across England will receive funding totalling £5.5 million to help drive up standards, Apprenticeship and Skills Minister Anne Milton announced today.Successful colleges from the first round of the Strategic College Improvement Fund (SCIF) will receive a total of £5.5m between them from the overall £15m fund.The colleges will work with a high performing ‘partnering’ college to share their knowledge expertise to help tackle issues – such as raising the standard of teaching or improving learner recruitment and retention.Today’s announcement follows a successful £2m pilot phase, which showed strong support for the partnership model and led to colleges reporting how the fund enabled rapid improvements in quality.Minister for Skills and Apprenticeships Anne Milton said: Colleges play a vital role in our education system and we want that to continue. The Strategic College Improvement Fund is designed to help support colleges to improve so that their students get the best possible education and training. I’m thrilled to announce the first round of colleges to receive funding from the scheme. I wish them all the best for the future and look forward to hearing how they are all progressing.