Sunday, February 04, 2007

College governance and Learner Voice - learning from others

During the session on leadership at yesterday's National Housing Federation board members conference, the Chair and Chief Executive of St Basil’s referred to the homeless charity’s Youth Advisory Board.

Reading about the YAB in the St Basil's Annual Review and elsewhere, it would appear that FE colleges could perhaps learn something.

The recent Personalising Further Education consultation from the Department for Education and Skills stresses voice for learners. In particular:

[The DFES] also expect learners to play a key role in institutional governance with college governing bodies including at least two learner governors.

Student governors are sadly seen as tokens. They are often unsupported, untrained and unmentored. Sometimes they are unrepresentative too. Hopefully this will change with training programmes and other measures.

FE Colleges should look to go further than the two learner governors. They should be considering how they could develop bodies - similar to the St Basil’s YAB - with boards of learners fully integrated into decision-making, considering policies, participating in internal inspections and self-assessment. I know that some colleges do go some way towards this but few have such a radical approach.

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