Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas present to Colleges – revised governance documents

The government has presented FE and sixth form colleges with new instrument and articles to go live in 2008.

Some of the amendments to the I&A are housekeeping matters – for example, resulting from the Machinery of Government changes (i.e. the divorce of the pre- and post-19 parts of the old Department for Education and Skills. (Further governance changes may result from this potentially messy divorce.) However, other modifications to the I&A are more significant.

There is the ending of the rigid specification of categories of “external” governors i.e. the requirement for numbers for local authority, community, business and co-opted members. This is a modest but welcome measure of de-regulation. As I have argued here before, colleges should be given more flexibility in determining the size and shape of their governing bodies.

The new I&A also include a strengthening of the “learner voice” with at least two learner governors on each governing body. This will need to be accompanied by action to support learner governors in being able to challenge and contribute in the governance framework. Sometimes this is a problem. (Arguably it would be good to see colleges exploring new ways of enabling learners to hold governing bodies accountable – and this might not require such reliance on learners being on governing bodies.)

Some colleges may struggle with the requirement to post governing body minutes on the internet. However, this is good governance.

If you are a college clerk to governors and can’t find the new I&A, don’t spend all your Christmas and New Year holiday searching for the documents, they are tucked away on the old DFES website so click here.

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