Action plans all round

HENRY McLEISH said the management review of FE colleges, carried out by the funding council, would require some colleges to implement a "management recovery plan" which would be every bit as important as other colleges' financial recovery plans.

The Minister said he wanted all colleges to draw up action plans, which would assess their management practices against best practice. There must be "measurable, demonstrable improvements". The funding council has been asked to lead the process as a matter of urgency.

Mr McLeish said of the review, which was ordered after a spate of unflattering cases of management and financial crises: "In one sense, I was reassured by the report's finding that there are excellent examples of good practce throughout the sector. But I was taken aback by the extent of work to be done to ensure that best practice is embedded throughout the sector and becomes the norm."

In a talk to the conference on "the governance challenge," Professor John Sizer, chief executive of the FE funding council, said the chairs of college boards would be expected to play a much more central role. They should help to set their college's strategic direction and hold their executives to account. Boards must ensure college managements do not become "incestuous, demotivated or too close to those delivering its decisions".

Board chairs should also take steps to ensure that "inner cabals" do not dominate college leaderships, Professor Sizer said.

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