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Better leaders;Letter

The Further Education Development Agency and the Association of Colleges were reported (TES, February 27) to have worked with management consultants to devise the further education senior leadership programme, incorporating personal leadership skills development, stress and conflict management, and customer care.

Are they aware, however, that the bulk of such training has failed to produce tangible results in business, and is often counterproductive? Generally it is not designed to tackle effectively deep-rooted hierarchical attitudes and behaviours - for example, disrespect, distrust, inability to listen, secrecy - that have traditionally undermined business and education performance.

Research and best practice indicates that an opposing set of "democratic" attitudes and skills are required for effective leadership. This need for a fundamental culture shift has been marginalised by structural and funding considerations in past education and business reforms, which have consequently mainly failed to increase inclusion and performance.

Training will be key to redressing this. In particular, the Government will need to promote a structured framework for lecturer, manager, and principal training, which models participatory democratic management and classroom practice. This need to be a cornerstone of reform if Sue Dutton, the AOC acting chief executive's appeal for "particular skills" in staff to ensure "the best possible treatment" of people entering colleges, and Government plans to increase quality and participation in FE and HE, are to bear fruit.

Dr SUE JONES

McGraw Hill Maidenhead, Berkshire

Letters should be kept as brief as possible and may be cut. They should be sent to The Editor, The TES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1 9XY Fax: 0171 782 3200e-mail: letters@tes1.demon.co.uk

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