College leaders are set to benefit from a “leadership exchange”, which will enable them to receive and provide support, guidance and advice from experienced fellow leaders.
The Association of Colleges has launched the exchange with the aim of building a network of leaders who can provide touch points or be sounding boards, where issues and concerns can be listened to, support offered and advice given.
Coronavirus: Education secretary thanks college leaders
Leadership: 'We have reached a critical point'
Kirsti Lord, AoC deputy chief executive, said: “After many discussions at AoC conference and informal talks with leaders over the last year, it became evident that those newer to the sector could really benefit from a network of colleagues who could offer support during tricky times. Those who have been in further education for some time have a wealth of knowledge and may have experienced similar issues to those faced by newer leaders.
"There is rarely a clear-cut right or wrong in many situations, particularly in a complex educational environment, with significant financial challenges. The leadership exchange is designed to offer an informal sounding board where these issues can be unpicked, with experience shared to find a solution in often complex, high pressured moments in a friendly way.”
Speaking from experience
Calls for a support network of leaders had previously been muted by the Further Education Trust for Leadership (FETL). FETL proposed in March 2019 that a body of experienced, expert and knowledgeable figures from FE was created to provide independent oversight of policy, to work on solutions to problems and to vouchsafe the core values of the sector.
At the time, Ruth Silver wrote: "I am increasingly convinced that the sector needs a standalone authoritative voice that is prepared to assert the sector’s professional and social values and call out policies and practices that do not live up to them, while describing clearly the ones that do. Such a group could offer genuine intellectual commentary and act as guardian of our mission, acting and speaking without fear or favour."
Who can you contact?
Ten senior college leaders have signed up to the exchange and college leaders are being encouraged to contact them if they wish to take part. The leaders are:
Ian Ashman, Hackney Community College
Yolanda Botham, Long Road Sixth Form College
Stuart Laverick, Heart of Worcestershire College
Anne Murdoch, retired as principal of Newbury College in 2018
Angela O’Donoghue, South Essex College of Further and Higher Education
Dr Paul Phillips, Weston College
Marion Plant, North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College
Di Roberts, Brockenhurst College
Dr Lis Smith, Preston’s College
Andrew Wren, Furness College
All contact details are available on the AoC website.