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Minister grants leadership centre two more years

The organisation set up to improve the way colleges are run has been given the green light to carry on with its work.

Further and higher education minister Bill Rammell has granted the Centre for Excellence in Leadership a two-year extension to its contract.

The contract was due to expire next April, but the centre has now been told it can continue until April 2008, though no details of its new budget allocation have been finalised.

Lynne Sedgmore, the centre's chief executive, has met the minister to spell out the impact her organisation was having.

She said: "I was able to tell him that, though our target was to engage 520 participants a year on our courses, last year we engaged 2,750 and this year we hope to have 8,000."

CEL was set up in 2003 with a pound;14 million budget to run professional development courses for college managers.

Its work includes courses aimed at finding the next generation of principals and running programmes for principals and senior managers.

Ms Sedgmore said the Foster review of further education mentioned CEL 14 times and she was pleased that "it placed such a strong emphasis on leadership".

She added: "The Foster report highlighted the need for investment in the next generation of leaders. It says the Government and colleges must find a solution to make leadership development more affordable so more colleges engage. We are delighted to see that the report clearly identifies the crucial role of leadership in college performance."

David Collins, principal of South Cheshire college and a member of CEL's development board, said it did vital work.

He added: "As a consumer, we have 24 of our staff on a middle-management training programme that has proved more popular than any other staff development programme we have ever undertaken."

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