£14m to improve FE leadership and governance announced

'Things that we’re not comfortable with have been going on,' says Gavin Williamson, as DfE unveils new funding package

Dave Speck and Stephen Exley

£14m to improve FE leadership and governance

Almost £14 million will be invested in improving leadership and governance across the further education sector.

The announcement comes as education secretary Gavin Williamson warned of cases “where colleges haven’t been getting it right”.

The package of investment unveiled today by the Department for Education includes a £9 million “college collaboration fund”, which builds on the strategic college improvement fund and will “support colleges to work together to share their knowledge, expertise and best practice to boost the quality of education and training on offer”.

A further £4.5 million will go towards CPD programmes for FE leaders and governors in areas such as strategic planning, finance and working with employers. These will be developed by the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) in partnership with the Oxford Saïd Business School, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and the Association of Colleges (AoC).

In addition, £200,000 will be spent on two governance pilots to test “new and innovative approaches to boost the skills and improve the governance of college boards to make sure they achieve the best outcomes for students”.

Background: ‘Radical change’ needed at ‘inadequate’ HS2 college

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News: FE commissioner: college's finances 'terminal'

Speaking at a briefing at the Department for Education yesterday, Mr Williamson said: “We want to make sure that we are getting the very, very best leadership within our colleges to make sure we are getting the governance structures right.

'Colleges haven't been getting it right'

“There are cases where colleges haven’t been getting it right and things that we’re not comfortable with have been going on.”

However, in a statement published today, he said: “The FE sector is already doing amazing work to unlock talent and opportunity up and down the country.”

In recent days, FE commissioner reports have been published into the National College for Advanced Transport and Infrastructure, which has sites in Birmingham and Doncaster, and St Mary's College in Blackburn.

Commissioner Richard Atkins said: “My team and I see examples of excellent practice during our visits across the country, but we also see examples of where support is needed if standards of governance and leadership are to improve. I am pleased that we will now have this expanded range of development opportunities to offer to colleges where we see this as necessary.”

David Russell, chief executive of the ETF, said: “The announcement of these new programmes recognises that leadership comes from a number of places within institutions, from senior leaders to middle managers and from the governors to governance professionals.”

David Hughes, chief executive of the AoC, said: “Well-run and effective colleges rely on staff at all levels, which is why it is great to see targeted funds for continuous professional development opportunities as well. This is an important part of a wider systems reform programme which will see colleges thrive and college leaders work to a bold and compelling vision for the future of FE.”

Dave Speck is a reporter at Tes; Stephen Exley is further education editor at Tes

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