Governors should be heard;FE Focus;Letter

21st May 1999 at 01:00
THE article on Bilston College, referring to Dennis Taylor MP (TES, May 7) has brought out an aspect of colleges' problems which needs to be aired.

It is significant that the individual governors' perspectives (at the time problems were developing and without hindsight) remain unheard. In practice a view from those involved could be more valuable in improving standards of governance than rapid-fire regulations and "guidance".

The qualities of individual governors have been questioned by implication, whether or not they could have been aware of the potential problems, or in any true sense be responsible, for unsatisfactory outcomes.

Whatever the past situation, it is now clear that the part-time unpaid non-executive members of governing bodies have their reputations on the line. Despite the separation of "governance" from "management" in inspection reports there is increased pressure, from the Further Education Funding Council and ministers, for governors to become more involved in day-to-day management.

It seems governors need a new collective approach through the creation of a distinctive form of representation. Otherwise we shall remain scapegoats whenever a variety of full-time professionals in management, inspection and audit fail to meet prevailing public-service standards.

Tony Nightingale Chair of governors City College Manchester

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