Scotland's Colleges to be restructured after damning review

29th June 2012 at 01:00
The umbrella body for further education colleges in Scotland is to be restructured following a damning review into its governance

The review into Scotland's Colleges, commissioned by the body itself and carried out by former BBC Scotland controller John McCormick, found that some chairs and principals viewed the organisation as "dysfunctional" and "muddled" and described its structural arrangements as "confused", "awkward" and "unworkable".

Mr McCormick, a former chair of the Scottish Qualifications Authority, reiterated long-standing criticisms from within the sector - that the organisation was unable to "speak with one voice" and was regarded widely as "lacking focus and clear strategy".

Its structure was complicated, with overlapping remits and activities between the chairs' congress and the principals' convention. Combined with a lack of agreed protocols and formal processes, this led to confusion and frustration among members.

The lack of rules also meant individuals "felt able to dissociate themselves from their conclusions and adopt contradictory positions openly".

One incident from 2010 was repeatedly cited as an example. It is understood to be Scotland's Colleges' announcement of a review of higher education by former first minister Henry McLeish, made without the knowledge of chairs or principals.

The subsequent fall-out led to an "embarrassing climbdown, harming the reputation of Scotland's Colleges", said Mr McCormick.

He also highlighted concerns raised by the Scottish Funding Council over a potential conflict of interest between the lobbying activities of Scotland's Colleges and its Next Practice (mainly continuing professional development) provision, funded largely the SFC.

The review does not recommend a break-up of Scotland's Colleges into two organisations, but calls instead for it to be renamed Colleges Scotland - echoing the HE body Universities Scotland - and for two separate boards to be established, each with different responsibilities.

One would be responsible for the delivery of CPD work and the good running of the organisation, with the second in charge of its advocacy and communications strategy.

To ensure the organisation was able to "speak with one voice", the chief executive "should be the regular, accepted spokesman".

Scotland's Colleges chief executive John Henderson said the organisation was going to "hit the ground running" on implementing the recommendations, with both new boards in place by the autumn.

"It is going to be a bit of a watershed for the organisation in terms of our accountability, and I would also like it to be a watershed in our relationship with government and other stakeholders.

"They will see us more clearly as that single door into the sector and representing the views of the sector in a way that we struggled in recent years to achieve," he said.

julia.belgutay@tess.co.uk.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now