A training programme aims to prepare college managers before they apply for the top jobs, Neil Merrick reports
Almost two-thirds of further education managers lack the skills they need to do their job with satisfaction, according to the largest survey of staff performance since colleges left local education authority control five years ago.
The study carried out last autumn by the Further Education Development Agency found that most college managers thought they required extra training and support either immediately before or shortly after they were appointed to a new post.
More than 60 per cent of the 4,000 managers surveyed did not hold any management qualification. Those who did had little idea how their certificates related to any national standard for management training.
The senior leadership programme was developed by the FEDA-backed consortium of college employers and training providers. It may eventually become the responsibility of a new further education national training organisation which will also take charge of all lecturer training.
Sue Brownlow, head of institutional development for FEDA, said that the aim was to split the costs of taking part in the leadership programme between staff and their college, which would gain in the short term before a deputy or vice-principal moved on. She hoped the scheme would be free enough for individuals to opt in and out of the programme, completing it at their preferred pace.
Early indications of pilot work suggest that not only will demand be considerable but, further education could be closer than reckoned to establishing a national framework for management training.
Fourteen senior managers at West Kent College took part in a six-month FEDA training programme covering areas such as funding, customer care and stress management.
Valerie Harding, West Kent's staff training officer, said the programme had pulled the managers together as a team as it was directly related to college needs but she agreed they would like the opportunity to gain a nationally-recognised qualification.
Sue Dutton, acting chief executive at the Association of Colleges, said it was vital to establish a common framework covering different levels of FE management, so that all training initiatives could be judged against national standards.
Colleges already had a better management framework than schools, she said, but that did not mean that overall quality cannot be further improved.
TES february 27 1998 david Mansell