WALES has been warned it is in danger of being left behind in the drive to improve college leadership. The Association for College Management is to put pressure on the national assembly to guarantee that it will create training provision comparable to England's new leadership college.
The union says Wales should create its own separate institution or buy training in from England. The proposals are laid out by the ACM in time for the forthcoming national assembly elections in May.
England's leadership college, which will rely heavily on e-learning, is to be run by a consortium headed by the Learning and Skills Development Agency, training managers at every level from principal to course leader.
"There's no equivalent in Wales," said Peter Pendle, ACM general secretary.
"We've been seeking assurances that there will be an equivalent provision for all FE managers along the lines that there will be in England.
"If the most cost-effective way of delivering that management and leadership training is by contracting into the English leadership college, that's fair enough. It's something for the assembly to decide."
The ACM has discussed the issue with Jane Davidson, the Welsh Assembly's education minister. Fforwm, which represents all 23 FE colleges in Wales, wants staff to have access to training at England's leadership college and to play a part in setting it up.
John Graystone, Fforwm's chief executive, said: "We would hope there will be some funding for Wales to enable Welsh colleges to benefit. We are fully supportive of the concept of a leadership college and want to share in it."
Ian Rees, principal of Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor, Dolgellau, said leadership training for Welsh college managers would be welcome.
"Managers should have the opportunity to get development that enables them to become better. College staff deserve that and I would not like to see an institution set up that does not apply to Wales.
"It's very important because, in the new common inspection framework in Wales, there's quite an emphasis on how management and leadership have an impact on the quality of education and training in colleges. Effective management and leadership are important at any time but increasingly so with so much change around."
A Welsh Assembly spokesman said: "We are looking at the developments in England with interest and will see how that progresses".