A new organisation has been launched today to encourage high-calibre and skilled people to join college governing bodies.

The Inspiring Governors Alliance (IGA) also aims to increase the number of employers supporting staff to volunteer as governors, as well as promoting governance as a key learning and development opportunity for staff.

The launch coincides with an event due to take place today in London’s Guildhall, organised by the School Governors One-Stop Shop (SGOSS), where more than 100 employers are expected to hear from Education Secretary Michael Gove about the benefits of supporting employees to be governors.

He said:“We recognise the valuable contribution that governors make to our schools and colleges, and now their role is more vital than ever.

“The future of our school system is in their hands as they hold school and college leaders to account for improving performance and scrutinising finances. There has never been a more important time to be a governor.”

The IGA, which also caters for schools, boasts a website and the support of employer organisations such as the Confederation of British Industry and Federation of Small Businesses.

The Association of Colleges (AoC) is also on board along with the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL).

Selina Stewart, director of governance at the AoC, told FE Week: “Governors make a vital contribution to colleges across the country and their external perspective and range of skills are invaluable.

“Colleges are very keen to appoint governors from diverse backgrounds who bring extensive experience as employers and members of the college’s community.

“The dedicated colleges section of the SGOSS website, along with the IGA website, is an excellent way to complement the local recruitment strategies that many college boards have.”

Stephan Jungnitz, a colleges specialist for the ASCL, said: “Good governance can make all the difference to how well a college serves the community.

“Conversely, misguided or ill-judged governance can hamper leadership and thus diminish college effectiveness.

“Hopefully the launch of this alliance will encourage individuals with skills and experience to consider making an important contribution through volunteering to be a college governor.”

The IGA launch coincides with publication of a report by the University of Bath and the National Governors’ Association (NGA) that, based on a survey of more 7,500 governors across England, estimates the value of governors’ contribution to the education system as in excess of £1bn.

Emma Knights, chief executive of the NGA, said: “Governance, whether of the BBC, the Co-operative Bank or your local school, is very challenging, and only to be embarked on with your eyes wide open. The survey of school governors in England published today, the largest ever, reports that the majority of current volunteers have professional or management backgrounds. They volunteer because they are committed to making a difference to their communities.”

Sixth Form Colleges Association (SFCA) HR director Graham Baird said: “We welcome the new alliance and report from the University of Bath, launched today, and are currently working closely with sixth form colleges and key stakeholders to support and enhance the role of governance within all sixth form colleges.

“The recruitment and engagement to governing bodies of the best candidates with the right mix of knowledge, skills, experience and behaviours is key to meeting the current and future challenges facing college governance. We look forward to working closely with the IGA in taking this important work forward.”