Search on for top FE leaders to support struggling colleges

Search on for top FE leaders to support struggling colleges

High achieving FE leaders are being sought by the Education and Skills Funding Agency to support other colleges in need of improvement.

The National Leaders of FE programme, launched today, is part of a package of support for the sector first announced by education secretary Justine Greening in July which also included a £15 million college improvement fund.

The NLFE’s aim, according to today’s announcement, is “to engage and mobilise outstanding leaders within the further education sector to work with their peers in supporting improvement, so as to secure the best possible outcomes for learners at all colleges”.

Designation as an NLFE “will be prestigious” and will help “colleges to attract good quality staff, and to build strong relationships with employers”.

“Participation in the NLFE programme will offer principals and colleges the opportunity to develop the skills of senior staff through leading improvement projects, to work with other NLFEs as part of an active improvement network, and to transfer learning and experience from both back to their home college,” today’s announcement said.  

Anne Milton, apprenticeships and skills minister, said: “This country has fantastic leaders across the FE sector and we want to harness their ability to raise standards across the FE Sector.

“We want to make sure that improvements to schools are replicated in colleges. The National Leaders of FE can ensure this happens. I look forward to welcoming these leaders into this exciting programme.”

Leaders of colleges rated at least good overall, and in other key measures, at their most recent Ofsted inspection are invited to apply to the programme.

They will work with colleges rated as ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’, and that need to improve significantly in one or more areas. 

NLFEs will be tasked with working with the leadership team of the supported college to identify where they need to improve, providing strategic mentoring, or supporting the leadership team to deliver the improvement programme.

Each NLFE will be expected to commit at least 10 days to the role, and their own college will be provided with a £10,000 bursary by the Department for Education, to cover associated any costs.

The college being supported will be able to apply to the strategic college improvement fund – guidance for which has also been published today – for any work not covered by the bursary funds.

Announcing the NLFE programme in July, Ms Greening said it would “badge the best principals and senior leaders across FE”.

“These leaders will be empowered to spread their expert knowledge, as well as mentor and support weaker parts of the system.”

FE Commissioner Richard Atkins tweeted ahead of today’s government announcement.

“Am writing to College Principals this week inviting applications for FE Commissioner Ref Grp and NLFEs: opps to lead quality improvement,” he said.