DfE looking to appoint extra principals and consultants to ‘enable more colleges to be supported’

The FE Commissioner is recruiting more college leaders and governors to firm up the National Leaders of Governance and Further Education schemes.

The Department for Education reopened applications to the programmes today, and said candidates have until 11pm on 29 October 2019 to apply.

A spokesperson would not specify how many national leaders are being recruited, but said it will be a “small group” of additional members to “enable more colleges to be supported”.

Applicants for the governance scheme have to be the serving chair, governor or clerk of a college rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ for ‘overall effectiveness’ and ‘leadership and management’ in the most recent Ofsted inspection report.

An original cohort of governors, who are paid £300 a day for an estimated 50 days’ work a year, was recruited in 2018.

They work with the FE Commissioner to diagnose improvements in governance at a college, assist boards with designing improvement plans, and developing both the capacity and expertise of governors.

One national leader of governance, Andrew Baird, took over as chair at Hadlow College and Brooklands College this year.

This was after financial irregularities came to light at Hadlow before it went into administration, and Brooklands was engulfed in a subcontracting scandal which led to the ESFA demanding a £20 million clawback.

Applicants for the national leaders of further education scheme must be a serving principal of a general or specialist further education college or sixth-form college in England.

They will support grade three and four colleges which need to improve significantly in one or more areas, but are not paid for their role.

Expanding the FE Commissioner’s pool of experienced leaders and governors comes amid a period of financial turmoil for colleges, despite a £400 million funding boost announced by the chancellor in August.

The ESFA’s director of provider market oversight, Matthew Atkinson, tweeted in September: “Colleges are still running out of money.”

The current national leaders of governance, whose terms run out in November 2020, are:

  • Andrew Baird, governor at East Surrey College
  • Shirley Collier, governor, York College
  • Heather Cross, clerk, Wiltshire College
  • Carole Drury, clerk, Kendal College
  • Simon Perryman, governor, Barnsley College

The current national leaders of further education, whose terms run until December 2020, are:

  • Lindsey Whiterod, Tyne Coast College
  • Peter McGhee, St John Rigby College
  • Gill Alton, Grimsby Institute of Further and Higher Education
  • Lowell Williams, Dudley College of Technology
  • David Gleed, North Kent College
  • Graham Razey, EKC Group
  • Paul Phillips, Weston College