Exclusive: Successor to Network for Black and Asian Professionals launching tomorrow at Festival of Skills

A successor group to the defunct Network for Black and Asian Professionals (NBAP) will be launched tomorrow at the FE Week Festival of Skills.

The new organisation will be called The BAME Principals Group.

It will comprise serving principals and chief executives of FE institutions and chaired by Jat Sharma, who is an Association of Colleges board member and principal of Walsall College.

Leading roles will also be played by Andy Forbes and Anthony Bravo, principals of the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London and Basingstoke College of Technology.

They intend to fill the gap left by NBAP— which Rajinder Mann, who has helped facilitate the new organisation’s launch, ran until it was forced to fold late last year.

It will be launched tomorrow, on what will be the opening day of the Festival of Skills at Capel Manor College, North London.

Ms Mann (pictured above) told FE Week ahead of this: “I am pleased to see that the legacy of the NBAP will be carried forward.”

She added: “The importance of the race equality agenda has become highly relevant in the light of Brexit and we need a positive focus bringing together all the communities we serve in FE.”

Wolverhampton-based NBAP was set up in 1998 to address under-representation of black staff in FE, particularly in teaching, management and senior positions.

But FE Week exclusively revealed in November that it was closing “due to lack of funding”, as a result of “the current political environment and the austerity cuts in the public sector”.

In a letter to members at the time, Ms Mann wrote: “It is with deep sadness and regret that I am writing to inform you that the NBAP board has reluctantly resolved to close.”

“Despite numerous attempts to mitigate closure by cutting our staff and costs to the bone we can no longer sustain the organisation.”

The closure of the network came just six months after Ms Mann urged college leaders to make the promotion of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) principals a “priority”, as their numbers had fallen nearly 30 per cent in three years.

The Festival of Skills will be a two day CPD event for professionals working in the FE and skills sector.

It will bring together the best of FE’s forward thinking advocates, policy makers and educators, providing a space for sharing new ideas and debating the key topics impacting on the sector.

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One comment

  1. Mark Corden

    In a time when all organisations are under pressure for revenue and having to manage expenditure accordingly, the availability of funds to support other organisations, such as the NBAP reduces significantly and, after time leads to those organisations being financially unviable.

    There are quite a few, small, niche mission organisations in this sector. Most of which no longer receive any grant funding from a sponsor government department, and instead, have to function on donations or memberships from other organisations or individuals within an interest in the cause.

    I’m sure we’ll continue to see further examples of such organisations having to close. BUT, why does the sector feel the need to create legal entities and infrastructure – this leads to the need to find someone to pay for it.

    If there is indeed a cause which others feel is important, it’s worth considering an informal ‘movement’ or ‘alliance’ that doesn’t require infrastructure. Or, if it is going to have trading activities, try and co-opt resources ‘in kind’ from other organisations to administer it.

    There are also other models that effectively provide a contracted out membership service to small organisations – a much more cost effective way of running these types of organisations so that they can focus on advocating their cause rather than on managing a slow and painful erosion of their financial sustainability.