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Code of Good Governance

On 31 March 2015 AoC Governors’ Council published the new Code of Good Governance for English Colleges

An introductory letter from the Chair of AoC and the Chair of AoC Governors’ Council, and the Code itself are available below.

(please note amendments to code below) The Code contains:

  • An initial statement of the core values and expectations that provide the context for the way in which college governance is conducted.
  • The 10 governance principal responsibilities that support the values and are vital to successful implementation.
  • More detailed consideration of each principal responsibility.
  • A list of references and links to source documents and good practice examples.

The Code of Good Governance for English Colleges is intended to help governing boards meet and exceed basic governance requirements. As autonomous bodies, individual colleges are free to adopt the Code as they see fit. AoC suggests that colleges may wish to consider adopting the code at their summer board meeting.

The code has been developed through a sector-wide process of consultation and replaces the Foundation Code. In the first stage of this, AoC held a series of development workshops attended by over 240 governors, senior leaders and clerks. Drafts of the Code were shared with relevant departments and agencies. Following this, the resulting draft Code was made available through an open consultation process, in which more than 160 colleges participated.

AoC would like to thank all those who gave their time to contribute.

Amendments to the Code - updated January 2019

As we knew in March 2015 when we introduced the AoC Code of Good Governance for English Colleges (AoC Code), from time to time the AoC Code would need to be amended, to respond to the development of the sector and the wider context in which colleges work.

We have amended the AoC Code at Section 9 Good Governance, Remuneration of Senior Post Holders (9.9 and 9.10) which introduces a Colleges Senior Post Holder Remuneration Code (Remuneration Code).

Amendments to the Code - updated September 2021

As part of the cycle of regular reviews, an updated version of the AoC Code of Good Governance for English Colleges is being made available for colleges to take account of. However, there is no expectation that colleges report against the new version until 2022/23 academic year. The previous version of the Code will remain available for colleges to use until July, 2022.

The Governors’ Council recognises that there will be a need for a further, more wide-ranging review of the Code. The legal report that was commissioned, and made available below, has also highlighted this need, which the Council will consult on in due course. The Council will undertake a major review of the Code once the changes from the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill have been implemented and there is an understanding of how these changes impact on governance forms and college board duties. With the next review, the expectation is that a thorough consultation will take place with members, government agencies and other sector stakeholders to develop a more accessible and streamlined governance code for the FE sector.

The overarching objective of this review was to ensure the Code provides the appropriate standards and expectations for colleges in the current context. In addition, the Governors' Council's remit focused on three main areas:

  • Streamlining the code (reducing repetition and simplifying language)
  • Updating links to key policies and information to ensure that these are as current as possible
  • Incorporating a stronger focus on EDI and environmental sustainability within the code as a direct response to changes in the policy landscape and members’ requests.

Key changes to note:

  • Review of the wording of the provisions in each principle
  • Introduction of Environmental Sustainability principle
  • Update of EDI principle
  • Governance Review principle combined with Governance Structure principle
  • Full integration of the SPH Remuneration Code. Therefore, to be compliant with the Code, colleges must adopt or have due regard for the Remuneration Code. As with any other principle or expectation, this will be on a ‘comply or explain’ basis.

If you have any questions, please contact, governance@aoc.co.uk.