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Code of Good Governance

AoC Code of Good Governance 2023

This revision reflects our commitment to advancing governance practices in colleges across the sector and ensuring they align seamlessly with the unique challenges and opportunities faced by Further Education institutions.

The Journey So Far

The journey to this point has been marked by careful consideration and a desire for improvement:

- Originally issued in 2015, the code underwent thorough reviews in December 2018 and again in 2019.
- At 32 pages with 10 principles and numerous requirements, it had become unwieldy, often duplicating information found in other sources.
- We affectionately referred to it as the "Buckaroo Code," as we kept adding elements until it risked toppling over.

A Different Approach

With this new code, we are taking a different approach:

- Six fundamental principles form the core of this code, presented in the context of Further Education using sector-specific language.
- We emphasise sources of assurance, both internal and external, without it being an audit tool or checklist.
- It avoids unnecessary complexity, promoting autonomy, and flexibility.
- This code encompasses the entire organisation.
- It brings together structures, policies, processes, behaviours, and relationships, recognising their interdependence
- It is designed not to duplicate or repeat other documents but to serve as a signpost to relevant sources.

Six Governance Principles

The new code is centred around six Governance Principles:

1. Determination of organisational aims and strategic oversight.
2. Responsibility and accountability.
3. Leadership and integrity.
4. Collaboration and stakeholder engagement.
5. Regulatory compliance.
6. Board and organisational effectiveness.

What You Need to Know

- This is a governance code by the sector, for the sector, and it applies to all FE institutions.

- It aims to elevate governance standards, providing a basis for External Governance Reviews.

- It offers assurance to stakeholders and fulfils regulatory requirements.

How to Engage

We encourage every college to embrace this new code and welcome your feedback as you start using it. We are inviting colleges to volunteer as case studies, to report on their engagement and use of the code, that interest can be registered here. For any reporting related to the previous academic year, the previous AoC code will remain in place. We hope that all FE institutions to be using the code for academic year 2024-25.

Amendments to the Code - 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,

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).