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Hot Topics

Each month, we cover relevant and engaging subjects creating conversation in the sector.

May 2024

Ministers response to MP proposing right to paid volunteering leave

Charity Minister Stuart Andrew has responded to MPs proposal for right to paid volunteering leave.

To read the full response, please click here.

Empowering student-governor collaboration through speed networking

Please see this article from Advance HE on speed networking for students and governors: Empowering student-governor collaboration through speed networking | Advance HE (

The Charity Commission: Refusing/returning donations

The Charity Commission has shared the new guidance about refusing or returning donations:

New guidance for charities facing decisions about donations - GOV.UK (

Updated FE governance guide - 12 February 2024

Some updates have been published to the FE governance guide. These are:

1. Local skills improvement plans (Compliance section) – link to statutory guidance added

2. Duty to review provision (Compliance section) – updated to reflect policy changes which have been published separately. Specifically:

– publication of the accountability statement in part 2 of the accountability agreement, rather than an as a separate document; and

– the recommended frequency of review has been changed to annual.

3. Governance reviews (Risk management and assurance section) – reference added to an annual governance self-assessment not being needed in the year of an external governance review (this is already covered elsewhere – it is for clarification and is not new).

4. Principal and senior recruitment (The college section) – amended for clarification as per the changes previously discussed, save for a very small difference arising from editing.

5. Further reading – new material added to Positive behaviours and Estate management.

UK Corporate Code of Governance 2024

The updated UK Corporate Code of Governance has been published. It will apply to financial years beginning on or after 1 January 2025.

Political activities for charities and organisations

As it's known that there will be a general election at some point by January 2025, please acquaint yourself with the restrictions on political activities for charities and organisations in receipt of government funding.

There is an overview of the position regarding political activities in the Compliance section of the FE governance guide. Boards are encouraged to familiarise themselves in particular with:

ESFA Update further education: 20 December 2023

The recent ESFA update can be found here: ESFA Update further education: 20 December 2023

School and further education inspections to begin from 22 January

In Ofsted news, inspections of schools and further education providers in England will begin from 22 January, following mental health awareness training for all lead inspectors. Read more here.

ESFA Updated Guidance: Duty to review

The updated guidance can be found here: ESFA college and local authority accountability agreements - GOV.UK ( and an article will be included in the ESFA bulletin to le the sector know.

AoC Governance Finance Masterclass Series

The governance finance masterclass series has now launched. Please see the details below.

AoC Governance Finance Masterclass Series – Winter 2024
Time & Date: 9 January, 16:30-18:00 – 6 February
Venue: Online

AI Reports

The DfE has published two reports on AI/jobs/training/skills. Please see the links below

The impact of AI on UK jobs and training - GOV.UK (

AI analysis of local skills improvement plans - GOV.UK (

Future Charity Chairs Research Project

The Bayes Business School/Centre for Charity Effectiveness research project on future charity chairs is looking for chairs to take part in discussion groups in December.

There are further details here: Future Charity Chair Discussion Groups (

AoC Code of Good Governance - wording change

In response to feedback from the DfE, we will be making the following changes to the wording in the Code.

The second bullet point under Behaviours in Principle 3: Leadership and integrity, currently reading 'Externally appointed governors keep their independence,' will be updated to 'Governors must remain impartial and act with objectivity.'

The changes can be found here.

DfE Finance Record

The DfE have published an updated finance record template: College accounts direction - GOV.UK (

Please draw attention to questions 11a and b, regarding governance reviews, in the miscellaneous section of the
finance record.

FE Governance Guide – Investments

Adjustments have been made to the investments section (under Financial and estate management) of the FE governance guide. This is in the wake of the Charity Commission's updated investments guidance.

Please find the exact changes made to the investments section below.

Workforce/Governor Data Collection

The ESFA have issued a reminder regarding the workforce/governor data collection. Please find it in item 4 of the ESFA newsletter: ESFA Update further education: 18 October 2023 - GOV.UK (

The Charity Commission - Charities and social media

The DfE have shared a guidance on how to understand how your legal duties are relevant to your charity’s use of social media.

Please read the guidance here.

The Chartered Governance Institute - Governance Reviews Service

The Chartered Governance Institute has announced new support regarding governance reviews

It has revised its 'Code of Practice for Board Reviews' and has published a guidance note on reporting on reviews (for listed companies but useful for reference).

From September, it will offer training and accreditation for reviewers, together with workshops/toolkits/templates for commissioners of governance review services.

You can find out more here: Board Performance Review (

Digital Skills/Strategy

Please see below for digital advice and support service for charities/the 3rd sector. This has a range of free resources and advice which may be of interest:

Catalyst - digital advice and support for UK non-profits (

Report on Charity Digital Skills:

The 2023 Charity Digital Skills Report is live - Zoe Amar Digital

OFQUAL: Letter to governors and trustees about qualification results 2023

Please see the link to a letter from Ofqual to all college governors and trustees about this years upcoming results.

Letter to governors and trustees: Qualification results 2023

DfE Update: Adopting a new business (trading) name

The DfE's guidance for FE on changing the name of an institution has been updated to reflect the new powers of the Charity Commission (working name is) under the Charities Act 2022.

These powers are now in force. You can find the guidance here.

Curriculum Efficiency Benchmarking Tool

As part of the FE Commissioner's package of help and support for colleges, a new benchmarking tool was released in March using data collected in the 2022 Finance Record (FR22).

Known as 'Compare your curriculum efficiency', the tool includes a range of curriculum efficiency measures which have never previously been available to colleges as a national data set (the tool is distinct from the ESFA financial benchmarking tool). By selecting a menu of ‘family groups’, colleges can compare themselves against relevant data sets.

Due to the sensitivity of curriculum planning data, the benchmarking results have been anonymised so that confidentiality is preserved for this section. All colleges can access the tool in View Your Education Data.

Charities Act 2022 – Implementation Update

The Charity Commission has published an update on the implementation of the Charities Act 2022: Charities Act 2022: information about the changes being introduced

The only point of immediate relevance to exempt charities is the change to the rules on charity names. These rules will be extended to working names. The Charity Commission will, in consultation with the principal regulator, be able to direct an exempt charity to change its working name in certain circumstances.

The Commission will publish guidance at the point these parts of the legislation come into effect in June. The DfE will also update its names guidance around the same time.

Announcement of funding for FE professional development – teachers, leadership, governance

DfE has announced funding for the professional development of leaders, governors and governance professionals, plus teachers. There is a link to the DfE tweet below and the communications script is also attached for info.

The link to the DfE tweet can be found below. Please also find attached the communications script for information.

Department for Education on Twitter: "For new further education teachers, a guiding hand from a mentor like Jason can make all the diffe
rence. That is why we are investing £14m in professional development for FE teachers, leaders and governors - bringing out the best in them, to bring out the best in learners.''

Bite-sized guides to aid colleges in meeting new requirements following reclassification

The DfE published a series of guides to assist colleges in achieving the reclassification requirements. Please click here to find out more.

College staff are strongly encouraged to read this guidance and must take any actions necessary resulting from the new arrangements.

16 to 19 funding: information for 2023 and 2024

The guidance on 16 to 19 funding for 2023/24 has been released. The guidance shows the updates and changes that will made to the funding in the next academic year. Please click here to find out more.

ONS Reclassification

We sent out a lot of information on 29 November about the ONS decision to reclassify colleges and DfE’s response.

Our member alert and all the links are available on the public part of our website here:

These slides address the specific governance aspects of this development.

To view all our upcoming events and webinars, please visit our website.

Further Education Estates Planning Guidance

The DfE has released a guidance on estates planning. Please click here to find out more.

FAQs for Governance Development Programme

The ETF has published FAQs onto the Governance Development Programme webpage. This document has some guidance for participants and also includes instructions on how governors can share their progress with GPs both (in written and video form).

The FAQs is a document that ETF will keep adding to over the next year, as new queries do come in.

Future Learn FAQs

Please contact the Governance Team for further information.