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Raising the status of governance professionals

06 April 2017

For those working in college governance, we know how important a role it is. Sometimes though, it hasn’t always had the profile it deserves. That seems to be changing. If nothing else, Lord Nash, the Minister for Schools in the House of Lords, highlighted the importance of qualified governance professionals supporting college boards during a recent Parliament debate on the Technical and Further Education Bill. These comments chime with what the Association of Colleges (AoC) has been saying for some time: an effective clerk or company secretary is a must have for colleges. This is particularly true in a post-area review climate with some 50 proposed mergers. Added to that, the increasing commercialisation and significant changes in funding, curriculum and quality for colleges means the role of the governance professional is even more complex and demanding. Recently, however, there has been a lack of funded professional development and a clear career path for clerks. That’s why AoC has been working with the National Clerks Network to look to remedy the situation. This has included producing sample career path information and model job descriptions, and negotiating a preferential rate with BPP Jersey for the ICSA Level 6 Advanced Certificate in Corporate Governance. As a result, AoC has been commissioned by the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) to deliver a development programme for governance professionals. This will include: A face-to-face induction course for new governance professionals, delivered over two separate days in autumn 2017 and tailored to the level of expertise of participants. A national Governance Professional Summit – 13 June, Birmingham, which will feature interactive discussions tailored to experience and cover topics such as governance structures and models post area review, legal framework and liability, and funding changes and their impact on mission and vision. A series of best practice webinars. Secure online discussion forums tailored to each programme element and facilitated by experienced governance professionals. Final online assessment leading to certificate of completion. This programme will support all governance professionals in a changing landscape which requires increasing professionalism. Additionally, it will prepare governance professionals new to the sector to continue their professional journey and support those who wish to progress towards a professional qualification. We want to develop the content to meet actual training and development needs, so we have produced a self-assessment questionnaire for governance professionals. We believe this is an opportunity to reset the status of governance professionals and ensure the sector has the governance support it needs in the years ahead. David Walker is the Director of Governance for the Association of Colleges.