John Bingham: 'Governors are having more impact and reporting greater job satisfaction than before'

Chair of the Board, The Association of Colleges (AoC)

Often, people who are thinking about becoming a college governor spend little time considering how the institutions work and are directed before they decide to join a board. Most become governors because they want to put something back in to their community. They possess knowledge or skills that will benefit staff and the students they serve, and quite understandably they don't focus their thoughts too much on the intricacies of further education and the instruments and articles of governance.

But on joining a board, they must quickly become familiar with specialist knowledge. Unfortunately, the information, training and support offered to prospective, new (and, to a certain extent, existing) governors have often been limited and dependent on individual colleges. In many respects, there has been a tendency to assume that governors will ask questions of areas they need to know about. The sector needs to address this issue and provide more all-round support for them. The creation of the Governors' Council by the Association of Colleges is at last set to change all this by providing guidance and assistance that governors tell us they need. The result is that governors are already having a greater impact – and reporting greater job satisfaction – than they had in the past.

I'm not suggesting that college governors are crying out for help. In some ways, it's almost insulting to suggest they need to be trained at all in certain areas. A local business person who decides to become a college governor, for example, is unlikely to need training in the area of strategy, finance or business, but they may need help grasping the idiosyncrasies of college funding rules. While existing training already provides this to a certain extent, the new Governors' Council offers a number of ways in which governors will be able to explore this topic in greater detail, should they so wish. Many do. After all, the defining roles of college governors – setting strategic direction, ensuring accountability, and monitoring and evaluating college performance – require, at least in part, knowledge around how college funding streams can best be utilised.

New governors are provided with inductions specific to their institution by the majority of colleges, but some governors are increasingly expressing an interest in more generic training, so that they can learn more about other colleges and how they work, as well as gain a better appreciation of the college sector in general. Similarly, governors have told us they would like to be better briefed on the wider political context in which further education sits.

Even though the Governors' Council was only formed last year, it has already started to make an impact. We have introduced, or in a few instances revived, national and regional networks. Governors say they are benefiting enormously from better links with other colleges, and for the first time feel as though there is genuine joined-up thinking. We have produced a new national briefing system for governors that includes important information on national developments affecting colleges, and we have been instrumental in ensuring that governors are invited to the special events and seminars that have previously been seen as primarily for college principals.

There has long been an emphasis on chairs of governors, simply because they sit at the helm of all other governors. What is crucially different is that this emphasis is being extended such that all governors are now being provided for.

There's no doubt that being a college governor is time-consuming, demanding and carries responsibilities, but those who take on the role speak passionately about the unrivalled satisfaction of seeing for themselves the tangible benefits of determining the overall pattern of the college's provision and then making sure that everyone within the college does their bit to make it happen. Such a job allows governors to bring innovative ideas to the table, and they get to see the results of their work in action.

Any governor will tell you that there's nothing like attending a college presentation event, where they see the huge impact that colleges make on the lives of individuals from all walks of life. The Governors' Council will hopefully increase this sense of pride to an even greater extent and improve the support for governors to the level they need and deserve.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Isis fighters travel in a vehicle as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
Travel
travel
Life and Style
The veteran poverty campaigner Sir Bob Geldof issues a stark challenge to emerging economies at the Melbourne HIV/Aids conference
health
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and John Malkovich talk Penguins of Madagascar at Comic-Con
comic-con 2014Cumberbatch fans banned from asking about Sherlock at Comic-Con
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
filmGuardians Of The Galaxy should have taken itself a bit more seriously, writes Geoffrey Macnab
News
Sir Chris Hoy won six Olympic golds - in which four events?
news
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Geography Teacher

£21804 - £31868 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an enthusias...

Maths Teacher

£120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an enthusiastic Maths Tea...

English Teacher

£21804 - £31868 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a dynamic En...

Year 5 Teacher

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to wo...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform