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.

News
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
people
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
News
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
News
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister
news

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

Latest stories from i100
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

Year 5 Teacher

£80 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Year 5 Teacher KS2 teaching job...

Teacher

£80 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: KS1 & 2 Supply teachers ur...

1-1 Teaching Assistant

£45 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Special Needs and 1-1 Learning ...

Year 4 Teachers needed for day to day and long term

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Pr...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album