Background

The role of the Chair of Finance / Board member with lead responsibility for finance is demanding and their role needs to be clear from the outset. FE funding is complex and there is a need to understand the key drivers and the greatest risk areas.

In recent years OFSTED, the FE Commissioner and the National Audit Office have identified college finances, and the financial health of the FE sector, as serious concerns. In response, the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) has commissioned PublicCo, Collab Group and AELP to design and deliver a unique training programme targeting the needs of the sector and, more importantly, the needs of governors and Board members with responsibility for finance.

As part of our development process we surveyed sector stakeholders, researched and analysed the common concerns raised in Ofsted and FE Commissioner reports, talked to sector leaders and ran a testing workshop.

Research and survey findings

The findings from analysis of Ofsted and FE Commissioner reports identified several key areas of concern with regard to scrutiny of college finances and helped inform a structured interview with sector stakeholders to draw out further areas of focus for the training.

We synthesised our desktop research, stakeholder interview and survey findings to identify priority topics and determine our course structure and contents which supports delegates to:

• Get the best out of their relationship with the CFO, wider management team and fellow Governors to be effective;

• Ask the right questions of management, based on a good understanding of the key funding drivers and risk areas;

• Take a long-term view and ensure investment decisions align to the agreed strategic direction of the College;

• Understand more about finance and funding in the FE sector and;

• Support the finance team to improve the level of financial insight provided to the Finance Committee and wider Board.

Feedback and recommendations

Strong feedback has been given by sector leaders on the materials developed for this training. Sector leaders reviewing the materials said they fill a real gap in available resources and development opportunities, that the course is different from anything else available, is engaging and brings the topic to life. The training gives great examples of questions Governors need to ask and understand.

Registering for the course, or tailored training

The training will be delivered through four online learning modules for easy accessibility, followed by a half-day plenary session. The plenary gives delegates the opportunity to learn from each other by sharing knowledge and best practice; build peer networks and; embed the learning undertaken online. Booking is open now for these sessions in Bristol, London, Manchester, Birmingham and Sheffield. Organisations also have the option to purchase this training for the whole governing body, in which training and course materials are tailored to the college.

To discuss this option contact colette.macduff@publicco.co.uk.

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