Governance Development Programme

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This DfE-funded Governance Development Programme (GDP) is aimed at developing the skills of both new and existing board members and, where appropriate, clerks/company secretaries in Further Education and Sixth Form Colleges. Some elements may also be applicable to other types of FE providers. The Education and Training Foundation (ETF) has commissioned the Association of Colleges (AoC) to develop this comprehensive training programme for college governors.

Guide to the ETF Governance Development Programme

Governance Development Programme Module Overview

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The GDP provides a structured yet flexible approach to learning and development for all board members as well as governance professionals/clerks. The programme can either be used as individuals begin their roles or for experienced members of governing bodies and governance professionals to develop to become more specialised in order to add substantial value to the organisations and students which they serve. 

The GDP includes online courses, podcasts, self-directed study resources, face-to-face sessions, shadowing and coaching modules.

Bookings are now open and free to FE Colleges and Sixth Form Colleges. To enquire about booking your governors onto the Governance Development Programme please email

GDP Overview Completion Checklist

To enable colleges to have the right information to transfer to our new learning platform FutureLearn, we have created a GDP Overview Checklist that governors can use to check off the courses they have completed so far and include in their individualised portfolio.

Please download and use this document for your record keeping.

Key features

The specific aims of the Governance Development Programme are to:

  • ensure board members are equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to fulfil their responsibilities 
  • provide a comprehensive and structured approach to board member induction and their ongoing development
  • ensure clerks/company secretaries are equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to provide high-quality support for governance to their organisation
  • develop the necessary skills and behaviours so that boards operate effectively, and board members can provide support and challenge to senior leaders and the wider organisation
  • support board members to draw on their previous experience to add value to the wider board
  • provide a diagnostic assessment, utilising a skills audit, for board members to build relevant learning plans. 

Events and inductions

Regional governance events

ETF funds regional governance events which are run by AoC.

Student governor inductions

ETF fund student governor inductions.

Staff governor support

Each year, the ETF supports the annual staff governors conference with representatives for the sector, trade unions (UNISON, UCU) and AoC, this is usually held in late November/early December. Watch out for further information.

We value diversity and inclusion and are committed to providing and representing equal opportunities, therefore we particularly welcome participants who reflect the wider communities we serve.

We recognise that the evidence shows that often people from minority groups may feel less confident about putting themselves forward for a programme such as this. With this in mind, we are keen to hear from people with a wide range of experiences and backgrounds to enrich the discussion and debate.

Safeguarding for Governors modules

The ETF provides new and up to date courses in Safeguarding, Prevent and Advancing Equality for all those who work or engage with the FE and Training sector. These are now available for all to sign up to use. Once the new Governance Development Programme is launched in May 2022 (as a free course), there will also be safeguarding courses specifically tailored for Governors and Governance Professionals. These will be signposted to on this webpage.