Chairs' Leadership Programme

This programme is being delivered in conjunction with the Institute of Directors. The Chairs’ Leadership Programme provides a unique opportunity for college chairs and aspiring chairs to reflect on their role, develop their performance, and ultimately enhance the value they add to the board and their wider organisation. This will support the government’s strategy of developing a highly trained cadre of board members of FE and sixth form colleges, thereby enhancing performance and strengthening governance within the sector.

The programme enables Chairs to:

  • take time out to reflect on their role as governance leaders
  • identify ways in which they can further enhance the value they add to the Board and their wider organisation.

The programme is subsidised by the Department for Education (DfE), this is an indication of how much government values the role of the Chair and strong governance leadership in:

  • establishing and agreeing on the purpose of the college
  • directly influencing those who serve on the board
  • helping to set the conditions for long-term institutional resilience and success. 

Key benefits

The key benefits for chairs taking part are:

  • deepened understanding of the role of the Chair and the board in the context of broader trends within the FE and Training sector
  • greater self-awareness of personal leadership approach and enhanced impact
  • deeper and broader networks of peers within the FE sector and beyond
  • strengthened leadership capability within the organisation.

The key benefits for the organisation that the Chair leads are:

  • the development of more robust governance leadership and increased organisational resilience.
  • enhanced ability to establish conditions for success at the level of the Board, and to drive high performance through the wider organisation.
  • strengthened leadership capability between the organisation and external networks.
  • raising reputation and esteem at the level of the organisation.

Programme content

The programme explores governance leadership with a clear focus on the development of the Chair’s personal impact as a reflective leader of the Board and the wider organisation.

The programme consists of a 2.5 day residential programme followed by Action Learning Sets, in which there will be opportunities to hear from thought-leaders in the field of governance leadership and fellow practitioners from within and beyond the sector, with ample opportunity for debate, dialogue and reflection.

Sessions are designed to facilitate discussion and stimulate new thinking, to generate ongoing learning both in those with deep governance experience as well as those new to the role of Chair, to encourage the sharing of practice and knowledge, and to create new networks of governance leaders across the sector.

The content is based on these themes:

  • Purpose: the role of the Chair and the Board in ensuring that the organisation delivers on its purpose.
  • Performance: establishing high performance within the Board and within the broader organisation.
  • People: how the Board works successfully together and with the senior team and wider staff of the organisation.
  • Board dynamics, culture, and diversity.
  • Challenge and support: the relationships between Chair, Clerk and CEO.
  • Reputation and the role of the Chair and Board in establishing the capability and character of the organisation.
  • Sector changes and dynamics: the broader context and macro-trends.


“Thanks to my attendance on Modules 1 and 2 of the Chairs’ Leadership Programme, my confidence in handling the demanding and complex role of the Chair has greatly increased. The opportunity to step back, learn, reflect and discuss under the guidance and expertise of the outstanding course tutors along with other FE Chairs nationwide was inspirational. Positively addressing aspects of Board culture, developing my governance leadership in order to raise standards and expectations and enhancing our College reputation are welcome outcomes. The insights are given into recent government thinking and our college’s strategic development will greatly influence, energise and impact on my approach and actions in the future. Now having a national network of Chairs to consult is an added bonus. I strongly recommend the benefits of these courses for all Chairs be they newcomers or experienced hands.”

Lillian Croston
Chair of the Corporation, Blackburn FE College and University Centre

“I have thoroughly enjoyed and valued both modules of the Chairs’ Leadership Programme. It is a superb resource for Chairs as we navigate the complexities of our roles. Most recently, module 2 featured the best professional development that I have ever undertaken. It’s mix of highly-eminent contributors, a really engaged group of Chairs and the passion and skill of the team from Oxford Saïd Business School and the Education and Training Foundation made for a compelling two days.”

Mark White OBE DL
Chair, Education Training Collective