The Skills for Jobs White Paper clearly signalled an intent to strengthen governance and a desire to layout clearer definitions of good governance, and the expectations of those who operate within the governance arena.
Research within the sector has previously found the lack of clarity around the purpose, structure, and process of FE governance, to be a key hindrance to moving forward along the path to good and effective governance.
Alongside Codes of Governance and other regulatory requirements set to define governance within FE, there is room for further support and developmental documents to enhance the understanding of both the what and how of good and effective governance.
To this end, the ETF in conjunction with the sector and sponsored by the Department for Education, has developed competency frameworks for the chair, governor, and governance professional (clerk) and a governance maturity matrix.
Academic research is in agreement that a key element of effective governance is a board’s ability to review and reflect on its own performance, and to act on those findings.
This matrix is a practical tool for reflection on current organisational performance against a range of indicators of good governance, and it demonstrates how boards can develop governance to a level of maturity that makes it both impactful and sustainable.
These standards are based on knowledge and evidence gained from the further education sector, together with findings drawn from other areas of the education sector, the charity sector, and the corporate sector.
The matrix allows progress to be assessed in a nuanced, consistent and effective way over time. An initial assessment against the matrix will provide a clear indicator of the relative maturity of governance.
A current assessment can be built on by setting a maturity target, which is the level of maturity the college would want to achieve within an agreed period (from six months to within two years). The board can then put in place a developmental programme to facilitate a strengthening of institutional governance and leadership over a longer period of time.
The dynamic nature of the modern board and other leadership positions within a further education institution, increases the need to quickly assimilate an effective governance model. This governance maturity matrix represents a pathway that is in keeping with this need.