The Importance of Effective Governance

The Governing Boards in Post-16 education organisations come in various shapes and sizes.  Colleges and Universities establish Boards which reflect the requirements of their Instrument and conduct their business in accordance with their Articles.

The Board of a College would typically be made up of 12 – 16 external appointees, 2 – 3 elected staff and student members and 1 executive member, the College Principal (though they often give themselves much more grandiose titles these days).

The College Board structure is what we would call the ‘traditional’ model for Post-16 and has a clear and obvious focus on transparency, process and community engagement (and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that).

Private Training Providers (companies limited by shares) generally do not have the same community purpose as a college and will more often than not construct a Board with the knowledge and experience needed to drive a mission or vision.  The Board of a training provider will have more of a focus on the achievement of objectives than it will transparency and public accountability (again nothing wrong with the Board having a different emphasis of purpose).

The Board of a training provider will often be ‘advisory’ to the owners (i.e. have no authority to make binding decisions) and will often be made up of 2 – 4 executive members (staff) and 1 – 2 external independent members to provide additional knowledge support and challenge.

Ofsted now expect to see Boards in place, but the expectations are more than that.  In Self-Assessing the make-up and performance of your own Board, it’s worth considering the following :

  • Governors must be seen to be challenging leaders and managers
  • Governors must hold leaders and managers to account
  • Governors need to support leaders and managers
  • Governors should be knowledgeable
  • Governors should check what they are being told
  • Governors must provide ‘independent scrutiny’


Solvendis support over 30 organisations at Board level and run regular seminars and workshops on Effective Governance in the sector.