Governance4FE's External Board Review Service
We believe every board has the potential to become great. Our external board review is delivered as a supportive process, to improve and develop governance, and not as an additional inspection. Our review will identify what is working well and how to build on that, as well as priorities for improvement, providing support on recommended actions.
The GREAT framework is developed on an evidence base gained over three decades of working with multiple boards, alongside academic study.
The framework takes into consideration:
In our experience, boards consist of members who are accomplished, smart, intelligent, and are committed to contributing as much as they can to the success of the institution. Whilst there is no 'right' way to carry out external board reviews, we believe that the greatest impact and value is achieved through one-to-one interviews with all those who operate in the governance space. This provides the greatest opportunity to set up a constructive discussion by the board on what is going well and areas where it could be doing something different that would make it even more effective. This process leads to greater impact than simply completing a questionnaire and getting a scorecard. These interviews are highly tailored to the issues each board is dealing with. Questions are circulated in advance to give each participant time to think on the issue, form constructive comments, and begin to find solutions. The level of engagement of members is consistently higher with this approach (rather than simply scoring perceived performance), creating a bias for action.
However, should an institution have a strong preference for a scorecard approach, we provide tailored questionnaires which give a detailed data based report.
For both approaches, our reviewer can lead a facilitated session with the Board to discuss the findings of the report, debate and agree actions, and the opportunity for further support to assist in the implementation of those actions.
The review seeks to facilitate the desired outcomes of good governance as laid out in the ISO37000 standard of governance:
- Effective performance
- Ethical behaviour
- Responsible stewardship
The aim is to develop mature governance - a board that fully understands its legal and governance duties, delivers them effectively, assesses them regularly, and learns continuously.
Our framework and methodology considers, but is not limited to, the Ofsted Framework, the ETF Governance Maturity Matrix, principles from Codes of Governance, the DfE Governance guide, the Charity Commission's Essential Trustee guide; and the Financial Reporting Council's Board Effectiveness guide.
We work in accordance with the DfE's current guidance on External Board Reviews and the Chartered Governance Institute's Code of Practice for board reviewers
The Investment Package
College boards are required by their funding agreements and code compliance, to undertake an external review of governance every 3 years and an annual internal self-assessment of governance, which could include a review and reflection of individual members' contribution and board impact, together with compliance on regulatory and statutory matters. As part of our external governance review, we give you the option to purchase access to our sophisticated software tools to support you with data based evidence, through this continual cycle of review, reflection, and development, whilst delivering outstanding value for money.
External Board Review
External Board Review
Individual governor review
Governance compliance audit
Governance Professional review
The investment required for the above services are provided upon request. We offer a discount to any college currently in financial intervention. Please contact email@example.com to find out more.
Unlimited access to the review and audit software tools are given for a period of 3 years when an institution signs up for Option 2 of an external review of governance.
Competence & Capacity
Having first stepped into the boardroom 30 years ago in a company secretarial capacity at a listed multi-national, and subsequently supported boards in the not-for-profit and education sectors as a governance professional; group company secretary; and governance consultant and trainer, Fiona Chalk has extensive experience of what's required to bring about effective boardroom practice. With qualifications in governance and leadership through The Chartered Governance Institute; experience of being a governor/trustee in multiple not-for-profits; and a current college governor, she has extensive knowledge of and expertise in both structural and behavioural governance. Previously being National Head of Governance Development at the Education and Training Foundation, Fiona played a key role in the DfE sponsored Board Review pilot programme, and has undertaken reviews across the education sector. Her deep knowledge of the FE & Skills sector means she understands institutions' priorities and those of their stakeholders. Throughout her executive career, Fiona has developed effective communication, personal and interpersonal skills to support all those operating in the boardroom, with tact and discretion. She is a regular speaker and panel member at national and international forums and conferences, on a variety of governance topics.
To ensure we can meet each college's requirements for an external board review, we dedicate up to 10 working days for completion of each review.
'Following external intervention which saw the recruitment of a new Principal, Chair, and Governance Professional within a short period of time, Fiona played a crucial role through undertaking a governance review and further support, in ensuring our governance was built on firm foundations. Her unassuming, supportive, and knowledgeable manner, instilled confidence in us and our ability to continue to strengthen governance and give the necessary assurance to our stakeholders'.
Chair of Governors
(Further testimonials can be found here).
Independence & Integrity
We strive to operate in a way that is fair, transparent, and free from bias or undue influence. Where we perceive there to be any conflict, we will declare, manage, and mitigate it at the earliest possible opportunity. We identify independence as a vital ingredient in ensuring the integrity of our services. We firmly believe that our ability to demonstrate absolute independence is crucial to our ability to influence and enhance governance standards, without compromise.
An external review of governance achieves best results when it is objective and therefore we limit our relationship with every client for whom we carry out external governance reviews, to 6 years and require a minimum of one such review to be undertaken by another party before we consider re-engagement for this type of review.
Subsequent to acceptance of a proposal and prior to commencing an external governance review, we issue written terms of engagement that clearly lay out the following:
- The lead person within the college
- The scope and methodology of the review
- Access to people and policies
- Deliverables - timescales and required investment of money and time
- Any follow up work that may be undertaken
- A confidentiality agreement
- Any conflict of interest and how it will be managed
We recognise that there is no single method for achieving effective governance and an important contribution we make comes from our ability to share, without compromising confidentiality or our independence, our insights from working alongside and in, a variety of different institutions within and beyond the education sector.
Every institution has an obligation to report on the actions recommended as part of an external governance review and may, at the request of regulators, be required to give a detailed report on the findings of the review. We require agreement from each institution that the reviewer have an opportunity to comment on the factual accuracy of any disclosure by the institution to regulators about the governance review, prior to such disclosure being made public.
To start a conversation on governance reviews with us, please use the contact details below: