Further Education colleges, as exempt charities, are required to abide by Charity Commission legislation, but the Charity Commission are not the named regulator of colleges – this role is fulfilled by the Department of Education. The Charity Commission’s role is to ensure that the public can have confidence that colleges are being run in the public interest.
Governors are therefore also trustees and the Charity Commission expects trustees to take their responsibilities seriously. The Commission recognises that most trustees are volunteers who sometimes make honest mistakes. Trustees are not expected to be perfect - they are expected to do their best to comply with their duties. Charity law generally protects trustees who have acted honestly and reasonably.
Common areas of college business that require particular consideration of Charity Commission legislation, are paying of governors (Charity Commission approval must be sought) and disposing of land (obtain written advice, including a valuation, from a qualified surveyor before agreeing a sale or granting a lease for more than 7 years, and advertise the sale or lease unless the surveyor advises otherwise).
Further information on trustees responsibilities can be found in the Charity Commission's guidance The Essential Trustee.
Charity Code of Governance
It is the aim of the Charity Code of Governance to help charities and their trustees develop high standards of leadership and governance. The Code is a practical tool to help trustees achieve that. The Code is not a legal or regulatory requirement for charities, but includes principles and best practice for good governance, and is deliberately aspirational.
Charity Code Compliance Template
An example of a Charity code compliance chart can be downloaded below: