The English Colleges' Code of Good Governance states in 5.1 that: 'The board must ensure that the college is responsive to the community and relevant employment trends including building strong two-way relationships with Local Enterprise Partnerships and other employer-led local groups. To facilitate student progression to further study or employment, the board should ensure the college has in place a range of strategies for engaging with employers and other stakeholders', and in 5.6 that: 'The board should publish on the college website (at least annually) an account of the college’s engagement with the main communities that it serves; the progress made towards meeting their needs for education and training and how it aims to meet future needs'. Colleges are also required to publish their arrangements for obtaining the views of students and staff. Being able to demonstrate, using practical examples, the impact on discussions and decision making at Board level that stakeholder engagement has had, is a key objective of stakeholder engagement and should form part of any stakeholder engagement report.
In 2011, Baroness Sharp oversaw the Independent Commission's report entitled, A dynamic nucleus: colleges at the heart of local communities.
The ICSA and The Investment Association have drawn up a guide on the stakeholder voice in Board Decision Making.
Stakeholder Engagement Maturity Matrix
The Good Governance Institute’s new stakeholder engagement maturity matrix outlines nine key elements of communicating, engaging and building relationships with core organisations and individuals. It can be used for whole organisations or for specific programmes of work and aligns with public, third and private sector organisations. It provides clear steps on how to progress and improve in each of these areas.
This practical tool enables boards and communications teams to identify their current level of progress against each key competency, to determine where they want to get to in the next 12 months in each area and how to get there.
The matrix outlines the following core elements for assessment:
- Stakeholder identification and awareness
- Relationship development
- Strategic management
- Systems, processes and procedures
- Skills and capacity
- Feedback and improvement
The Stakeholder Maturity Matrix can be downloaded here.
Stakeholder Engagement Plan considerations & Guidance Note
Increasing an understanding and engagement of stakeholders allows organisations to be more confident in their strategy and the value they want to create, as well as tell their story more effectively. It helps an organisation build trust and make informed decisions which ensure that the senior leadership – the executive team and governing body – remain transparent and focused on purpose and strategic oversight.
Considerations of what to include in a Stakeholder Engagement plan can be downloaded below.
Stakeholder Engagement Reporting - considerations
When reporting on stakeholder engagement, either through a formal statement on a website or as part of your annual reporting, there are some key points to consider. A list of these can be found below.
The English Colleges’ Code of Good Governance states at 1.10 that: The board may wish to go further and amplify the mission along the lines of a ‘public benefit statement’, describing how the college aims to add value to the social, economic and physical well-being of the communities it serves.
The College Accounts Direction states in Annex D: Specific accounting and disclosure matters, that the corporation must provide a statement that it has had due regard for Charity Commission’s guidance ‘charitable purposes and public benefit’. It must also provide a report on how the corporation has delivered its charitable purposes for the public benefit.
The Charity Commission has published guidance on public benefit and example reporting.
Students should be at the heart of the FE system and learners perspectives provide key insight into college life, giving leadership and management vital feedback to use in the improvement of the service colleges offer. The English Colleges' Code of Good Governance states in 3.5 that: The board must have close regard to the voice of its students and the quality of the student experience, which should be central to all board decisions.
The Instrument & Articles of Government require for there to be staff governors on a college's governing body. However, the DfE make it quite clear that staff governors are not participating as representatives for the staffing body. The governing body therefore needs to ensure that there are clear processes in place to genuinely take staff views into account when making strategic discussions. An effective communications strategy is integral to harness the expertise of all staff and create a shared sense of purpose and vision to implement the College’s strategic objectives.
The Corporation, as the employer of staff, has responsibility for the staffing body as a whole.
Ofsted seek under the leadership and management judgement:
- the extent to which leaders consider the workload and well-being of their staff, while also developing and strengthening the quality of the workforce
Employee Engagement in Further Education - A research report from the Involvement and
Participation Association (IPA), commissioned by Association of Colleges
Further education colleges became independent corporations under the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 (the 1992 Act). The specific powers of further education corporations are set out in Sections 18 (principal powers) and 19 (supplementary powers) of the 1992 Act. The relevant provisions in the 1992 Act as amended are s19(4) and (8) which provides as follows in relation to the powers of a further education corporation to participate or invest in a company or charitable incorporated organisation:
19(4) A further education corporation may—
(a) form, participate in forming, or invest in a company,
(b) form, participate in forming or otherwise become a member of a charitable incorporated
There are a number of reasons which colleges give for the creation and use of companies. A college may have seen benefit in delivering an educational programme by establishing a company with other partners in order to deliver the programme. In other cases a company may have been created to enable the college to distinguish, in particular to the HMRC, between charitable educational activities and those on offer for commercial purposes. Other reasons which colleges have presented for establishing companies include:
a) purchasing power – some colleges have set up a company as a vehicle for jointly procuring certain services
b) improved clarity – it is believed, by colleges, that the creation of a special purpose vehicle such as a company gives greater clarity and focus to the activity and provides for improved accountability
c) marketing advantage – although many colleges undertake commercial activities directly, some colleges perceive that the marketing effectiveness of the activity may be enhanced if the same activity is undertaken through a college company;
d) Name protection – to prevent another organisation from registering a company with the name in question
e) Joint venture – a college may establish a company to carry out a joint venture with other bodies
A guidance note on governance aspects of having a subsidiary company, is available for download below.