Leadership in further education
This study is concerned with the leadership of the post-incorporation college of further education. The aim is to determine the leadership attributes and role of the principal/chief executive of the newly incorporated colleges and the influence of the corporation and external factors on this role. The 1992 Further and Higher Education Act gave a statutory duty to the principal to lead staff in the college; what it did not do was define that role. The Act was farreaching in its ramifications for the further education sector as it removed colleges from the management structure of the Local Education Authority and converted them into corporate, charitable organisations with autonomous governing bodies, variously called corporations, corporation members or, board members. These corporations were given responsibility for not only the financial status of the college but also for the selection and support of the principal. The principal in turn becomes the Chief Executive Officer(CEO) to the corporation, an unfamiliar business role as well as the traditional leader of the college. With reference to the literature the historical context of the Act and its impact has been researched and the influence and ideologies for the changes have been identified. The identity, reputation and responsibilities of the further education colleges have all been enhanced in part as a result of the Act and partly as the result of a demanding Further Education Funding Council(FEFC) which are at the interface between the government and the colleges and are the financial masters of the sector. The change models for further education have been led by college principals and their corporations. The leadership literature has also been reviewed to provide the empirical support for the identification of the leadership attributes of principals of colleges. The literature on leadership is very substantial and much of it theoretical, contradictory and lacking in application. Much of it is about non-college leadership but some is considered to be relevant to the leadership required in colleges. The identification of what is required was made up of the results of a survey of the attributes that were considered important for leading a college of further education by the principals themselves. The views of corporations were determined by analysing the application details for principal/chief executive posts. Since incorporation, colleges have had to face up to quite dramatic and considerable change. Within colleges, principals have had a major role to play in the leadership of such change. The factors that influence this leadership have been identified along with their responsibilities as leaders. The corporations' view of leadership is used both as a comparison and as a way of identifying their relationship with the principal. This relationship is considered in the light of new and developmental policies in further education on the election of a Labour Government in 1997.