The governance role and activity in colleges of further education
This thesis examines the role of the board of governors in colleges of further education (FE). Despite being a significant area of activity, comprising over 440 colleges, which were allocated a total of three billion pounds of public money in 1998, FE remains a notably under-researched sector. This thesis contributes to the knowledge and understanding of the governance activity in the sector by going beyond demographic data and using a case approach to examine the nature of the work undertaken by the board. This work is also important because it is able to utilise data gathered from observations of a college board as it undertakes its work. Data has been gathered from four FE colleges and has been analysed using the framework of the three paradoxes set out by Ada Demb and F.F. Neubauer in their work "The Corporate Board". This thesis then, draws on established work to present and develop a model applicable to considering the governance issues in FE. The main conclusions of this thesis are that in order to maximise the board's contribution to strategy, two key issues need to be addressed: issues associated with the governance process and issues associated with the people involved in that process. A more widespread understanding and coherent approach to adopting the principles of the Carver model of Policy Governance across the sector, along with a reconsideration of the role of the Further Education Funding Council may go some way towards addressing process issues. However, boards also need to recognise that whilst an efficient process may provide the potential for the board to undertake its strategic role, there is a need to go beyond this and to develop ways and means of harnessing the skills and contributions of all board members in order to maximise their strategic role.