In this blog, Gordon Hunt, CDN’s interim Head of Leadership, Governance and Research (Maternity cover), writes about the importance of governance.

Governance is one of those things that you don’t tend to notice unless it fails. Behind every public organisation, including our colleges, is a governing body made up of individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds who bring their knowledge, experience and enthusiasm to help guide the organisation and its staff team, and to ensure that it remains solvent, well-run and able to fulfil its mission.

The Board is often invisible to many involved with the college, especially the students, but without it the organisation can’t function. In the case of many public organisations, including colleges, the vast majority of board members are volunteers.

At CDN, it’s a key part of our mission to support our college boards, their members, officers and governance professionals, to enable them to provide effective guidance, support and challenge to the college team.

This support goes all the way from encouraging people to consider becoming a board member, to helping to evaluate the effectiveness of boards, as well as undertaking research into how boards operate and how they can improve.

At the heart of this is our governance training pathway, which is available on our CDN Governance Hub. This provides a range of online, self-paced training resources for aspiring and current board members.

For those interested in joining a board, our Get into Governance (GiG) programme consists of 6 thirty-minute modules covering all aspects of what a board does and why you might want to become a board member. The first module is free to access and if you wish to access the full course there is a fee of £100.

Once the GiG programme has convinced you to get involved in a board, we have a suite of Governance Training modules aimed at supporting board members in their work. These modules cover everything from financial oversight to educational approaches and are free to access for current college board members.

New college board members are also able to attend our Board Induction Programme, which consists of 2 two-hour webinars providing key information needed by new board members, from the Code of Good Governance, to how to approach board papers and meetings.

We are also interested in supporting the delivery of good governance, and a great example of this is our recent report, Governing a College Using Virtual Meetings, which looks at how colleges across the UK have dealt with the challenges of governing in lockdown over the past year. We’re also arranging training based on the recommendations in the report.

We’re continually looking for ways to develop and enhance our governance support, and our team is able to undertake External Effectiveness Reviews for college boards, and to deliver bespoke training. We also support the national network of governance professionals who manage the work of the boards in each college and bring board members and senior staff together in our annual Leadership & Governance Summit which will take place this spring.

If you’re a current or prospective board member we’d love to hear from you. There’s another opportunity to attend a Get into Governance workshop on Monday 8 March – we hope to see you there!

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