Centre for Excellence in Leadership
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CEL explores the role of further education in local communities

The Centre for Excellence in Leadership (CEL) has published its report of a policy seminar held on 5 September 2007 to explore the potential benefits of close working between the further education system and local government for the achievement of public service outcomes. The significance of place and the complexities of decision-making at the local community level had previously been highlighted in a series of seminars that looked at the implications of the Leitch review of skills for the FE system and for its leadership.

CEL's director of strategic policy, and author of the report, Caroline Mager, said, "Recent changes mean that local government is increasingly taking responsibility for the coordination of public services at a local level. The FE sector has a real contribution to make to addressing local government priorities such as social and community cohesion, economic regeneration, cultural engagement, health and well-being. The sector has a long history of commitment to addressing these issues, which accord with its values. As yet, however, there is no commonly accepted vision of FE’s role in the context of new local government mechanisms, and this needs to be developed."

Many colleges are already making the most of local partnerships. Nick Brown, principal of Oldham Sixth Form College, for example, has a pivotal role as chair of the highly successful Oldham Local Strategic Partnership. "Both my college and Oldham’s FE college have made a real contribution to the improvement of Oldham's overall economic and social position," he said. "Through the partnership, we have pioneered innovative programmes and helped young people build confidence and make real progress. This in turn has made possible the major redevelopment of the town's West End, as well as a new university and cultural quarter, with achievement and community cohesion as the bedrock.

"Excellent relationships with the local authority have been critical to our success, as has the creation of an aspirational vision for Oldham that we can all buy into. Finding the alignment between further education and local government values can deliver enormous benefits."

Examples of inspiring practice are evident in other areas. "If you look at 14-19 provision, which is a key government priority, you can see that new build projects are bringing colleges into closer contact with their communities and involving them in local regeneration schemes," Caroline Mager said. "While local authorities are about place-shaping, colleges are in the business of people-shaping. Together, they can focus their collective effort on delivering locally devised, publicly valuable outcomes."

Lynne Sedgmore, chief executive of CEL, said, "CEL has taken a lead in understanding the potential for local strategic partnerships and the challenges for leaders. We will work with partners, colleges and providers to help them develop strong, collaborative and effective partnerships and networks at all levels. We will undertake research, look at good practice and explore the role of leaders in creating a culture of collaboration."

CEL's current policy seminar series, "Leading the FE system in a new era of ambition", began on 9 October 2007 with the first of six seminars, chaired by Fiona Millar.


CEL's report, "Further education, communities and local government exploiting the potential", is available to download at http://www.centreforexcellence.org.uk/UsersDoc/FECLGreport.pdf

About CEL

The Centre for Excellence in Leadership (CEL) was launched in October 2003, as a key national agency within the Success for All initiative.

CEL has a crucial role to play in developing organisational leadership in the further education system to anticipate, influence and respond to government policy initiatives, including, for example, the 2006 white paper, "Further Education: Raising Skills, Improving Life Chances".

CEL's remit is to foster and support leadership improvement, reform, transformation, sustainability and quality improvement. It serves the existing and future leaders of all providers within the further education system, including FE colleges, training and work-based learning providers, adult and community providers, offender learning, specialist colleges and voluntary organisations.

Following the publication of the white paper, CEL is involved in the introduction of a mandatory principal's qualification and the development of the quality improvement strategy for further education.

The white paper also heralded an expansion of CEL's diversity and equality remit.

CEL now operates through a charitable trust formed by its operating company on 1 April 2006.

To date, more than 1,160 different organisations and 25,800 individual participants have engaged with CEL. No fewer than 15 participants from recent cohorts of CEL's Senior leadership development programme (SLDP) have been promoted to the role of principal.


Lindsay Baugh: (07736) 246 697 or (01707) 392 552

Email: lindsay.baugh@howardsgate.co.uk

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