Leadership and Governance

Community Learning activities

Leadership and governance for community learning providers needs to be seen in a wide and expansive way. It is a priority for leaders and governors of adult and community learning provision to know the needs of their locality, as well as maintaining a close focus on the learning experience, the quality of learning, teaching and assessment and the management of funding contracts. This involves detailed consideration of the wider social and economic context (see section onlocal areaplanning for more detail). This enables leaders and governors to articulate the local strategic priorities and needs and how programmes for learners match these needs.

NIACE has developed a simple set of principles for Governors to support this:

Make sense of a changing world: assessing local community need
Governors need awareness of the trends in labour market information and the structure of the local labour market, unemployment statistics, the Local Enterprise Partnership’s (LEPs) priorities for both skills and social inclusion, local travel to learn patterns and the relationship across LEP boundaries, local school attainment and narrowing the gap data, local public health priorities and local demographic changes. Headline figures in these areas will provide a simple framework for assessing learning needs for the whole community.

Work with partners to make the joins across the system
Governors need a top-level understanding of the local gaps created by the fragmentation of the national learning and skills the system. They should inquire: "who is missing from the local learning provision and why?" The answer to this question is the essence of local accountability for learning and skills.

Understand supply and demand from a community and employer perspective
The concept of supply and demand for learning is often seen in differing ways between providers and the wider community which can cause misunderstandings about roles and responsibilities in meeting local needs. Learning and skills provision has multiple purposes, providing work readiness, filling local labour market gaps as well as providing learners with a set of skills and capabilities for active citizenship and the future and as yet to be invented roles. Governors need to be aware of considering demand and supply, not just from a funding body perspective, but also from the needs of employers and communities. This enables the maintenance of a strategic balance of priorities.

Develop a responsive local curriculum
The welfare reform agenda and response to austerity is creating new learning needs for communities and those in and out of work, for example, digital and financial capabilities as a response to universal credit. Changing patterns of work and longer working lives also bring new learning needs. Governors need an overview of how their curriculum is changing to meet the new locally identified needs.

Support learners
The skills landscape is complex and highlights that it is almost impossible for any single provider to offer individuals a comprehensive overview of their employment options and the local learning provision to reach their goals. Governors need an awareness of how their provision works in partnership to support the broad local skills offer on behalf of learners and need to be able to articulate their vision and priorities in this context.

RCU/LEAFEA case studies
26th January 2017

RCU/LEAFEA case studies

Six case studies demonstrating a range of approaches to Pound Plus”

NIACE (2013) Curriculum for difficult times
26th January 2017

NIACE (2013) Curriculum for difficult times

Shows how providers, working in different local contexts, have developed a new curriculum. The work of these projects was based on the assumption that in difficult times the learning and skills curriculum will have to become...Read more »

Overall summary report
26th January 2017

Overall summary report

This report presents the findings of a short project undertaken by NIACE between to investigate how Community Learning reform was being implemented locally in the first year of full, national policy roll-out.  It provides a snapshot...Read more »

Review of Governance
26th January 2017

Review of Governance

AoC: A Review of Governance and Strategic Leadership in English Further Education

RCU/LEAFEA case studies
26th January 2017

RCU/LEAFEA case studies

Six case studies demonstrating a range of approaches to Pound Plus”

NIACE (2013) Curriculum for difficult times
26th January 2017

NIACE (2013) Curriculum for difficult times

Shows how providers, working in different local contexts, have developed a new curriculum. The work of these projects was based on the assumption that in difficult times the learning and skills curriculum will have to become...Read more »

Community Learning Innovation Fund (CLIF) – A report by NIACE for the Skills Funding Agency
26th January 2017

Community Learning Innovation Fund (CLIF) – A report by NIACE for the Skills Funding Agency

Leadership and GovernanceThis research report sets out the key achievements of the Community Learning Innovation Fund, which NIACE managed on behalf of the Skills Funding Agency in 2012-2013. The curricula, teaching and learning approaches, achievements and...Read more »