For many years, the FE sector trialled many different approaches to increase the impact that student governors can have in their role, with varying success. Much of this was focused on delivering training to new student governors then sending them back to their boards to start to make an impact.
However, NUS recognised that the impact of student governors depends not just on individual knowledge and understanding, but on the support and culture that exists locally, within the boardroom and the wider college.
Launch of the SGSP
In 2012 NUS, together with the Learning and Skills Improvement Service, launched the Student Governor Support Programme – a sector-led, whole college approach to building local support mechanisms for student governors in further education colleges.
Over 65 colleges signed up to the programme over the last 3 years, with many using the programme to support changes to their boards’ practice and develop a supportive culture for both students and indeed other new board members.
However, the increased pressure on clerks to adapt to new freedoms and support their board over the last few years meant that the SGSP’s dependence on clerks to roll-out changes locally needed reviewing.
In association with the Association of Colleges (AoC) and the Education and Training Foundation (ETF), NUS worked with colleges from June 2014 to review the SGSP as part of the Creating Excellence in College Governance review. The review looked to create a new programme with three key principles:
- engaging and accessible for student governors, clerks, learner voice practitioners and other key stakeholders
- seek to develop cultures, people and practices to support student governors collaboratively across the sector
- increase the impact of student voice throughout college and sector governance and decision-making
The review sought to redevelop the existing guidance on creating a supportive environment for student governors and looked to create a new training and development offer directly for student governors, giving them the skills and knowledge to actively engage with the business of the board.
In March 2015, NUS launched the new Student Governor Support Programme at the AoC Annual Governance Summit.