Further Education (FE) management concerns itself with the decision-making process that determines, among many other things, how a college works, what constitutes a good or outstanding college, how is it funded and how the curriculum is created.
Senior leaders in FE play an integral role in empowering teachers to polish their practice and create an environment in which they can flourish. Successful leaders in FE are driven by improving the quality of FE education and pushing to improve the standards of teachers.
The president of the Further Education Trust for Leadership (FETL) Dame Ruth Silver states that senior leaders in FE will need to be able to adapt to the changing demands of the workforce in the UK that require a population who are “adaptable, collaborative and, perhaps most importantly of all, willing to learn throughout life”. So no pressure for the educational managers of the future then!
The sums of money floating around the FE sector can be eye-watering and educational managers must be comfortable working in this environment. A survey of college principals (carried out by KPMG) found many have adapted from being chief academic officers to CEOs of multimillion pound businesses .
A study examining seven FE colleges over a two-and-a-half-year period concluded that employees held a preference for a ‘blended relationship’, which mixes a top-down leadership style with ‘distributed’ leadership. This conclusion was mirrored in UK government research that found a blend of traditional and collaborative approaches is most effective.
FE college employees are better motivated by a shared notion of power and authority. Motivating staff in a sometimes stressful environment is a key element of the role of educational management. You’ll need to be flexible enough to strike the right balance when motivating the staff members that work under you.
Promoting collaboration among teachers enables them to benefit from the time and space to explore fresh ideas. A project report published in 2019 found that collaboration among staff is more useful than formal interventions from Ofsted.
A senior FE leader interviewed for the report said: “As a senior leader, I need to listen as much as possible to put the right interventions in place, to monitor those interventions and continue to work with staff to improve them” .
The Further Education Trust for Leadership (FETL) produced a report in 2017/2017 that introduced the concept of ‘teaching triangles’, a pilot of which was rolled out that academic year.
The teaching triangle involves three staff members working together with one delivering a lesson on a set theme, while the other two members observe. Each take it in turns to lead the lesson. A planning session is held prior to each lesson, coordinated by an Outstanding Practitioner (OP), and then a brief reflection is recorded, overseen by the OP.
Teaching triangles “[allow] staff to plan, deliver/observe and evaluate within a proactive environment which promotes collaborative communities of practice”, according to the report . The pilot demonstrated the effectiveness of blue sky thinking in FE.
Championing innovative change in the FE sector is a key element of educational management and a big draw to working in this area. There is no harm in thinking big and sharing best practice. As a Skills Commission report highlights: “There is indeed much providers can learn from each other” .
Are you considering a career in FE Education Management? If so you are in the right place! You can search through and apply to an array of Education Management roles here on AoC Jobs.