Ferrotype

£7bn 363 colleges 4.2m learners 263,257 staff

Never knowingly underperformed

In the 1800s, my family worked in the New Lanark cotton mills which were owned and managed by enlightened men who combined a sharp eye for productivity and the bottom line with concern for the social well-being of their workers, and society as a whole. This may help explain why I feel at ease with effective and entrepreneurial social enterprises – such as further education.

There seems to be a strand of political thinking which is exploring how a sense of entrepreneurship and ownership can be brought into the public services – particularly with the NHS: “employee partnerships” running NHS organisations “nurses and doctors” involved in governing; turning hospitals into “employee owned trusts”
There is an attractive John Lewis style model here for a public service facing years of relative austerity, and the politicians would be looking to a culture of co-ownership which would boost productivity – doing more for less.

Recent reports look at how mutualism would work: NHS Mutual http://bit.ly/7iLX6g Re-inventing the Firm  http://bit.ly/zwqJI

And for Further Education?
We are already well down the road, with every college established as independent corporation which employs all staff, and with senior managers employed and governed by a Corporation, whose composition reflects the local community and includes Staff Governors elected by the employees. Much of the rhetoric within colleges is customers being at the centre of everything we do, of service to the individuals and the community, and of team and individual responsibility and accountability.

Less palatable possibly, but driven by financial austerity,  around 20% of existing colleges are likely to be close or merger [and new organisations will share the funding eg in Exeter this December, Flybe cut the turf on their new Training Centre, supported by £4m-ish of LSC capital, and £100,000 [my calculation] of revenue in their first year of eligibility for funding]

A likely scenario?

Two colleges look for a way forward which makes business sense and is progressive, but does not damage the commitment and engagement of their staff. With a new Board of Governors structured so that there is a vastly greater involvement of their staff [“our most important asset”] and an avowedly mutualist operating philosophy, the business could have a higher profile and attract greater support from a wider range of business, union, and community stakeholders. And learners.

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January 12, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , ,

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