Chairs' Leadership Programme

Together with the Saïd Business School, Oxford University, we have designed the Further Education Chairs' Leadership Programme to support Chairs in being able to:

  • take time out to reflect on their role as governance leaders
  • identify ways in which they can further enhance the value they add to the Board and their wider organisation.

The programme is subsidised by the Department for Education (DfE), this is an indication of how much government values the role of the Chair and strong governance leadership in:

  • establishing and agreeing the purpose of the college
  • directly influencing those who serve on the board
  • helping to set the conditions for long-term institutional resilience and success. 

Download the programme brochure. You can also watch this video co-created with the Saïd Business School about our Leadership and Governance development programmes.

Visit the ETF Booking website to book onto the Chairs Leadership Programme

The Chairs Development Programme forms part of the portfolio of DfE-funded Leadership Development Programmes. This includes the Governance Development Programmethe Principals/CEOs' Programmethe Finance Officers Development Programme and the Preparing to be CEO Programme .

Richard Atkins, the FE Commissioner has highlighted attendance on the ETF Leadership courses as one of his ten recommendations for effective colleges leadership. He has stated that colleges should, "Ensure that your Chair, Principal/CEO and FD attend the relevant Said Business School/ETF leadership programmes. Feedback from these programmes is overwhelmingly positive."

Key benefits of the Chairs' Programme

The key benefits for chairs taking part are:

  • deepened understanding of the role of the chair and the board in the context of broader trends within the FE and Training sector
  • greater self-awareness of personal leadership approach and enhanced impact
  • deeper and broader networks of peers within the FE sector and beyond
  • strengthened leadership capability within the organisation.

The key benefits for the organisation that the chair leads are:

  • the development of more robust governance leadership and increased organisational resilience.
  • enhanced ability to establish conditions for success at the level of the Board, and to drive high performance through the wider organisation.
  • strengthened leadership capability between the organisation and external networks.
  • raising reputation and esteem at the level of the organisation.

Programme content

Chairs' Leadership Programme.

The programme explores governance leadership with a clear focus on the development of the Chair’s personal impact as a reflective leader of the Board and wider organisation.

The programme consists of an immersive 24-hour learning experience at Oxford, in which there will be opportunities to hear from thought-leaders in the field of governance leadership, fellow practitioners from within and beyond the sector, key stakeholders within the Further Education sector system, with ample opportunity for debate, dialogue and reflection.

Sessions are designed to facilitate discussion and stimulate new thinking, to generate on-going learning both in those with deep governance experience as well as those new to the role of Chair, to encourage the sharing of practice and knowledge, and to create new networks of governance leaders across the sector.

The content is based on these themes:

  • Purpose: the role of the Chair and the Board in ensuring that the organisation delivers on its purpose.
  • Performance: establishing high performance within the Board, and within the broader organisation.
  • People: how the Board works successfully together and with the senior team and wider staff of the organisation.
  • Board dynamics, culture, and diversity.
  • Challenge and support: the relationships between Chair, Clerk and CEO.
  • Reputation and the role of the Chair and Board in establishing the capability and character of the organisation.
  • Sector changes and dynamics: the broader context and macro-trends.

Testimonials about this programme:

“Colleges are growing and becoming increasingly complex and multi-faceted organisations, placing increased demands on their chairs, boards and leaders. In designing this programme, the ETF has actively listened to stakeholders, requests from college Chairs and feedback from board members and senior leadership teams. In doing so, it has sought to understand the myriad challenges Chairs face which include strategy, business skills, education and understanding the environment we all work within. By shaping an offer that includes the key skills and knowledge required, we are confident we have produced an attractive programme. This will not only provide the support and development needed, to ensure effective consistent levels of good governance are maintained across the sector, but also deliver and embed transferable governance skills which can be used in any organisation or sector.”

Atholl Stott

Chair of the Association of Colleges Governors Council

“This programme is a very welcome and much-needed addition to the support the Education and Training Foundation offers to senior leaders in Further Education. It offers not only a mix of elements that will provide effective support for Chairs of FE Governing Boards, but also the opportunity to work with the much-respected Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford. I look forward to undertaking it.”

Mark White

Chair of Governors of the Stockton Riverside College Group

Book your place

Chairs' Leadership Programme.

To find out more, please contact Evan Williams at