This paper addresses the nature of governors in the governance of further education colleges in an English context (1). It explores the complex relationship between governors (people/agency), government (policy/structure) and governance (practice), in a college environment. While recent research has focused on the governance of schooling and higher education there has been little attention paid to the role of governors in the lifelong learning sector. The objective of the paper is to contribute to the debate about the purpose of college governance at a time when the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) commissioning era ends, and new government bodies responsible for further education and training, including local authorities, arrive. The paper analyses the nature of FE governance through the perspectives and experiences of governors, as colleges respond to calls from government for greater improvement and accountability in the sector (LSIS, 2009a). What constitutes creative governance is complex and controversial in the wider framework of regulation and public policy reform (Stoker, 1997; Seddon, 2008). As with other tricky concepts such as leadership, professionalism and learning, college governance is best defined in the contexts, cultures and situations in which it is located. College governance does not operate in a vacuum. It involves governors, chairs, principals, professionals, senior managers, clerks, community, business and wider agencies, including external audit and inspection regimes. Governance also acts as a prism through which national education and training reforms are mediated, at local level. While governing bodies are traditionally associated with the business of FE - steering, setting the tone and style, dealing with finance, funding, audit and procedural matters – they are increasingly being challenged to be more creative and responsive to the wider society. Drawing on a recent case study of six colleges, involving governors and key policy stakeholders, this paper explores FE governance in a fast changing policy environment
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