Sunday, May 10, 2015

All Change - Reflections on College Development Network

I've arrived and I am taking some great people on a journey that is in some respects back to the future. When I worked here in a previous life the organisation benefited from 30% of its funding coming from the funding council and we generated the other 70% through charging for service delivery and through project based funding from a range of sources. We need to get back to this model for long term sustainability.

With the support of an energetic chair , a supportive board , and the support of College Chairs and Principals , change is now under way on a number of fronts. 

We have  new organisational structure . I am currently filling a Marketing and Communications Manager and Business Development Officer post and gratified that we have a very strong field of applications. We've also shuffled roles and responsibilities to make us more outward and delivery  focused. 

We've finalised tenancy agreements with Colleges Scotland , JISC and the Energy Skills  Partnership, who we host in our offices at Argyll Court. We've got some modest plans too for an office re-configuration.

We've switching over to Microsoft 365 and moving mail , documents , the works up into the cloud to improve our productivity 

We've just appointed a developer for a new wordpress based website . Which will make content management and workflow much easier and will make blogging and telling the story of what we do much easier for all of our advisers and for our customers.

After a brief hiatus ..but we haven't got a social software policy !  < we did > and a bit of training, I've got all the advisers onto twitter . The next bit is reflective blogs . Social software is the way of doing the business of learning and  not just an adjunct for the enthusiasts. We all need a personal learning network.

Still work in progress but our subject and specialist networks will move out from the big database of contact emails and 'once again ' are moving back towards becoming online networks where we can stimulate these into becoming communities of practice . With all the change that has gone on in the sector not least in personnel this is a major task.

In terms of informing what we do, we  have a robust collection of Principals , Depute and Assistant Principals from across the sector  on our development committee and we have once again a system of named contacts in place and an annual engagement schedule for every College in Scotland . This combined with ongoing communication with Scottish Government, Education Scotland , Scottish Funding Council , Skills Development Scotland and other relevant stakeholders across the public and private sector should mean that our offerings are in line with both what our customers need and in line with meeting the national outcomes and most of all the needs of learners. 

Work in progress here includes a new handbook for College Board Members and an agreed programme for College leaders for first line , second line and senior managers in the sector that reflect the strategic and operational needs of the new regional college structure and allows lots of scope for innovative and dangerous thinking.

Looking forward the challenges for the sector are - managing at scale across new regional college structures and ensuring effective regional outcome agreements  , the challenges that a new funding formula will bring , the development of new approaches to external quality evaluation from Education Scotland and towards new standards for entry and CPD for College teaching staff, to be in place by 2017.

These are the big ticket items . Above all I want to support a sector that delivers much more flexibly either on line , blended or face to face that serves the needs and aspirations of Scotland's life long learners and beyond. 

We will achieve this through leading , creating and sharing which will be  under pinned by the creative use of technology and by building a culture of collaboration , sharing and trust 

If you have ideas that will shake the pillars of learning . We have a great team and we are ready for business .