North West Business Plan 2015/16 AoC North West Business Plan

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1 North West Business Plan 2015/16 AoC North West Business Plan AoC North West Business Plan 2015 Page 1

2 1 April 2014 to 31 March 2015 Plan on a Page AoC mission statement The Association of Colleges exists to represent and promote the interests of colleges and provide members with professional support services. As such, we aim to be the authoritative voice of colleges based on credible analysis, research, advocacy and consultation with colleges and the first choice destination for guidance and advice for members. AoC Values Be passionate about colleges and their students; Be challenging of Government, our stakeholders and each other; Act with integrity in the way we deal with colleges, stakeholders and each other This business plan is based upon delivering the core activities for AoC regional offices identified in the AoC Regional Review and in the context of the wider mission and values of the AoC. Our work and our actions should be judged against our mission and our way of working should reflect the values which are core to all parts of the organisation. The budget which accompanies this document sets out the projected expenditure and resources required to deliver these activities. Key strategic aims: 1. To ensure that North West colleges are strategically engaged on the local, regional and national agenda on learning & skills in order to influence policy positively, enhance the responsiveness of colleges and maintain a strong and sustainable sector. 2. To ensure there is a range of relevant fora for strategic debate to take place in order to inform the national and regional agenda that engages the regional membership 3. To develop and maintain effective communication channels to engage members with regional & national work of the AoC 4. To operate an effective regional office that responds to the needs of members 5. To deliver additional projects for members which add value to the regional offer AoC North West Business Plan 2015 Page 2

3 1 To ensure that North West colleges are strategically engaged on the local, regional and national agenda on learning & skills in order to influence policy positively, enhance the responsiveness of colleges and maintain a strong and sustainable sector. In an election year it is of particular importance to ensure that colleges are strategically engaged with key decision makers at all levels. All major political parties are committed to further devolution of powers, and as the first Combined Authority deals have shown, skills is likely to be high on the agenda. In the early stages of political posturing, it is easy to see how politicians can fall back on simple rhetoric: The skills system is broken, nobody engages employers effectively, young people don t come out of college equipped for work can be heard regularly within local and national debate. Challenge the rhetoric too harshly and you are defensive and part of the problem, agree with it and you become part of a narrative that ignores the great successes of our colleges. By engaging strategically with Local Authorities, Local Enterprise Partnerships, Combined Authorities and a range of Government departments both the AoC and colleges can help shape the future of the learning and skills agenda. The AoC in the North West must help ensure that colleges see the importance of engagement at all levels and ensure learning from the new Combined Authority in Greater Manchester is used to support and frame discussions elsewhere both in the North West and nationally. Whilst the localism agenda continues to roll, the importance of influencing policy nationally remains equally important. It is vital that good communication is maintained between the regional office and National Office to ensure key issues are fed into national policy discussions and to ensure regionally we are able to provide insight to members, especially those with a representative role. In terms of activity in 2015/16 this means: Providing direct support to the Principal seconded into the Greater Manchester Combined Authority Attend Sub-Regional Principal Groups in all sub-regions and provide AoC policy updates where invited Maintain a network of individuals who represent colleges on sub regional bodies Maintain a quarterly network of Professional Officers responsible for coordinating sub-regional college networks Provide monthly updates to Extended Directors Committee Maintain a Principals and Chairs Network to disseminate and share insight on a termly basis Involve National Office colleagues in North West networks to ensure a two way dialogue with colleges in the region Promote the attendance of NW colleges at National events Introduce a NW Dinner with MPs in Westminster working with the Public Affairs & Communications Team AoC North West Business Plan 2015 Page 3

4 Represent colleges where appropriate on bodies, including the North West Regional Leaders Board Meet termly with regional representatives from relevant bodies including EFA, SFA, Ofsted, North West Provider Network Provide an AoC policy input to individual colleges planning and training events as requested Arrange appropriate college visits for National Office staff with a policy brief Continue to work with Social, Economic and Environmental partners across the North West Ensure NW colleges are represented on a range of national portfolio groups Promoting the AoC Manifesto at all opportunities AoC North West Business Plan 2015 Page 4

5 2 To ensure there is a range of relevant fora for strategic debate to take place in order to inform the national and regional agenda that engages the regional membership The NW Regional Office has engagement with a wide number of staff at member colleges which provide added insight to the activity across the region. These networks ensure that the AoC has a wider profile beyond the Principal and Chair of colleges, ensures we engage with emerging leaders in the sector and creates a space for peer support amongst our members. The networks are highly valued by our membership and well attended, however, attendance can always be improved and agendas must remain relevant to ensure continued engagement. With staff time increasingly precious and reducing resources in all areas it is vital that the offer meets membership needs. There are also a number of networks that are organised independently of the regional office and we need to ensure there is a direct link with the AoC and we should explore the appetite for networks that exist elsewhere across the country which may provide added benefit to members in the North West. All of the above must be considered in the context of the financial envelope colleges and the Regional Office must operate within In terms of activity for 2015/16 this means: Maintain a termly series of Network meetings using 2014/2015 as a base line Review each Network at their next meeting and follow up with non-attenders (number of meetings, agenda, timings etc) (see appendix 1 for list of current networks) Map and then engage with other relevant NW Networks of member colleges to ensure AoC involvement and support as appropriate Consider the potential of new networks or annual events focused on: Student Support Staff, Equalities & Diversity and LLDD Organise the Regional Committee in line with the constitution Organise ad hoc meetings and events as required AoC North West Business Plan 2015 Page 5

6 3 To develop and maintain effective communication channels to engage members with regional & national work of the AoC Nationally AoC has many effective mechanisms for communicating with the wider membership. Regular e-bulletins and the weekly Chief Executives letter are highly regarded by the membership and an important part of the organisational offer. Whilst there has been a good level of communication between the regional office and the membership across the North West, this has relied heavily on network meetings and ad hoc communications. This now needs to be consolidated into a more strategic approach around communications and utilise new opportunities around social media that can add value to the national strategy and add to the effectiveness of the regional office. In addition to this, it is clear that there remain huge benefit to face to face meetings. In the first months of the new Regional Director we have already seen the advantage gained by visiting member colleges, discussing their concerns and providing support. Regular visits to colleges must play an important part of the strategy for the North West and resources must be committed to make this viable. The AoC website does not currently provide the platform that we require to improve our communications and this is a view shared by the national team. The National team is committed to working with the regional office to develop the web content further to ensure it meets our future needs. In order to ensure the colleges in the North West are engaged with our national work, we will encourage direct communication between members with the Public Affairs & Communications team to ensure the region is represented in national work. In terms of action for 2015/16 this means: The launch of a monthly North West AoC Bulletin with key regional news and information and national information that requires reinforcing The redevelopment of the AoC North West web pages to provide more than basic landing information Creation of a Twitter account to increase communication with regional membership and to drive traffic to the website Committing to visit every member college at least once during the year for a face to face meeting Encouraging NW Principals and Chairs to blog for the AoC national blog Maintenance of a broad number of networks of college staff Meet all newly appointed Principals within six weeks of appointment to outline role of AoC AoC North West Business Plan 2015 Page 6

7 4 To operate an effective regional office that responds to the needs of, and provides support to, members It is vital that the regional office is managed effectively in order that the strategy can be delivered with maximum impact. Maintaining a strong core team is vital tour success. The regional office must also be efficient, in a time of austerity it is vital that we model good practice to maximise value for money for our members. The regional office must also continue to offer tailored support to colleges and individuals as requested. This may involve providing support from within the regional team or ensuring that the relevant AoC staff member(s) nationally are made available. Specifically we must ensure member colleges are supported prior to and during Ofsted inspections. The new framework and current cycle of visits mean the North West can expect a large number of Ofsted inspections in the next twelve months and the regional office and national team have a wide range of experience in providing support. It is also important that colleges in the North West benefit from the wider work of the AoC, that services from AoC Create and AoC Sport are promoted and that colleges engage. Finally, Regional Committee plays a key role in supporting the regional office and offering strategic direction. An effective Regional Committee show good engagement with membership and provides a positive base to work from. Ensuring there are no vacancies and maintaining a positive working relationship is key to success in the region. In terms of action for 2015/16 means: Ensuring that all member college enquiries are responded to within 24hrs Delivering the action plan associated with the strategic priorities within the allocated budget Initiating a package of support for colleges notified of Ofsted inspections Working with AoC Sport to increase the active involvement of more North West colleges Working with AoC Create to maximise uptake of services and identify opportunities that arise in the NW Maintain 58 NW colleges in full membership of the AoC and ensure that membership fees are collected in a timely manner Support the Regional Committee through the provision of reports to ensure they are able to provide appropriate leadership for the regional office Liaise with AoC Finance Team to monitor regional income and expenditure and produce regular finance reports to the Regional Committee AoC North West Business Plan 2015 Page 7

8 5 To deliver additional projects for members which add value to the regional offer Projects can bring useful additional income to the regional office and provide significant added value to the membership. Recently the Governance work funded through the Education and Training Foundation has brought significant benefits to our members and income to the region. Driving increased income must not become the key driver for delivering projects. It is vital that we understand the implications of partaking in projects before any bid is submitted by any part of the AoC and the benefits that it may bring to members. Whilst each project should be considered on its individual merit, we must consider resource implications, reputational risk and value for money: there is a tradition of output funded criteria you must run three events and we should encourage a move to outcome funding where we are able to tailor delivery to the needs of our members. In terms of action for 2015/16 means: Delivering existing commitments to the World Skills Project and Governance work programme Monitoring opportunities for projects nationally and at a sub-national level (such as the North ) Evaluating future projects against: our strategic objectives, value for money, capacity and reputational risks AoC North West Business Plan 2015 Page 8

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