Chair of Governors blog - MK College

I’m Chair of Governors at Milton Keynes College Group… so you might not know what I’m for 

If there’s one thing I and my fellow governors at Milton Keynes College Group are used to, it’s blank looks.  Very few people know and understand what we do, and it’s something we need to explain. 

The College is an amazing place, where thousands of people come to learn and train, with passionate and expert staff to guide them.  Our wonderful CEO and Group Principal, Sally Alexander, runs the show, ably supported by her fellow directors.  Where the governors come in is as a group of volunteers with different experience and expertise from national and local businesses, from education at all levels including representatives from the public, private and charity sectors.  We even have two student governors and two staff ones to make sure the people working, training and studying here can have their say about how things are run and what our priorities are.  We’re independent, and our job is to oversee how things are going, to lend our support wherever it’s needed and to be people the team running the College Group can come to for advice and to bounce ideas off.  We’re also there to be standard bearers, telling everyone who will listen at every opportunity, what a fabulous institution this is and what brilliant work it does. 

I didn’t know much about Further Education.  I worked in professional services and rarely came into contact with people who did know.  And that’s something I really want to change.  There’s so much to shout about, and the world needs to understand that FE colleges do some really important work that, often, nobody else does. 

One of my fellow governors is a university lecturer, who like most, had little understanding of FE until he joined us.  What he did know is that he has taught students who have been to Milton Keynes College before arriving on his course at university, and that they were so much better prepared for life away from home than many of their classmates who had come straight from school.  That doesn’t happen by accident.  Staff at the College pride themselves in preparing learners for the real world in a safe and nurturing environment.  Learners can express themselves, discover who they really are, within a system that truly supports them.  Developing your life skills is a fundamental part of being here. 

College does so much more than provide education.  We have whole teams of people whose sole job is to make sure learners have the best chance to do well here, and that means that their needs are understood and where possible, supported.  We have people from less fortunate backgrounds and more comfortable ones; people who are carers for family members or who have strong supportive families; people from all kinds of ethnic and religious communities – essentially, all the kinds of people who make up the city of Milton Keynes.  And that’s as it should be.  We should reflect the community we serve. 

I would advise anyone considering coming to the College to take a look at the page on our website around Learning Support, for example.  They’re here to help with emotional and social difficulties, problems with learning, physical and mental health conditions, disabilities – the list is endless.  And again, that’s something I want my fellow governors and I to be telling people about.  College is a place where you can be you and not just build a career but, hopefully, through our support, become better at and happier with life. 

I want business to understand us better too.  If a company takes on a university graduate, they will need to train them in the specifics of the business.  There will be gaps in their knowledge around areas not covered on their degree course.  What college can do that university can’t, is to tailor what we teach to your precise needs.  An apprentice, for example, will learn exactly what you need them to know so that they’re making a real contribution to your work, right from the start.  Just get in touch and we can tell you all about it. 

Whether you’re an individual considering T Levels or apprenticeships or A Levels, whether you have a firm career goal in mind or just an idea about the kind of thing you want to learn more about, or even if you’re totally lost and don’t know what you want to do next, come to see us – and that is a big message for parents too.  Some people are really suited to sixth form, some are ready for work as soon as they walk out of school for the last time – but there are other options for both, and you may just discover that college is absolutely the right place for you. 

If you’d asked me a few years ago what FE College was like and what it did, my answer would have been very vague and uninformed.  Now I know what a vital role it plays in our society, and how much it has to offer, I just want to make sure everyone else in the city knows too. 

Find out more about governance at Milton Keynes College Group here Governance – MK College.