Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments Tenth Report

Second Memorandum from the Department for Education and Skills


1. The Committee requested the submission of a further memorandum to that of 29 October 2001 on the following points:

    "(1)  Does the Department agree that if Parliament had intended that the articles of government may permit the Principal to delegate his functions, it would have made express provision to that effect as it did in relation to delegation of the corporation's functions (Schedule 4, paragraph 5, as amended by paragraph 44 of Schedule 9 to the Learning and Skills Act 2000)?"

2. The Department can readily understand Parliament's desire to make specific provision about the content of the instrument and articles of government in connection with the delegation of functions as between the corporation conducting the institution and the Principal and in connection with how those functions are divided between them, it considers that the situation is different thereafter.

3. Once the Principal becomes responsible for a range of functions, his carrying out of those functions becomes a matter of internal organisation of the college and the Department believes that one would not expect Parliament to make any specific provisions about how a Principal should carry out the functions which he has, either ones which have been delegated to him by the corporation under provisions made under the powers in paragraph 5 of Schedule 4, or functions which have been assigned to him by virtue of provisions in the articles made under paragraph 9.

4. In this context the Department considers that the inclusion of Section 20(2)(b) in the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 demonstrates that Parliament was aware that the provisions which must be included in the instruments and articles of government, and those which may be included, as set out in Schedule 4 to that Act (as amended) were not designed to cover all possible future requirements or situations.

5. Accordingly the Department does not agree with the proposition above.

    "(2) In relation to article 3(2) of the Articles of Government (as set out in Schedule 2),explain why the department considers that it is both necessary and desirable that the Principal of a further education institution should have power to delegate."

6. Article 3(2) provides for the Principal to be the Chief Executive of the further education institution, subject to the responsibilities of the Corporation, and sets out the Principal's particular responsibilities.

7. The Department does not consider that a Chief Executive of a further education institution, providing education to 4,500 full-time, and more than 26,000 part-time, students, (as in the case of the Sussex Downs College, where this is the number of students expected to enrol in the first year of this new college's life and which is operating from two geographically different sites), can properly and effectively discharge those responsibilities to the best advantage of his students and in a way which offers the best quality education to those students, without being in a position to delegate his functions. The Chief Executive's job is to manage and coordinate the overall operation. He would not necessarily have functional expertise in every area, such as marketing or human resources.

8. By way of example, the Department refers the Committee to Article 3(2)(b) which concerns the organisation, direction and management of the institution and leadership of the staff.

9. The Department is of the view that the effective management of an educational institution of this size and type necessitates the involvement of more than one individual in a managerial position. There must be a proper management structure, which limits the number of staff who report to one individual. For such a structure to be put into place and to be effective, it is, in the Department's view, necessary for the Chief Executive and Principal to be able to delegate his functions.

10. Article 3(2)(a) gives the Principal responsibility for making proposals to the Corporation about the educational character and mission of the institution, and for implementing the decisions of the Corporation. The Department considers that it is necessary that the Principal should be able to delegate his functions in connection with the implementation of the Corporation's decisions and desirable that the Principal should be able to draw on the ideas and practical experience of his staff in connection with the educational mission of the institution by delegating some of his functions to them.

11. The Department hopes that these examples relating to Article 3(2) help to demonstrate its views that it is necessary in some instances and desirable in others, that a Principal should be able to delegate his functions.

12 November 2001

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