This working paper highlights the significance of multiple communities as crucial conditions, processes and consequences of FE leadership. Our research suggests that in (almost) all their activities FE colleges engage communities. They make important, but frequently under-estimated contributions to the local community and economy. This is the case within colleges (e.g. students and employees), between colleges and their multiple-partners (e.g. in the local community and economy) and between different colleges (e.g. professional networks and associations between Principals). The paper argues that in the FE sector communities and leadership are inextricably-linked, sometimes in mutually-reinforcing, but also in potentially contradictory ways. These communities are not only both internal and external to colleges themselves, they are also multiple and diverse, frequently shifting, interacting and impacting in complex, simultaneous ways. Our working paper:
1. Outlines (some of) the multiple communities served by FE colleges. In particular, we explore the FE college as: a learning community, a socially inclusive community, an inclusive learning community and a provider of adult and community learning.
2. Examines some of the important challenges for those occupying FE leadership positions in seeking to engage with these multiple communities. Our research findings suggest that on-going attempts to engage diverse communities constitute a crucial challenge for effective FE leadership.
3. Suggests a different way of understanding the nature of FE leadership. This indicates that a ‘blended leadership’ (Collinson and Collinson 2005c) approach may be
particularly effective in engaging multiple, shifting communities in sustainable ways.
4. Suggests that the community contribution of FE colleges is frequently neglected and/or under-estimated. Many of the staff we have interviewed argue that important
aspects of colleges’ community engagements remain invisible or undervalued, particularly by those who evaluate perf