Barking and Dagenham College, based in East London, provides a great place to learn for students of all ages, offering vocational courses to learners aged 14 and up, with an intake of over 12,000 enrolments each year across multiple sites and 500 staff helping students to develop the skills and experience needed for future careers or further study.

We spoke to Victoria Eastwood, chief governance officer and data protection officer, to find out about her experiences of using the Inspiring FE Governance service to search for candidates for two governor vacancies at the college.

What skills and expertise were you looking for when advertising your governing board vacancy?

We actually advertised two vacancies – one was focused on auditing with a requirement for finance skills specialism, and the other role focussed on curriculum and quality where we were looking for people with an education background, either in FE or HE, and with experience of quality processes. We contemplated looking at Digital as a specialism but felt that the curriculum and quality role could bring the required expertise.

How did you find out about Inspiring FE Governance?

I am part of the FE Clerks network who are great at collectively helping resolve queries and providing helpful advice. Inspiring FE Governance was suggested by a couple of members of the group after I asked for recommendations, so I registered on the site to find out more.

How did Inspiring FE Governance help with your search?

It was really simple to use – I entered some details about the college and the skills we were looking for using the dropdown feature on the site. You are able to search for potential candidates but I actually didn’t get that far as volunteers came forward themselves! I was made aware that candidates had expressed an interest through an email from the platform, and I logged in to check their profiles. I made contact through the platform and asked the candidates to forward me their CVs directly and we went from there. We’ve now made one appointment and are currently interviewing for the second.

Do you have any advice for other colleges looking to fill board member appointments?

I think one piece of advice would be to make time to meet the candidates, even if you’re not sure they are right for the role from their CV. When you have actual conversations it can be surprising what comes up when you speak face to face (in person or digitally!) Sometimes we unearth some really valuable transferable skills. I had a meeting with a candidate and it came out that he used to teach at the college and that’s why he wanted to give something back, and I wouldn’t have known that without taking the time to have a chat with him. It’s definitely of benefit to dig around to unearth those potential transferable talents that would bring huge benefit to the board.