Jennifer Sunter

Name: Jennifer Sunter

Role: Clerk to the Corporation

College: Halesowen College

Hobby: I am a church bell ringer, which I have taken up as a new challenge to support ringing at my local church. Like governance, this has a lot to do with working with others whilst taking on information and learning new skills. Like governance, it can feel quite challenging and very rewarding.

Tell us a bit about your college.

Halesowen College is a large tertiary college delivering primarily to 16-19 year old learners and serving South Black Country/West Birmingham. The College offers both A Levels and vocational provision to cater for students at all levels. Removing barriers to and providing a great environment in which students can achieve and progress are key here. To this end, we work in collaboration and partnership with schools, higher education providers and employers.

Students appreciate the levels of support given by staff and enjoy the campus environment offered, which is in an urban area that feels surprisingly green. Many years of campus investment have resulted in an estate of which we are very proud.

What skills/traits are you/were you looking for in your governing board members?

It might be obvious, but we always look for a commitment to learning. We are very mindful of succession planning needs, which do keep changing. While we continue to pursue specific skills and experience, according to any identified gaps in our ideal profile, we remain open to finding new members who demonstrate they already have some broad governance ability, or in whom we recognise the capacity to develop.

How did you find out about Inspiring FE Governance?

I learnt about the programme through the West Midlands Clerks’ Network which is key in helping me stay up to date. I found it very easy to get in touch and FE Governance were very professional in setting up the search process. I also found the regular communication helpful.

What was the outcome?

We were offered more than one candidate through this process, which was surprising. We were very pleased that, following our own interview procedures, we were able to make an appointment. Our new governor started on 28 November 2017.

What advice do you have for other boards looking to fill vacancies?

All clerks realise that most governors do not fit an identikit nor come fully formed, so it is best to look for governor potential around a set of abilities. The other sage piece of advice is to never stop looking.