Further education corporations and sixth-form college corporations: governance guide

Explanation of terms

Help with terms used in this guide.

Accounting officer

The senior executive leader of the college, personally accountable to ESFA and Parliament for regularity, propriety and value for money.


Confidence, based on credible evidence, that internal controls are in place and operating effectively.

Assurance framework

A structure in which a corporation identifies the key risks to the achievement of its objectives, and maps out its internal controls and how it will gain credible evidence on the effectiveness of those controls.


Responsible for the governance of the corporation. It consists of governors who have been duly appointed and are entitled to vote. It does not include the clerk or anyone who may attend board meetings in an advisory or other capacity.

Charity trustees

The people who have general control and management of the administration of a charity.

Exempt charity

An organisation established for a purpose recognised by the Charities Act 2011 and which benefits the public.

An exempt charity is a charity which is not directly regulated by the Charity Commission because it is overseen by another principal regulator.

The principal regulator of FE and sixth-form college corporations is the Secretary of State for Education.


ICSA: The Governance Institute defines governance as: “The way an organisation is directed and controlled. It is a toolkit for the processes and the oversight which drive the highest standards in leadership, accountability and behaviour”.


A member of the board of the corporation. A governor is also a charity trustee within the terms of the Charities Act 2011.

High needs students

Students who are the subject of an education, health and care plan and who require additional support.

Instrument and articles of government

The governing document that sets out how an FE or sixth-form college corporation is run.

Political activities

Activities which aim to secure, or oppose, a change in the law or in public policy.


The senior executive leader of a college. The role is sometimes also known as principal and chief executive for a stand-alone college or chief executive where a corporation is responsible for several colleges.


Regularity means that public money is spent for the purposes intended by Parliament and in accordance with legal and regulatory requirements.


Standards of conduct, behaviour and corporate governance. Propriety includes matters such as fairness, integrity, even-handedness in the appointment of staff, open competition in the letting of contracts and avoidance of waste and extravagance.

Statutory corporation

A corporate body created by an act of Parliament or Royal Charter.

Standing orders

Rules and procedures concerning the conduct of meetings.