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What does it take to be a great VP?

What does it take to be a great VP? Joint Managing Director at FEA and former Principal of Bath College Matt Atkinson reviews this pivotal position.

Vice Principals are often the key influencers within colleges. They straddle the strategic and operational - and as a result the role is incredibly busy.

Central to their daily lives is working on the development of strategies with senior colleagues, while ensuring that middle leaders are implementing the plans and strategies. 

Often they have successfully operated in middle management roles, having responsibility for large curriculum or multi-disciplined service areas.

The most successful Vice Principals I’ve met have an incredible ability to manage a multiplicity of tasks whilst motivating people to deliver results, so the role also requires individuals who can rapidly establish their professional credibility.

In many ways, Vice Principals are accountable to more individuals, groups and committees than anyone else in the college. The Vice Principal who is a senior post holder will be accountable to the governing body and the Principal.

Their direct reports will also have many expectations of them – as do people from across the organisation because the best VPs are highly visible to everyone.

Many Vice Principal roles often combine internal and external responsibilities and many VPs work with important stakeholders from across the communities the college serves.  

In terms of the role of Vice Principal as a step towards Principalship, some people who move into a VP role will be using this as a stepping stone whilst others will enjoy this important and influential senior role for the duration of their senior careers in FE. 

There is a lot to be said about occupying a senior and well-paid role without having the ultimate responsibility that Principals and CEOs have!

 Take a look at FEA’s current VP roles here.

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