Date: Thursday 21 January 2021
Venue: Virtual (Microsoft Teams)
Members present: Wendy Coley, Jim Crompton (Chair), Philip Green, Lynette Leith, Anita McGowan, Martin Reid, David Russell, Sarah Simons, Palvinder Singh, Barbara Van der Eecken (Vice-Chair), Sarah Whiteside-Jones.
In attendance: Andrew Dowell (Head of Professional Status), Rachael Dunham (Comms and Marketing Director; Item 4), Mike Harvey (Director of Business Strategy and Procurement; Item 4), Gina Hobson (Director of Governance; Item 2), Alana Horden (Head of Operations), Ellie Locke (Membership Engagement Manager), Amanda Parkes (SET Co-ordinator, Minute Taker)
1b. Apologies for absence
The Chair welcomed two new Board members to their first meeting. Apologies were received from Sarah Whiteside-Jones and Anita McGowan, both joining the meeting at 11am.
1c. Declarations of conflicts of interest in the items on the agenda
The Board was informed that a declaration of interest form will be circulated with the meeting minutes for the Board to complete prior to the next Board meeting.
2. ETF trustee appointment recommendation
The Board received an appointment recommendation paper for review and agreed the appointment of two ETF trustees to the Board in advance of the meeting. The Governance Director introduced the two new members. The Board acknowledged that the appointments would help bring closer alignment between the SET Management Board (SMB) and the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) Board.
The Governance Director left the meeting.
3. SET Performance update and feedback on strategy
The Board received a SET and Professional Status performance update paper and SET strategic priorities paper for review.
The Head of Operations gave an oral overview of the performance update paper, detailing SET’s key projects and objectives against target for 2020/21, including membership growth.
The Board acknowledged the positive growth and sought further insight into why SET had seen continued growth through the pandemic. The Head of Operations informed the Board that SET would be able to gain a better level of insight into the membership growth from the findings of the market research and the implementation of the new CRM and website as part of the digital Transformation project. SET will update the Board with insights into its membership growth for 2020/21 at the next meeting.
The Chair fielded questions from the Board on SET’s strategic priorities paper. The Board reflected on the importance of SET’s prioritisation being geared towards projects that will have a positive impact on SET members. The Membership Engagement Manager highlighted that the market research findings would feed into the prioritisation of the projects outlined on the paper and aid in meeting members’ needs and expectations. The Board agreed it would be beneficial to arrange a session towards the end of March to run through the practitioner research findings to better understand SET’s priorities.
Following an overview of the project proposals as part of the short-term strategy the Board agreed it would be beneficial to obtain further information on Professionalism Week once it was available, to understand if ‘Professionalism Week’ is a suitable title for the initiative.
4a. ETF / SET Positioning (presentation)
The Board was joined by the Director of Business Strategy and Procurement.
The SET Director and Director of Business Strategy and Procurement presented an overview of a proposition to develop the positioning of the SET and ETF brands within the FE Sector. The SET Director noted that motivation behind the proposition came from the market research SET was undertaking, with early findings indicating market confusion between the two brands, with practitioners unsure about the difference between ETF and SET.
The Board was encouraged to get in touch with the Director of Business Strategy and Procurement following the meeting to further discuss the proposition.
The Director of Business Strategy and Procurement and Lynette Leith left the meeting.
4b. ETF / SET Positioning (workshop)
The Board was joined by Sarah Whiteside-Jones and Anita McGowan.
The SET Team facilitated a session to gain insight from the Board on identifying the potential opportunities and risks associated with the proposition outlined in the ETF /SET positioning presentation and to discuss the considerations needed to help ensure support from SET members.
The Board provided its feedback on the considerations needed and identified potential risks around the proposition. The Board noted that at no time do any of the risks identified undermine the opportunities that are being created.
The feedback from the session will be reviewed by the SET Director and Director of Business Strategy and Procurement and taken into consideration as part of the on-going development of the ETF / SET positioning proposition.
4. Student proposition: Pricing and advisory group
The Board received a Student proposition: pricing and advisory group paper for review.
The Membership Engagement Manager gave an oral overview of the paper.
The Board was asked to agree, if appropriate, the introduction of a Student Teacher Advisory Group (STAG) to better support the growing student membership base and provide a crucial channel of member feedback. The Board asked for further clarity on how the group would report into the existing governance structure and for the name of the group be revised. The Engagement Manager informed the Board that the advisory group would feed directly into SET and SET would feedback to the Board to ensure alignment. Following further discussion, the Board agreed that SET should introduce a Student Teacher Advisory Group, pending reconsideration of the group’s name.
The Membership Engagement Manager provided the rationale behind the introduction of a concessionary rate of membership for individuals moving directly from free student membership into paid membership. The Board agreed that although SET has a good number of student members there can be considerable drop off when student members move to paid membership and that the introductory rate could begin to remove that barrier. The Board agreed that from the beginning of the next academic year SET should offer a concessionary membership rate of £30 per year for individuals moving directly from free student membership into paid membership.
5. Membership, QTLS and ATS pricing proposal
The Board received a SET pricing proposal paper for review.
The Head of Professional Status gave an overview of the proposal to introduce a new annual ‘inflationary’ style increase to the fees charged for SET membership, QTLS and ATS in line with the UK Consumer Price Index (CPI) from membership year 2022 onwards.
The Board shared its feedback on the membership fee pricing proposal. The Board flagged initial concerns over automatic price increases of membership fees. The SET Director assured the Board that the price increases would be reviewed by the Board on an annual basis to take into consideration market conditions in any given year, providing the upcoming year as an example of implementation of a price freeze due to the market conditions. Following further discussion, the Board agreed that it will consider an increase in SET membership in line with CPI, in January of each year and agreed the proposal to freeze the price for SET membership for 2021/22.
The Board discussed the proposed increase to the QTLS and ATS prices in line with the UK CPI. The Board sought further clarity on the rationale behind the price increase. The Head of Professional Status highlighted the increasing cost of running QTLS and ATS as a motivator behind the increase. The Board acknowledged that there should be an increase in price, however identified a need to review the cost of QTLS and ATS to establish the professional status’ real value and price them accordingly. The Board acknowledged that QTLS is currently at the wrong price point in the market, however agreed, prior to a review taking place the price should be unfrozen. The Board highlighted the need for strong messaging and rationale behind the fee increases when the change is communicated to the membership. The Board agreed an increase to the price of QTLS to £490 and ATS to £760 in October 2021 and recommended that a review of the overall pricing of QTLS and ATS is undertaken to establish the costs and value of the professional status and price accordingly to ensure all costs are covered.
6. Any other business
The ETF CEO gave an overview of the FE white paper. The Board was encouraged to get in touch with the ETF CEO for further discussion on the FE white paper.
The Chair highlighted the perceived benefits of having a platform for discussion outside of meetings and how it might better align communication between Board members prior to meetings. The SET Coordinator will investigate platform options for the Board.
The Board noted that next SMB meeting date was Thursday 06 May 2021.