• Chief Executive

    David Hughes

    David Hughes became Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges in September 2016.

    Before that he was CEO at Learning and Work Institute, a leading think tank, research and policy organisation which was formed in 2016 from a merger he led between NIACE and Inclusion.

    From 2000 to 2011, David worked in senior roles at the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) and the Learning and Skills Council (LSC). At the LSC and SFA David led the funding and improvement relationships with colleges and providers and successfully took on trouble-shooting roles to rescue crises in capital funding and Educational Maintenance Allowances.

    Prior to that, David worked in the voluntary sector across a wide range of roles and organisations in the UK and Australia, in social housing, co-operatives, welfare, regeneration and community development.

    David has held many Board and Committee roles, including a few years as Vice-Chair of the East Midlands Regional Assembly in the 1990s. He played a leading role in establishing the new Education and Training Foundation in 2013 and has established and supported several third sector organisations.

  • Deputy Chief Executive

    Gill Clipson

    Gill joined AoC as Deputy Chief Executive in March 2013.

    Gill started her career as a primary schoolteacher and has taught in secondary schools. After taking a break to have a family, she taught young people and adults at her local college. Gill's career developed and she led the merger to create what is now known as North Warwickshire and Hinckley College. After a period at the funding council leading the team developing quality assurance, Gill took up her first Principal post at Salisbury College. Having improved standards, she merged the organisation to become part of Wiltshire College and then moved to become the Chief Executive and Principal of Amersham and Wycombe College. Here she secured sustained improvement in success rates throughout her tenure, completed the major redevelopment of one of the college’s main campuses and established from scratch the first Peter Jones Enterprise Academy in the country.

    Gill deputises for the Chief Executive at meetings with politicians and officials, leads our policy and governance teams and our corporate arm, AoC Create.

  • Assistant Chief Executive

    Julian Gravatt

    Julian Gravatt was appointed as AoC's Director of Funding in 2003.

    Julian joined AoC after working in the college sector for 22 years in various roles including Registrar at Lewisham College and Finance Director of the City Lit - two of London's largest colleges. He has a history degree from Oxford University and has also worked at the National Audit Office and Price Waterhouse.

    Julian is in charge of the research and analysis that supports our work in representing and promoting colleges to the Government, other opinion-formers and the wider public. He advises governors, principals and senior managers on finance, funding, pensions and regulation issues. He supports the national work of the College Finance Directors Group (CFDG), manages AoC’s projects team and represents colleges on a range of national advisory groups. He tweets via @juliangravatt.

  • Director of Finance

    Peter Brophy

    Peter has been with AoC since 1998.

    Having trained as a Chartered Accountant, Peter worked in the private sector for ten years, the final role being in a Group of ten companies, with a turnover in excess of £600 million. He was appointed to all Boards and specifically as Finance Director to a number of the subsidiaries. 

    As Finance Director and Board Member of AoC, AoC Create, AoC India and the AoC Charitable Trust, he oversees our finances, corporate services, regional offices and membership services.


AoC Organisational Chart