Members of the Council

Membership of the AoC Governors’ Council comprises:

  • one governor elected from each of the AoC’s nine regions
  • co-opted members, including representatives of a sixth form college and a land-based college
  • AoC ex-officio members
  • a co-opted representative of the National Governance Professionals' Special Interest Group in recognition of the key relationship between governance professionals and the corporation and governors
  • AoC Regional Member (Chair)

    Stephen Barnes

    North West Region

    Stephen Barnes is the Chair of Governors at Nelson and Colne College in Lancashire and has been a Governor in the FE Sector for over 20 years.

    He has been a Local Government Chief Executive in Lancashire for the past 22 years and prior to that was a Director of Finance in Local Government for a further six years.

    Stephen is an accountant by profession, a past President of the North West and North Wales region of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy and a past Examiner of the final part of the Professional Accountancy Examination.

    During his time in Local Government, and in the FE Sector, Stephen has gained broad experience in strategic leadership, partnership working, skills and FE development, economic development and regeneration.  He has skills in lobbying and influencing Government policy through his work as an Advisor to the Local Government Association and past Special Advisor to Government Ministers. 

    Stephen is also a non-executive Board Member for the East Lancashire Health Trust.

    He was awarded the honour of Freeman of the Borough of Pendle in Lancashire in 2015.

  • AoC Regional Member

    Val Bailey

    North East

    Val Bailey is a governor at NCG.

    She was formerly a governor at Darlington College where she was a member of the audit committee and member of the quality & standards committee.  She also sat as a governor member on the ‘self assessment report’ validation panel.

    Val originally trained as a teacher / lecturer of mathematics prior to joining the Further Education Funding Council (FEFC) at incorporation.  Her responsibilities at the FEFC were both regionally and nationally based.

    She was Principal & Chief Executive of Furness College from 2001 – 2003 then Principal & Chief Executive of Sandwell College from 2003 - 2013.  During her time at Sandwell College she led and managed the £77m ‘new build’ that was delivered within budget and on time.

    Both colleges were deemed to have been ‘failing’ colleges when she became principal and both were returned to full health by her departure.

    She has been a Parish Councillor since 2014, initially co-opted but later elected at the 2015 elections.  Val also serves as an independent member of a local authority school admissions appeals panel.

  • AoC Regional Member (Equality & Diversity Representative), Vice Chair

    Shaid Mahmood

    Yorkshire & the Humber Region

    Shaid is the first Chair of the newly created Leeds City College Group Board with strategic responsibility for a family of HE institutions, colleges and schools having previously served as Chair of Leeds City College - one of the largest FE organisations in the country now rated as good with many outstanding features.  Following a range of leadership and management roles in manufacturing and research and development in industry, in the Connexions Service and in Children’s and Family services, he is now the serving Chief Officer Communities for Leeds City Council, with  leadership responsibility for the Council’s work on equality, migration, prevent and counter-extremism, the third sector, the council’s work with communities to generate greater capacity for self-reliance, and the integration of public services to address inequalities in neighbourhoods. Shaid is also a serving board member of a Housing Association, a trustee of the Leeds United Football Foundation, and Patron of the National Centre for Diversity.

  • AoC Regional Member

    Steve Sawbridge

    West Midlands Region

  • AoC Regional Member

    Joanne Dean

    London Region

    An experienced FE and Skills sector strategic governance and human resource management professional; Consultant; Trainer and Vice Chair of NewVIc, Joanne works nationally but was born, educated and lives in London.

    She’s worked with LA’s; GFE, SFC, Land Based, Adult Education colleges and academies. Roles undertaken include: GFE strategic management team member with broad ranging corporate responsibilities; Director of HR & Legal Services; Clerk and Company Secretary; National Subject Specialist in Governance; AoC Assistant Governance Manager & Helpline Advisor and Mentor. Joanne created JD Management Solutions Ltd (2011) to deliver bespoke governance, HR consultancy, training and research services.  

  • AoC Regional Member

    Mike Atkinson

    South East Region

    Since January 2019 Mike has represented the South East Colleges on the Governors Council. Prior to that he represented Landex colleges on the Council from 2010-2016. He has been a Board Member of the Association of South East Colleges (AoSEC) since 2004.

    Mike has been a Governor at Plumpton College, a land-based college in Sussex, since 2002, including 5 years (2006-11) as Chair of the Corporation. Since then he has been re-appointed as Governor on an annual basis. He is currently Chair of the College’s Audit Committee.

    Mike is a qualified management accountant. He joined the Civil Service in 1977 as a direct entry Principal, and spent 4 years in HM Treasury, 10 years in the Department of Energy and 10 years in the DTI in a range of privatisation policy and funding allocation/control posts.  He served as Chairman of British Coal (1997-2000) and as a non-executive director of British Shipbuilders (1998-2001); he was also a Trustee of the Mineworkers Pension Scheme from 1995 to 2000.

    Outside the public sector, Mike was a non-executive director of Anglo Pacific Group plc, a FTSE mining company, from 2006 to 2014, including membership of the Audit Committee throughout this period and 3 years as Senior Independent Director. He has also since 2005 been a Governor and subsequently also a Trustee of the Chailey Heritage Foundation, a Sussex-based charity that provides education and care for severely disabled children; he has chaired the Governors Finance Committee there since 2007.

  • AoC Regional Member

    Jonathan Kerry

    East Midlands Region

  • Co-Opted Member

    Graham Van der Lely

    Hartpury College



  • Ex-Officio Member

    David Hughes

    Chief Executive, Association of Colleges

    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. 

  • Secretary to the Council

    Kurt Hall

    Governance Advisor, Association of Colleges

  • AoC Regional Member

    Mary Malcolm

    Eastern Region

  • Ex-Officio Member


    Chair of AoC Board

  • AoC Regional Member


    South West Region

  • Co-opted Member


    Sixth Form Colleges