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
  • Val Bailey

    Northern Region

    Val Bailey is a governor at Darlington College.  She is a member of the audit committee and member of the quality & standards committee.  She sits 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

    Stephen Barnes (Elected wef 18.04.16)

    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.

  • Co-Opted Member

    Jeffrey Beer

    Cornwall College (Duchy College) Land-based Colleges

    Managing Director of a small property company specialising in high level student accommodation.  A Farmer in South Devon concentrating on improving the land and lamb production.  Until recently had a 50% share in a farm in South Africa.  Former owner of a successful and forward thinking agricultural merchants and Agronomy company.

    Currently a governor of the Cornwall College Group with special responsibility for Bicton College which recently became an important part of the Group.

    Committed to all forms of education but particularly land based to show the benefits it can bring to all the students involved and the rural community, working closely with industry and local businesses.

    Recently retired magistrate specialising in youth crimes and now working with young people who have and are experiencing difficulties.

    Former chairman of the Devon and Cornwall Magistrates Courts Committee.  Fellow of the Royal Agricultural Society and a former chair of the Education Committee of the Worshipful Company of Farmers.


  • AoC Regional Member

    John E Bolt

    London Region

    John Bolt has been a Governor of West Thames College in West London since 2008. He has represented college governors as a member of the AoC London regional committee since 2012. He is also Chair of Wac Arts College, an alternative provision school specialising in the performing and digital arts. He has also served on an NHS Board overseeing Brent Community Services.

    John began his career in education as a teacher of history. For eight years, he was deputy head of a large London secondary school. He then worked for the London Borough of Hounslow and from 2005 had overall responsibility for the borough’s 80 schools across all phases. In Hounslow he led a wide range of programmes including the Technical and Vocational Education Initiative, Excellence in Cities the Education Business Partnership and Building Schools for the Future – until the latter was aborted in 2010.

  • AoC Regional Member

    John R Bolt

    West Midlands Region

    John R Bolt is chair of governors at Solihull College, having been a governor at the college since 2013, and previously he was on the board of Warwickshire College for two years.

    John spent 25 years working in four West Midlands’ GFE colleges in various roles starting as main grade lecturer and ending as director.  For 8 years during that time, he led a team that developed student records’ software that was implemented in 60 colleges across England and Wales.

    From 2000 to 2008, John was the technical lead on the funding formula at the LSC where he devised ways of implementing initiatives required by governments of the day.  On retiring, John worked part-time for KPMG supporting colleges, where between 2011 and 2013 he was seconded to the SFA helping them develop their funding system.  He has spoken at many conferences on college funding and other issues, both in the UK and in North America.

    In 2008, John was the winner of an AoC award for outstanding life-time service to FE

  • AoC Regional Member

    Mike Carver (Elected wef 01.01.15)

    Eastern Region

    Mike Carver was Chair of the board of Hertford Regional College for seven years and board member for eleven years.  In that time the college improved to “good” in July 2013.  He oversaw a major capital development programme of over £70 million successfully completed over a four year period. Mike is former Leader of East Hertfordshire District Council and a councillor for 23 years.  He is an accredited member peer for both the Local Government Association and the Planning Advisory Service, undertaking work across the country.  He is a highly experienced in peer reviews, facilitating, training and mentoring; all undertaken as a “family friend”.  Mike has coached Leaders of Councils, chairs of committees and worked with whole committees. Mike  believes that the practice of teamwork is essential at all levels and in particular between the Principal and Chair, always keeping clearly in mind the differentiation of the roles and responsibilities between management and governance.

  • Co-Opted Member

    Jennifer Foote, MBE (Appointed wef 01.01.15 )

    Chair, Co-opted (National Governance Professionals' Special Interest Group)

    Jennifer has been Company Secretary to LTE Group since September 2013. Her background is in local authority governance and she has been a governance professional in the FE sector since 2003.  In 2012 she led on the development and delivery of the level 4 clerks’ qualification for LSIS. She has also spoken at a number of conferences on governance issues and has contributed to LSIS publications on the role of the governance professional.

  • Co-Opted Member

    Peter Freeman (elected wef 12.11.13)

    Chair Brighton Hove and Sussex Sixth Form College, Co-opted (Sixth Form College)

    Peter is Chair of Governors at BHASVIC (Brighton Hove and Sussex Sixth Form College) and a member of the Sixth Form Colleges Association Council. He has been a primary school governor for over 20 years and chairs the Brighton and Hove Schools Forum. His professional career was in the Department for International Development and its predecessors, including ten years on the Senior Management Board.

  • AoC Regional Member

    Ian Gibson (Elected wef 01.01.14)

    Chair, Alton College, South East Region

    Ian is Chair of Governors at Alton College, a sixth form college located in North East Hampshire.  He joined the Governing body in 2001 as a Business Governor when the College embarked on a major development programme which continued until 2014 with a total investment of some £25milion.  He is a Chartered Civil Engineer with professional experience in design, construction and project management of major Civil Engineering projects in Canada, the UK and the Middle East.  In 1989 he set up a small consultancy practice in Hampshire, growing it to £2m turnover before selling in 2004.  He remains a Consultant to the business.  He has been a Parish Councillor since 2002 and involved in Modern Pentathlon as a qualified ride judge to Olympic level.

  • AoC Regional Member

    Kate Lovell (Elected wef 01.01.15)

    South West Region

    Following a degree in English Literature Kate taught in the North East and then with VSO in Egypt in a faculty of engineering.

    She has been settled in Shepton Mallet since 1980 and supported her children through the town’s schools and Strode College, and on to university.

    Kate became a governor at our local 11 -16 school in 1987 and subsequently joined the board at Strode where she is now chair.

    As an experienced governor Kate was asked to join the governing body of the local infant school when it went into special measures some four years ago. The school achieved Good at its subsequent re-inspection.

    Kate appreciates the perspective that being involved as a governor in education from nought to adult brings, and that within a small town/rural community, while aiming to keep up with the requirements of national developments in education.

  • Regional member

    Seb Schmoller (Elected wef 01.01.16)

    Yorkshire and Humber Region

    Seb Schmoller is a vice-chair of The Sheffield College's governing body, and chair of its planning and performance committee. Between 2003 and 2012 he was Chief Executive of the Association for Learning Technology (ALT), having previously worked in FE in a range of roles from the mid 1970s. Seb is @sebschmoller on Twitter.

  • AoC Regional Member

    Atholl Stott (Elected wef 01.01.15)

    Chair, East Midlands Region

    Atholl Stott is a Senior Executive and N.E.D with a depth of experience, in organisations ranging from financial services and the voluntary sector to traditional unionised heavy industry. He is Chairman of North Nottinghamshire College, Action Housing Support and Homes for You ltd. Managing Director of a property investment and development company, an AoC Board member, Vice Chair of the AoC Governors Council and a National Leader in Governance for the Association of Colleges.  He was Chief Executive of a regional third sector organisation, an LSC board member and an EMDA business champion for eight years. His career started with the National Coal Board in 1979, progressing from the coal face to Divisional Human Resources Director.  He then held a number of Senior HR positions in national and international companies including global insurance company AON. Atholl lives in Yorkshire and is married with 3 daughters and two granddaughters. 

  • 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. 

  • Carole Stott MBE, Chair of the AoC Board

    Ex-Officio Members

    Carole Stott, MBE

    Chair of AoC Board

    Carole is Chair of the Board of the Association of Colleges and also chairs its charitable Trust, which oversees the AoC Beacon Awards and Gold Awards. Carole is Chair of the Skills Show and the UK Skills Board, which governs and directs the nation’s largest showcase for vocational training, skills and careers, delivering the hugely popular event at the NEC in Birmingham as well as supporting a range of local initiatives across the country. Carole is also a governor and chair of City of Bath, her local FE College. Professionally she is a qualified teacher and has had a long career in adult and further education. She has held a number of CEO positions, including CEO of a national qualification awarding body. She was awarded the MBE in 2012 for services to adult education.

  • Ex-Officio Member

    Alison Birkinshaw (wef 01.08.17 to 31.07.18)

    Association of Colleges President

    Alison became Principal and Chief Executive of York College in January 2008, having previously been Principal at Nelson and Colne College. Prior to that, she was Deputy Principal at another Lancashire College, Runshaw. She began in FE in 1984 as Music Lecturer at Nelson and Colne College.

    She was awarded an OBE in 2012 and an honorary doctorate from York University in 2017, both for services to education. When she’s not working she enjoy spending time playing the bassoon and contrabassoon, walking in the Lakes or by the coast, swimming or going to opera and the theatre.