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

    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

    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.

  • 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

    Kate Lovell

    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.

  • 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.

  • 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.


  • Co-Opted Member

    Jennifer Foote, MBE

    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.

  • 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. 

  • Ex-Officio Members

    Julie Nerney

    Chair of AoC Board

    Julie has spent much of her career as a successful entrepreneur and now supports businesses with organisational transformation and change management. In 2012, she played a key role as part of the leadership team in delivering the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

    Julie, a Chartered Director and Fellow for the Institute of Directors, also undertakes voluntary work with the Princes Trust, and ambassadorial roles for government aimed at improving diversity in public life.

  • Co-opted Member

    Gail May

    Newham Sixth Form College (NewVIc), Sixth Form Colleges

  • Secretary to the Council

    Kurt Hall

    Governance Advisor, Association of Colleges