NLG Biographies

  • Karen Adriaanse

    Karen is a freelance consultant in education and training.

    Karen was an HMI for Ofsted from 2007 to 2016, having previously worked for the Adult Learning Inspectorate and the Training Standards Council as a full-time inspector.

    Works with: adult community learning, colleges

    Karen offers support, advice and training to schools, FE colleges, employers and other providers of work-based learning, apprenticeships and adult community learning.

    Karen held the post of Special Adviser (Improvement) for FE and Skills at Ofsted from 2012 to 2016.

    In her role as HMI Karen developed inspection frameworks and handbooks, training materials for HMI and Ofsted Inspectors, including on how to inspect leadership and management and governance; analysing inspection findings for Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector’s Annual Reports, surveys and presentations to providers, employers, government departments and other stakeholders; and developing good practice case studies.

    She also led inspections of colleges, local authority providers, independent providers, employer providers and prisons, having taught and/or managed in these contexts for 20 years. Her work at Ofsted also involved working directly with senior managers and governors of providers judged to ‘require improvement’ on their improvement action plans as part of Ofsted’s Support and Challenge programme.

    In her role as an NLG, Karen has supported boards with preparation for inspection.

  • Jim Aleander

    Jim is Vice Chair of the board at Portland College, Nottinghamshire, where he has been a governor for many years.

    Jim has served as principal – and board member – of three general further education colleges.

    Works with: colleges

    Jim worked as lead consultant with the Learning and Skills Council on Area Reviews in Sussex, Birmingham, South Yorkshire and in Leeds, as well as contributing to the guidance on these reviews. He supported the LSC’s strategic work on the Framework for Excellence national standards.

    Jim has produced national guidance on self-assessment and on leadership of equality, diversity and inclusion. He has conducted project work nationally for AoC, including research on implementing 16-19 Study Programmes effectively, as well as regional work in London as part of a major ETF-funded project on outstanding teaching, learning and assessment. Jim advised colleges as a National Subject Specialist in Governance during 2014/15. He also mentors principals of further education and sixth form colleges on an individual basis.

    As interim principal at South Leicestershire College, Jim worked with the board and clerk to create the first hard federation following the Education Act 2011, when SLC federated with North Warwickshire and Hinckley College under a single principal in 2013. During his first role as principal, at West Nottinghamshire College, Jim served as an elected member of the AoC National Board.

    Jim specialises in leadership and policy development in vocational education and training, working in the UK - and abroad, through the British Council.  His professional enthusiasms include college partnerships and alliances, quality assurance and equality & diversity. Recent projects have included reorganisations and mergers of FE Colleges, with successful experience of complex reorganisations in Leeds, Sussex, Birmingham and London.

  • Jim Austin

    Jim has over 20 years’ experience in both the ACL and FE sector. Following work at Cannock College Jim was, for 13 years, Head of Service at Gloucestershire County Council and has subsequently been Interim Head of Service for Croydon Council.

    Jim currently provides a range of support for South West Learning and Skills, an umbrella organisation working with Local Authority and WEA adult learning providers across the region

    Works with: adult community learning

    During his time at Gloucestershire County Council Jim expanded the service to include Apprenticeships, European funded programmes as well as Community Learning and Adult Skills provision. Jim saw the service improve its quality from borderline fail in 2004 to borderline Outstanding in October 2014. Jim subsequently help steer Croydon through inspection maintaining its Good status at a time when the future of the service was under review.

    Jim was at the forefront in developing plans to move the service out of Gloucestershire County Council and has worked nationally to support other potential spin outs.

    As part of the 2016 Governance Support programme Jim worked with 8 Councils across the country a number of whom were subsequently Ofsted inspected and received positive comments about their governance arrangements.

  • John Boyle

    John Boyle has been Chair of Blackpool Sixth Form College for 13 years during a period of sustained growth and improvement.

    John also chairs the college sponsored Multi Academy Trust and Teaching School.

    Works with: colleges

    Together with a background in banking and finance, John has extensive knowledge of governance, college finances and the academisation process. He is an adviser to the FE Commissioner and in this capacity he has visited over 65 Sixth Form Colleges as part of the Area Based Review process and has worked with over 15 others. He undertakes External Reviews of Governance and provides support and consultancy through periods of improvement, change and/or difficulty.

  • Paul Butler

    Paul is Chair of Waltham Forest College and has 25 years of experience as a college governor.

    Paul was previously Chair of Leyton Sixth Form College.  He has extensive experience and networks within the education/skills sector.

    Works with: colleges

    Paul runs his own management consultancy advising on workforce, governance, and issues related to community development. He is an Acas Council member and a member of the Federation of Small Business Employment Committee.  Paul’s company works with the Metropolitan Police and other agencies and colleges on the issue of gangs and provides targeted programmes within the college setting.

    Paul is a Prevent adviser and has also worked on a number of cross-party panels with ministers on workforce, education and inclusion issues.

    Paul held the position of Area Director for Waltham Forest London East TEC and had a close relationship with the senior teams of the local colleges, businesses and Local Authority.  He was also CEO of a national training provider.

    He has a passionate commitment to young people and adults and the importance of providing them with quality training and education opportunities that helps them to achieve their potential with vocational opportunities and preparing young people for employment in addition to more academic subjects.

    As an NLG, Paul has supported colleges with governance reviews, strategic planning and mediation.

  • Mike Carver

    Mike is Chair of Hertford Regional College.  He has held this role for over 10 years and served as a board member for over 14 years.

    Mike has extensive private sector experience and was a Councillor for 24 years before his retirement in 2015.

    Works with: colleges

    Mike has been the International Director of several worldwide logistics companies. He has also been involved, as a private consultant, in several and varied projects for private companies both in physical distribution solutions and operation flow environments.

    Mike was Leader of East Herts. Council for 6 years. He was also a National Member Peer in both Planning and Leadership at the Local Government Association.

    As an NLG, Mike has used his skills and experience in facilitation, training, mentoring, leadership and overall organisational /strategic reviews all done in the format of the “Family Friend”.  Mike believes the practice of this sort of support and guidance, developed in the Local Government family, should be no different across the whole FE and Sixth Form College environment, with the promotion of teamwork applying at all levels and between levels.

  • Shirley Collier

    Currently Shirley is Chair of York College and also the Employer and Skills Committee.  With a professional background as a consultant and executive coach with extensive leadership experience, she built her senior leadership career working in national museums.

    Shirley works with boards, including those of colleges, in the public, private and charity sector, this includes supporting organisations in performance improvement and impact evaluation, developing strategy, structural reviews. Shirley is very involved in leadership in governance and runs a successful leadership programme for professionals, supporting their career development plans.

    Works with: colleges

    Shirley is passionate about continuous improvement in governance and leadership and facilitating organisations and individuals to flourish.  Also, she has a keen focus on diversity initiatives and uses her considerable knowledge and skills to run practical workshops in governance, developing soft skills such as effective communications, problem solving and team work.

    A linguist and self-styled perpetual learner, Shirley is a naturally curious and positive person who values the different perspectives of those she works with.  Her working style is supportive and she is able to challenge as well as nurture.

  • James Crabbe

    James is Chair of Governors (formerly Vice-Chair) at Central Bedfordshire Further Education College where he has been responsible for the appointment of a new principal and the development of a successful bid to the Department for Education for a University Technical College (UTC).

    Works with: colleges

    In 2013 the College was awarded £9 million from the Skills Funding Agency, as part of a £15 million investment. In 2013 the College was rated as Good (grade 2), a considerable improvement on anything the College had achieved in the past.  The inspectors said that they found the leadership 'exemplary'.  In 2012 James gave an invited lecture on ‘Governance in Tertiary Education’ to an international conference of Vice-Chancellors on ‘Higher Education in the Islamic World’ in Islamabad, Pakistan.  He also gave a lecture on the Leadership Foundation’s Governor Development Programme: Leading the Board of Governors. He is an Invited member of Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) Governance Group on Further Education Governance.  James’ special areas of interest are higher education in FE, appointing a Principal, and alternatives models of Governance.  James is an invited member of the Quality Improvement Group of the National Offender Management Service, and of the PICTA (Prisons Information and Communications Academy) and sits on the Court of Assistants of the Worshipful Company of Educators. The Court is the Governing Body of the Livery Company.

  • Heather Cross

    Heather has over 25 years’ experience in FE as a Clerk.

    Heather was previously Vice-Principal of an FE College for 15 years. Her experience ranges over ten colleges, working with many different Chairs and senior teams.

    Works with: colleges

    Heather's experience spans urban and rural colleges of different sizes and types, including an SDI. She is a qualified Chartered Secretary, has a diploma in employment law and is an accredited mediator. 

    Her work as a senior manager has included HR and professional development, estates and student services, all serving as helpful background in advising on governance matters. She was client lead on a large capital project. To date she has provided governance advice on 5 mergers and a process to establish a federation, as well as the set-up of a UTC and an academy trust. An experienced trainer, she has advised Chairs and governors on most aspects of governance, is familiar with operating and developing a number of different governance models, has introduced e-governance, has mentored new clerks and introduced governance change to support improvement. She was an assessor on the Clerks’ qualifications. She is currently Clerk at both Bath and Wiltshire Colleges and carries out other governance projects.

    As an NLG, Heather has supported clerks as well as the wider governing body on issues of board effectiveness and preparing for merger.


  • Kevin Finnigan

    Kevin is Vice Chair of Colchester Sixth Form College, where he leads on Quality improvement. He is also Vice Chair of Orchard Hill Academy Trust.

    He has recently served two terms as a governor at Richmond Adult and Community College. Kevin was a College Principal for eight years and Clerk to the Corporation for five years.

    Works with: colleges

    Kevin has worked widely in reviewing and restructuring Colleges, developing strategic plans and improving the quality of the service to learners. His focus is on how governors can make a difference in overseeing an even more effective service for their College. Kevin has also been involved in the Area Review process.

    In his role as governor, Kevin has chaired an audit committee and been the lead governor for quality improvement.

    Kevin has extensive experience in leading and managing change, leadership and management, project management, staff training, facilitating reviews and quality improvement.

    As an NLG, Kevin has supported colleges to prepare for merger, created quality improvement plans for governors and conducted governance audits.

  • Jennifer Foote MBE

    Jennifer is Company Secretary and General Counsel at LTE group.  She is Chair of the AoC National Governance Professionals SIG and a member of AoC Governors' Council.

    Jennifer led on the development and delivery of the level 4 clerks’ qualification for LSIS.

    Works with: colleges

    Jennifer is responsible for corporate governance and legal oversight at LTE Group. She has extensive experience of public sector, charity and education governance. As Company Secretary she ensures effective governance of the Group and its trading subsidiaries. Her General Counsel role encompasses responsibility for legal operations, including some compliance areas.

    Jennifer was awarded an MBE for services to further education in 2017.

  • Sue Gidman

    Sue has over 25 years' experience in the Welfare to Work and Skills sector with expertise in improving performance; organisation change; management systems and reporting and the introduction of new delivery models and processes including Apprenticeships under the Levy system.

    Sue has been a Board Director and managed operations and delivery for independent training providers and has delivered programmes in the UK and internationally.

    Sue is a Director of the London Work Based Learning Alliance.

    Works with: independent training providers

    Sue runs her own consultancy, GT Employability and Skills, and is an Associate with PublicCo. She has significant experience of integrating employment and skills provision including delivering 8,000 Apprenticeships with employers including Santander, Jaguar, and the NHS.

    Sue has implemented a range of quality systems leading to achievement of Grade One Ofsted across employability and apprenticeship provision. She has written bids and won and implemented new business awarded by DWP, SFA, LDA and ESF.

    Sue has been a Member of the CIPD for over 30 years and is a Fellow of the Institute of Employability Professionals.

    Sue strongly believes that we should give the best possible service and experience to every person who comes into our sector, that we should be innovative, motivational and challenging to ensure people achieve their true potential. She works with organisations to ensure this happens.

  • Lynsi Hayward-Smith

    Lynsi is currently Chair of Governors for a local authority Adult Learning Service and also a trustee for two other Boards of Directors.

    Her experiences include leading a service to an Outstanding Ofsted and Beacon status.  She has extensive experience of leading structural change within local authority services and developing governing bodies in a Local Authority context. She has worked with council members and committees to develop governance solutions within the political structure of a local authority.

    Works with: adult community learning

    Lynsi has been a Senior Manager in Local Authorities since 2002 and her career has included leading Adult Learning and Skills services in Essex and Cambridgeshire.

    Recently she led her authority through the Area Based Review and took a lead role in the development of the skills and employment work for the Combined Authority.

    Prior to that she has been a senior manager in the FE sector, the voluntary sector and schools. Her career has been focused on championing learning for all ages and working with partners to develop the quality of the learner’s experience.

    Lynsi is Chair of the Local Authority FE provider network LEAFEA and through this has worked to enable services to share their practice and develop in the changing funding context. This work has Included leading with the department (BIS) colleagues on developing the “Pound Plus” model.

    She is a qualified and experienced executive coach and mentor and has worked with a range of executives to mentor and support them in new roles and through change.



  • Barbara Holm

    Barbara has worked in the FE/Adult Education sector since 1981, for 17 years in FE colleges as a lecturer and senior leader and the last 19 years as Head of Service/Principal of Westminster Adult Education Service (WAES), a large local authority adult and community learning college.

    Barbara served as Chair of Holex from 2005 – 2017, taking a national lead in the support and development of adult and community learning providers.

    She also has 20 years’ experience as a school governor and Chair of Governors and is currently Chair of Governors of a large secondary Academy in Hertfordshire.

    Works with: adult and community learning

    Barbara has led WAES, one of the largest local authority adult education services, to Grade 2/Good at inspections, including its most recent one in 2016 where inspectors said it was ‘heading towards outstanding’.

    Barbara has developed and introduced new governance arrangements including the introduction of a Board of Governors at WAES and a Scheme of Delegation from Westminster City Council. She has supported and developed governors to confidently make judgements and provide informed and effective challenge alongside the introduction of processes to facilitate staff and governors working together on quality improvement. The work of the Board has been positively praised by ALI and OFSTED in each of its inspections.

    Barbara took a lead role in the Area Review of ACL in London including serving on the London Area Review Steering Group, and is currently serving as the ACL expert on the London Councils follow-on study. She is also supporting other ongoing ACL developments in central London.


  • Paul Jagger

    Paul is Chair of the Corporation at Thomas Rotherham College.

    He was Vice Chair at Barnsley College and Pro-Chancellor of the University of Bradford from 2006 until 2015. 

    Works with: colleges

    Paul was educated in Halifax and served an apprenticeship as a plumber in Halifax in the early 1960s.  He was Regional Secretary of the Trades Union Congress for Yorkshire and the Humber for 19 years until October 2005 and was also the President of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce in its 150th year during 2006/07. 

    Paul has also served on the Committee of University Chairs, Chair of the Consultative Council of UCAS and was a member of the national negotiating team at UCEA, for the University sectors pay and conditions. He is the immediate past President of Barnsley and Rotherham Chamber of Commerce and was chair of the employers' panel at NEST (National Employers Savings Trust) until earlier this year.

  • Carol Jones

    Carol is the Chair of Alpha Academies Trust and a member of the Finance and Operations Committee.  She is also the Vice Chair of the Stoke Studio College governing body.

    Carol is the former Chair of Stoke on Trent College Corporation and former Chief Executive of the Connexions Service for Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent.

    Works with: adult community learning, colleges

    Carol is an independent consultant working in careers guidance, education and skills sectors with statutory, private and third sector organisations. She has extensive experience in strategic and operational management, service delivery and development.  She works with education providers and charities to develop and improve strategic and operational management, raise quality and improve outcomes for their clients and beneficiaries.

    Carol Jones became Chair of Governors at Stoke on Trent College, in 2010. She led the college through an unprecedented period of change and challenges, including an external review of governance, restructuring, curriculum, estate and risk management reviews and establishing a group structure, including primary and secondary academies. Carol’s governance experience includes appointing a Principal and senior managers, governors and an independent clerk. 

    As an NLG Carol has worked with many different types of colleges across the country; developing governing bodies and supporting individual Chairs and governors to improve board effectiveness and college performance. She was also a co-opted member of the AoC Governors' Council from December 2013 to April 2017 when she completed her term of office.



  • Chris Lang

    Chris is currently a Governor and Chair of Finance Committee at Long Road Sixth Form College.

    Chris has been in senior finance roles in education since 1995, including as Vice/Deputy Principal in two general further education colleges from 2001 to 2015.

    Works with: colleges

    Chris is currently Chief Operating Officer for a limited company that provides leadership development and consultancy services to professional services firms. In parallel with this Chris has his own company providing predominantly financial and commercial advice to colleges.

    From 2004 to 2015 Chris was Deputy Principal – Finance and Resources at Cambridge Regional College (CRC). CRC were in good or outstanding financial health from 2006 onwards, and good or good with outstanding features in terms of quality through the whole period, and won several AoC Beacon Awards.

    In his nearly 15 years in FE Chris had responsibility for most support services. This has included at different times Estates and Facilities, MIS and Student Administration, Procurement, IT, Marketing, HR etc.  Overall he has been Lead Director for approaching £100M of capital expenditure, including innovative projects such as SmartLIFE, the Deakin Centre and UTC Cambridge.

    As someone with over 20 years’ experience at Finance Director/CFO level Chris has detailed knowledge, expertise and experience of risk management, decision making, benchmarking, planning, funding, budgeting and control. It is where these sorts of financial issues, strategic decisions, or major capital projects are affecting a College where Chris will be best placed to provide support as an NLG.

  • Stephen Lay

    Stephen has over 20 years experience in adult community learning senior management, including roles as Head of Service at Somerset County Council and Principal at Southend Adult Community College. 

    Stephen is a board member of Somerset Skills & Learning CIC (community interest company), which was created in August 2015 after ‘spinning out’ of the local authority.

    Works with: adult community learning

    During his time in adult community learning, Stephen has supported a variety of governance arrangements ranging from full integration with local authority reporting procedures and liaison with lead members to an arms length governing body with fully delegated responsibilities. 

    In the course of three Ofsted inspections governance arrangements have been identified as highly effective. The development of a discrete governance self-assessment report and quality improvement plan were seen as a particular strength.

    Stephen has overseen transformational change within the Governing Body as part of creating a ‘fit for purpose’ structure to meet the ever changing landscape of local authority community learning and skills.

    Along with other senior governors, he participated in an ETF funded ‘Governance Effectiveness’ PRD project with two other adult community colleges.

    Stephen has also had experience of senior management coaching and participating in ‘organisational health checks’ of ACL services.

  • Jonathan Lovelle

    Jonathan is Chair of the Corporation of Grimsby Institute Group.

    He is CEO of a regional firm of property consultants and Vice Chair of North East Lincolnshire Housing & Development Board.

    Works with: colleges

    Jonathan has led Grimsby Institute Group over the last three years through an extensive period of change, including a new governance structure, strategic plan, curriculum, estate and risk management reviews, appointment of various new senior post holders and the separation of the roles of Chief Executive Officer and Principal to achieve its strategic plan, whilst ensuring learner success remains the college's number one priority.  The Board and SMT have worked as a team to improve, year on year, the culture, achievements and staff surveys of the group. The group was awarded Outstanding in 2017 and have also been shortlisted for a Beacon award in 2017 for its leadership and governance.

    Jonathan started his career in housing in 1990 and is now CEO of a firm of property consultants with 19 offices and has handled over ten mergers. His experience is in strategic and operational management, mergers/partnerships, finance and an effective governance.  Jonathan lives in Lincolnshire and is married with two children.


  • Ron Matthews

    Ron is Clerk to the Corporation at Myerscough College, a large land based college in Lancashire, a position he has held since 2010.

    Ron previously worked in Local Government in a senior management role for a number of Lancashire authorities specialising in Governance and Democracy.

    Works with: colleges

    Ron has introduced robust governance systems at Myerscough College together with the introduction of electronic governance for governors. Internal auditors recognised governance arrangements at the College as highly efficient and effective.

    In addition to his college role he is Clerk and Company Secretary to a Church of England Multi Academy Trust with one high school and six primary schools.

    Ron plays an active part in the North West Clerks Group and organises a small sub-group of Lancashire Clerks on occasion to explore joint training and benchmarking opportunities. He also mentors, under the AoC scheme, a Clerk in the North East of England.

    Ron has gained a great deal of practical experience of delivering training, facilitation, organisational and structural reviews and of running community planning events.

    On a voluntary basis Ron is a Lead Assessor for North of England Excellence for their European Foundation of Quality Management Awards and a judge for the North and West Lancashire Chamber of Commerce for their Business Awards. He is also Blackpool Football Club supporter.

  • Martin McNeill

    Martin McNeill is Clerk to the Governors and Company Secretary at Morley College London, a leading Institute for Adult Learning.  He previously held a similar role at Bicton College.

    Before joining the college sector, Martin spent 20 years with the Audit Commission, where he researched and wrote many influential reports on management and governance in local government, the NHS and the criminal justice services.

    Works with: colleges

    In his roles at Morley College and Bicton College Martin put in place robust governance structures, managed the governance/management interface and led rigorous skills analysis and succession planning processes.  He has supported governors through successful Ofsted inspections, in strategic options reviews and in merger negotiations.  At a national level, he has prepared guidance and training materials for AoC as well as contributing to the drafting of the Foundation Code and Code of Good Governance. 

    Martin’s professional knowledge of governance is underpinned by direct experience, including nine years as Chair of Governors at a large 13-18 comprehensive school serving a rural/seaside area characterised by low aspirations.  In that time he built a diverse, effective and resilient board which ensured that standards continued to rise during a period of extreme turbulence.   He has also supported many other schools and their governors as performance management adviser and School Improvement Partner.

    Martin believes strongly that public and charitable bodies serving local communities have much to learn from each other, and in the value of partnership working across phases of education and across sectors.

  • Andy Milton FIEP FRSA

    Andy is an independent consultant with extensive senior management and leadership experience spanning the public, private and third sectors.

    He has held a range of director level operations and business development roles and has led exec teams and boards through successful strategy review and market positioning exercises.

    Andy brings over 35 years’ experience of working in the employment and skills sector.

    Works with: independent training providers

    Over the last 6 years Andy has completed a wide range of assignments as a consultant and interim in the UK and overseas.

    Andy has a wide breadth of experience that includes board and executive team effectiveness, strategy relevance and use, organisational design, resource and budget management, business development, market focus and positioning and use of KPIs and performance improvement. He brings an action orientated approach to all he does and applies this effectively to his role as an NLG.

    Andy has worked on both the commissioning for and delivery of skills and employment programmes giving him a rounded perspective on how to achieve the best results for the investment made. He is passionate about the sector and making a real difference to individuals and their communities and this underpins and drives all he does. He was made a Fellow of the Institute of Employability Professionals and of the Royal Society of Arts both in recognition of his work in the sector over many years.

    Andy's support as an NLG has attracted positive feedback and resulted in organisations making a number of improvements based on his reports and recommendations.

  • Pauline Odulinski OBE

    Pauline is a member of two large College boards and Chairs a range of sub-committees; is Chair of a National Charity and a Limited Company; and is an experienced University Council member and former member of a UTC Board of Governors.

    Previously, she had a successful career in FE, including 14 years as a Principal and Chief Executive of a college.

    Works with: colleges

    Pauline’s current and recent projects include:

    • Working as a strategic advisor for colleges, the AoC and the ETF.  Assignments include providing support for colleges going through intervention, mergers and federations and area reviews. 
    • Providing strategic options appraisals and working with boards and senior leadership teams to create a long-term vision and strategy and various change management programmes.
    • Special advisor to two boards going through merger discussions.
    • An assignment to successfully review, design and implement a new governance approach for a large group structure.
    • Producing a guidance handbook for leadership in equality and diversity, and audits to eliminate unconscious bias in college practice.
    • Mentor and coach to a number of serving Principals and senior executives.
  • Fran Parry

    Fran Parry is a highly respected leader and strategist with 30 years experience across private, voluntary and public sector organisations. 

    Fran is a trustee on the boards of Fair Train and Gingerbread and is a Co-Director of WhatWorksInclusion, a project seeking to highlight and share good practice in the voluntary, community and social enterprise sectors. 

    Works with: independent training providers


    Fran’s particular interests are youth policy and social inclusion and she curates the annual Youth Employment Convention bringing together experts across the education, employability and skills field to debate and promote the interests of the UK’s young people.

    Fran is the owner and Managing Director of Bright Sparks Consultancy Ltd and an Associate Director of YEUK, PublicCo, the Learning & Work Institute and the Transform Lives Company. 

    Until 2015 Fran was a Board and Executive Director at CESI, the pre-eminent research and policy organisation working in employability and skills, where she led on communications, new business and partnerships. Amongst extensive board experience she has made a major contribution to the creation of, and has also chaired, the leading membership organisations in the sector including ERSA (the Employment Related Services Association) and the IEP (Institute of Employability Professionals).

    Fran is recognised by senior stakeholders for her astute policy recommendations, “hands-on” approach to projects, networking skills, sound judgment and innovative ideas.

  • Mike Rawlings

    Mike Rawlings is Chair of the Board of Governors at Thurrock Adult Community College and has been for 10 years.  He has served as a board member for nearly 20 years.

    35 years as a CEO, Director of Services and Advice Service Manager have given Mike a unique insight into the governance, operations and performance criteria required for the successful survival and quality service provision for today’s not-for-profit businesses.

    Works with: adult community learning


    During his time as a governor of Thurrock Adult Community College, Mike has been involved in three inspections, the last describing the college as good. Instrumental in expanding the board to meet the needs of challenging times, he has helped build a talented board that meets the demands of successful governance and represents the diversity of the catchment area. He is also involved with introducing self-assessment review panels for curriculum managers and ‘learner walks’ for the governors. He has taken part in the Peer Review programme with similar colleges.

    Dealing with quality assurance, auditing, restructuring, project management, recruitment, personnel management and fundraising can be daunting and exhausting, particularly for small to medium sized operations with perhaps a small senior leadership team, or a small governing body or trustee board, Mike is experienced in guiding these types of organisations to success.

    Mike is a management consultant currently working with three nationally recognised women’s organisations to provide services across the county of Essex after successfully assisting in winning contracts to provide victims with sexual violence issues counselling and support.  He is supporting their new partnership and leading on governance, management, financial control and diversity for the new entity.

  • Brenda Sheils OBE

    Brenda was Principal and Chief Executive of Solihull College for 11 years.

    Brenda is a Non-Executive Director and Board lead for medical education at the University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust. She is a member of both the Finance and Performance Committee and the Quality Governance Committee. Brenda is also a Trustee of NACRO (the National Association for the Care and Rehabilitation of Offenders) and is a member of their Strategy and Performance Committee.

    Works with: colleges and independent training providers

    During her time at Solihull College, Brenda oversaw the £55 million major capital redevelopment of the entire estate and significantly improved its reputation and the quality of its provision.  She played a pivotal role in supporting the development of the skills of the local and regional workforce and established partnerships with many major employers including Birmingham Airport, JLR, Resorts World and the NEC.

    As a trained mentor and coach, through her company Brenda now provides executive mentoring and coaching for senior leaders in the FE sector. She was awarded an OBE in the 2014 New Year’s Honours List for her services to Further Education and is a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

    Brenda brings her extensive executive and board experience, her deep knowledge of the FE sector and her skills as a mentor and facilitator to the NLG role. 

  • Atholl Stott

    Atholl is Chair of the Corporation at RNN Group and was previously Chair of North Notts College.  He is Chair of AoC Governors' Council and a Board Member of AoC.

    Atholl is a senior executive and non-executive director with a depth of experience in organisations ranging from financial services and the voluntary sector to traditional unionised heavy industry.

    Works with: colleges

    Atholl is Chairman of Action Housing Support, and Homes for You Ltd. He is also Managing Director of a property investment and development company. He was previously Chief Executive of a regional third sector organisation, an LSC board member, an EMDA business champion for eight years and a Fellow of the Charted Institute of Personnel Development.

    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.

  • Michele Sutton CBE

    Michele has over 35 years' experience in further education first as a lecturer and finally as Principal and Chief Executive.

    Michele has held governance roles across the spectrum of education.  She has been the Chair of two Academies (primary and secondary); on governing bodies of Independent Training Providers – including the role of Chair and Chair of Quality Improvement Committee; on boards in the higher education sector including the Quality Assurance Agency and UCAS (on the main Board, the commercial Board and on the governance subcommittee) and on government boards including the YPLA and its audit committee and the SFA Boards. 

    Works with: colleges, independent training providers

    Michele has had a very varied and successful career in further education since the early 1980s when she was a lecturer in Business Studies, following 11 years in the private sector.  She has a Higher National Diploma in Business Studies, a Post Graduate Certificate in Teaching and a MSc in Career and Human Resource Development from the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, USA.

    She pursued a management route through FE using her skills in teaching and learning, marketing and student services and organisational design and development and became Vice Principal at Handsworth College in Birmingham, then Deputy Principal at City College Manchester.  She was appointed Principal and Chief Executive at Hopwood Hall College, Rochdale in 1999 and Principal and Chief Executive of Bradford College in 2004 and retired in July 2014.

    In December 2015 Michele was appointed to the position of Interim Principal of Bournville College in Birmingham and saw the college through an extremely difficult period of instability and financial difficulties.  This culminated in the implementation of the Area Review of Birmingham and Solihull recommendation that the college be merged with South and City College Birmingham. Having created a federation between the two colleges Michele became the Strategic Advisor to the Corporation of Bournville College prior to the merger which took place in September 2017.

    In December 2016 to June 2017 Michele was the Interim Principal of Kensington and Chelsea College again in challenging circumstances.  An initial anticipated merger did not take place and a new merger partner was sought and found – it is likely that this merger will take place early in 2018. 

    Both these assignments meant working very closely to the Governing Bodies and making changes in governance that would benefit the colleges.

    Michele was President of the AoC in 2013/14, awarded an OBE for Services to Further Education and Community Cohesion in 2009 and a CBE in 2015 for Services to the Further Education Sector.

  • Judith Williams

    Currently, Judith is the vice-chair of the United Colleges Group where she is the Safeguarding Champion and Chairs the Teaching & Learning Committee.

    As the Chair of the College of North West London, Judith led the Board on the Area Review Process during 2015/16 and contributed to the merger of the College in 2017.

    Works with: colleges

    Judith is an experienced governor, having served on two Boards as Chair and Vice-Chair, and draws on her background in Further/Adult Education and as a senior civil servant in both the Prison Service and Home Office up until 2005. Since then, Judith has developed her consultancy services to FE Colleges and senior leaders offering guidance on board development and coaching/mentoring for individuals. She also brings her recent experience of merger to her role as a National Leader of Governance.