NLG Biographies

  • Karen Adriaanse

    Karen Adriaanse 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. She held the post of Special Adviser (Improvement) for FE and Skills at Ofsted from 2012 to 2016. This involved: developing inspection frameworks and handbooks, developing 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.

  • Jim Aleander

    Jim Aleander is Vice Chair of the board at Portland College, Nottinghamshire, where he has been a governor for many years. He has served as principal – and board member – of three general further education colleges. Most recently, as interim principal at South Leicestershire College, he 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 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. Subsequently, he has produced national guidance on self-assessment and on leadership of equality, diversity and inclusion. He has conducted project work nationally for AoC, including recent 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 and is currently a National Leader of Governance. He also mentors principals of further education and sixth form colleges on an individual basis.

  • John Boyle

    John Boyle has been Chair of Blackpool Sixth Form College for 11 years during a period of sustained growth and improvement.

    He is also Chair of the associated Fylde Coast Teaching School and Fylde Coast Academy Trust for which he devised a unique corporate structure. He has chaired Remuneration, Search, Audit and Finance Committees. Professionally qualified in banking and finance he brings a useful combination of legal, financial and commercial expertise. He has extensive experience of governance in a variety of environments and is also an experienced NLG for the National College for Teaching and Leadership, being appointed two years ago.  He has assisted sixth form colleges, academies and schools with governance matters, performing External Reviews of Governance and providing support and consultancy through periods of improvement, change and/or difficulty. He can also bring experience and support to those considering academy trust and/or teaching.

  • Paul Butler

    Paul Butler took up his first appointment as a college governor 22 years ago.

    Previously Chair of Leyton Sixth Form College, he is now Chair of Waltham Forest College.  He runs his own management consultancy advising on workforce, governance, and issues related to community development. Paul is an Acas Council member and a member of the Federation of Small Business Employment Committee.

  • Mike Carver

    Mike Carver is currently the Chair of the Board of Hertford Regional College(HRC) and has been for nearly 10 years and served as a Board member for 14 years.

    During his term of office, like many Colleges, HRC has been through good times, challenging times, times of huge capital availability followed by reduced income through cuts, educational policy change and continuous Government interference.

    Mike has extensive private sector experience having 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 has also been a Councillor for 24 years, 6 years as Leader of East Herts. Council. He retired from the Council in May 2015 and retired a year later from the Local Government Association where he had been a National Member Peer in both Planning and Leadership.

    He is a hugely experienced practitioner 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, it is an essential platform for successful Colleges and Sector.

    The principles of difference between management and governance however remain distinct and transparent in every case.

    The work has been translated into practical cases as an NLG, at both SEEVIC and New College Stamford.

  • James Crabbe

    James Crabbe is Chair of Governors (formerly Vice-Chair) at Central Bedfordshire Further Education College, 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).

    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 Cross has over 25 years’ experience in FE as a Clerk and was fifteen years a Vice-Principal. Her experience ranges over ten colleges, working with many different Chairs and senior teams, spanning urban and rural colleges across 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 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.

  • Joni Cunningham

    Joni Cunningham has extensive senior management experience in local authority, further education and adult community learning including roles in quality improvement. She is currently principal of a medium sized adult community college where she has worked with the board of governors on successfully transforming their practice which was judged by Osted to be particularly strong at their last inspection.

    Joni is the Holex special adviser on leadership, governance, safeguarding  (including Prevent) for the ACL sector. She led LSIS and ETF funded governance peer review and development projects between 2013 and 2014, working collaboratively with the principals and governors of three adult and community colleges generating a toolkit for link governor roles including learning walks, data dashboards and governance self-assessment.

    She has chaired the local authority strategic partnership for employment and skills for six years during which time it has established membership from the local business community, JobCentre Plus, council regeneration team, GFE college, adult & community service as well as the voluntary and community service. The partnership has worked well together identifying strategic objectives and plans to ensure provider plans meet local employment needs.

    She has previously worked for the Norfolk LEA inspection and advisory team advising on organisation and professional development in post-16 providers across the county. She has served on the board of the London Stansted Cambridge Corridor (LSCC) and the work based learning board of study for Middlesex University.

  • Kevin Finnigan

    Kevin is the Director of Kevin Finnigan Associates. He has been a College Principal for eight years (Orpington College and EHWLC) and a Deputy Principal and Clerk to the Corporation for five years (Chelmsford College). He has been Governor of Richmond Adult Community College for the last eight years. Kevin has chaired the audit committee and been the lead governor for quality improvement. He has also recently joined Colchester Sixth Form College as a Governor. Kevin is currently Vice Chair and leads on Curriculum and Standards for the College. 

    He 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 is also currently involved in the Area Review process.

    Examples of recent assignments

    • Reviewing the governance and management arrangements for the merger of two further education Colleges.
    • Creating and delivering quality improvement programmes for College governors.
    • Reviewed the “end to end processes” to improve the quality of apprentices for large employers. Appraised the appropriateness of work based learning assessment with OFSTED inspectors.
    • Investigation of disciplinary practices/procedures in a Further Education College.
    • Coaching and mentoring governors to be more effective in their roles.
    • Reviewing Performance management staff systems for colleges in the Eastern region.
  • Jennifer Foote MBE

    Jennifer has been Company Secretary to the Manchester College Group since September 2013.  Her background is in local authority governance and she has been a clerk in the 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 clerk.

  • Carol Jones

    Carol Jones became Chair of Governors at Stoke on Trent College, a general further education college, in 2010. 

    Since then she has led her 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, of which she is also Chair. Carol’s governance experience includes appointing a Principal and senior managers, governors and an independent Clerk.  Carol has created a transparent and open culture at Board level, between governors and between governors and the senior management team (SMT). This has enabled governors to hold the SMT to account, identify and address underperformance in her college, set and monitor ambitious targets using benchmarking and good practice and accelerate improvement at all levels. There is a relentless focus on outcomes for students, on improving teaching, learning and assessment and employability.

  • 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. 

    During this time he 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. More recently he has joined the Board of the newly established Somerset Skills & Learning CIC (community interest company), which was created in August 2015 after  ‘spinning out’ of the local authority.

    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.


  • 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. He has introduced robust governance systems at the College together with the introduction of electronic governance for Governors. Internal Auditors recently recognised governance arrangements at the College as highly efficient and effective.

    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.

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

    In a former life he worked in Local Government in a senior management role for a number of Lancashire authorities specialising in Governance and Democracy. At the 2010 General Election he acted as Deputy Returning for the South Lakeland Parliamentary Constituency and also managed a review of the South Lakeland District Council scrutiny function.

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

    Ron was formerly a National Subject Specialist for the AoC.

    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.  Both at Morley and in a similar role at Bicton College (2010-15) he has 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 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.  Since 2011 he has been a member of AoC’s Governance Portfolio Group.

    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.  He 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.

    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.

  • Pauline Odulinski OBE

    Pauline has successfully worked as CEO/ Principal in FE and is currently Chair of Performance and Standards Committee at City of Plymouth College & also on the board of Activate Learning Group. Chair of Inspire Young People Charity and Mark Webber Youth Challenge, Chair of a private company (design and creation of interiors). Also, works as a mentor and coach to new Principals and Senior Managers, providing the support and development of board effectiveness and providing specialist support for Chairs and Principals through area review’s.

    Knowledge and experience of leading and implementing structural changes in FE e.g. Federation and Merger. Strong focus on curriculum and students experience and a passionate supporter of equality and diversity and helping young people achieve their goals in life. Recent assignments include delivering a leadership programme for 60 Principals in Beijing China, for the British Council.

    Visiting Professor at Buckinghamshire New University and a Fellow of the University too.


  • Fran Parry

    Fran Parry is a highly respected leader and strategist with 30 years experience across private, voluntary and public sector organisations.  She is recognised by senior stakeholders for her astute policy recommendations, “hands-on” approach to projects, networking skills, sound judgment and innovative ideas.

    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.


    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 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.  She 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. 

  • Mike Rawlings

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

    Over that time, he has been involved in two inspections, the last describing the college as good with outstanding features. 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.

    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. Providing new services to men and children is one of the challenges both operational and culturally that he is helping to design and implement.

    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

    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.

  • Brenda Sheils

    Brenda Sheils 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. 

    Brenda was Principal and Chief Executive of Solihull College for 11 years and during that time she oversaw the £55 million major capital redevelopment of its 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.

    Brenda is a Governor at the recently merged Heart of Worcestershire College. She is also a Non-Executive Director and Board lead for medical education at the University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, one of the largest acute teaching hospitals in the country, working in partnership with the University of Warwick and Coventry University. She is a member of both the Finance and Performance Committee and the Quality Governance Committee, and is a Trustee of the Trust’s Charity. Brenda recently became a trustee of NACRO -  an ITP which has extensive EFA and SFA education contracts.

    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.

  • Atholl Stott

    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 three daughters and two granddaughters.

  • Judith Williams

    As a Chair of a London College which has recently improved it’s OfSTED rating in a short space of time and as a former vice-chair of a college that gained two consecutive outstanding grades she is able to support FE governors in a range of ways.  Judith’s career to date has focused on education, concerning quality improvement, as a teacher, manager and leader, particularly when she was employed as the Chief Education Officer of the Prison Service. 

    Currently, Judith’s focus is on Area Reviews, coaching senior managers, facilitating action learning sets and providing training.  Besides working with governors, she is also undertaking voluntary work for the Women’s Leadership Network, involving research into senior leaders.


  • Andy Milton

    Andy Milton has extensive senior management and leadership experience spanning the public, private and third sectors. He was also a founder Director for a successful PPP that grew to a £75m turnover business delivering employment and skills programmes across the UK. 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.

    Over the last 5 years Andy has completed a wide range of assignments as a consultant and interim in the UK and overseas. These have included a growing number of completed NLG assignments. His NLG work has attracted positive feedback and resulted in organisations making a number of improvements based on Andy's report and recommendations.

    Andy has a wide breadth of experience on which he draws and this includes board and exec 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.

    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.