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Associate Principal (Finance) Education Partnership North East

Take the strategic lead for financial strategy and planning, accounting and performance as Associate Principal (Finance) at one of the largest and most ambitious colleges in the country.

  • Location: North East Region (based in Sunderland, with occasional travel to Northumberland and Tees Valley)
  • Salary: £61,610


Education Partnership North East is a successful and vibrant organisation that changes lives. We are led by talented people who are experts in their fields and there is a shared vision to continually evolve, develop and improve in order for our colleges to have the desired impact in our towns and cities, and across the North East region of England.

Following the three mergers which created EPNE, we have invested significantly in people, resources and systems to make sure we are as efficient and productive as possible whilst also guaranteeing appropriate control and expenditure of the public funds placed in our control. Whilst our funding and income model is complex and challenging – as it is for any college of our size, scale, and geography – our financial health is strong and improving. This is quite an achievement when considering the challenges we previously faced when bringing Northumberland College into our group at a time when it faced significant financial challenges and an urgent requirement for capital investment, which we have already focused on.

The senior leadership role of Associate Principal (Finance) is new and has been approved by our executive leadership team to report to our Chief Operating Officer, David Howells, and take full responsibility for the strategic leadership and operational management of financial accounting, reporting, treasury, control, procurement and contracting, and payroll. With both our financial management and quality of education being of equal importance and the combined backbone of our organisations, this is an incredibly important role with great responsibility.

As our Associate Principal (Finance) you will work with senior leadership colleagues across the group and lead a team of more than 60 technical and administration experts, with two direct reports comprising the Director of Finance and our Strategic Procurement and Contracts Manager. We need you to support, develop and enable your finance teams to enhance productivity and performance, and to ensure we are offering an excellent customer experience to our internal stakeholders (staff and students), our suppliers and partners.

We have recently invested in PS Financials to integrate finance and payroll systems, though we recognise we are not yet utilising this function to its full capability. We expect you to improve how we use the systems available to us and ensure they are working well with our student records and funding systems, to ensure accurate and timely reporting of management accounts, income tracking and forecasts. Our executive leadership team will welcome your expertise and invite you to regularly present to them in monthly meetings, alongside our new Executive Director of Registry & Information Systems, with whom we expect you will be working very closely.

When recognising every budget holder’s responsibility for the appropriate use of public funds entrusted to us, and those generated through commercial means, it will be your responsibility to devise training and development for leaders and managers. They will look to you for guidance and advice, which you and your teams will offer, and in return, you will offer them robust scrutiny and support in relation to their plans for curriculum and business support delivery and investment. Across our three colleges, we will look to you to add additional capacity around finding solutions to organisational challenges whilst also ensuring everyone understands the importance of guaranteeing value for money and appropriate expenditure.

Whilst being an excellent accountant with a talent for being inwardly focused on financial control and both accurate and timely reporting of management information, we also encourage you to be externally facing and strategically minded. You will need to support our Chief Operating Officer to devise financial strategies around further growth, development and investment. In return for sharing your expertise with us, we will commit fully to your own development and progression.

Ultimately, you will be the guardian of EPNE’s money – ensuring our financial health continues to improve whilst, at the same time, enabling us to invest in our people, resources, and estate so that our students continue to have access to digitally enabled, high-quality, teaching and learning.

Who we're looking for

We believe that for you to be successful in this senior leadership role, you must be a professionally qualified accountant with experience in leading multi-disciplinary finance functions in an organisation of a comparable scale to ours. With that in mind, you will need several years’ post qualification experience. You should be a committed and passionate leader, with experience of getting the very best out of your teams and be able to speak confidently about the financial improvements you had led – to systems, people and organisational performance – in previous roles.

As an experienced finance manager, comfortable working at senior management level to support strategy development and risk management, we welcome your experience of and involvement in planning, monitoring, and delivering major projects. This is alongside your wider experience of leading business planning and coordinating capital and revenue budgets.

Whilst we do not feel it essential that you have worked in financial management within the further education college sector previously, if you do come to us from another allied public or charitable sector organisation then we do expect you to quickly assimilate yourself with the needs of our business.

Useful Links:

For further information about the role, or to arrange a confidential discussion, please contact our advising consultant at Peridot Partners:

Drew Richardson-Walsh | drew@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07739 364 033

Shaun Eden | shaun@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07951 509 128

Education recruitment with Drew Richardson-Walsh

If you would like to know more about this role please contact Drew Richardson-Walsh

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Dear candidate,

A very warm welcome from the EPNE Group!

I would like to start by thanking you for your interest in joining us as a member of our senior management team.

We believe that culture and quality are equally important and as such place a high value on living and breathing our professional values. We are constantly striving to ensure we are consistently authentic, respectful, innovative, and ambitious for our students, people and partners. We place excellence at the heart of everything we do.

Following the mergers of City of Sunderland College with Hartlepool Sixth Form and Northumberland College, we are now one of the largest college groups in the country. Our campuses span across Northumberland, Sunderland, and Hartlepool, with a catchment area from Berwick-upon-Tweed to the Tees Valley. Whilst we are working hard to create a one-college approach, each one of our colleges will remain strongly connected to the communities that they serve.

Our vision embeds the notion of ‘going beyond’ and expresses our ambition to do more, achieve more, go the extra mile and create new horizons. Our five Strategic Goals are:

  1. Invest in and continue to shape our careers focussed curriculum

Providing curriculum pathways to meet the current and future demands of the national, regional and local labour market. As the lead College for the North East Careers Hub and an advocate for the Gatsby Good Career benchmarks, we invest in and shape a comprehensive curriculum in line with national, regional and local skills needs. This means we deliver a career focussed curriculum at all levels, progressing students and apprentices through academic and/or technical routes into meaningful employment.

  1. Maintain an unwavering focus on providing of outstanding learning opportunities for students.

We aspire for ALL student and apprentice outcomes to be within the very top tier of college’s nationally and will continue to work towards this aspiration. We recognise that whilst a strong curriculum is essential, so is the quality of teaching, learning and assessment. Furthermore, creating outstanding learning opportunities is not solely about what happens in a classroom, workshop, or other learning environments. We prioritise our students undertaking activities such as work placements, volunteering, charity work, employer projects, competitions, and other non-qualification activity.

  1. Unite our culture and empower our people

Culture is critical to the development of happy and engaged high performing people, who are empowered to lead, innovate, and take ownership. We firmly believe in the power of our people to transform our college to be very best it can be. Our People Plan is focused on three core principles – attract, retain, develop.  We aspire to be the best in all that we do and to enable our employees (and students) to reach their full potential.  A culture of strong values means strong results for all. Therefore, professional values are fundamental to our pursuit of excellence and why we are determined for them to continue to underpin all of our activities.

  1. Strengthen our financial resilience and invest in our resources: We will build our financial resilience and strengthen our resources to ensure all stakeholders benefit from outstanding learning environments.

We envisage growing our income and market share across FE, HE and apprenticeship provisions. Further investments in our collective college estate will ensure it remains a high quality, safe and accessible learning environment, providing state-of-the-art facilities. We have invested over £70m in new building assets to improve the learning environment of our learners over the past six years and we are currently engaged in several exciting new projects that will further transform the experiences of our learners.

  1. Engage locally, nationally and regionally, and build our reputation

Our strategic plan specifically sets out an intention over the coming years to; expand and further nurture mutually beneficial partnerships with industry and community organisations, contribute positively to social, cultural and economic regeneration as an anchor institution, extend our influence by collaborating with strategic partners to support and sustain mutually beneficial activities, collaborate on innovative employer-led projects and a wide range of social responsibility activities in order to continually enhance the student experience and celebrate the positive impact we have on our communities.

In summary, our Strategic Plan represents an ambitious, investment-driven approach for all. Our people come to work every day to make a positive difference to our community of approximately 21,500 students. We are passionate about positively contributing to the social, economic, and educational outcomes of our region. We also believe it is important to have a caring, and positive working culture. We live our corporate values of authenticity, respectfulness, ambition and innovation and we like our staff to be kind and supportive to each other.

If you feel that these values resonate with you and you are passionate about making a difference for our students, then we look forward to you applying to join our team.

Best wishes,

David Howells

Chief Operating Officer of Education Partnership North East

About the Organisation

Education Partnership North East (EPNE) is a dynamic partnership between Sunderland College, Hartlepool Sixth Form and Northumberland College.  Following a successful merger between the three colleges we are now one of the largest college groups in the country, educating and training 21,500 students across three counties.  With a catchment area stretching from the Scottish border to the Tees Valley, we have seven campuses situated across Sunderland, and in Hartlepool, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Ashington and Ponteland. Whilst working hard to create a one-college approach, each college remains strongly connected to the communities they serve.

EPNE delivers high-quality post-16 education and training through a broad curriculum in academic, professional and technical subjects. We offer qualifications across further, higher and adult education programmes, as well as through apprenticeships. We also offer specialist provision for students with special education needs and disabilities.

Our sector specialisms align to the key needs of the labour market and are embedded both in our pioneering curriculum development and investment in world-class facilities that equip our students with the relevant skills for industry.  EPNE courses are delivered by experienced and dedicated staff and we have some of the best training facilities in the North East. EPNE specialises in the following industries:

  • Land-based and Animal Management
  • Business and Professional Services
  • Health and Care
  • Construction
  • Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing
  • Digital Industries

To realise our vision, EPNE aims to excel in pursuit of excellence to enable our Colleges to increase engagement and improve performance by uniting the large and sprawling populations under one culture and strengthen our reputation locally, regionally and nationally.

Purposefully bold and challenging, EPNE aspires to be:

  • In the top 10 colleges nationally for student achievement; and
  • In the top 25 colleges nationally for financial health.

EPNE believe that culture and quality are equally important and as such, place a high value on living and breathing our professional values.

EPNE’s passion is our strength – we have demonstrated this continuously and will continue to pursue our vision with enthusiasm and determination.


We are committed to treating all our job applicants and employees fairly and with respect, irrespective of their actual or assumed background, disability or any other protected characteristic.

We are committed to accessibility and disability inclusion, and strive to develop a diverse workforce that provides us with a wider range of skills and experience.

We offer the following amenities:

  • There is step-free access to the building, accessible workstations (e.g. desks, offices), and all key meeting rooms and toilets.
  • Interviews can be held in meeting rooms that support hearing loops.
  • Accessibility dogs are welcomed.
  • Papers and materials can be presented in different formats if needed.
  • A sign language interpreter can be accessed for an interview.
  • Working patterns and working locations can be adjusted depending on your needs.

If you have any further needs around accessibility, please get in touch with the advising consultants for a confidential chat on how we can best fulfil your needs.

Please download the 2019-2020 Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Annual Report for more information.

    To access a full job description and application details,
    please fill out the form below.


    Thank you for your interest in this role.

    Please download the Role Description and Person Specification and complete this Equality Monitoring Survey.

    To formally apply, please submit a CV and supporting statement (ideally maximum 2 sides of A4 each) that clearly outlines your suitability for the role against the criteria provided in the person specification, including your interest and motivation in applying for this position.

    Please ensure that your application is emailed to response@peridotpartners.co.uk inserting “Associate Principal (Finance) | Education Partnership North East” into the subject field.

    For further information about the role, or to arrange a confidential discussion, please contact our advising consultants at Peridot Partners

    Drew Richardson-Walsh | drew@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07739 364 033

    Shaun Eden | shaun@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07951 509 128

    We wish to encourage applications regardless of race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origins, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, marital or civil partner status, pregnancy or maternity, age or religion or belief.

    All applications will be considered solely on merit.

    Disabled applicants are actively encouraged to contact us in confidence at any point during the recruitment process to discuss steps that could be taken to overcome operational difficulties presented by the job, or if any adjustments or support are required regarding the recruitment process.

    Closing date: by 9 a.m Monday 7th March 2022

    Candidates informed of outcome: by 5 p.m. Friday 11th March 2022

    Interviews: Tuesday 15th March 2022

    Equal Opportunities Monitoring

    Peridot and Education Partnership North East are committed to promoting equality and diversity. To help us raise awareness and support a culture that is diverse and recognises and develops the potential of all, we need to appreciate the profile of candidates who apply for positions. We would therefore be most grateful if you would complete this equality monitoring survey.

    The information will be treated confidentially and anonymously and will help us to support our commitment to fair recruitment practice. All information provided will be held in the strictest confidence and will not be shared with anyone, in line with the new Data Protection Act 2018 launched on 25 May 2018.

    The information provided does not form part of the decision-making process and will not affect your application.

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