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Chair of Governors Queen Alexandra College

Queen Alexandra College (QAC) seek to appoint a new Chair of Governors to lead its board towards a future vision which will see them deliver a new strategy of growth and development in a place which is far more than a typical college.

  • Location: Harborne, Birmingham, West Midlands
  • Salary: Reasonable expenses paid
  • Closing date: 9 a.m. Tuesday 4th June

Who we are

Queen Alexandra College has taken on many forms over the years. It has been based at its Court Oak Road site in Harborne, Birmingham, for the last 121 years.

We were initially established to provide education to young people who were blind or partially sighted. While we still do this, our 380+ students now also include those who are on the autistic spectrum, who have moderate to severe learning difficulties and who have physical disabilities. Each day, our students are supported by a dedicated team of 437 expert staff.

Our College is just one part of the wider Queen Alexandra Charity which also incorporates community services provision, residential accommodation and our wholly-owned subsidiary, QAC Enterprises, which offers a variety of specialist commercial services.

Our organisational structure is quite different to that of many other colleges. As well as being an organisation that provides education and training, we are also a charitable company – the Queen Alexandra Charity is made up of four elements: the College; community services; residential; and enterprises.

The College is the significant service area of the charity, attracting students predominantly from the West Midlands, but with one in eight coming from further afield. This means that we are currently working with over 35 local authorities nationally.

Operating on three west Birmingham sites, our provision has deep roots within the local area. Most teaching takes place at our Harborne Campus on Court Oak Road. Here, we have our fitness centre, sports hall and a range of specialist facilities which is also the location of our residential accommodation, supporting up to 24 students.

Our Umberslade Campus offers horticulture and outdoor learning and at the Pinewood Campus, the focus is on dedicated progression to work. Based in a business hub, it a feel that is distinctly ‘not college’.

We aim to maximise life chances, as well as develop independence and work skills. This is delivered through a range of provision including preparation for life, vocational and supported internship programmes and our LEAP curriculum which includes courses in animal care, design and production, hospitality and catering, multi-trades, retail and business and sport and leisure. Through our vocational curriculum, we provide courses up to Level 3 in a number of areas and our students can also take GCSEs in English and mathematics. We provide work experience, careers support, PSHE and tutorials — all are interwoven across each study programme.

We encourage our students not just to learn but to self-improve with the ultimate aim to ‘Empower Abilities and Inspire Lives’.

It is a testament to what parents and carers know about us, and to how students value us, that we have continued to grow; the demand for our places remains constant. Due to this, governors are in the position of needing to consider a growth strategy beyond our current strategic plan.

However, at a time when strategic growth is at the forefront of our thinking, there are also challenges ahead. On-site, we have a constant need to improve the quality of our provision and our student experience, ensuring we continue to evidence the positive impacts we make. Nationally, there are challenges regarding funding which may have an impact on our ambitions.

Given our aspiration coupled with the challenge, we now seek to appoint a new Chair to lead our Board — someone who can play a crucial role in helping us to navigate such issues.

About the role

Our governors are company directors and charity trustees, and they are responsible for strategic oversight of the charity’s activities.

The governing body has enjoyed stability for many years, drawing on a range of skills and backgrounds. This year, however, will see the retirement of three of our most experienced members including the Chair and the Vice-Chair.

At present, governance is conducted through the Board of Governors and through committees dealing with finance, curriculum, governance, remuneration and audit.

Our new Chair will not only play a vital role in leading our Board, they will also have a role to play on one or more of these other committees where their time and expertise allows.

In addition, our Chair of Governors, the Chief Executive & Principal, Beverley Jessop, and the Director of Governance, Paul Walker, meet regularly as ‘the triumvirate’ to consider business.

We believe this opportunity to lead our board represents a truly unique opportunity which will allow the postholder the chance to have an impact on our short, medium, and long-term strategy, whilst helping us provide first-class opportunities to our students.

Who we are looking for

The key ingredient to everything we do here at QAC is a passion for improving the life chances and opportunities of our students, and this is something that we believe all candidates will need to possess, along with a recognition of the impact that education and skills development have on our students.

We recognise that we are a relatively unique entity as both a charity and an education provider coupled with the other facets of our wider business. As such, we will welcome applications from people with experience gained from a range of appropriate professional backgrounds.

Primarily, our new Chair should be someone who has a passion for improving life chances of young people, perhaps with an understanding and knowledge of SEND, further education and/or social care.

Our new Chair will undoubtedly need to have previous governance and board experience. This could have been gained as a Chair, a Committee Chair or as a governor elsewhere.

Our College is a hive of activity with an inclusive and vibrant atmosphere. Our students feel safe, cared for and supported and our staff demonstrate their commitment on a daily basis. We hope that our new Chair will be a person who wants to, and can contribute to this wider organisational experience; someone who will become a visible, familiar part of our College community.

Time commitment

In terms of time commitments for our Chair, it is expected that the appointed candidate will need to dedicate no more than 3 – 4 days per month — the role and the postholder will be supported via a full programme of induction.

Peridot Partners and Queen Alexandra College are, together, committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people and our client expects all staff and volunteers to share this commitment. The successful candidate will be subject to an enhanced DBS check and satisfactory references before any final offer can be made.


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

Dan Baxter | dan@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07939 994524

If you would like to know more about this role please contact Dan Baxter

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Welcome from QAC

A warm thank you for your interest in becoming our next Chair of Governors.

This role at Queen Alexandra College, Birmingham, offers you the chance to have a positive impact as you lead a committed group of colleagues in ensuring that all service areas achieve their strategic aims and aspirations – College Service, Community Services, Residential Services and Enterprises.

Importantly, you will ensure good governance oversight of the College is maintained as it progresses against areas for development as identified in the Ofsted inspection, see through the final stage of our return to a balanced budget with our £15m annual income and work alongside other governors and College managers in formulating our strategy.

Alongside these challenges, we offer you a position where what you do brings genuine rewards for our learners and clients, maintaining the outcomes that they, their parents and their carers and the funders value.

Working with and alongside the Principal and Chief Executive, governors and with the support of the Director of Governance who joined us a year ago from the Department for Education, you will have the opportunity to look afresh at how governance operates to ensure positive scrutiny and challenge are maximised. An internal audit of corporate governance takes place this summer and the next external review of governance is due during 2025.

Naturally, we welcome a presence by all governors on our sites, but we are comfortable with virtual meetings. Most are held this way and, although the board is free to re-visit the schedule at any time, at present, all meetings take place during standard office hours.

We have an open mind about where applicants live in relation to Harborne. Similarly, we have an open mind about the background of applicants.

We appreciate that specialist education, further education and even the education sector itself may be new to you.

We can’t say that experience in these fields is not desirable, but more important is an ability, and a willingness, to challenge, lead your governing team and work constructively with senior executive leaders.

There are many exciting opportunities ahead as the organisation repositions the services it offers, raises the profile of this long-standing Birmingham-based charity and its close links with BRIB and, importantly, to ensure governance continues to maintain a values-driven culture that never loses focus on the needs and aspirations of the young people with learning difficulties and disabilities who benefit so significantly on what QAC offers.

We will be inviting the successful candidate to join us for our board meeting at the College during the afternoon of Monday 1st July and hope that mentioning it now increases the chances of you being able to join us.

Accessibility information

We understand that different members of the community have different access needs and have made some modifications to the way we do business to accommodate people from diverse communities and abilities.

Our accessibility provisions include:

  • Step-free access to the building, all key meeting rooms and bathrooms, and an accessible workstation.
  • Accessibility dogs are welcome.
  • Papers and materials can be presented in different formats.
  • A sign language interpreter can be accessed for interviews.
  • Working patterns and locations can be adjusted.

Further information

 

Our EDI initiatives include:

  • EDI Charter
  • Leaders in Diversity October 2021, going above and beyond in our commitment to fairness, respect, equality, diversity, inclusion and engagement.
  • EDI Strategy Group
  • Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Leaders Action Plan
  • We publish equality, diversity and inclusion data here.

Statistics

  • 45% of our students are from ethnic minorities. Some 90% live in the West Midlands Combined Authority, and some 10% come from further afield.

Applicants with a disability are invited 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 role, or if any adjustments or support are required regarding the recruitment process.


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

Dan Baxter | dan@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07939 994524

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

    Dan Baxter | dan@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07939 994524

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    Timetable

    Closing date: 9 a.m. Tuesday 4th June 2024

    We are in the process of confirming interview dates. We will update the site once confirmed and contact those who have applied.


    Equal Opportunities Monitoring

    Peridot and Queen Alexandra College 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 will send you an equality monitoring survey at the point of receiving your application, in the interview phase and at the time of placement. This ensures that our processes remain inclusive and equitable throughout, and provides us with important data to help us showcase our impact. The information will be treated confidentially and anonymously and will help us to support our commitment to fair recruitment practices. All information provided will be held in the strictest confidence and will not be shared with anyone, in line with the Data Protection Act 2018. The information provided does not form part of the decision-making process and will not affect your application.


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