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Chair of the Board of Governors The Northern College for Residential Adult Education

Northern College of Adult Education is looking to engage a new Chair of Governors to support the College with the next phase of their journey of continued success and ambitious outcomes for their students. Your rewards will be boundless and the value you can bring to this historic institution should be one of passion for the sector, energy and aspirational leadership.

  • Location: Wentworth Castle, Barnsley, South Yorkshire
  • Salary: Unremunerated

Northern College is a specialist designated institution (SDI) as defined by the Further and Higher Education Act 1992. The College is a company limited by guarantee incorporated on 18 November 1977 and a registered charity. Members of the Board of Governors are also members and directors of the company and trustees of the charity.

The College is governed by the Chair and Board of Governors, who are collectively responsible for:

  • determining the long term strategy and educational character of the College,
  • stewardship of the public assets and funds it holds,
  • ensuring the effective and efficient use of its resources, and making sure that use is in line with the objects of the company/charity and for the benefit of the public,
  • ensuring its continued solvency,
  • monitoring and constructively challenging performance,
  • ensuring the effective performance of its legal and regulatory duties.

The chair’s role is fundamental to a strong governing body and is therefore key to Northern College’s continued success. The chair helps to set the tone and ethos of governance and leads the Board of Governors in the discharge of its duties.

The Chair provides leadership to ensure:

  • Northern College governance is effective and of the highest standards;
  • the Board of Governors works as a coherent unit, and with the Executive Leadership Team, to achieve the College’s strategy and objectives;
  • accountability, oversight, and robust risk management are maintained for the effective and efficient use of resources, and safeguarding the College students, staff, assets and estate;
  • the Board of Governors offers appropriate challenge and support to the Executive Leadership Team and Senior Post-Holders;
  • individual governors have the necessary support, advice and guidance to enable them to contribute to collective governance and act as powerful ambassadors for the College.

The Chair will develop strong working relationships with key stakeholders, for example, Chairs of other colleges and educational institutions.

By becoming the Chair at Northern College, you will be leading a high performing board and successful college.  This is your opportunity to steer provision that benefits the students, the local community and employers directly.  Being the Chair at Northern College is hugely rewarding and is an opportunity to make a real difference to the communities served by the College.

Sound governance requires more than simply ensuring that the books balance and that the CEO & Principal is getting on with the business of running the College within the parameters established by the Governors. Colleges must be able to respond to changes in direction of government policy and anticipate changing needs in their communities.  The Board of Governors must be actively involved in reviewing the role of the College and in planning and managing change to ensure its long term health and success.

The Board meets four times over the academic year and runs a committee structure that meets up to five times per year, dependent of the type of committee (Policy & Finance = 5 times per year) and as the Chair of Governors you will be expected to attend both the full Board meetings and be an active member of at least one committee.  Committee membership will be led by your area of expertise and/or particular area of interest and will be guided by the Clerk upon appointment.

Who we are looking for 

Recognising the Colleges’ ambitious strategy to ‘inspire positive change through adult education’, we are seeking to engage our next Chair of Governors to support the Board and leadership team in this journey and bring with them a passion for success and recognition of the value of adult education to society and enhanced societal change.

The College has a strong and dynamic Board with a breadth of experience and hence will require a strong and dynamic Chair to complement this experience and draw out the very best in the team. With a naturally strategic mind, experience of operating at a very senior level within a large and complex business environment, and with a passion and commitment to adult education, the next Chair will know what good governance looks like having led it previously or reported into a high-performing board.

As Chair, you will be expected to lead an ambassadorial role across the city and region, building relationships and developing the reputation of the College, along with the Principal and Chief Executive, Yultan Mellor.

Your style should be inclusive and collaborative, to enable and foster open and honest discussion and debate around the board table. With previous board-level experience, ideally as Chair, you will recognise the difference between executive leadership and operations, and non-executive decision making and oversight.

With the adult education sector expected to continue to change and adapt in response to Government policy, the Chair will need to be decisive; recognising when to act independently and when to draw on the expertise around the Board, the executive team and peers within the sector.

Lived-in experience of adult education would be desirable, however a strong recognition of the impact made to people’s lives through education and self-development is essential.  You will need to understand the ethos of the College, societal change and providing better opportunities to improve lives, displaying this through your passion and drive to be involved.

You will support the development and influence the direction of Northern College at a time of great momentum for the College as they seek to secure the finances, grow the organisation and aspire to provide outstanding education and training opportunities for adults across Barnsley, and the South and West Yorkshire Region.

Closing date: Monday 28th February 2022

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

Sarah Szulczewski | sarahs@peridotpartners.co.uk |  07841 017043

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

Further education recruitment with Sarah Szulczewski

If you would like to know more about this role please contact Sarah Szulczewski

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Dear Candidate,

I am delighted that you are interested in becoming the Chair of the Board of Governors at Northern College.

As one of only two adult residential colleges in England, Northern College is passionate about providing education for those over 19 regardless of their previous educational experience, level or background.  We have a proud and distinguished history of enabling access by tailoring our teaching and support to individual needs as much as is possible, both for non-residential students and residential students, some of whom reside on our amazing campus for as long as an academic year.

Once engaged, our students all have a determination to secure the education, qualifications and opportunities they feel they have previously missed out on.  They wish to take control of their lives and change them for the better.  Studying at Northern College is a very inclusive, impactful and memorable experience for our students.

Our curriculum starts from where students are, building on their experience of life and work, and providing them with opportunities to acquire new skills, progress and achieve their potential in life and work.  The full range of provision can be found at www.northern.ac.uk

We work closely with many stakeholders including local and mayoral combined authorities, voluntary and community sector organisations, colleges and universities, to be part of the regional ecosystem, reaching out to individuals and communities, engaging them in learning and supporting them to progress.

Our 2025 Strategic Ambition was finalised in March 2020, setting priorities which respond to the devolution of the adult education budget by operating on a more regional basis, and developing our commercial offer to build new sources of income.  Since then, we have successfully managed the College throughout the impact of Covid-19 and through an unexpected Further Education Commissioner intervention linked to a DfE review of residential support funding.  In July, the Structure and Prospects Appraisal process concluded resulting in unanimous support from all of our funders to retain Northern College as a valued independent institution.  It is pleasing to see that the key themes of ‘Innovate, Diversify and Promote’ remain relevant and, alongside a revised 3-year business plan, set out our strategic actions to build a sustainable College for the future.

Now we need a new Chair who is as passionate about our mission to ‘inspire positive change through adult education’ as we are – our governors and our whole staff team.  Somebody who will embrace this opportunity to take the College into its next phase, using their experience, strategic vision and commitment to lead the Board in their role to secure our sustainable future.

I hope you are as excited as we are about the potential at Northern College, and we look forward to receiving your application.

 Yultan Mellor  

Principal and Chief Executive

We are Northern College, one of only four residential colleges dedicated to the education and training of people who are without formal qualifications and seeking to return to learning. We also offer training for those who are active in community and voluntary groups as well as in their trade unions and have a rich history of promoting social justice.

Our mission is to ‘inspire positive change through adult education and is central to all we do.

We deliver this mission through our values of:

  • Always be ambitious,
  • Have people at our hearts,
  • Make things happen.

And is underpinned by our strategic priorities, to:

  • Diversify our curriculum offer,
  • Value our people,
  • Promote Northern College and adult education,
  • Be sustainable,
  • Innovate to improve the student experience.

Further detail behind our mission and our strategic priorities, can be found in ‘Our Strategic Ambition 2025’

We are a small college in comparison to some other across the country, though our 4000 students come from a range of different backgrounds and from across the UK. Aged 19 plus, and often with families and dependants, many are familiar with unemployment or part-time, low paid jobs.

We are incredibly proud that our students have in common a determination to secure education, qualifications and better life opportunities. They wish to take control of their lives and change them for the better. Many hope by doing this they can also help to improve the lives of those around them, by supporting their children’s learning or being more effective citizens.

We offer a curriculum that begins where students’ learning levels start, building on the experience of life and work that they bring with them, providing opportunities to acquire new knowledge, skills, ambition and a fresh approach to lifelong learning.

At Northern College there is a place for every adult. We are committed to ensuring equality of opportunity for all who learn, live and work here. Each learner and member of staff has a part to play in creating a community in which everyone feels comfortable and valued.

The College will not tolerate any form of behaviour or activity that discriminates on the grounds of age, colour, disability, ethnicity, family responsibilities, gender, marital status, nationality, race, religious beliefs, sexual orientation and previous criminal convictions. We will actively strive to remove barriers to equality of opportunity and achievement and combat conditions that place anyone at a disadvantage. Further information can be found in the College’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion policy.

We offer the following amenities:

  • Our buildings and facilities have step free access
  • We have meeting rooms that support hearing loops
  • Accessibility dogs are always welcome on our premises
  • Papers and materials can be presented in different formats if needed
  • We would be happy to source a sign language interpreter if required
  • We provide a flexible working environment, including locations

Disability Confident Employer

Meet the commitments to be recognised as a Disability Confident Employer including guaranteeing candidates who meet the essential criteria an interview.

Mindful Employer Charter Signatory – current practice:

  • Actively promoting resources and guidance on mental health.
  • Training managers and sharing resources with line managers to enable them to support their teams.
  • Using wellness recovery action plans to support staff back in to work.
  • One to one counselling available for staff with a qualified counsellor where appropriate.

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.

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    Thank you for your interest in this role.

    Please download the Job 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 “Chair of Governors – Northern College” into the subject field.

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

    Sarah Szulczewski | sarahs@peridotpartners.co.uk |  07841 017043

    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 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 job, or if any adjustments or support are required regarding the recruitment process.

    Closing date: Monday 28th February 2022

    Candidates informed of outcome: Friday 4th March 2022

    Interviews: Thursday 10th March 2022


    Equal Opportunities Monitoring

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