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Chair of the Governing Body St John’s College

This is an opportunity to lead the Governing Body of St John’s College in the diverse city of Brighton. We are an inclusive further education learning environment for young autistic people with learning disabilities.

  • Location: Walpole Road, Brighton, BN2 0AF
  • Salary: Reasonable expenses paid
  • Closing date: Monday 1st July

St John’s College is a happy, inspiring space based in the diverse city of Brighton, where young people thrive and learn. We offer an inclusive FE learning environment for young autistic people who require the support and care that many mainstream educational settings cannot provide.

We are a specialist residential college and day provision alongside care and therapy for learners aged 9-25 years who are autistic with a range of complex needs and associated learning difficulties. We provide a broad and stimulating curriculum with individual programs for each learner to ensure their hidden potential is unleashed. Our learners come from all over the country to join our college as we are supported by a transdisciplinary team who specialises in supporting our learners to achieve individual goals. Our amazing team work with partners, our governing body and our partners to develop and share our model and practice. Our learners benefit from a range of activities such as drama, music, performances, open mic nights, dance, swimming, horse riding and, of course, our learners undertake travel training to engage with the community and local projects.

Last year, in September we merged with Ambitious about Autism to work together for better outcomes for autistic children and young people. Ambitious about Autism is the national charity standing with Autistic people and they operate a number of schools and a specialist colleges in London, alongside national youth and employment programmes, consultancy, and they lead campaigns nationally to ensure autistic children and young people realise their ambitions. We are excited to join forces and combine our experience to ensure better outcomes for autistic people.

Who we are looking for

We are looking to appoint a new Chair the Governing Body of St. John’s College to lead our governing body and work closely with our inspirational Principal, Karen Grist. We are looking forward to working with our new Chair who will support us to determine our aims and priorities, ensure high levels of quality to enable autistic people to be prepared for adult life, and ensure the health and safety of our young people and staff. Our Chair will be a sounding board and will lead the Governing Body and promote effective governance of the college which is key to success as we drive quality. We are rated as “Good” and are keen to drive this forward and continue to improve to ensure the best care and education provision.

We are looking for a Chair with experience in chairing meetings or sub-committees, who is passionate about governance and empowering autistic young people. This person will be strategic and have a good knowledge of education and safeguarding. Our new Chair will work with our Principal, be visible amongst our staff, and be excited to represent us internally and externally.

We expect the time commitment to be about 1-2 days a month, this will be inclusive of preparation for board meetings, reading board papers, attendance at board meetings, committee meetings, ad hoc discussions with the Principal and other members of the governing body and attendance at various events throughout the year such as graduations. Our governing body meets termly, and we have an annual strategic governing body meeting, the new Chair will be a member of Ambitious about Autism’s Education committee which meets termly online and/or hybrid.

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

Jennifer Horan | jennifer@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07519 070497


If you would like to know more about this role please contact Jennifer Horan

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Welcome from the Chair

Neil Goulden

Dear Candidate,

Thank you for your interest in the role of Chair of the St John’s College Governing Body. I hope that you will find our mission and this opportunity exciting and compelling and will consider joining us at a critical time of development and growth.

We are passionate and driven by our mission to stand with autistic children and young people, champion their rights and create opportunities. We educate and support hundreds of autistic children and young people and work with thousands more through our employability, participation, policy and practice influencing work.

Our strategy, Time for Ambition, sets out our plans to have an even greater reach and impact. As part of this, we aim to further develop our existing and new education services, increase our work in employment and enterprise, and develop new services and activities to support autistic children and young people in their families, their communities and to ensure good health and wellbeing.

In September 2023, Ambitious about Autism merged with St John’s College in order to increase the opportunities and support we are able to provide to autistic young people.

We are now looking to recruit a new Chair for St John’s College to lead the Governing Body and College though its next stage of development and growth. You will have previous experience of Chairing a Governing Body or Committee or supporting as an executive leader. You will be a good communicator, team player and be effective in engaging with a range of stakeholders. Above all, you will share the vision, mission and values of Ambitious about Autism and place autistic young people and their families at the heart of all decisions.

Thank you for considering this opportunity to stand with autistic young people.

Best wishes,

Neil Goulden
Chair of Board of Trustees, Ambitious about Autism and Ambitious about Autism Schools Trust

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

Jennifer Horan | jennifer@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07519 070497

About St John’s College

Situated in the diverse city of Brighton, St. John’s College offers an inclusive further education learning environment for young people with a diagnosis of autism and whose learning, social, emotional and/or communication difficulties are sometimes too complex for many mainstream educational settings.

We support young people from 19-25yrs who have an EHCP and who may:

  • Find communication and interaction
  • Have complex behaviours
  • Struggle with their social and emotional functioning
  • Require personalised support with their transitions to access community venues and activities.
  • Require support with their personal identity and relationships.
  • Require residential provision and support with the development of their life skills

The college curriculum is comprised of 4 key learning areas relevant to the preparation for adulthood:

  • Core skills – communication and interaction, maths and English, digital skills, problem-solving.
  • Life Ready – choices, coping, prevention, belonging and behaviour.
  • Specialist Interests – drama, music, creative arts, eco college, sport and getting active, creative media.
  • Work Ready – internal and highly relevant external work experience placements. All learners have access to our job centre, careers, information, and guidance.

Community access is a key aspect of the college provision where learners undertake travel training, and interact with community groups, facilities, and local projects. We promote the learner voice using a range of support strategies so they can express their needs, wants and aspirations.

Learners also benefit from a range of enrichment activities such as drama productions, Flute Theatre performances, music gigs, open mic nights, dance, swimming, horse riding, art exhibitions, and textile club.

Learners receive support from a transdisciplinary team providing strategies to overcome barriers and effectively engage in their learning so that they maximise their skill development and reach their potential.

Learners make full use of our well-resourced onsite facilities including a theatre, music studio, fully equipped print shop, catering kitchens, basketball hard court area, outdoor gym, all-weather pitch gardens, raised beds and areas in which to chill.

For more information, please visit:

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

Jennifer Horan | jennifer@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07519 070497

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

    Jennifer Horan | jennifer@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07519 070497

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    Closing date: 9 a.m. Monday 1st July 2024
    Candidates informed of outcome: By Monday 8th July 2024
    Stakeholder day and interviews: Thursday 11th July 2024

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