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Director of Further Education & Skills University of Derby (Buxton & Leek College)

University of Derby, Higher education recruitment by Peridot Partners

The University of Derby is seeking to appoint a dynamic and experienced academic leader who can shape the future of their FE and skills provision as part of the University Leadership Group, and lead the senior management team of Buxton & Leek College.

  • Location: Derbyshire, Staffordshire
  • Salary: £90,726 - £113,408

About the role

Reporting to the Provost (Learning & Teaching), our Director of Further Education & Skills will be responsible for providing inspirational leadership to staff across the University Group and Buxton & Leek College, to achieve outstanding outcomes across our FE provision.

Responsible for providing strategic vision, clear business planning, and leadership of all FE provision across the University of Derby — including classroom and workshop-based taught programmes and level 2 and 3 apprenticeships — we seek a talented academic leader of FE who will work with us and deliver strategies and plans for improvement and growth.

If appointed, you will enable the delivery of the University’s vision and mission, inspiring and motivating staff to achieve excellent outcomes for students and apprentices. As the most senior leader responsible for FE, you will ensure that FE and skills education and training are excellent in all aspects, and responsive to student and employer expectations across Derbyshire and Staffordshire.

University of Derby Summer 2023 Awards Ceremonies held at the Buxton Dome. Photography by Richard Richards Photography.

The settled ambition is to grow and develop FE and skills at the University of Derby. With this in mind, the person appointed will work closely with their senior team at Buxton & Leek College, and a broader group of University leaders, to develop plans which take advantage of funding and partnership opportunities which enable sustainable growth.

The post holder must ensure that the highest possible standards are consistently applied across all sites, and FE and skills at the University of Derby are considered by students, employers, and partners to be high quality and enable increased participation in further and higher education.

Continuing to ensure that students are safe and well whilst they study through us, the post holder will be accountable for FE safeguarding through the University governance structure.

Who are we looking for?

We are looking to recruit an inspirational and ambitious FE leader with a background in teaching and learning. You will possess the necessary sector leadership experience and drive to develop Buxton & Leek College into a centre of excellence. As an influential leader and FE curricula expert with the ability to develop people and maximise funding potential, you will create a culture of excellence and innovation, aligned with the vision and values of the University of Derby. Your key drivers will be delivering exceptional high-quality learning and teaching across relevant and ambitious curricula, developing an inclusive student experience, and ultimately providing our students with the very best outcomes for their future aspirations.

You will need to be adept and confident in your ability to foster relationships across the university, providing influence and direction on the development of the college and its future curricula in line with the needs of the local and regional communities, employers, stakeholders and national policy. As part of this, you will be looked upon to shape the College’s new strategic plan, working with your leadership team, the Provost (Learning & Teaching), and the University’s Skills Committee (a sub-committee of the University Governing Council).

As a post-16 technical and vocational curricula expert you will need to put in place plans to enhance areas deemed to already good, whilst improving those areas which require change and improvement. As a people leader, you will need to build strategic capacity, invest in developing your current and future leaders, and implement a positive culture of success and accountability for the benefit of all stakeholders through the delivery of a high-quality, relevant, and responsive curriculum, strategic portfolio and student experience.


Peridot Partners and the University of Derby 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 consultants at Peridot Partners:

Sarah Atkins-Boal | sarahs@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07841 017043

To contact Drew Richardson-Walsh please make an appointment with Abbie Johnson | abbie@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07398 140 818

If you would like to know more about this role please contact Sarah Atkins-Boal

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Dear candidates,

I am delighted that you are considering applying for this key new role at the University of Derby, which is recognised by Times Higher Education as one of the top 250 young universities in the world. It is an exciting time to join us.

At Derby, we have a long-established reputation as a powerful regional university, and our profile and influence continue to grow at pace both nationally and internationally. We deliver excellence in learning and teaching, underpinned by industry-relevant and applied research, innovation and skills activity which impacts directly on our students, staff, stakeholders and wider community. We are a place-based institution with a national and global outlook that delivers outstanding opportunities and outcomes for our students.

Our 2018-30 Strategic Framework, launched in June 2018, signalled a new chapter for our University. It has set out our direction of travel when it comes to being an institution that drives positive impact and whose strategic ambitions are industry-engaged and future-focused. Building on our existing successes, these ambitions include significant investment in the new Derby Business School, due to open in September 2024, as the first phase of an extensive city development plan which will firmly establish the University of Derby as a destination of choice for students and staff.

As Director of FE & Skills at Derby, you will be joining an institution that understands and values the life-changing power of education. The post holder will make a significant contribution to strategy and decision-making that will help drive performance across the full range of the University’s activity, ensuring that we continue to deliver excellence and opportunities for our students, staff and region. With responsibility for Buxton & Leek College, the post holder will also drive forward high-performing teams. This is a role that holds significant leadership and influence, reporting directly to myself and working across the University Leadership Group.

If you have the required knowledge, experience, strategic thinking and creativity, underpinned by outstanding leadership qualities and the collaborative approach required to operate as a key strategic advisor to other senior colleagues, then I would very much welcome receiving your application.

Kind Regards,

Professor Keith McLay
Provost – Learning & Teaching

About University of Derby

The University of Derby is a modern, innovative education provider that achieved its university status in 1992. Teaching at the Derby site dates back to 1851 when it was a Diocesan Institution for training teachers, giving us over 160 years of expertise in education. We have since become a university of first choice for students who want a supportive, aspirational environment where they can equip themselves for the career they choose. Our significant investment in world-class facilities is building on our reputation for student-focused real-world learning in an increasingly competitive sector. Located in the heart of England, we build on our region’s heritage of innovation to provide industry-relevant, expert teaching at all levels.

Our combined higher and further education offering is spread over campuses in Derby, Buxton, Leek, and Chesterfield and we have some of the best university facilities in the UK.

The University of Derby is working on its 2018-2030 strategic framework, focused on achieving its core objective of delivering an applied university of today and for tomorrow. We aim to empower people across the globe to achieve their potential and make a positive contribution to society, by delivering excellence and opportunities for all. This is underpinned by our core principles:

  • Creating the right experience
  • Working effectively
  • Celebrating our impact
Buxton and Leek College course imagery, photography by Richard Richards Photography.

What we do and how we do it through to 2030 will be shaped by our principles, against which all strategic and tactical decisions will be made to ensure the University of Derby group is best placed to succeed for our students, staff and region. This success will be achieved by:

  • Moulding the next generation of game changers: Our students will benefit from a high-quality learning environment, pioneering use of modern learning methods, access to diverse and exciting opportunities, and a continually evolving suite of services and support covering all aspects of their lives.
  • Being a force for positive impact: Working with others, and with the full commitment of our staff and students, we will raise aspirations and improve the education, skills, health and well-being of current and future generations across our region.
  • Opening doors for everyone: We offer a varied curriculum for all ages, abilities and ambitions, from Entry Level through to Degree level.
  • Leading the way in impact from industry engagement: we play a critical role as an anchor institution that works side-by-side with thriving global businesses, successful SMEs and other cultural and voluntary organisations to drive innovation and solution-focused responses to challenges.

Demonstrating our growing impact and a reflection of our commitment to excellence across the student experience, the University of Derby is proud to be ranked a top 50 university in The Guardian University Guide 2023.

During the last ten years, we have invested over £200 million in facilities designed to give students the very best possible learning environment. We have more investment planned and continue to develop teaching that is innovative, stimulating, and engaging.

Recent investments include:

  • £12 million STEM Centre including facilities for mechanical testing, robotics and an anechoic chamber.
  • State-of-the-art £10.8 million Sports Centre.
  • Immersive Interactive Simulation Suite – the only one of its kind in a University outside London.
  • Forensic Training Facility with a dedicated crime scene house.
  • Fashion industry facility at Chandos Pole Street.
  • Industry-standard Bloomberg Financial Markets Lab.
  • The Nuclear Skills Academy – a partnership between the University of Derby, Buxton & Leek College and Rolls-Royces supported by industry and education experts, including the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, the National College for Nuclear and Derby City Council.

We achieve outstanding results for our teaching and research, are recognised as a TEF Gold provider and with more than 34,000 people choosing to study with us every year, we depend on the dedication of a team of 2,200 academic and professional services staff.

About Buxton & Leek College

As well as enabling the region of 2,000 students to fulfil their potential each year, we provide 290 people with a friendly workplace and all the training and development they need for a fantastic career. We provide a supportive, vibrant and fun place to study or work.

Graded as Ofsted ‘Good’ in 2019 we specialise in providing a broad range of vocational qualifications and apprenticeships. In September 2022 we launched a range of T Levels in IT, Health and Education, which have expanded since this time to include Engineering and Construction, adding to our portfolio of Study Programme options for young people.  Through us, adult learners develop their skills and knowledge through Access to HE courses, short courses, CPD and evening classes. From being part of the University of Derby, our students have access to foundation and degree-level programmes.

We deliver FE programmes of learning from the city of Derby, the market town of Leek, and the spa town of Buxton in the Peak District. We have a great many opportunities to develop our curriculum further because of our geography and the industries in the locations where our sites are situated. These include Health & Social Care, hospitality, outdoor sports, football academies, childcare/education, and our media, art and design programmes – largely delivered out of the historic former Leek School of Art. Through our excellent links with industries which directly enrich our curriculum, we look forward to the post-holder supporting further development of our engineering and media curriculum areas.

As part of the University of Derby, Buxton & Leek College is driven by the following values:

  • Value people: We are true ambassadors of our purpose and promises.
  • Bold: We create a reputation where the industry relies on us for their potential, innovation and gateways to success.
  • Future-focused: Our determination, knowledge and positive attitude keep us engaged in the world around us and ahead of the game.
  • Brilliance: We create stimulating environments that transform prospects. We believe we all make a difference.

    To access a full job description and application details,
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    Thank you for your interest in this role. Please download the Job Description and Person Specification.

    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 “University of Derby  – Director of Further Education & Skills ” into the subject field.

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

    Sarah Atkins-Boal | sarahs@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07841 017043

    To contact Drew Richardson-Walsh please make an appointment with Abbie Johnson | abbie@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07398 140 818

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    Closing date: Monday 19th February 2024
    Candidates informed of outcome: Friday 23rd February 2024
    First Stage Interviews: Thursday 29th February 2024
    Second Stage Interviews: Thursday 7th March 2024

    Equal Opportunities Monitoring

    Peridot and University of Derby 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 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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