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Head of Distance Learning | Education Partnership North East

Education Partnership North East is looking to expand our Distance Learning provision by recruiting a new role to lead the development and implementation of the Group’s strategy and delivery plans.

  • Location: North East Region (Sunderland, Hartlepool, Ponteland, Ashington, Berwick-upon-Tweed)
  • Salary: £39,000 - £42,000

About the role

The Head of Distance Learning is a new role for the Education Partnership North East (EPNE) and signifies a change in approach from the college group around distance learning. In particular this will involve growing their market share, firstly in their Adult Education Funded Distance Learning provision which has a large regional reach from Tees Valley up to the Scottish Borders.

The Head of Distance Learning will work collaboratively internally across the different faculties and curriculum areas to identify new market opportunities and work with them to develop new learning products not currently offered by the college as part of their Adult Education Budget funded distance learning portfolio. You will also engage with employers, other education institutes and intermediary organisations to develop new products and services to meet the needs and wants of industries linked to key areas of expertise within the college group, as well as bespoke and contextualised products based on the existing course portfolio.

The role will have stretching targets in key commercial areas such as revenue generation and market share, and quality and standards in regard to teaching, learning and assessment, completion and achievement rates and progression pathways.

The Head of Distance Learning will initially manage a centralised small team of delivery staff but will be expected to develop a strategic plan to grow the distance learning provision and design a sustainable infrastructure to support this growth. This will include looking at flexible staffing arrangements and options to support the varied study patterns of learners, management of day-to-day logistics, quality of curriculum and delivery, and the learner journey.

The role will also be responsible for improving the current process around student registration and the learner journey. This will require looking at the current end-to-end processes from a learner point of view and project managing changes in processes to ensure a well defined and seamless business and learner journey for distance learning.

The Head of Distance Learning will be a group wide function reporting to the group Vice Principal Partnerships & Commercial with a likely base at one of our Sunderland campuses. Flexible working options can also be discussed.

Who we are looking for

To fulfil EPNE’s ambitious plan of revitalising and growing their Distance Learning provision, the Head of Distance Learning will be commercial in their approach with a strong understanding of B2C and B2B education markets.

You will be motivated by stretching targets, leading and managing a team to reach and exceed these whilst also maintaining a strong focus on quality of delivery, and attainment and progression of learners.

To meet the strategic goals of EPNE, you will be proactive in developing your own plans and targets in order to implement the changes required for sustainable growth while managing and improving the day-to-day operations.

As Head of Distance Learning you need to have existing expertise in distance learning or online training especially in regards to product development, delivery and commercial growth. You will ideally have managed an Adult Education Funded provision or at least managed distance learning in other settings.

You will have experience of leading the delivery of exceptional levels of customer service, particularly in remote settings and be able to conduct change management projects which will require cross-organisation collaboration to achieve a seamless and efficient learner journey.

The ideal candidate will have exemplary communication skills to collaborate with colleagues internally and with external stakeholders, such as employers and industry networks.

You will have a creative and innovative approach to market and product development to grow the Adult Education Funded Distance Learning portfolio whilst also devising bespoke and full cost products to meet the wants and needs of employers in terms of skills gaps and career development goals of individuals, offering both structured and flexible learning approaches.

Further information

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

Closing date: 12 noon, Monday 7th June 2021

If you would like to know more about this role please contact Kristina Preston

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Welcome from Ellen Thinnesen, Chief Executive

Dear Candidate,

Thank you for your interest in joining our college community of great people who are deeply passionate about making an outstanding difference across our North East region and the diverse localities we serve.

When applying for any position at Education Partnership North East, a multi-award winning college group, you should know that people matter to us.

We care deeply about authenticity and respect and believe the two go hand in hand. This means we want our employees to always be respectful – a key requirement for a healthy workplace, combined with a strong commitment to being who we say we are, and doing what we say we will do.

We value the human element of people and culture, which means we really engage, listen to and act upon the views of our workforce and varied stakeholders.

Over a number of years, we have been evolving as a learning organisation. This means we actively seek to learn from our experiences and proactively take steps to educate, train and invest in our employees. This approach is important to our continually developing culture of innovation and improvement.

We believe it is our unique approach to people, teamwork and leadership that is attributable to our successful journey to date. This is why careful recruitment and selection of future leaders and employees is an important part of our work.

If you are successful in your application to Education Partnership North East, it will be because we can see you will be a brilliant addition to our college community, that you will work hard in pursuit of our vision for excellence, and that you will be ambitious for our students, your colleagues, our college community, partners and stakeholders.

We are a very large and complex college with multiple campuses and a number of satellite delivery centres situated wholly within and across the North East region. Over the last few years we have also prioritised a significant multimillion-pound investment programme ensuring only the best estates and resources for our staff and students. And excitingly, this work continues.

Our catchment area spans from the Scottish borders through to the Tees Valley, and because of this, we serve multiple wards of significant socio-economic disadvantage. In response we are deeply committed to people, productivity and place, and have developed a strong regional approach to further and higher education and skills strategy. Whilst our regional college group is connected and coherent, our individual colleges (City of Sunderland College, Northumberland College, and Hartlepool Sixth Form), are equally connected and remain responsive to their local communities, an approach we purposefully prioritise.

Should you be successful in your application, your passion and commitment toward helping to improve skills development and as a consequence social mobility will be essential. And now more than ever, as we support the North East to recover from the effects of COVID-19, the impact of your contribution as an outstanding employee of Education Partnership North East will be everything.

As a strong Further and Higher Education College, optimistic for our future, I do hope we sound like an organisation you aspire to work for. We look forward to receiving your application.

With regards

Ellen Thinnesen
Chief Executive
Education Partnership North East

About Education Partnership North East (EPNE)

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 aspire 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.

For further information please use the following links:

EPNE website

Financial Statements 2019-20

Strategic Plan 2019-25

EPNE Values

    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 fill out this Equality Monitoring Survey

    For further information about the role, or to arrange a confidential chat, please contact the lead consultant at Peridot Partners:

    Kristina Preston | kristina@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07931 238134

    Sophie Carney | sophie@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07399 528307

    Please submit a CV and supporting statement (maximum 2 sides of A4) that clearly outlines your suitability for the role against the criteria provided in the person specification. Please include your interest and motivation in applying for this position. Please also complete the Equality Monitoring Survey.

    Please ensure that your application and Equality Monitoring Survey is emailed to response@peridotpartners.co.uk inserting “Head of Distance Learning – EPNE” into the subject field.

    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.

    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.


    Closing date: 12pm, Monday 7th June 2021
    Interview: Thursday 10th June 2021 / Thursday 17th June 2021

    Equal Opportunities Monitoring

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