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Principal & CEO City of Bristol College

City of Bristol College is a pillar of its community, offering inclusive opportunities to its 11,000 students, local employers and strategic partners. With a broad curriculum, a fantastic estate, and a committed workforce, the incoming Principal & CEO will bring a passion and aspiration for developing the College for the benefit of the City of Bristol.

  • Location: Bristol
  • Salary: c.£150k

About the role

City of Bristol College has undergone significant change and transformation over the past few years. The challenges that leaders and governors have faced through this period cannot be understated and there are a great many things that our college can be proud of having achieved.

Our next Principal & CEO will need to lead the College through our next stage of organisational development with a newly launched strategic plan and organisational vision, taking us through to 2025, with the ambition to be recognised as a high performing college meeting the needs of the city we serve.

Working with Peter Rilett, our Chair, and with the wider Board, there is an immediate need for you to recognise and appreciate the distance already travelled and the focus of the strategic plan to secure long term success. Under the leadership of a new Principal & CEO, we expect the pace of essential improvement to continue with the support and engagement of our Board. Whilst we only recently launched the new three-year strategy, we will provide as many opportunities as possible for the appointed person to contribute to the enhancement of our new plan.

We have high hopes and expectations for our next Principal & CEO. There is a great deal more work to do to ensure we achieve the necessary milestones that will move us from our current position to becoming an outstanding place for students to learn, and a pillar of community education for the City of Bristol. Under your leadership, we will further develop an excellent reputation amongst the business and education communities.

As a large FE college, trusted by thousands of students, we must ensure they reach their full potential when studying or training with us, and they are made aware of the opportunities to progress their learning through us over a sustained period.  As Principal & CEO, you will need to work through your Executive Leadership Team to address all these areas, and those you highlight as being priorities, making sure that our curriculum offer provides the necessary pathways for students whilst being sector and industry relevant.

We appreciate this is no short-term turnaround project and we are fully committed to the journey ahead of us. We are dedicated to investing heavily in our people, our resources, and the development of our corporate relationships. City of Bristol College is a great place already, and as Principal & CEO we need you to take the very best parts of our college and the areas that need support and improve them further.

Who we are looking for

At City of Bristol College, we need our Principal & CEO to be an inspirational and visible leader with highly effective people leadership and influencing skills.

We believe that for our college to flourish and realise the success we are planning for, the person appointed as our next Principal & CEO will need to be a proven FE sector leader – well versed in the nuances of our sector, its policies, funding methodologies and curriculum specialisms. Because of the scale of City of Bristol College and the strategic challenges faced by organisations of our size and nature, we require someone who has the competence and confidence to lead as the Principal & CEO, bringing direct experience of having overseen substantial and organisation-wide change and improvement with, and through, other senior leaders. Being equally as comfortable with curriculum planning and development as you are with scrutinising organisational finances and performance, you will know from experience how to balance the need to invest (in people, resources and innovation) with cost control and financial sustainability.

Building relationships that add value to an organisation will come naturally to you and we expect you will have a great deal of experience of managing major stakeholder relations, acting as a lead ambassador and spokesperson for your organisation. You will know the importance of engaging businesses and organisations – such as the West of England LEP, Bristol City Council and Business West, Chamber of Commerce – and have experience of engaging these partners previously.

Externally, you will be considered an expert on how a large FE college can add value to the local communities served by the College, and the businesses and institutions that work in partnership with us. Internally, you will recognise and value the importance of being visible and known ‘on the ground’ and will want to get to know the people who work with you.

We need someone to embed and deliver the Board’s approved strategy and add value to it. You will promote a sense of stability and a continuation of the emerging culture and the trust between the organisation and its leadership.

We believe this role will suit someone who thrives on challenge, can spot an opportunity and cares deeply about providing high-quality education and training to support social mobility and skills development. Your relentless focus on improving the lives of students – enabling them to reach their true potential – will be welcomed, as will your humble and approachable style of leadership that encourages a mutual focus on high performance, fair reward and staff wellbeing.

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

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

Further education recruitment with Sarah Szulczewski

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

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Dear Candidate,

Thank you for your interest in the role of Principal & CEO at City of Bristol College.  This is a critical role at a very exciting time for the College: last term we launched a refreshed Strategic Plan which has been welcomed by external and internal stakeholders.  This year sees us implementing the plan, in tandem with a focus on cultural change, as we press ahead with pace and ambition in anticipation of securing Ofsted ‘Good’ at our next full inspection. The  Principal & CEO will work with the Board of Governors in developing and implementing our plans for success.

We are seeking an experienced leader to shape and develop our reputation and relationships across the city and beyond.

Bristol is a hugely creative, vibrant and innovative city with a multi-cultural and independent population. It is a Social Enterprise City and the UK’s first European Green Capital. It was recently voted one of the UK’s five Centres of Cultural Excellence and is a City of Sanctuary.  Despite high average prosperity in the city and the region, some areas of Bristol are within the most deprived in England. The College has an underpinning objective to work with partners to address economic inequalities.

The city is home to a number of world-class companies and large national employers such as Airbus, Aardman, BBC Natural History, Amazon, the NHS, and to a wide variety of SMEs and early-stage enterprises; as a provider of the skilled workforce of the future, we are keen to engage and partner with these employers.  In turn employers wish to partner with the college to secure and develop this workforce of the future.

Our College is increasingly seen as an anchor institution within the city and a key contributor to Bristol’s future prosperity and success. We reflect and represent our city as ‘Bristol’s College’ with a mission to transform lives through education and training and with a vision of being a high performing college that meets the needs of students and employers across the region. Our values are those of respect, honesty, ambition and inclusivity.  We have a commitment to ensuring we do not ‘close our doors’ to any minority group and seek to meet the needs of individuals from all communities, and we are proud that there are 66 distinct first languages spoken by our students.

We recognise there is more work to do as we ensure that all of our education and training is of a consistently high quality with a focus on the ‘craft of teaching’ and with a curriculum which is adaptable and responsive to meet the needs of our partners, employers and communities.

With outstanding modern facilities at four main centres across Bristol, and with financial health that has improved significantly over recent years, we are well placed for success.  The Principal & CEO, working alongside a dedicated team of committed professionals and senior leaders, will be a vitally important part of this success.

I look forward to receiving your application for this exciting opportunity.

Yours faithfully,

Peter Rilett

Chair of the Corporation

About the Organisation

City of Bristol College is one of the South West’s largest further education providers, educating nearly a third of Bristol’s 16–18-year-olds. We enrol a large proportion of school leavers from Bristol’s most disadvantaged communities, the great majority of school leavers with High Needs, and we offer routes back into education for young people who have dropped out of school. With four major locations encompassing six Centres spread out across the city, we can provide courses within easy reach of most local people.

We currently educate and train around 11,000 student each year across a wide range of courses, are committed to ensuring that we do not ‘close our doors’ to any minority group and seek to meet the needs of individuals from all communities. In 2019/20 the female / male ratio of students was 51 to 49. The age profile was 16-18 (29%); 19-23 (18%) and 24+ (53%). In 2019/20 we had 711 registered asylum seekers studying with us. There are 66 distinct first languages spoken by our students. In 2019/20 25% of our student cohort had a disability or learning difficulty.

Our offering encompasses A Levels, technical & vocational courses and apprenticeships for school leavers, as well as full-time and part-time adult courses, and Higher Education. Our University Centre offers students flexible ways to study degree-level programmes, access to HE courses, professional qualifications and higher apprenticeships. We are proud to work with our university partners, including UWE Bristol, to offer foundation degree programmes in arts, health & social care and education & training disciplines.

We are proud to provide industry-standard facilities for our students to learn and train in, including our state-of-the-art Advanced Construction Skills Centre, City Salons, City Restaurants, Animal Care Centre and Travel Hub to name just a few. Training takes place alongside our valued employer partners to provide programmes which meet local employers’ needs and fill the region’s skills gaps, to ensure the very best students are retained in our area.

We are one of the City’s larger employers with around 900 staff across teaching and professional support. 66% of our staff are female and over 70% are employed under part-time or flexible working arrangements. Our gender pay gap is currently 10% (against a national average of 15%, and a sector average of above 22%) and we remain committed to reducing pay gaps where they occur. We are both a Real Living Wage and Disability Confident Employer; ensuring that the college remains a place where our staff feel comfortable to be themselves.

We are continuing our journey to ensure that all of our curriculum areas are of a consistently high quality. There is more work to do as we seek to establish the College as a regional centre of excellence for training with an Ofsted outstanding judgement for overall effectiveness, focused on the ‘craft of teaching’, with a curriculum which is adaptable and responsive to continually meet the needs of our employers, and our communities now and into the future.

The College has two subsidiary companies to support our curriculum offer in areas where a more flexible and tailored response is required: The South West Apprenticeship Company – an Apprenticeship Training Agency which directly employs apprentices on behalf of employers and manages all aspects of the Apprenticeship, and Partners in Bristol – offering innovative and flexible solution-focused training for employers, including work with the Department for Work and Pensions to support recruitment.

We have significantly improved our financial position in recent years and, over the lifetime of this plan, will continue to ensure that we take decisions which support our long-term financial sustainability.

Our mission is, quite simply, to be Bristol’s college. We aim to transform lives and develop the workforce of the future by being recognised as a high-performing college which meets the needs of the city we serve. Our four values – honesty, ambition, inclusivity and respect – inform everything we do and will be the driving force behind achieving our strategic aims:

  • Enable all students to achieve their potential by delivering high-quality education, training and support to meet wider needs,
  • Work together as a valued and proactive workforce committed to continuing professional development for all,
  • Work collaboratively to meet the needs of the City, and the wider region, responsive to current and future demands,
  • Ensure strategic decisions and operational activity support the long-term financial sustainability of the College.

We want to understand and celebrate the diversity of all our staff and students. We welcome all learners, regardless of their background or starting point, and are committed to promoting, maintaining and supporting equal opportunities.

There are three key themes that underpin everything we do – working with partners to make a difference in the College, the City and beyond:

  • Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
  • Addressing Economic Inequality
  • Sustainability and Climate Action


The College is committed to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion as an education provider and employer, and to support this has taken a number of steps linked to internal policies and procedures. In addition, the College has formed an internal EDI steering group to ensure we attract, retain and promote staff from all groups across Bristol and beyond. Furthermore, we are a signatory of the ‘Bristol Women in Business Charter’ and have been awarded the status of ‘Disability Confident’ employer.

We welcome applications from people with disabilities and we will seek to make reasonable adjustments to our interview process and to your workplace so that disabled applicants and colleagues aren’t put at a disadvantage. We also have links to the access to work scheme, which can be especially helpful in supporting people with disabilities to remove any barriers during employment with us.

We are proud to support applications from care leavers, having committed to the Care Leavers Covenant. We can also offer mentoring support to care leavers.

In addition, we are proud to have been awarded College of Sanctuary status. This means that we are committed to being a safe and inclusive place for people whose lives were in danger in their own country, and we help students, staff and the wider community to understand what it means to be seeking sanctuary.

Some examples of our accessibility provisions include:

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

Awarded ‘Disability Confident’ Employer Status’ Women in Business Charter’ signatory

Internal EDI Steering Group

Reasonable adjustments

Contact is made with every new starter regarding reasonable adjustments/support needed and these often result in DSE assessments, workplace risk assessments and supportive management meetings.

A couple of examples of reasonable adjustments are:

  • specialist coaching and access to relevant software following dyslexia diagnosis
  • phased return following long-term sickness absence.

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.

    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 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 “City of Bristol College – Principal & Chief Executive” 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

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

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

    Closing date: 12 p.m. Tuesday 7th June 2022

    Candidates informed of outcome: by 5 p.m. Tuesday 14th June 2022

    First Stage Interviews: Tuesday 21st June 2022

    Second Stage Interviews: Tuesday 28th June 2022


    Equal Opportunities Monitoring

    Peridot and the City of Bristol 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 would therefore be most grateful if you would complete this equality monitoring survey.

    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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