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Principal & Chief Executive Officer East Durham College

East Durham College seeks to appoint a new Principal & Chief Executive Officer who will bring passion, innovation and dedication to lead their next exciting stage of growth and development for the organisation.

  • Location: County Durham, North East
  • Salary: c.£135,000

Who we are

East Durham College is a college deeply rooted within its local communities. Working across two campuses in Peterlee and Houghall, we provide a broad and diverse range of education and training to over 5,000 students each year. We were rated Good by Ofsted for the fourth consecutive time in our last inspection (September 2021) with the behaviour and attitudes of our students deemed to be outstanding.

The breadth of our curriculum ensures that we can support the learning and development needs of our communities whilst continuing to be a lead contributor in supporting local employers and regional prosperity, something we continue to do with great success, and which is evidenced by our role within the North East Institute of Technology (IOT).

With our current Principal & Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Suzanne Duncan, stepping down later this year after over a decade of distinguished service which has seen our college go from strength to strength, we are looking to appoint a successor who can help drive us into the next chapter of our story, continuing our vision to enrich lives through transformative education.

About the role

The Governing Body now seek to appoint a new Principal & CEO who can continue the work we have already begun; someone who can lead us towards achieving the vision and the mission for our college that we defined in our 2023-26 strategic plan.

We want to continue to provide opportunities for all, and we aim to do this through purposeful and collaborative partnerships. By doing this we will be able to grow provision in those industries – such as construction, social care, digital and sustainability – that we know, right now, need support.

As the new Principal & CEO of East Durham College you will have the support of a dedicated governing body, and an experienced senior leadership team, whilst having the opportunity to lead over 500 passionate staff who each share in our values of excellence, respect and sustainability, and perhaps most importantly, ensuring that we remain student-focused.

Over the last decade, we have built an excellent reputation both locally and nationally as a provider of general further education, and as a provider of more specialist provision through our land-based delivery. What we hope to achieve next is to grow this provision, make further improvements and become the provider of choice for a greater number of learners from across the region. We also have aspirations to grow our reputation and gain a greater platform on the national stage of the further education sector.

We are currently in the first year of our strategic plan and as such our new Principal & CEO will be tasked with continuing the delivery of this plan with the support of their senior leadership team and the Board. Our plan is wide-ranging and has given consideration not just to what we do and how we do it, but also who we do it with, our staff, our students, and our partners.

We have big ambitions for the future as we look to grow our provision, especially in our higher-level provision, 14-16 delivery and with apprenticeships. We know that curriculum reform will mean we need to reflect deeply on our offer and navigate this in a considered and collaborative way, ensuring that we engage and include our local employers throughout. Our new Principal & CEO will need to demonstrate a high level of understanding in relation to curriculum, quality, teaching & learning so that they, along with relevant members of our senior team, can lead us through these upcoming challenges.

Like all other colleges across the sector, we too understand the financial challenges that need to be navigated. Our financial management has been excellent over recent years and with an annual turnover of around £24m, our current finances are in an outstanding position. We know, though, that there is always more that could be done, and that financial health is intrinsically linked to our ability to continue to provide high levels of student satisfaction. Therefore, our new Principal & CEO will need to be able to lead the improvement of our estate, the delivery of an ambitious curriculum and the opportunity to increase our commercial income.

We are committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, young people and vulnerable adults and expect all staff and volunteers to share this commitment.

East Durham College welcomes applications from all sectors of the community and is an equal opportunities employer.

Who we are looking for

East Durham College offers a diverse and broad curriculum spanning general further education, A Levels, specialist land-based provision and degree level provision, along with the additional curriculum elements already highlighted. Our new Principal & CEO will need to be an experienced senior leader with a demonstrable track record of successful leadership. This experience could have been gained in a general further education setting, a sixth form setting where there is additional vocational provision, or from within specialist land-based provision elsewhere.

We have achieved a great deal of development and improvement over the last 15 years, and have big ambitions to continue to further improve not just the quality of our provision, but also our estate and our facilities. We are a forward-looking, forward-thinking college. Candidates will need to be able to demonstrate their ability to be creative and innovative concerning our infrastructure and the ways we might generate further investment to continue realising our ambition to ensure East Durham College is the local provider of choice.

We are fortunate to have developed a wonderful culture across the College. There is a vibrancy and an energy across our sites which means our staff and our learners are happy whilst they are here. We believe this culture is forged by our senior staff and Board who set the tone of our organisation. We, therefore, hope to attract candidates to this role who share our values, are excited by our culture and would look to help develop the levels of trust and support which are present across the organisation.

This culture and ethos is also felt by our local communities who understand that our aim is to deliver greater opportunities for them through education, training and partnerships. Therefore, our new Principal & CEO needs to be someone who can demonstrate an understanding and appreciation for the challenges that are faced by our local communities whilst striving to create and deliver solutions that help the people of our region prosper. Candidates

will also need to demonstrate their understanding of local politics and key stakeholder networks and have an ability to build and sustain positive, collaborative, and respectful working relationships.

We know the importance of creating recruitment processes which are fair, inclusive and free from bias. We are committed to promoting equality and diversity and developing a process that values difference and we welcome all applications. Particularly, we would encourage disabled or female applicants and/or those from the global majority to consider this opportunity. If there are any adjustments that you need to help you with your application, please get in touch so we can provide you with additional support.


As well as being the leader of wonderful, inclusive and aspirational college, there are a number of other benefits that come with working at East Durham College. These include:

  • 35 days annual leave, plus Bank Holidays
  • Pension scheme
  • Holiday buy back scheme
  • Free gym membership which can be accessed at our Willerby Grove Campus based at Peterlee
  • Enhanced maternity/paternity and adoption leave
  • Three days paid emergency leave per year (Non-consecutive)
  • Various paid and unpaid leave for other needs
  • Funded Continuous Professional Development (CPD) where appropriate
  • Our onsite restaurant – The Grove – and Hair & Beauty Salon at Willerby Grove
  • Free onsite parking
  • Onsite childcare nursery (catering for up to 5 years old) at Willerby Grove
  • Cycle to work scheme member
  • Free Beamish Museum tickets available to staff, subject to availability
  • Employee Assistance Programme and CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) Services

Peridot Partners and East Durham College 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 consultant at Peridot Partners:

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

If you would like to know more about this role please contact Dan Baxter

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Welcome from the Chair

Dear Applicant,

Thank you for your interest in applying to East Durham College to be our new Principal & Chief Executive.  We welcome your application.

These are exciting times for EDC. Our strategic plan outlines our commitment to delivering a highly ambitious curriculum that meets the needs of the communities we serve. We have successfully grown our curriculum and student numbers across all income streams in recent years. Our 16-18 recruitment has continued in an upward trajectory as we continue to capture a greater share of a growing market. Apprenticeship income has been bolstered by the introduction of new standards, including agricultural engineering. Our land-based campus, Houghall, continues to increase in size and now offers full-time degrees. We also offer direct enrolment of 14–16-year-olds for a Key Stage 4 GSCE offer, including young people who have previously been home educated. And, for several years, we have been the largest provider of adult provision in County Durham.

To accommodate our continued growth, we are implementing an ambitious estates strategy to ensure our estate, facilities and learning resources are of the highest quality. We have invested £13.7 million at Houghall and have planned capital expenditure at Willerby Grove. We have projects worth £37.8m to deliver across the College, including a £20m teaching and learning block at the Houghall campus, funded through the DfE’s Further Education Capital Transformation programme.  This is very exciting for the College and its learners, but it does require the successful applicant to have an understanding of projects on this scale and the ability to influence across a range of stakeholders at all levels to ensure that risk is managed, and the College is able to deliver these effectively.

As Principal & Chief Executive, you will play a key role in setting our key strategic objectives that can inspire the current College’s team of dedicated staff in ensuring that the College continues to grow and effectively serve our community.

Our values place students firmly at the heart of our decision making. If you are someone who embodies our values and can contribute positively to our ambition, we look forward to hearing from you.

Yours faithfully,

David Butler

About East Durham College

East Durham College is situated across two campuses, the Peterlee Campus to the east and the Houghall Campus to the west, these are around a 20-minute journey apart. Each campus has its own character given the differing provisions delivered at each site. However, there is an undoubted shared culture of inclusion, opportunity and passion for education running between them.

The current college that exists today was established in the late 1990s through the merger of earlier organisations, yet the history of both the Peterlee and Houghall campuses can be traced back much further. This is especially true in the case of the Houghall campus, the home of our land-based provision. Whilst this site has been used for education for almost 100 years, the original farm on which this site sits can be traced back as far as the mid-13th century.

Today these sites are the home to a busy, diverse and thriving education community that offers something for everyone. As the centre for our land-based provision, the Houghall campus is where we deliver courses relating to agriculture, animal care, forestry and equine and we are proud to be the largest provider of this specialist provision in the region.

Our Peterlee site, which was the result of £36m capital project around 15 years ago, is the home to our general further education courses such as art and design, beauty therapy, catering, joinery, brickwork and performing arts. ED6, our sixth-form centre, is also based at Peterlee.

We are proud of the breadth of our curriculum, and we are fortunate that each day we get to see the impacts that this has on the students who learn and train with us. It is one of the reasons why we have become a key contributor to the acceleration of social mobility in the local area.

Our college as a whole provides one of the most broad and diverse curriculums offered by any college in the region. Provision is delivered across all 15 core sector areas through study programmes for 16–18-year-olds, A Levels and T Levels of which we deliver across nine different pathways. We also deliver apprenticeships, adult education, and provision for 14-16-year-olds and are one of the largest providers of foundation learning in the county.  We also deliver higher education and as part of our development plan have opened dedicated accommodation for 200 students that has made a significant impact on our offer.

Students who enrol at the College are predominantly from County Durham although a growing number are choosing to join us from both the north and the south of the region. Our key aim for each of those who enrol at the College is that we provide them with an exceptional education.

Such a diverse curriculum comes with a need to sustain strong and purposeful partnerships and at East Durham College, we have achieved great success in this aspect of our business. As you would hope, we also have positive relationships with our local authorities who have been key partners in the development and growth of the College in recent years. The broad spectrum of vocational provision has allowed us to develop a wide range of relationships with local businesses and there has been a concerted effort to work with local, small and medium-sized employers as a way of supporting their growth whilst driving the local economy forward and addressing regional skills priorities.

Outside of these formal relationships, the College has a great reputation both locally, and regionally, as our sites and facilities are frequently used by other community groups such as healthcare professionals, performing arts groups, grassroots sports clubs, and organisations such as Young Farmers. Our facilities include a boxing gym, beauty salon, a 200-seater theatre, as well as our working farm at Houghall.

There has been a great deal of growth, development and improvement on our sites over recent years. As an education campus, our Houghall site was opened in 1936 and so we have spent a great deal of time and investment over the last 10 years on modernising the learning spaces and the wider estate as part of our long-term, four-stage, development plan. This plan has seen us build new learning spaces, improve internal infrastructure, introduce our higher education accommodation and continually maintain and refresh our facilities. As such, we now boast an enviable, industry-standard infrastructure across our wider estate which allows us to provide high-quality learning experiences.

Accessibility information

We understand that different members of the community have different access needs and have taken steps to ensure that our provision is accessible to – and supports – people from diverse communities and abilities. We offer the following amenities:

  • 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 interviews.
  • Working patterns and locations can be adjusted.

Applicants with a disability 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.

For further information or to organise a conversation, please contact our advising consultant at Peridot Partners:

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

    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 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 “East Durham College – Principal & Chief Executive Officer” into the subject field.

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

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

    Peridot Partners and East Durham College 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.

    As a sector-leading executive search consultancy, we know the importance of creating recruitment processes which are fair, inclusive and free from bias. We are committed to promoting equality and diversity and developing a process that values differences.

    If you have a disability that meets the definition set out in the Equality Act 2010, and you can show that you meet the ‘essential’ criteria described in the person specification, please let us know.

    If you experience any technical or accessibility difficulties, need help making an application, or have any additional support needs to be considered as part of the interview and selection process, please let us know.

    Recruitment selection processes are based on evidence of competence stated in the person specification and in relation to our values.


    Closing date: 9 a.m. Wednesday 10th April 2024
    Candidates informed of outcome: Thursday 18th April 2024
    First stage interviews: Thursday 25th April 2024
    Second stage interviews: Wednesday 1st May 2024

    Equal Opportunities Monitoring

    Peridot and East Durham 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 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 practices. All information provided will be held in the strictest confidence and will not be shared with anyone, in line with the Data Protection Act 2018. The information provided does not form part of the decision-making process and will not affect your application.

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