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Principal Rochdale Sixth Form College

via Altus Education Partnership

Rochdale Sixth Form College are searching for their next Principal; a values-driven individual that can build on the genuine passion, ambition and care that has led to the college being named Sixth Form College of the Year, 2021.

  • Organisation: via Altus Education Partnership
  • Location: Rochdale
  • Salary: £100,000 - £110,000
  • Closing date: by 12 p.m. Wednesday 6th July 2022

About the Role

The result of a unique partnership between local schools and the FE College, Rochdale Sixth Form College was created to be a place for outstanding and aspirational A-Level education for the borough of Rochdale.

Now, over a decade later, and as part of Altus Education Partnership, the college continues to excel. With 90% of our students living or having attended a school within the Rochdale local authority, the role we play in supporting and enabling local young people to shape their futures is clear; but it goes further still. More recent growth means that Rochdale Sixth Form College is no longer a college just for Rochdale, but a college for surrounding communities, and an integral part of the local region.

With our reach and our successes expanding beyond the immediate Rochdale borough boundaries, our college has been able to instil a greater sense of cultural capital in our students, something which Richard Ronksley, our CEO, is immensely proud of;

“this isn’t about being able to demonstrate philosophies or visions. This is just how we do things.”

It is not just the local context in which we play an important role. On a national basis, Rochdale Sixth Form College is seen as a sector leader, as one of the best Sixth Form Colleges in the country for student progress and we have a national reputation for excellence. We are very proud of this reputation; one which we hope to build on with the appointment of a new College Principal.

As a college that refuses to stand still, we aspire to constantly evolve and adapt as was evident during the Covid-19 pandemic. By demonstrating our ‘you can do it’ culture, we are able to deliver on our mission of helping students realise their academic potential whilst achieving our vision of developing confident and articulate students who are prepared for higher levels of achievement, whatever their starting point with us.

It was a combination of all these things that led to Rochdale Sixth Form College being recognised as the Sixth Form College of the Year in 2021 by the TES, an accolade that perhaps takes on an increased focus given the recent pandemic. Richard tells us that:

“the college’s success is built on incredibly consistent provision, delivered by strong teachers alongside pastoral leaders who are able to act as personal tutors.”

It is this familiarity with students that is a key driver of the college’s success. All our staff have high expectations of their students and whilst they challenge, they also provide a supportive, inclusive, and friendly learning environment; none more so than Richard himself who spends a great deal of time with students, getting to know them and their passions. Our new Principal will need to follow this mantra of building rapport with students to ensure they know that senior leaders genuinely care about them and their ambitions.

Altus Education Partnership is a multi-academy trust established in 2017 and is currently made up of Rochdale Sixth Form College, Edgar Wood Academy, and Kingsway Park High School – who joined the Trust in early 2022.

As an Ofsted rated ‘Outstanding’ college, we have gone from strength to strength under the current leadership team. With the support of a dedicated staff team, we have exceeded all our own targets; pass rate (99.4%); retention (94.5%), achievement (93.9%) and Alps (2).

With current Principal Richard Ronksley now stepping up to the role of CEO to oversee the leadership of the Trust as a whole, the college looks to the future, and our new Principal will find an opportunity to take up leadership of a college that is already built on very strong foundations. This opportunity represents a chance to lead a great college and make it even greater.

Who we’re looking for

To support the college through our next stage of development, Altus Education Partnership is looking to appoint a new Principal to lead the college into the future.

We are hoping to find an individual with significant leadership experience gained in a post-16 or secondary education environment, who understands what is required to drive forward an organisation which is already considered a sector leader. This is a role which will require a significant understanding of how a college such as Rochdale Sixth Form can best serve its local area, both as an education partner, as well as a key community leader.


The postholder shouldn’t just have experience of Sixth Form education – they should have a genuine passion for it. Along with this, and despite the college already being outstanding in so many ways, candidates will need to be able to demonstrate their expertise in quality improvement, curriculum development and management reporting, ensuring the college never stands still, and continues to improve.

The student experience is of paramount importance to us and so the postholder will need to be able to interpret data and use information to plan improvements, allowing our students to make the relevant improvements to continually enhance their experience at every opportunity.

Our wider aim of delivering outstanding education for Rochdale and the broader community is a constant driver for us and so all strategies and related delivery will need to be considered within the context of our local area and the needs of the communities which we serve. This will require our new Principal to understand who our key community stakeholders are, how to best collaborate with them, and then sustain these partnerships for long-term mutual benefit.

The reputation and continued success of our college has been built and sustained by a team of outstanding colleagues who are experts in what they do. As such, our new Principal will need to have experience in leading high performing teams across a range of departments, including academic, business and support functions. They should be able to demonstrate exemplary, values-led and empathetic leadership to ensure success is maintained within a positive and supportive college culture.

Finally, our new Principal should be a person who truly wants to develop and support young people using their leadership skills, knowledge of the sector and an ambition to help all young people achieve their personal goals.

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

Drew Richardson-Walsh | drew@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07739 364033

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

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Welcome from the CEO

Dear Candidate,

Thank you for your interest in the post of Principal at Rochdale Sixth Form College (RSFC).

This is a special one.

The Trust is looking for an exceptional individual with the vision, personality and strategic thinking to lead one of the most highly regarded colleges in the country. RSFC has enjoyed remarkable success since opening in 2010: prior to opening, the borough was 147th (out of 150) for A level performance and in the bottom 10% for student progress. Since then the college has been rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted, has achieved excellent value added in every year (topping the DfE’s performance tables in four of those years), and was awarded TES Sixth Form College of the Year in 2021. This has been achieved while maintaining an inclusive approach to the recruitment of students. As a result, the college benefits from a socially, geographically and culturally diverse mix of students who thrive in its care. The Trust is committed to maintaining this inclusive approach.

The college is undoubtedly in a very strong educational and financial position; it is popular with young people and parents/carers not just in Rochdale, but further afield as well. Consequently, the student population has grown to around 1950 (from 1000 in 2011), and is projected to grow further. Indeed, to accommodate future demand and demographic growth, the Trust has committed to building a brand-new 16 classroom block on the college site.

RSFC is a 16-19 academy within the Altus Education Partnership. The college is one of three institutions in the Trust, the others being the Edgar Wood Academy that opened as a brand new 11-16 academy in September 2021, and Kingsway Park High School which joined the Trust in February 2022. As principal, you will have designated autonomy and authority in your role, and will report directly to myself, as Trust CEO.

In the wider community, RSFC and its neighbouring FE college, Hopwood Hall, work collaboratively to support the education of young people in the borough. This close and unique relationship is defined in a memorandum of understanding between the two institutions. Most recently it resulted in the ‘Rochdale Offer’, a co-ordinated approach to support the transition of all young people whose education had been interrupted by the pandemic to post-16 education in the borough.

Clearly, the college has come a long way in twelve years, and it has an incredibly strong platform for continuing success at a time when many educational establishments face significant challenges.

If you feel inspired by what you have read, I’d be delighted if you would submit an application. Potential candidates are welcome to arrange a visit to the college – our advisers Peridot will organise this.

Yours sincerely,

Richard Ronksley
Chief Executive Officer, Altus Education Partnership

About Rochdale Sixth Form College

Rochdale Sixth Form College is a 16-19 academy within the Altus Education Partnership. The college is one of three institutions in the Trust, the other being the Edgar Wood Academy that opened as a brand new 11-16 academy in September 2021. Another school, Kingsway Park High School, is joined the Trust in February 2022.

The college was established in 2010 following a strategic area review, which concluded that the existing A-Level provision in the Borough of Rochdale was expensive, dispersed and unsustainable in the long term. In September 2010 when the College opened, there were two faith schools with sixth form provision, one of which operated as part of a three-way partnership in one of the townships. Currently two partner schools still retain their sixth form provision.

In 2021-22 Rochdale Sixth Form College had around 1950 full time 16-18 year-old students, all of whom enrolled on a full time programme of level 3 study. The large majority of students study 3 A levels, around a quarter study a BTEC Diploma alongside an A level, with a very small number studying a 4 A level programme. A very small minority of students who have not achieved a grade 4 in GCSE English Language or Mathematics supplement their level 3 programme with resits. All students have tutorials, pastoral and subject support, and enrichment as part of their programme.

Rochdale Sixth Form College is an Ofsted Outstanding institution serving the borough of Rochdale and its surrounds. For 10 years it has served the local community and provided life-changing  opportunities for students from a range of backgrounds, but particularly those students from socially deprived areas, and families without a history of higher education. However, there has been no year where Rochdale Sixth Form College has had a greater positive impact on young people than in 2019/20, where the college faced, and rose to the challenges of dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Establishing a ‘business as usual’ approach to protect our students’ education and mental well-being was paramount as we entered lockdown. Consequently, on March 23rd Rochdale Sixth Form College became a virtual college. The commitment staff made was that while the college building was closed, the college itself was, and would remain open. This promise and practice of a continuing, outstanding education provided reassurance and strength to students and staff alike.

From the outset of lockdown, all students switched over to a high-quality virtual version of their existing timetable. Teachers effectively implemented a cohesive approach to remote learning, teaching and assessment that incorporated timetabled learning on Microsoft Teams (exactly matching students’ academic timetables prior to lockdown), support materials on the college’s VLE (Moodle), videos on Clickview, and ‘hard copy’ study packs posted to all students.

Year 13 lessons continued until May half-term, and year 12 lessons continued until the end of the academic year in July.  Students benefitted from a subject timetable at the college which helped provide structure and purpose to their days, with consequent benefits to mental health. Teachers communicated a message of high standards and expectations within a caring and supportive environment. Regular weekly meetings with the Students’ Union meant that leaders and managers were able to respond quickly and effectively to student concerns, ensuring that every student felt supported and knew how to access further support.

Throughout lockdown a pattern of high online student attendance (93.2%) and engagement continued. These factors resulted in the college returning a two-year retention rate of 95.5% – the highest ever in the college sector. These strong results are reflected in the equally strong ‘CAG’ performance, and in outstanding progress and achievement data for the last three years.

In the wider community, Rochdale Sixth Form College and their neighbouring FE college Hopwood Hall worked collaboratively to support the emotional well-being and education of year 11 pupils who had the final months of their secondary education disrupted by Covid-19. This resulted in the provision of co-ordinated materials to support transition, and the creation of the innovative ‘Rochdale Offer’ that guaranteed a place at one of the colleges for all year 11 leavers.

As a beacon of good practice, both prior to, and during the pandemic, college staff have also worked with schools and colleges to support excellent teaching, learning and assessment.

Additional documents


Altus Education Partnership is an equal opportunities employer and positively welcomes applications regardless of age, gender, cultural and ethnic origin, religion, disability and sexuality.

Our accessibility provisions include:

  • Step-free access to the building, accessible workstations (e.g. desk, office), and step-free access to all key meeting rooms and toilets.
  • Interviews can be held in meeting rooms that support hearing loops.
  • Accessibility dogs are welcomed.
  • Papers and materials can be presented in different formats if needed.
  • A sign language interpreter can be accessed for an interview.
  • Working patterns and locations can be adjusted.

Please click here to read the Altus Education Partnership Accessibility Plan. If you have any further needs around accessibility, please get in touch with the advising consultant for a confidential chat on how we can best fulfil your needs.


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    Thank you for your interest in this role.

    Please download the Application Form, Role Description and Person Specification and complete this Equality Monitoring Survey.

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    Please ensure that your application is emailed to response@peridotpartners.co.uk inserting “AEP – Principal of Rochdale SFC” into the subject field.

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

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

    Drew Richardson-Walsh | drew@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07739 364033

    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.

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    Closing date: by 12 p.m. Wednesday 6th July 2022
    Candidates informed of outcome: By 5 p.m. Friday 8th July 2022
    Preliminary Interviews: Thursday 14th July 2022
    Final Interviews: Friday 15th July 2022

    Equal Opportunities Monitoring

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