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Chair and Governor of the Corporation Board | St Helens College and Knowsley Community College

Are you passionate about opportunities for people in your community? Are you keen to contribute to the work of your local Further and Higher Education College and help to make a real difference to the people of St Helens and Knowsley? Then you may be interested to join our Board at St Helens College.

  • Location: St Helens, Merseyside

About St Helens College and Knowsley Community College

St Helens College is one of the largest further and higher education providers in the North West, with a track record of providing quality education since 1896. Following a merger between St Helens College and Knowsley Community College in December 2017, the College serves the two boroughs of Knowsley and St Helens, providing courses and training to around 10,000 students and apprentices, of all ages, studying at all levels, across five campuses.

The College has an annual turnover around £30 million and employs around 550 people. There are two main campus sites in St Helens and Knowsley. There is also a STEM Centre in St Helens, IAMTech campus in Huyton delivering engineering and construction courses, and the Kirby campus providing programmes for adults.

Over £65m has been invested in the College’s exceptional facilities to support the broad and inclusive curriculum and provide first-class learning experience for students. Run by experienced industry tutors, facilities include music, TV and radio studios, a commercial hair and beauty salon, The Lounge spa, Colours fine dining restaurant, an automotive hub, and a commercial florist.

The College does particularly well in attracting many hundreds of students onto Construction courses and the Health and Social Care provision is also very popular. There are also over 650 students attending the College for their Higher Education.

The College is actively involved in the local community, offering high-quality training and education opportunities to both residents and businesses. This collaboration not only enables the College to provide excellent work experience, employment and apprenticeship opportunities for students but also supports employers across the Liverpool City Region to build a skilled workforce for the future.

St Helens College is the largest apprenticeship provider amongst FE Colleges in the Liverpool City Region with around 700 apprenticeship on programme. The College offers a diverse range of apprenticeships, predominantly in STEM subjects but also in areas such as Early Years, Dentistry and Hairdressing. Engineering apprenticeships are delivered through a subsidiary company, Waterside, which has a strong reputation within the sector. Achievement rates for apprentices at the College in 2019/20 were above the national average at 72%.

Knowsley and St Helens are the 2nd and 25th most deprived boroughs out of 343 in England, with both communities falling below national average education attainment and having very low levels of ethnic diversity and higher than average levels of ill health. This makes the raising of aspiration and Chair and Governor of the Corporation Board attainment a key concern for the College, which aims to combat inequality by providing opportunity and raising attainment levels and increasing confidence by widening experience and fuelling entitlement.

Although an Ofsted inspection in January 2020, assessed the College as ‘Requires improvement’, progress has been made across a number of areas. The College has also faced financial pressures since merger along with strong local competition. In 2019, the College was issued with a Financial Notice to Improve by the Education and Skills Funding Agency, and a recovery plan was put in place to achieve sustained financial recovery. Despite the challenges which are typical across the FE sector, the College is now on a positive path to become a high quality college with a sound financial future.

Our Strategic Plan 2019-2022 – Reaching Out to Reach Higher

Since the merger three years ago, a number of changes have taken place which have included the appointment of our new Principal and Chief Executive, Simon Pierce in August 2020; restructuring our Senior Leadership Team, curriculum changes, an enhanced quality system and process, and enhanced and refreshed the skills on the Governing Body.

Our two main strategic priorities have equal importance: raising the quality of teaching, learning and assessment and providing a secure, stable financial environment that enables the generation of an operating surplus. We continue to focus on developing an ethos of efficiency and effectiveness and improving quality and outcomes for learners.

The changes to our curriculum are designed to provide clear pathways to employment or further study to enable young people and adults to take advantage of career opportunities within the Liverpool City Region and the wider North West area. We have already developed and engaged in highly effective partnerships with our Local Authorities, schools and other providers and employers.

The Corporate Board

The Corporation Board consists of 17 Members, which includes two staff and two student Governors. Member appointments and re-appointments are recommended to the Board for consideration and formal appointment. The Governing Body meets six times per year on Thursdays starting at 16.00. There is also one Strategic Workshop Day in December.

They operate on a committee structure basis and we have six committees:

  • Quality and Outcomes
  • Higher Education
  • Finance, Resources and Commercial
  • Audit
  • Search and Governance
  • Performance and Remuneration

The Chair of the Governing Board would automatically sit on the Search and Governance and the Performance and Remuneration committees. In addition, we would expect the Chair to sit on the Finance committee and/or the Quality and Outcomes committee.

In order for the College to be an exceptional provider of technical, vocational and professional education, we need a highly effective and committed Board to provide support and challenge to help us reach our objectives as efficiently and effectively as possible. As some Members have now reached the end of their term of office, we are seeking a new Chair and two External Governors to join our board in early 2021.

About the Roles:

We are looking for a new Chair and Governor to join our Board who will show a strong commitment to the College’s mission and values, work with a range of partners and stakeholders to create opportunities and make a real impact in the communities served by the College.

All Board members need to act in line with the Nolan Principles and with collective responsibility to contribute to the educational character, academic direction, strategic planning and mission of the College, as well as having oversight of its business, financial health, risk and reputation. It is expected you will come with significant experience of further education and skills provision or commercial leadership and provide high-quality support and effective challenge to the College’s leadership team.

As Chair of the Board, we seek an experienced strategic leader who will be deeply committed to improving opportunities for people in our communities. You will bring strong expertise in chairing boards, committees or large complex meetings, based around strong governance, board effectiveness and assurance.

As a Governor you will either bring substantial experience of further education to support the continued development of the College’s educational performance or will be someone who brings a broad range of strategic leadership skills from a commercial environment to support the business, financial health, risk and reputation of the College.

The Corporation operates a Governor Mentoring system for all new Governors. New Governors are offered the services of a more experienced and longer-serving Governor to assist them in their new role. The assistance offered to the new Governor will depend on individual requirements and the experience that the new Governor brings to the Board in relation to knowledge of the Further and Higher Education sector and of the College.

Time Commitment

The maximum term of office is initially four years, and Governors can be re-appointed for a further term of up to a maximum of two terms, unless there are exceptional circumstances.

The time commitment for the Chair will be up to two days per month, to include the corporate board and committee meetings, regular informal meetings with the Principal/Chief Executive, involvement in representing the College externally, reading and preparation and any other project or ad hoc activities. The time commitment for a Governor is likely to be around one day per month.

Further information

For further information on the College and the roles, please contact Michael Earnshawmichael@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07494 595178.

Specialist executive search in third sector by Michael Earnshaw

If you would like to know more about this role please contact Michael Earnshaw

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    Please download the Job Description and Person Specification for Chair and Governor and fill out this Equality Monitoring Form

    To arrange a confidential chat, please contact our executive search advisers at Peridot Partners:

    Michael Earnshaw | michael@peridotpartners.co.uk

    To apply, please submit a CV and supporting statement (the supporting statement should be a maximum of two sides of A4) that clearly outlines your suitability for the role against the criteria provided in the person specification. It would also be helpful to provide an explanation of your interest and motivation in applying for this position within your supporting statement.

    Please ensure that your application is emailed to response@peridotpartners.co.uk with the subject header stated as either “Chair, St Helens College” OR “Governor, St Helens College”.

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    Recruitment Timetable


    Closing date: 12 noon, Monday 18th January 2021
    Candidates informed of outcome by: Monday 25th January 2021
    Interviews: Thursday 4th February 2021


    Closing date: 12 noon, Monday 8th February 2021
    Candidates informed of outcome by: w/c Monday 22nd February 2021
    Interviews: Thursday 4th March 2021

    Equal Opportunities Monitoring

    Peridot and St Helens College are committed to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion. To help us raise awareness and support a culture that is diverse, inclusive, 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 equality monitoring form.

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