Home / Roles / Strategic Lead Digital Skills and Learning Innovation | Education Partnership North East

Strategic Lead Digital Skills and Learning Innovation | Education Partnership North East

Education Partnership North East is seeking an experienced Education Technology leader as our next Strategic Lead Digital Skills and Learning Innovation to drive our digital transformation and support our ambition to become a vibrant digital hub in the North East and a national innovator of digital skills in further education.

  • Location: North East Region (Sunderland, Hartlepool, Ponteland, Ashington, Berwick-upon-Tweed)
  • Salary: £55,000 - £60,000, depending on experience

About the role

Over the last year, staff and students across Education Partnership North East have adapted and embraced digital and remote learning as a necessity. By sharing good practice and creating innovative solutions in unprecedented circumstances, this has allowed the continuation of excellent teaching, learning and assessment across all our curriculum areas and levels of provision (16-19, Adult and HE).

With this success in mind and with ambitious plans for the College to become a vibrant regional digital hub, EPNE is committed to delivering digital excellence across the organisation. We seek a Strategic Lead Digital Skills and Learning Innovation who will provide the necessary aspirational leadership to build on this legacy and take us towards our goal of becoming a vanguard of digital transformation in further education, recognised regionally, nationally and internationally as a leader in this field.

Reporting into the Sunderland College Principal, Toni Rhodes, who will take up her Principalship in July 2021 and will have strategic responsibility for digital and remote learning across the Group, you will act as the organisation’s most senior voice on digital learning – working at a strategic, commercial and technical level to provide expert advice and challenge on digital learning trends and innovation.

Driving change across the organisation will be a key requirement for the post holder and you will lead on the design and implementation of a digital roadmap that will shape strategy and future investment in digital, ensuring that digital transformation is conducive to inclusion, diversity and wellbeing. Some key focus areas for the person appointed will be building an enhanced Virtual Learning Environment across the Group, developing a programme of CPD to enhance digital skills, providing curriculum planning support to embed digital into all provision, and developing strong, meaningful employer and stakeholder partnerships. A key ambition for EPNE is to achieve the status of a Microsoft Centre of Excellence and the post holder will take a lead on this initiative, ensuring its successful delivery.

With the objective of moving away from traditional methods of learning and delivery towards a modern digitally enabled offer across 16-19, Adult and HE provision, you will develop and lead a team of cross-college Ed Tech leaders and digital innovators to support educators to build digital skills in teaching and learning and make use of a range of tools and resources to innovate teaching practice, with the intention of enhancing student experience and improving outcomes. You will be expected to work closely with Faculty Directors across all curriculum areas to shape sustainable digital approaches to learning and working, and embed digital in curriculum planning.

Bede Campus will host the new T-Level digital centre and you will have oversight of the development of this “Digital Incubator”, where staff and students will develop their digital skills and students will engage with industry-relevant virtual innovations and Ed Tech programmes, such as Masterclasses and employer-led workshops.

You will work closely with the executive leadership team and play a major role in enhancing external stakeholder and employer engagement – locally and regionally (local councils, LEP, Chamber of Commerce), nationally (DfE, ESFA), as well as internationally (collaborating partners in the USA and Germany) – to connect and develop EPNE as a major hub for digital and business engagement in the North East.

The post holder will be responsible for reporting and presenting expert advice, updates, strategic data and insights to the executive leadership team and the board of governors.

Largely based at the Bede campus in Sunderland, the post holder will be required to travel to EPNE sites across the region on a regular basis.

Who we are looking for

To fulfil our ambitious plans and establish the College as a vibrant hub of digital innovation and education to benefit the students and communities we serve, EPNE is seeking to appoint a strategic leader and Education Technology guru who is passionate about digital transformation and driven by delivering excellence in education. With a rounded understanding of post-16 teaching and learning, expertise and insight into regional and national digital innovations and trends, the ideal candidate will bring a professional, energetic and values-driven style of leadership to this role.

The ideal candidate will demonstrate their experience of organisation-wide implementation of digital transformation in the design and delivery of teaching and learning across further and/or higher education. It is essential that you have a track record of developing organisational programmes of continued professional development for staff to enhance digital skills and capabilities, which were measurably successful in supporting curriculum innovations for the benefit of learners.

You will have led on pedagogical developments in teaching and learning within a further or higher education setting, and ideally been involved with the management or transformation of a modern post-16 learning centre. Demonstrating knowledge and experience of virtual learning environments and other modern digital technologies relevant to an industry-relevant further education curriculum, you will bring a range of leadership capabilities – strategic thinking, project management, presentation of complex ideas, performance improvements and collaborative approaches – developed through the successful management of a digital learning team or Ed Tech service, and the creation and delivery of an Ed Tech strategy with measurable outcomes.

It would be desirable for a candidate to bring with them knowledge or experience of the Microsoft Showcase School and Colleges programme.

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 24th May 2021

If you would like to know more about this role please contact Dr Sophie Carney

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Welcome from Ellen Thinnesen, CEO and Principal

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:

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

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

    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 “Strategic Lead Digital Skills and Learning Innovation – 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 for applications: 12pm, Monday 24th May 2021
    Interview Date: Provisional: Tuesday 8th June 2021

    Equal Opportunities Monitoring

    Peridot and Education Partnership North East 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.

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