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Chair of the Board of Governors at Education Partnership North East Rob Lawson, has joined a top team of national college leaders to help improve standards in the further education sector.

Five new National Leaders of Further Education (NLFEs) and four National Leaders of Governance (NLGs) will provide support to further education and sixth form colleges where governance and leadership needs to improve.

They will join the national network of 11 NLFEs and NLGs who have already successfully supported more than 60 colleges to date.

Rob was Chair of Governors at Sunderland College for six years before becoming Chair at Education Partnership North East, formed last year through Sunderland College’s merger with Northumberland College. Rob said:

“During my time at Sunderland College I have been involved with significant challenges and opportunities in the further education sector locally, including the area review process and two mergers for Sunderland College with Hartlepool Sixth Form and more recently Northumberland College.

“It has been a privilege to work alongside leaders and a talented team of staff across the three colleges who are driving change through an ambition to change the lives of the people who study with us. I am delighted to now be able to work alongside national colleagues who have the same passion to see the sector continue to thrive.”

The NLFE and NLG programmes play an important part of the Further Education Commissioner’s work to proactively help tackle issues in colleges before they become a problem and reduce the need for formal intervention across the sector.

Education Minister Lord Agnew said:

“Good governance and leadership are the backbone of any well-run college. The National Leaders of Further Education and Governance programmes have made a real difference – helping to ensure our colleges have better leaders and governors so more people have the opportunity to access high quality education and training.

“I welcome the appointment of these experienced college leaders and governors who will play an important role in supporting colleges, so more people can gain the skills they need to progress.”

Ellen Thinnesen, who has worked alongside Rob since her appointment in 2016, said:

“As Chief Executive of Education Partnership North East, I have had the pleasure of working with Rob over the last four years and have first-hand experience of his ability to support the achievement of strong governance, along with the development of a board’s capacity and expertise to drive improvement. I am thrilled at his appointment as an NLG.”

The NLFE and NLG programmes form part of the government’s ongoing support to help colleges to be well-run and resilient and so they offer the best possible education and training.

Rob is a former Editor of The Sunderland Echo and Shields Gazette and now works as a PR and media consultant.

Why Education Partnership North East (EPNE)?

Highly commended - Employer of the Year, Sunderland Echo Portfolio Awards 2019

Engagement with Employers - Association of Colleges (AoC) Beacon Award 2017

(Sunderland College On-programme Survey 2017)

Selected by DfE for 2021 T Level pilot to deliver the new high-quality technical qualifications.

98% overall employer satisfaction - Employer Survey 2018/19