Perspectives: FE Newsletter, Issue Two

Building Back Better: The leadership opportunity for FE post-lockdown.

Welcome to our second edition of Perspectives. At a time when organisations are switching their focus to recovery, reviewing lessons learned, reassessing business priorities and seizing the opportunity to innovate in the wake of the initial wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, this edition reflects these themes. 

As David Russell, Chief Executive of the Education and Training Foundation said in my recent interview with him, the priority today for the FE sector is to understand what our beneficiaries need, so that we can best support them. And this is precisely what we have done over recent weeks. 

Through a series of in-depth conversations with leaders from across the sector, we have gauged the mood of the sector and the issues which frame the strategic priorities facing FE in the future. In this edition we present a summary of the dominant themes and, in response to what our clients say they need, we highlight some of the work we are undertaking to support colleges as they move forward. 

As the CEO of Barnsley College Yiannis Koursis put it so succinctly, “when we return, we’re not going to open the College we left”. With that in mind, I hope that we provide you with food for thought to prepare for the inevitable change that will entail. The three features in this issue are: 

Taking stock: The key challenges for FE: Looking across our conversations, our panel of FE leaders identified the following five strategic challenges for the sector as we emerge from the pandemic. 

Responding with intent: Getting fit and ready to change: In order to move forward and meet the strategic issues which lie ahead, a key challenge for the exec and non-exec team is to take the opportunity to reflect on and identify the gaps which will get in the way of future change. These can be divided into three key areas. 

Building capability for change: Supporting leadership resilience: Working in uncertain and ever-changing times, it goes without saying that pressure rises exponentially in times of emergency or crisis such as these. Now, more than ever, leaders need to strengthen their own resilience, broaden their repertoire of coping strategies and support the teams they lead if they are to build resilient successful organisations. 

As a leadership development and executive search organisation, GatenbySanderson are well positioned to help develop senior teams and boards within the sector and to attract the top talent into Colleges/College Groups, so please get in touch if you would like to discuss your leadership challenges.

Paul Aristides Partner, Education



We would like to thank the following for sharing their time and insight for this edition. You can watch the videos and read write-ups of the conversations via the links below:

  • Liz Bromley, Chief Executive, NCG Link to video
  • Nick Juba, Chief Executive, Greater Brighton Metropolitan College. Link to article
  • Yiannis Koursis, Chief Executive, Barnsley College Link to video
  • Stuart Rimmer, Chief Executive, East Coast College Link to video
  • Ellen Thinnesen, Chief Executive, Sunderland College Link to video
  • David Russell, Chief Executive, Education and Training Foundation Link to video

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