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Martin Dunford OBE

Chief Executive, Skills Training UK & Chairman, Association of Employment and Learning Providers

Martin is the Chairman of AELP and CEO of Skills Training UK. His company Skills Training UK is a significantly sized provider of bespoke Apprenticeship and Traineeship programmes, with a particular focus on individual and business improvement and has direct contracts with both the Skills Funding Agency and the Education Funding Agency for the Study Programme and Youth Contract for 16/17 year old NEETS.

After University, Martin began his career in international (Europe, Japan, USA) sales and marketing, product and business development of high value, scientific instrumentation; a demanding hi-tech manufacturing and industrial market where competitive advantage is achieved via rapid continuous improvement. Continuous or business improvement particularly in the STEM sector is at the core of Skills Training UK’s approach to work based learning and Apprenticeship delivery.

Martin is one of the founders of AELP and has been elected as its Chairman for each of the last twelve years. Starting with a handful, AELP now has over 750 members.

Other appointments held include board membership of the Learning and Skills Development Agency (LSDA) and Quality Improvement Agency (QIA) where he was Chair of the Finance Committee. He was also a long standing member of both the Further Education & Skills Ministerial Advisory Panel and the Apprenticeship Ambassador’s Network.

Martin was awarded an OBE in the 2010 New Year’s Honours list for services to skills training.

Mark Dawe

Chief Executive, Association of Employment and Learning Providers

Mark Dawe was appointed Chief Executive of AELP in March 2016 following five years as CEO of the Exam Board, OCR. Previously Mark was Principal and Chief Executive of Oaklands College in Hertfordshire when he had been a board member of AELP. He has a wealth of experience across a broad spectrum in the education field.

Prior to his role at Oaklands College, Mark was Deputy Director, FE Strategy at the Department of Education and Skills having joined as Deputy Director, Adult Basic Skills Strategy Unit in 2003. After qualifying as a Chartered Accountant, Mark joined Canterbury College, becoming Head of Corporate Services in 1994. In 2000, he helped set up eGS, an e-procurement provider to the public sector. He is currently a governor of Sawston Village College and vice chair of Stapleford Community Primary School. He is also on the Board of the Ufi trust. Previously he has been a corporation member of Lewisham College as well as being on a variety of National Boards. In his spare time, he is a Scout leader, cycles and supports Plymouth Argyle!

Ashley McCaul

Chief Executive, Skills for Growth

Ashley McCaul is currently Chief Executive of London work-based learning provider Skills for Growth. Ashley has over 15 years’ experience working within post-16 education in both the public and charitable parts of the sector.

During her ten years leading Skills for Growth, Ashley has guided the organisation through significant change. All of the change has sought to build on the charity’s existing strengths, establish a distinctive mission and ethos, whilst responding to the rapidly changing post-16 environment. Skills for Growth are a significant deliverer of Apprenticeships, Traineeships and Study Programmes in London.

Prior to the CEO role at Skills for Growth, Ashley held a range of posts within Training and Enterprise Councils, Learning & Skills Councils (LSC) and the Learning and Skills Development Agency (LSDA). Her various roles have contributed to the implementation of government policy and leading on quality improvement initiatives nationally. She designed and delivered a Quality Improvement Network for Work Based Learning Providers in 9 national regions during her time with LSDA and worked on Contract and Quality Management (including pre and post inspection support) in her role with the LSC. 

Adrian Rowley

Learning and Development Manager, Grafton Merchanting GB

Adrian Rowley is the Learning and Development Manager for Grafton Merchanting GB, a part of Grafton Group plc. Grafton is predominantly a UK and Ireland based building materials group that also has operations in Belgium and the Netherlands.

Through a 19 year career in Human Resources and Learning and Development Adrian has gained significant experience of recruiting and developing talent within a range of industry sectors. The implementation of the Apprenticeship Levy has been a key focus for Adrian over the last 18 months and he has guided Grafton through the process of understanding, implementing and maximising benefit from the new funding arrangements and wider Apprenticeship reforms.

Prior to joining Grafton Adrian has worked in HR and training roles for the John Lewis Partnership, Nord Anglia Education, Bison Concrete Products and Cooper Parry LLP. He is a Chartered Member of the CIPD and has represented his company on a Trailblazer group to develop a new Apprenticeship standard for the merchanting industry.

Keith Smith

Director, Funding and Programmes, ESFA

Keith Smith has over 20 years of experience working in and around the education and skills system. He has worked in a variety of roles, from running local skills programmes to leading national projects. In recent years he has been leading the development and delivery of the national Further Education and Apprenticeship funding systems. Keith has been a Governor of a number schools and University Technology Colleges. He is currently the Programme Director with responsibility for implementing Apprenticeship funding reforms and the Apprenticeship Levy.

Clare Howard

Chief Executive, Natspec

Clare Howard became Chief Executive of Natspec in January 2016, following 6 years at the Association of Colleges and 25 years’ experience in the public, private and voluntary sectors.

Clare’s career has included posts in local authorities, a range of education settings, and sport and health organisations at local, regional and national level. During a ten-year period as a consultant, undertaking over 200 projects across the education, sport and health sectors, Clare developed a passion for further education and a particular interest in services and education for people with learning difficulties and disabilities.

Clare has worked with special schools, specialist colleges and national disability organisations and her specialisms include organisational development, developing strategies, funding bids, training, change management and governance projects.

Lucy Hunte

Apprenticeship Lead, Health Education England – North, Central & East London

Lucy has over 20 years’ experience of Business Development & Sales Management in Education & Training. 7 years ago she moved into the FE sector and has run very successful employer engagement teams at 2 large London FE colleges. She is now the Apprenticeship Lead at Health Education England covering North, Central and East London and working with 15 NHS Trusts with a combined Levy spend of £27 million. 

Chris Jones

Specialist Adviser for Apprenticeships, Ofsted

Chris Jones is a Her Majesty’s Inspector and is Specialist Adviser for Apprenticeships. He is a qualified teacher, has a master's degree in education leadership and special education, and a doctorate specialising in continuing professional development and the pedagogy of ICT.

Prior to working for Ofsted, he taught in schools, colleges, and was a programme area leader in secondary and further initial teacher education. He has worked as a senior regional adviser in school improvement, managing local authority accountability for 14-19 diplomas, functional skills, raising the participation age, 14-19 qualification reviews, one-to-one tuition and pupil premium in primary and secondary schools.

He has had responsibility for curriculum, quality improvement and apprenticeships in work-based learning for an independent learning provider. Chris has particular expertise of leading inspections of further education and skills, teacher training providers and education and training in prisons.

Charlotte Bosworth

Managing Director, Innovate Awarding

Charlotte is Managing Director of Innovate Awarding which is a regulated awarding organisation focused on ensuring high quality outcomes for learners and employers.

Charlotte’s career within Education commenced in 1996 with RSA Examinations Board and she has vast experience in curriculum, assessment and qualification design.

Charlotte has spent much of her career working in partnership with thought leaders in education to influence curriculum delivery and development, and to ensure best practice is assimilated into the development of qualifications, assessments and delivery. Much of Charlotte’s work has included building relationships and interpreting the needs of employers.

In addition Charlotte is a Skills Commissioner for the All Parliamentary Group for Skills and also sits on the APPG for Apprenticeships. She is also an Independent Governor for an FE College and for a Secondary school that’s vision is led by national Employers.

Mark Pike

Chief Executive, Develop

I am CEO of Develop, a not for profit independent training provider with our Head Office in Bedfordshire. We offer a broad mix of provision, ranging from National Careers Service activities, work experience for schools at key stage 4 & 5, including the provision of CEIAG and linked programmes, through to a significant study programme, inclusive of learners with high needs. We are also work with prisons, creating opportunities for offenders to access employment vacancies upon release.

I have over 30 years of experience in the FE sector, having started my career as an instructor within the land based sector. I chair the Beds, Herts & Milton Keynes Provider Network and the East of England Provider Network. I have held various roles within the sector, having worked for small charitable providers through to National Providers, Further Education Colleges, and the former TECs, and LSC. And latterly have become a part time Inspector for Ofsted.

I am passionate about supporting learners who have still to realise their potential and am active in trying to create opportunities for those who have been most disadvantaged.

Kirstie Donnelly MBE

Managing Director, City & Guilds

Kirstie is the Managing Director of City & Guilds and joined in 2011. She has worked at the forefront of skills and education sector for over 25 years.

Throughout her career Kirstie has spearheaded the development of award winning products and services across the adult and consumer learning market place and is a passionate advocate of the role of digital and social media in transforming how people live, learn and work. Her commitment to this area was recognised when she was awarded an MBE in the Queens Honours for her services to e-learning in the FE/Adult sector.

Kirstie’s career highlights include nine years with learndirect where she was Director of Products and Marketing and created the first large scale brand and online offer in the provision of adult learning. She also transformed Video Arts, a VHS training business, into an online digital business, produced a range of award winning DVD and e-learning training products and created a first of its kind ‘virtual chamber of commerce’ for Manchester Training & Enterprise Council.

Kirstie has helped to shape policy around e-learning in the UK and was part of the David Blunkett Task Force Group that established the Green paper: ‘Learning Age’, she was an active member of the Race Online 2012 campaign and part of the Government’s ICT review and the European Commission Review Team.

In 2014 Kirstie was appointed as a commissioner on the future of apprenticeships for a commission chaired by Lord Glasman and Robert Halfon MP. In that same year she also set up the City & Guilds’ UK Industry Skills Board, bringing together a range of employers (members includes TUI/Thompson, Compass Group, Laing O'Rourke, McDonalds) and sectors to inform the development of a quality model for apprenticeship reforms.

She is also a Fellow of Royal Society of Arts.

Twitter: @MDcityandguilds

Richard Marsh

Apprenticeships Partnerships Director, Kaplan

Richard has been involved in Apprenticeship training for 20 years.

At Kaplan he leads our work to create leading Professional Service Apprenticeships for Corporate UK.

Previous to that he was responsible for the delivery of two of the largest and most successful Apprenticeship programmes in the Financial Services sector.

Before that he worked for the National Apprenticeship Service and Skills Funding Agency on Apprenticeship funding and employer – government partnerships.

Richard started his career at Vodafone where he introduced Modern Apprenticeships and then moved to Volkswagen where he was responsible for training content.

Richard writes for the FE press and regularly speaks about Apprenticeship matters at conferences in the UK and abroad.

Sally Dicketts CBE

Chief Executive, Activate Learning

Sally Dicketts has held senior posts in both secondary schools and further education. She became Principal at Milton Keynes College in 1996, and in 2003 became the first Principal of Oxford & Cherwell Valley College.

In 2010, Oxford and Cherwell Valley College took over the responsibility for running Reading College and in 2013 set up a UTC in Reading. In 2013 she became the first Chief Executive of Activate Learning, bringing together in one group, three FE Colleges (Banbury & Bicester College, City of Oxford College and Reading College), two UTC’s (UTC Reading and UTC Oxfordshire), a 11-18 secondary school, a studio school, a training provider delivering apprentices, training and consulting in the workplace and a specialist engineering training provider.

Sally is a tireless campaigner and advocate for the learning and skills sector. She is a board member of ETF, was a board member of AoC and AMiE. She chairs the Women’s leadership network and was the chair of the Employment committee of the AoC. She is a member of the Oxfordshire Management Club, All Souls Group and is a leading thinker for the National Education Trust. She sits on the Oxfordshire LEP. Sally was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Honours list in July 2013.

Her main area of interest is in how people learn, mindfulness and how to develop more entrepreneurial innovative individuals. She enjoys travel, cycling, Zumba and spending time with her partner and daughter.

Alex Richards

Operations Director, WTPN

Alex runs the Western Training Provider Network as Operations Director, a Network based in the West of England which covers the four regional local authorities around the Bristol/Bath City region and had a membership of over 30 local, regional and National training providers, colleges and a University.

Alex started his career in the Govt funded training sector in 2010 joining JHP Training, helping them build a secure Apprenticeship base locally with 16-18 Apprenticeship recruitment programmes and adult learner work based learner programmes with larger employers.

Alex moved to T2 Business Solutions, another National training provider in 2013 and helped them established their Apprenticeship/Traineeship Academy in Bristol which has just gained it’s 2nd Outstanding Ofsted Award.

Along with excellent centre teaching and learning, a collaborative approach to working with schools, the local authority, employers and other providers was a major reason for the first Outstanding Ofsted award.

This collaborative approach with other stakeholders led to Alex taking part in regional Ofsted reviews, City wide focus groups on ‘Raising the Participation Age’ legislation and a successful City wide NEET reduction group.

Alex was then invited to and joined the board of the WTPN and now leads the network.

Most recently the WTPN and Alex has partnered with Business West which runs the four local chambers of commerce in a ESF/ESFA project to bring both providers and employers closer together to enable systemic change in the skills system through collaboration and co-design.

Ian Bamford

Chief Operating Officer, Paragon Skills

Ian has a valuable knowledge of further education and work-based learning, having over 20 years’ experience working in a variety of different organisations including private training providers and FE colleges. After leaving school he qualified as a chef in the mid 1980’s through the work-based learning route. Ian developed a passion for inspiring others to fulfil their potential through practical, high quality training, becoming an NVQ trainer assessor and then subsequently other key roles with a national hospitality training provider.

Ian then worked as a self-employed consultant specialising in training, inspection and quality, before progressing into operations and quality director roles for two national work based learning providers.

Alongside this, Ian has over 15 years’ experience working as an Ofsted inspector. Having carried out over 120 inspections across all remits including leadership and management, and quality improvement, Ian knows what Outstanding teaching, learning and assessment looks like and how to deliver it.

For the last two years, Ian has been the Chief Operating Officer at Paragon Skills, a nationwide Apprenticeship training provider, confidently steering them towards the delivery of an outstanding learning experience.

Gemma Marsh

Assistant Director Skills Policy, Strategy & Delivery, Greater Manchester Combined Authority

Gemma is part of an executive team that leads on Greater Manchester’ agenda around creating an integrated education, skills & work system to raise attainment, reduce unemployment, improve skill levels and ensure high quality employer engagement.

In her previous role within New Economy, Gemma managed European capital projects, designed and delivered an employment programme at an NHS trust and developed a work & health charter in GM, before taking up the position of Director in 2014.

Gemma now oversees the work of the Skills and Employment team at the newly expanded Greater Manchester Combined Authority, delivering GM’s priorities for work and skills, ensuring all partners are working together towards a shared vision.

Most recently Gemma’s focus has been on the implementation of the skills aspects of Greater Manchester’s devolution agreement. Gemma is leading work to ensure that opportunities presented through the deal will deliver the best possible outcomes for residents and employers in Greater Manchester.

Sam Blyth

Director for Schools, Further Education & Learning Providers for Europe, Canvas

Sam Blyth has 12 years experience of working with colleges, schools, Local Authorities, multi-academy trusts and teaching school alliances in purchasing and implementing new technology. Formerly national Secondary manager for Discovery Education (formerly Espresso Education and Channel 4 Learning) and national key account manager for itslearning UK, Sam is now responsible for managing the team bringing the hugely successful Canvas VLE/LMS to colleges and schools across Europe.

Richard Guy OBE

Deputy Director, Quality, Institute for Apprenticeships

Richard worked at the Manpower Services Commission responsible for policy on vocational qualifications, design of training programmes and assessment and certification.

He was appointed Chief Executive of South and East Cheshire TEC in 1989 and then Manchester TEC in 1994. He was actively involved in the TEC movement nationally including working part time as Director of Policy for the TEC National Council.

In 2000 he facilitated partners to come together to form the Manchester Enterprises Group, a £100m turnover organisation responsible for determining the Economic Development Strategy for Greater Manchester and its implementation. He remained CEO of this group (renamed Manchester Solutions) until 2013.

After leaving Manchester Solutions, Richard worked for three years as Policy Adviser on Apprenticeships at City & Guilds.

He has been employed by the Institute for Apprenticeships since February 2017 as Deputy Director responsible for Quality.

Elizabeth Pawlowski

National English & Maths Skills Development Manager, Carillion

As National English & Maths Skills Development Manager, Elizabeth is responsible for leading and developing a team of expert practitioners. She feels passionately about Functional Skills and was part of the AELP English and Maths For All review, is a member of the AELP English and Maths Group and is chair of the AELP Functional Skills Special Interest Group.

Prior to joining Carillion, Elizabeth was a Tutor and Assistant Head of School at an FE college – covering Business, Administration, Law, ICT, Management, Key Skills through to Functional Skills, NVQs, Apprenticeships and Job Centre Plus Programmes.

She has a passion for reading and keeps abreast of developments in English and Maths, Observation of Teaching and Learning, and empowering learners to be the very best that they can be.

Jennifer Coupland

Director of Further Education, DfE

Jennifer Coupland took up post as DfE’s Director of Further Education in October 2016. Her previous role was Acting Chief Executive of the Standards and Testing Agency where she oversaw the Agency’s work on primary school assessment policy and operational delivery, covering the maternity leave of the current Chief Executive.

Prior to that Jennifer spent three years as the Deputy Director of the joint DfE/BIS Apprenticeships Unit where she was responsible for apprenticeship reform including creating new apprenticeship trailblazers, degree apprenticeships and the public sector apprenticeship duty. Before this, Jennifer was the Deputy Director in the Department for Education responsible for the early stages of Traineeships development as well as Raising the Participation Age, careers and NEET policy.

Jennifer began her career in the Employment Service where she ran a benefit section in a local office and delivered a range of programmes to support long term unemployed people into work. Since moving to central Government Jennifer has worked on a number of policy areas including: benefits, schools and post-16 education. Jennifer is married to Dan, who runs his own small business, and together they have three daughters aged 16, 14 and 10.

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