Ensuring the smooth running of Activate Learning.
Activate Learning is a Further Education Corporation, registered under the Further and Higher Education Act (1992) on 01 April 2003, as Oxford and Cherwell College. The Corporation was renamed Oxford and Cherwell Valley College on 17 August 2005 and became Activate Learning on 01 September 2013.
Activate Learning is an exempt charity under Part 3 of the Charities Act 2011 and until July 2016 was regulated by the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills as Principal Regulator for all Further Education (FE) Corporations in England, and since July 2016 has been regulated by the Secretary of State for Education.
The Activate Learning Group includes Activate Enterprises Ltd, Activate Investments Ltd and the Activate Learning Education Trust, of which Activate Learning is a Member.
Activate Learning is a member of the Activate Learning Education Trust (company number: 08707909)
The Activate Learning Corporation Board is responsible for providing strategic leadership, oversight, and accountability to the Activate Learning group. The board sets the strategic direction of the group and appoints senior post-holders, who are responsible for day-to-day leadership and management.
By setting a clear mission, strategic objectives, and robust progress measures, the Board are able to:
The Activate Learning Corporation Board has adopted a structure of governance based on a Carver, policy-driven model, and therefore focuses on outcomes and impact (the ‘ends’), whilst ensuring that all other statutory requirements are effectively met.
The Board comprises of governors from a wide range of personal and professional backgrounds, who are highly committed to the vision and mission of Activate Learning. For the purposes of company and charity law, the governors also fulfil the role of non-executive directors and trustees.
The Board is advised by a clerk who is employed directly by the Corporation, and meets seven times per year, including an annual strategic away day. In addition to external governors and the CEO, the Board includes elected members of the staff and student bodies, who provide valuable insights from their unique perspectives.
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, seven FE Colleges (Banbury & Bicester College, City of Oxford College and Reading College, Bracknell and Wokingham and Guildford College Group), 4 UTC’s (UTC Reading, UTC Oxfordshire, UTC Heathrow and UTC Swindon), two 11-18 secondary schools (Bicester and Theale Green), a studio school, a training provider delivering apprentices, training and consulting in the workplace and a specialist engineering training provider. We also work Internationally and have 4 female colleges in Saudi Arabia, and work in China, India and Malaysia.
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 chaired the Women’s leadership network and was the chair of the Employment committee of the AoC. Sally has chaired several other National committees which have ranged from Communications to the National Open College Network. She is a member of the Oxfordshire Management Club, All Souls Group and was a leading thinker for the National Education Trust. She sat for many years on the Oxfordshire LEP, is now deputy chair of their skills board. Sally was appointed President of the Association of Colleges in August 2020. 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.
Sue retired from a long career in Local Government in 2017. Her last role was Managing Director of Guildford Borough Council, providing services to 140,000 residents and managing a workforce of nearly 800 employees. Sue’s professional background is accountancy and she held the statutory role of Chief Finance Officer for the last 15 years of her career. She held the role of Head of Paid Service from 2013 until her retirement in 2017. Since the inception of Local Enterprise Partnerships Sue attended the Enterprise M3 board and is passionate about seeing a stronger linkage between business and education providers.
Sue became a governor of the Guildford Colleges in 2015 and in 2019 was appointed a governor of Activate Learning on the merger with Activate Learning. She studied at Guildford College in the late 1970’s and believes that Guildford deserves a first class group of colleges, delivering educational services in modern/fit for purpose buildings and that it becomes the college of first choice for local young people. In July 2020 Sue was appointed Chair of the Corporation for Activate Learning. Sue is a strong advocate of Activate’s Learning Philosophy believing that it will get the best out of learners and empower them to achieve their potential. She is particularly interested in creating opportunities for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Since retiring Sue has become a Director of Surrey Hills Enterprises, is a Director of the Guildford Book Festival and is also on the board of Guildford Philanthrophy.
Andy is Managing Director of Drama by Design, a small company providing consultancy on the design of specialist technical systems and acoustics consultancy for theatres, TV and radio studios and AV systems. Before Drama by Design was created in 2003, Andy ran several of his own businesses with his wife, including a light equipment distribution company and a marketing company.
Outside of his role of Managing Director, as a member of Bracknell Forest Council’s Independent Review Panel, Andy works on reviewing Councillor’s expenses. He was also a Governor at Bracknell and Wokingham College for seven years, before joining Activate Learning’s Corporation Board and becoming a member of the Audit and Risk Committee. Andy has a strong interest in Further Education and became inspired by the work of Activate Learning whilst working with their Joint Merger Working Group throughout the merger between Activate Learning and Bracknell and Wokingham College.
One of Andy’s personal interests is motorsport. He both races and maintains a Caterham race car and is in the process of rebuilding a classic Mini with his son. Andy also spends his free time boating with his wife, walking his dog and cycling, as well as maintaining a keen interest in restoring listed buildings.
Angela is a senior HR & certified project management professional with UK and international experience gained in complex multi-site businesses including Retail, Automotive, Education, Pharmaceuticals, Outsourcing, Technology and the NHS.
Angela has strong commercial skills and has successfully set and delivered HR strategy and led a number of Transformation and Change projects covering Operations, Process, Technology and People. A Fellow of the CIPD and Institute of Directors, Angela gained her MBA from Manchester Business School and her Post Graduate Diploma and Masters from Manchester Metropolitan University.
A true advocate of life-long learning, she is keen to support all generations in their pursuit of educational enhancement and career progression and is a champion of professional and personal development in the workplace. Angela is a voracious reader of fiction and non-fiction books, has recently taken up playing golf which she feels is fascinating and frustrating in equal measure, is a lover of gastronomy, travel, learning to ski and has a passion for walking and running.
Ben represents Activate Learning not only as a Governor, but also in his role as Group Student Support Delivery Manager. Ben’s role is to manage the team who support the wellbeing and retention of students, working to remove the barriers to education. A key focus of Ben’s work is on critical intervention for those with additional support needs, mental health diagnoses or external circumstances which affect their ability to learn.
Ben started work at Activate Learning’s Reading Campus in 2012 and has since received extensive qualifications and training in safeguarding, mental health and a range of other areas which commonly affect young people, helping to support both student and staff awareness. One reason for which Ben enjoys his role is the fact that he feels Activate Learning genuinely cares about making a difference to the lives of so many students, particularly those who have had negative experiences with education. He also recognises the passion and resilience amongst his colleagues.
Outside of work, Ben likes to socialise and enjoys regular visits to his family in Wales. Also a keen musician, Ben plays the piano most evenings and looks forward to investing in a French horn in order to revisit his time playing in orchestras when he was younger.
David is a global business leader with extensive experience in the agricultural, automotive, industrial and shipping industries; spanning agrochemicals, coatings and lubricants within ICI, Castrol and BP.
After an early career in front-line sales and marketing in Europe and Canada, David has held senior, global roles in marketing, strategy and transformation and business leadership; doing business across Europe, Asia, the USA and South America.
David has a strong track record of delivering growth in both growth and mature markets across the world. He has led corporate strategy development and implementation globally and also led post-acquisition integration in Canada and Europe as well as global transformation initiatives.
More recently he has hands on experience of leading new start-up businesses as a member of the Castrol Innovation Growth Board and advisor to three Automotive start-ups. He then became Managing Director of Nexcel; a new business venture within BP, which is developing and marketing unique technology, to improve fleet utilisation and reduce the environmental impact of waste oil and vehicle CO2 emissions.
David has recently been appointed as CEO at Ozoinnovations Ltd; a tech start up delivering sustainable hygiene solutions to the food industry.
In parallel with his business commitments, David has held a number of Non-Executive appointments.
Dermot spent the majority of his working life with the accounting firm BDO LLP. For most of his time there he headed up the corporate finance group and was one of a small group of partners who drove the strategic direction of the firm. By the time he retired in 2010 he was the Senior Partner of the UK firm and Chairman of the global practice, BDO International. Since retiring Dermot has been a non-executive director of a number of companies, advised on individual transactions, chaired a dementia support company, sat on a government advisory board and chaired a neighbourhood planning group. Dermot is currently a non-executive director of JTC PLC, and has just retired from the board of Shaftesbury PLC. Both companies are in the FTSE 250 of the London Stock Exchange.
Dermot is a strong believer in Activate and greatly impressed by the way it has developed over the last few years. The recent mergers combined with a strong management team and a complete focus on preparing students for work leaves it well positioned to help with the economic recovery now required.
Aside from his roles as both a governor and non-executive director, Dermot enjoys skiing, bridge, travel and spending time with family, particularly his four grandsons.
Emma has been a corporate lawyer for nearly 30 years, most recently as head of Business Services at law firm Hewitsons LLP. Upon qualifying in 1990 she joined Sprecher Grier, a small firm in the City, and became the firm’s managing partner in 2005 growing it through a series of mergers until in 2015 it became a substantial top 50 law firm with the creation of Shakespeare Martineau. She subsequently joined Hewitsons to help the firm grow its London office and on fulfilment of that project now assists businesses manage their legal spend.
Emma has always been interested in inclusivity and providing people with the skills to achieve their potential. She has been involved in a number of charities including those that support young people and teach them skills to help break the cycle of long-term unemployment as well as charities dedicated to prisoner rehabilitation. She has been a governor at Activate Learning for nearly a year and has been impressed by the level of dedication and passion shown at all levels for creating the best environment for students to fulfil their potential. Since joining she has been appointed to the Audit and Risk Committee and as the link governor for student services.
Emma finds walking therapeutic and has walked the ancient Camino de Santiago pilgrim trails through Spain and Portugal which she finds an excellent antidote to the rush and consumerism of working life.
Jamie is an investment banking professional with 15 years’ experience across ABN Amro, KPMG and EY.
Jamie currently leads EYs corporate finance activities within the education and training sector across EMEA, supporting a range of clients from privately owned businesses through to large multinational corporations, and financial institutions such as private equity and venture capital firms in investment and divestment situation.
Jamie has a strong track record in the education sector having previously build KPMG’s education and training M&A practice. His experience covers a range of key sub-verticals including further education, higher education, apprenticeships and employability.
Jamie is passionate about innovation in the sector, particularly digital tools use to democratise education and level the playing field, and will bring his knowledge and insights to the Corporation. Jamie is also a strong believer of simplifying the link between education and employability to help to break down barriers, either real or perceived.
Away from work Jamie is a lover of all things sport – especially rugby, cricket and tennis, and a keen traveller, skier and scuba diver.
John has worked in politics, communications, and education policy for the last decade and is director of strategy, policy, and public affairs at UCAS – the charity that connects people to their next step in life, whether that’s university, college, or an apprenticeship. Alongside this, John is a board member of a government body, the Institute for Apprenticeships & Technical Education, and a local councillor on Elmbridge Borough Council.
Originally from the Midlands, before joining UCAS John was deputy director of Public First, an education consultancy and polling company, worked with business leaders across the UK as head of education & skills policy at the CBI, advised three former education ministers, and was a founding director of the Education Policy Institute. Outside of work, is a Trustee of the charity Achievement for All, governor of a special needs secondary school, and is a former National Chairman of LGBT+ Conservatives.
Julia consults as Digital Director to Career Colleges Trust, which assists 14 to 19 year olds in taking the next step to a fulfilling career by equipping them with the skills and experience they need to succeed. She also consults as the Digital Skills advisor to Amazon Web Services, advising them in how to assist young people to develop the necessary skills for a successful career and designing programmes to achieve this aim. Additionally, Julia is a T Level and Apprenticeship Ambassador working with the DfE on T levels and Industry Placements. She holds various non-executive and advisory roles with other organisations including The Prince’s Trust, Comic Relief, City Lit, The Roberts Centre, The Samaritans, London Sport, UK Active, MCC, DVLA, Colleges and Local Government, South African Department of Education and Poland’s Ministry of Defence.
She is the Chair of the Trustees for The CyberHub – a joint venture with AWS, the National Crime Agency, National Cyber Security Centre and the Police to assist with detering young people from cyber crime, educating the community on ethical behaviour and safety online as well as working to fill the cyber skills gap.
Julia is passionate about providing the best possible opportunities for all young people, and in particular those that come from disadvantaged backgrounds. Her work with Activate Learning has allowed her to further her interest in the Education sector, as well as watching the organisation grow to meet the needs of people and businesses both currently and in the future.
Among her personal interests are mentoring, gardening, theatre & literature, travelling, food, and meeting new people.
Kathy joined Activate Learning as a governor in December 2020 and is the Link Governor on employer engagement. She is chief executive of Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership, where she works with others to create the environment for businesses to grow and flourish across Hampshire and Surrey. She has successfully secured over £250m of funding for the Enterprise M3 area for infrastructure development, skills and enterprise and innovation.
Kathy has a passion for joining up people and initiatives and is the lead CE for Catalyst South, an alliance of six LEPs, who champion the importance of the business community across the South. She is also the cluster lead for the four growth hubs supporting business in Hants, Surrey, Berks, Solent, Sussex and Brighton. Kathy has nearly forty years of experience of working with businesses and people to support economic growth, first in helping the long term unemployed to get jobs, then in work to support young adults get training and assisting business to start up, scale up and grow. Kathy spearheaded the first skills strategy produced by the South East England Development Agency and championed work to get girls in schools interested in IT careers. Her work on economic development across the South of England was recognised when she received an OBE for this work in 2017. She is passionate about achieving greater diversity on boards and in teams and champions work across all LEPs. Kathy lives in Oxfordshire and enjoys unwinding in her garden and local countryside.
Malcolm has worked as a consultant in business and marketing strategy since 2001. His main area of expertise is helping companies create, communicate and implement joined up marketing plans that support the organisation's business objectives. Prior to his consulting work, Malcolm had over 20 years of hands-on marketing and business experience, spanning a wide range of industries and countries, with a focus on what companies and “customers” really care about.
Malcolm has always been a strong supporter of education, ranging from Young Enterprise and Entrepreneurship programmes to being Vice Chairman of ATG Training. After completing a small marketing project at ATG Training, Malcolm joined the Board as Vice Chairman and also did a spell as interim CEO. He joined Activate Learning as a Governor in July 2016. Malcolm’s vision is joined up education, where all stakeholders work together through every stage of a student's education. He believes that Activate Learning is a leader in putting this vision into practice.
Outside of his roles as Governor and Consultant, Malcolm has a keen interest in marketing, pubs that serve good beer, being outdoors, interesting projects and trying new things.
Meheryar is currently a manager at Ernst & Young LLP, delivering audit and assurance services to a number of clients, from start-ups to FTSE 350 and global businesses. Meheryar’s experience is significantly technical, particularly in the reporting and auditing areas, as well as dealing with environments subject to high levels of change and helping teams navigate through evolving landscapes. Meheryar has worked with the company for seven years, having started a graduate program with EY, following completion of a BSc in Accounting and Finance. He is also qualified as a Chartered Accountant, receiving his qualification with the ICAEW in 2015.
Meheryar believes that being a governor will provide him with a unique opportunity and insight into the education industry, as well as being part of an organisation who contributes greatly to society. The ability to have an impact on the future of students encouraged Meheryar to become involved with Activate Learning.
Outside of his professional time, Meheryar’s interests include both the automotive and aerospace industry, being a regular attendee of car and air shows.
Having completed a very rewarding and challenging career as CEO/ Principal in FE and HE, Pauline feels privileged to continue her work with people; as Owner and Director of Optima Business Consultancy, she works with a diverse range of people and businesses, undertaking exciting projects, which aim to ‘add value’ and meet or exceed the expectations of the client. Pauline has always had a passion for inclusion and diversity, and she enjoys supporting talented people and helping those who may have faced disadvantage or bias. Her work ranges from supporting CEOs in assisting new or aspiring leaders, particularly through mentoring and coaching assignments.
Aside from her role as a Director, Pauline has experience of being on a number of Boards. At Activate Learning, Pauline acts as Chair of the Search and Governance Committee, describing her time with the Board as a pleasure, having allowed her to be part of an innovative and forward-thinking group, helping Activate Learning’s students to be “their best selves”. Pauline is also a Fellow and Visiting Professor at Buckinghamshire New University.
Pauline enjoys spending time with her six grandchildren and is embracing moving to Devon, which has allowed her to immerse herself in a vibrant and socially active group of people, providing many new experiences and opportunities.