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CEO Gill Alton receives OBE at Buckingham Palace

Congratulations to Chief Executive Gill Alton, who enjoyed a “wonderful, wonderful day” as she visited Buckingham Palace to receive her OBE.

Gill was awarded the honour for services to education by HRH Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, at the royal investiture this week, which took place five months after the news of her OBE was first announced.

“I was completely overwhelmed when I found out I had been nominated,” she said.

“I come from a humble upbringing and the thought of getting the opportunity to go to Buckingham Palace and meet a member of the Royal Family had never really been on my radar.

“I am so grateful to the colleges I have worked with.  I fell in love with teaching because I was working in Personnel and Training and thoroughly enjoyed the training aspect. To see people come in, at whatever stage they are at in their lives, and watch them transform as you set them on their way to something bigger and better is absolutely a privilege.”

Speaking about the investiture, she added: “It was so exciting to go to the Palace.  My family came along with me; we stayed over in London the night before and there was a lovely atmosphere of celebration. I met some amazing people who were also receiving awards; there was a real mix of people.

“Prince William was very interested in education and he completely understands the impact it can have on someone’s life. It was a wonderful, wonderful day, better than I could ever have imagined, and it’s made me feel very privileged and grateful to the people who have enabled me to be there because of their hard work.”

First instituted by King George V in 1917 the OBE is awarded to individuals who have made major contributions at a local level, or whose work has gained a national profile.

Gill’s award was made in recognition of her unwavering commitment to further education and for her achievements in ensuring further and higher education in Grimsby, Scarborough and Rotherham played a major part in the development of hundreds of young people and adults.

It also recognises the focus that Gill has had on engaging the business community to support further and higher education.

Gill joined the Grimsby Institute in March 2016 as Chief Executive and set an agenda that saw the Group achieve superb results for its learners.

This has also been recognised with an Ofsted Outstanding rating, three AoC Beacon Awards, a TEF Silver award in higher education and numerous developments across the Group including Scarborough TEC’s new campus, which provides outstanding further education facilities in the North Yorkshire town.

With a career spanning more than 30 years, Gill started as a Lecturer in 1984 before working up to Curriculum Manager in 1990 and Vice Principal of Curriculum and Quality in 1996.

In 2010, Gill took up post as Principal and Chief Executive at Rotherham College, where she oversaw the development of the College to achieve its best Ofsted rating and become a significant stakeholder in the development of the Rotherham community.

With a wealth of experience at a senior level in further education and a strong strategic leadership capacity, Gill has been selected by the Further Education Commissioner for two influential groups; the Principals Reference Group and the National Leaders for Further Education. In both cases Gill is one of seven senior leaders who were selected to support the sector.

Gill supports the wider education sector as a Trustee of Tollbar Multi Academy Trust, a Director of Open College Network in the Yorkshire and Humber region and as Vice Chair of the Mixed Economy Group, which is the leading support group for higher education professionals in a further education setting.

The regional business economy also benefits from Gill’s sector expertise as she is a member of the Humber LEP Business Development Board.

MP and councillor join Institute to back fairer funding for FE

We are delighted to welcome the support of Cleethorpes MP Martin Vickers and North East Lincolnshire Council (NELC) in the fight for fairer funding for further education.

Mr Vickers joined Cllr Kathryn Wheatley, Portfolio Holder for Children and Young People at NELC, at the Institute to meet with Chief Executive Gill Alton ahead of Colleges Week this week.

They also met with members of our senior team in support of the campaign, as well as young learners from courses including Uniformed Public Services and Childcare.

Part of the ‘Love Our Colleges’ campaign, Colleges Week is running from Monday, October 15 to Friday, October 19, and will see organisations up and down the country showcasing the work they do.

There will also be a national lobby of Parliament on October 17, as colleges call on government to increase 16-19 funding by 5% per year for five years. This is due to a reduction in education funding once a student turns 16, whether they are at a school sixth form or college.

The campaign, which is a partnership between organisations including Association of Colleges (AoC), National Union of Students (NUS), Association of College and School Leaders (ASCL), Unison, GMB and TUC, is also asking the Department for Education to provide exceptional funding, ring-fenced for teacher pay.

“In the last 10 years, college funding has been cut by around 30%,” said Institute CEO Gill. “This has led to a drastic reduction in the number of learning opportunities for adults and highly qualified college teachers earn £7,000 less on average than school teachers.

“This cannot be right or fair and “Colleges Week” aims to campaign for a fair funding settlement to ensure we can continue to provide the high quality skills provision the region needs.”

Backing the campaign, Mr Vickers said: “Various governments have had to make numerous difficult decisions over the last eight years, and I do recognise the focus has not always been on further education colleges.

“Governments always have to prioritise, which has resulted in colleges falling behind in the last few years, however I will absolutely do my bit to support the campaign.

“The Institute is very important in the Grimsby and Cleethorpes area and very much in need, giving younger people a lift and raising their aspirations.”

Also adding her support, Cllr Wheatley said: “I’m very happy to be here today supporting the campaign for fairer funding for further education.

“I think that the Grimsby Institute is a gift for us here in North East Lincolnshire and it’s absolutely vital that the ability to fund all of the courses continues.”

David Hughes, Chief Executive of Association of Colleges, said colleges are crucial in driving social mobility and providing the skills to boost local and regional economies.

“Every single day colleges like the Grimsby Institute provide a world class education and transform the lives of millions of people.

“Colleges Week is an opportunity to celebrate the brilliant things that go on and a chance to showcase the brilliant staff that make it possible.  It is simple, if we want a world-class education system then we need to properly invest in it.”