The College’s Executive Leadership Team (ELT) is responsible for the strategic leadership of the College and ensuring it achieves its vision and strategic objectives, whilst upholding the core values, all of which are set by the Board of the Corporation. The ELT consists of the Principal/Chief Executive, the Deputy Principal, Curriculum and Quality, the Deputy Principal, Finance and Resources, and the Assistant Principal, Head of Sixth Form. The wider Senior Leadership Team (SLT) is responsible for all aspects of strategic and operational leadership of the College, ensuring the highest standards of teaching, learning and assessment, outstanding outcomes for learners, and a strong and sustainable financial position. The SLT consists of all members of the ELT together with five Directors, each of whom have cross-college responsibilities.
Furness College was graded GOOD college by Ofsted in March 2015 with OUTSTANDING provision in engineering. It also received an excellent Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) report in February 2016 for its higher education provision where it was commended for its student enhancement activities. In August 2016, the College merged successfully with Barrow Sixth Form College, forming the largest college in Cumbria; prior to merger, the sixth form college was also graded as GOOD with OUTSTANDING provision in Law. It is also one of the first four providers nationally to become a member of the newly formed Institution for Further Education.
Andrew Wren joined Furness College as Principal and Chief Executive in September 2015. Having grown up in Cumbria, he moved to East Yorkshire, graduating from the University of Hull in 1993 with a BA (Joint Honours) in French and Scandinavian Studies. With a work background in hospitality and retail management, he moved into Further Education as a lecturer at Hull College in 2002 before taking up a new post at East Riding College where he became Vice Principal. He completed a Postgraduate Certificate in Education at the University of Huddersfield and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Management with the Chartered Management Institute.
Andrew is committed to providing the highest quality provision and believes firmly that Further Education colleges, such as Furness College, have a critical role to play in providing learning opportunities to help transform the lives of individuals and impact positively on employers. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, spending time on his boat and anything related to I.T. At weekends, he can usually be seen out walking on the fells with his two beagles, Freddie and Ralph.
Mark Nicholson has held his current post of Deputy Principal Curriculum and Quality since 2009, having first joined the college as a Lecturer in Engineering in 1987. He has held a number of posts at all levels within the college, having completed a BSc in Electrical and Electronic Engineering with the Open University and a Certificate in Education with UCLan. In 2008 he completed a Postgraduate Certificate in Management with Lancaster University and more recently the Aspiring Principals and Senior Leaders programme with LSIS. Mark is hugely proud of the impact that Furness College continues to make on the lives of its students and the success of businesses large and small.
Outside of work, Mark is a director of Cumbria Cricket Ltd, having played and coached cricket throughout his life. Married to Deb and a proud father to Christian and Jordan, Mark has a new addition to the family, his cockapoo puppy Cassie. Mark and Deb have the distinction of completing all 214 Wainwright fells of the Lake District.
John Smith began his career in 1976 with Newcastle City Council, securing his first senior finance position, as the Principal Accountant to the Education Committee in 1987. Following his decision to leave the authority in 1990, he gained a further 20 years' of valuable experience, holding the positions of Finance Director and Company Secretary of Tyneside Training and Enterprise Council for 11 years, and more recently, nine years as the NE Region’s Finance Director with the Learning and Skills Council. John joined the college towards the end of 2010, taking up his current position of Deputy Principal, Finance and Resources. He also has five years’ experience as a non-executive director with Northern Enterprise Ltd, a small venture capital company based in the North East.
His mix of experiences spanning local government, the Civil Service and private sector, positions him well for a college of further education in that a private sector approach to financial management can be central to direction and motivation, whilst public sector values and behaviours under-pin everything his does.
John has lived in around Lowfell, Gateshead, since childhood, and has been married for over thirty five years. He has one son who has recently graduated in Sports Journalism from UCLan. His out of work interests include looking after his golden retriever, DIY, growing fruit and vegetables and time permitting, leisurely cycling holidays.
Helen Wharton is the Director for Employer and Adult learning and joined the College in July 2013. Previously, Helen worked for the Careers Service and had a long career working in schools and colleges in Manchester and Cumbria providing Information Advice and Guidance (IAG). She has worked in marketing, quality and information services; always in organisations that have young people at the heart of what they do. She believes in education and that students should be inspired to be the best they can be and during her time working at Furness College recognises that students have access to some of the best facilities, teaching and assessing staff available.
Helen is a strong advocate for lifelong learning and returned to education herself in 1996 to complete a postgraduate qualification in Careers Guidance and then again in 2003 to complete a Master’s Degree through Lancaster University.
Helen is responsible for the management, growth and development of apprenticeships and works closely with large, small and micro business, trying to understand the skills needs of local area and identify how these needs can be supported by the college. Helen is local to the area and is committed to improving the opportunities for the people of Barrow.
Jo Anson is the Director of Higher Education at Furness College. With a background in teaching Computing at Stockport College and over 25 years at Furness College, Jo is passionate about vocational education especially at higher levels and with the use that technology has in enhancing and enriching teaching, learning and assessment. Over the last 10 years Jo has led a number of validations and quality assurance processes with respect to Higher Education courses at the college which has enabled the number of courses and students to double in that period. Areas of particular focus are the BEng Honours programmes in Electrical and Mechanical Engineering which have been accredited with the IET. With support from the Cumbria LEP and HEFCE Catalyst funding a £4m Advanced Manufacturing and Technology Centre is currently being built to enhance the research facilities for the student at higher levels and increase the workshop space for the growing demand.
With the £43 million build of the Furness College campus, Jo has led the ICT strategy and implementation of the infrastructure and deployment of classroom technology for all areas of the curriculum. The focus has always been to ensure that students have the very best in technology to complement and enhance teaching, learning and assessment. Developing strategies for the training and sharing good practice of various technology-based elearning platforms is key to the full use of the capital investment.
Zee Walker joined Furness College in 1997, starting her career within the field of European funding. She has progressed within the college, enjoying a number of roles including Contracts Manager, Quality Manager and Director of Information before commencing her current role in Planning and Performance.
Before graduating from Lancaster University in 1997 with a BSc in Operational Research, Zee attended Furness College as a Business and Finance student. It was this time at Furness College which sparked her passion for education and she has experienced first-hand the impact a community college can have in changing lives for the better. She has continued to develop her skills within the field of IT, gaining a Foundation Degree in Business Information Technology in 2006.
She enjoys the challenges faced in her current role and feels privileged to work alongside highly talented staff who are committed to providing a high quality learning experience for all students.
In her spare time she enjoys sailing, cycling, reading and walking her two Old English Sheepdogs.
Jane Ridyard was born just outside Glasgow but decided to move to South Wales to do her Teacher Training. She then moved to Barrow in Furness to her first teaching job in 1975 and immediately fell in love with the beauty of the Lake District. For the next 19 years Jane worked in three local secondary schools teaching mainly maths but also some Sport and ICT.
Jane had always wanted to be a teacher and was fortunate that it proved to be everything she hoped it would be. Jane loved working with young people and there was no bigger thrill than helping one of them to achieve something in maths that they found difficult.
Jane decided to give up full-time teaching after the birth of her second child but continued to keep involved in education by working for Charlotte Mason College in supporting in-service teachers improve their use of technology in the classroom and training classroom assistants. However she missed teaching young people so much that within 18 months she was looking for some part-time work. In 1996 Jane applied to Furness College and started as a part-time maths tutor and she has never looked back. Jane loves working at the college and seeing those young 16 year old students arrive and watch them develop into independent young adults never loses its appeal.
Jane has had various roles within the college and became a Director in 2008. She has no doubt at all that Furness College is the best post-16 provider to prepare young people for their future, whether that be a job or progression into Higher Education.
Jeff Chadd is Assistant Principal – Head of Sixth Form. Up to the recent merger, he was Deputy Principal of Barrow Sixth Form College. He first joined the college as Head of Modern Languages in 1992, having previously taught languages at comprehensive schools in Harrogate, Cartmel and Ulverston.
He studied French and German at Sheffield University and gained his PCGE qualification at St Martin’s College, Lancaster. His mission has to been to ensure that the young people of the Barrow and Furness area continue to enjoy access to the broad curriculum of high quality academic post-16 provision that they deserve and the area needs.
Brought up in the blue half of Manchester, Jeff is an active member of a local church, an enthusiastic, but not very proficient allotment holder, keen sports follower, and particular fan of Peter May novels. He is married to Naomi, father to Amy, Sally and Simon, and grandfather to Kian. Unlike most of his senior colleagues, he has no interest in owning a dog.