Top of the class-OBE for Oldham College Principal

WELSHMAN Alun Francis “captured” since arriving in Oldham 13 years ago has been awarded an OBE for his services to education, in the Queen’s New Year Honour’s List.

For the past decade Alun, 55, has been Principal and Chief Executive of Oldham College.

Previously, he was Oldham Council’s the Director of Transforming Learning.

A father of four children and three stepchildren, Alan said on becoming an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire: “This award isn’t something I would ever have sought or expected.

“But I’m delighted to accept it on behalf of Oldham College. Since 2007, I’ve driven the A62 Oldham Road about 3,000 times and Oldham has ‘captured’ me. It’s a special place with great people.

Alun Francis – Oldham College Principal.

“COVID-19 has hurt the local economy but everyone’s response has been a determination to work together, help each other out and emerge even stronger,” added Levenshulme based Alun.

“We aren’t the best FE college yet, but we want to be. And Oldham needs us firing on all cylinders in the current climate.

“This award is great encouragement for us to carry on improving, and I want to thank everyone whose efforts undoubtedly contributed to it.”

At the time of his arrival at the College in February 2010 snow prompted the electrics to fail, plunging a campus burdened with several dilapidated buildings into total darkness.

Since then he has led a transformational journey with significant advances in the quality of Oldham College’s education offer, facilities, results and reputation.

Unprecedented investment totalling almost £45m has been successfully secured since 2012 to upgrade or replace facilities.

The next phase – a £9m Construction Centre where students will learn the building skills of the future – opens in summer 2021.

Learners across all areas have enjoyed year-on-year improvements in results.

The 16-18 Study Programme ranks in the top national quartile and strong relationships with more than 700 local employers have powered excellent apprenticeships’ results which now rank second in Greater Manchester.

University Campus Oldham also joined the family in 2012. Last year it achieved its’ best-ever National Student Survey results and sealed new partnerships with the Open University and Chartered Institute of Marketing.

The flagship Teaching for Distinction improvement programme for staff, which Alun co-developed, gained national recognition via a Princess Royal Training Award.

And Oldham College’s shortlisting for the TES FE College of the Year 2020 award confirmed the overall progress being made.

On his award Colwyn Bay born Alun added: “The Principal’s name goes alongside all your failures and successes in further education when, in fact, both are big collective efforts.

“We’ve all worked very hard and I’m just fortunate to have superb governors, an outstanding management team, amazing staff and a wonderful community of learners alongside me.

“We’ve now got the facilities and offer to rank with Greater Manchester’s best and, most importantly, we’re delivering better choices and outcomes for learners, and giving them the skills and experiences needed to succeed in life.”

Ofsted’s most recent inspection (January 2019) rated Oldham College ‘Good’ across all categories, and its dedicated Higher Education provision at University Campus Oldham was a awarded a TEF Silver rating the same year.

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