Barbara takes the baton as Chair of Governors

27th August 2019

Solihull College & University Centre is pleased to announce the appointment of Barbara Hughes as their new Chair of Governors.

Barbara joined the Governors in January 2017 following a 40-year career in Further Education and Skills, including roles as a teacher, senior manager and inspector. She took the reins from John Bolt on 1st August having been elected by the Governors in February 2019. Barbara takes over at an exciting and challenging time for the College working closely with the Principal, John Callaghan, the Senior Management Teams and a team of 16 Governors.

The College has a good reputation nationally and locally as a safe and stimulating place to learn with a history of high success in qualifications for students and apprentices and a curriculum that meets the needs of employers. Over 90% of students progress to higher education or employment.

John Bolt, the previous Chair for the last 3 years has been a great asset to the College. He oversaw some key developments and achievements including the successful merger with Stratford-upon-Avon College in February 2018, achievement of the Gold standard Higher Education Teaching Award pre-merger, and an Ofsted grade of Good in November 2016.

He hands the baton to Barbara at an exciting time as the College works with local employers, higher education institutions and colleges, to create the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Institute of Technology. This is one of only 11 bids approved by the Department for Education across the country and is a great achievement for the College and its partners. The Institute of Technology will promote partnership-working to develop manufacturing skills across the West Midlands and beyond. A state-of-the-art hub will be created on the Aston University campus for the promotion and development of advanced manufacturing and engineering (Industry 4.0) skills.

In her new role Barbara, with the support of Corporation colleagues, will oversee investment in new courses, improvements in resources and growth in numbers of students and apprentices, while maintaining careful financial management of the College’s budget. Funding for the Further Education sector has reduced in real terms by 30% over 10 years and the sector continues to campaign for realistic and fair funding with the new Government.

The College has already started to improve the campus at Stratford-upon-Avon with an investment of £8.25 million over 3 years to ensure there is wider choice for local communities and modern and efficient facilities for students and apprentices. The College continues to invest and improve the Blossomfield and Woodlands campuses to ensure students and apprentices access state-of-the-art equipment that prepares them for jobs of the future. This includes new industry-standard science labs, virtual reality resources, the Centre for Advanced Aeronautical featuring world class flight simulators and a former Royal Navy Aircraft and many other key areas meeting the needs of local employers. The College also works closely with the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP to fund over £2 million worth of projects to improve equipment and resources.

Barbara commented “I am proud to be chosen as Solihull’s new Chair of Governors and to help guide the College to provide an outstanding level of education and training to our local communities, maintain good financial health and be a safe and welcoming place to learn. This is one of the best colleges in the country and we as Governors want to take it to the next level of success and be THE College of choice in the West Midlands.”

Barbara Hughes and John Bolt standing together