From education to employment

Jo Johnson and Steve Stanley appointed at Access Creative College

@Access_Creative College signals commitment to growth with high profile appointments @JoJohnsonUK & Steve Stanley 

Access Creative College, a leading, independent college for the creative industries, has made two senior appointments, signalling its continued commitment to education and learning within the creative industries. 

The announcement follows a significant year for Armstrong Learning group*, the owners of the College, during which it secured investment from Apiary Capital, announced new state of the art facilities and welcomed the National College for the Creative Industries (NCCI) to its portfolio. 

Jo Johnson has been appointed by Access Creative College as Chair. The former Minister of State for Universities brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in education, technology and the creative sectors. Jo will provide leadership and guidance to the College, helping the team to navigate the educational environment in which it operates during a period of growth. 

Jo Johnson, chairman of Access Creative College, commented:

“The further education sector has a hugely important role to play in our education system and Access Creative College is an impressive, innovative provider, and a great example of how working closely with industry and employers can best prepare learners for careers. I am delighted to join as chairman and look forward to helping Jason and the team to realise their vision for the group.” 

Steve Stanley has been appointed as Director of Evaluation and Impact. He has worked in education for 33 years. Around half of which, was as an inspector at Ofsted and the Adult Learning Inspectorate. As a former inspector, he brings an aptitude for assessing the impact of the curriculum on learning. As an educator, he has expertise in how education can make a positive difference to the futures of young people and adults. 

Steve Stanley, Director of Evaluation and Impact commented:

“I am excited about being a part of Access Creative College. I share everyone’s determination to meet the challenges of a growing and diversified curriculum. I hold a firm belief in the power of education to transform lives. I look forward to helping students and apprentices gain the knowledge and skills they need to realise their ambitions.” 

Jason Beaumont, Chief Executive at Access Creative College, comments, 

“Welcoming Jo and Steve to the team is big news for us. They will help us to have a voice on a national scale and deliver education and learning that students want and industry desires. 

“The creative industries will be a very different place post Covid and we are aware of the challenges ahead. But, with the creative industries sector having grown at a rate more than twice that of the total UK economy over the last decade, we are confident that it will bounce back. 

“By adapting to change, bringing in the right expertise and listening to the needs of our students and the wider industry, we’ll be in the best position to provide meaningful education for the new creative economy and continue our track record of high student achievement and progression. 

“There are exciting times to come. As we approach our 30th academic year, we are focused on growth at our existing sites and in new cities. We are adapting our curriculum to support the increasingly digital market and we are extending our commitment to support BAME learners, staff and minority communities within the College network. 

“Our passion to help young people from a diversity of backgrounds prosper in the creative industries remains constant, and at the heart of what we do.” 

*The Armstrong Learning Group owns Access Creative College and Coaching Connexions and delivers creative industry apprenticeships under licence to NCCI Ltd. as part of a partnership with South Essex College and DfE.


Jo Johnson is the Chairman of Tes Global. He is a Senior Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School and President’s Professorial Fellow at King’s College, London. 

He is Chairman of ApplyBoard, recently named by Deloitte as Canada’s fastest growing technology company, and a non-executive director of the Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology. 

Jo is a Member of the Privy Council, a Governor of the Ditchley Foundation and a Member of the European Council on Foreign Relations. 

Jo was a Member of Parliament between 2010 and 2019 and held key ministerial offices in each of the last three Conservative governments, attending Cabinet as Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation. 

Other ministerial roles included Minister of State for the Cabinet Office, Minister of State for Transport and Minister for London. 

In the two years leading to the 2015 General Election, Jo worked for Prime Minister David Cameron as Head of the No10 Downing Street Policy Unit and Chair of the Conservative Policy Board. 

In this role, he ran the Prime Minister’s team of policy advisers and was responsible, among other duties, for writing the Conservative Party’s manifesto for the 2015 General Election. 

Prior to his election to Parliament in 2010, Jo spent 13 years at the Financial Times and won a number of awards for his journalism. 

He worked at the FT in a variety of roles, including as Associate Editor & Editor of The Lex Column (2008-2010), as South Asia Bureau Chief (2005-2008) and as Paris Correspondent (2001-2005). 

He worked as an investment banker at Deutsche Bank before joining the FT in 1997. 

Jo’s books include Reconnecting Britain and India: Ideas for an Enhanced Partnership (Academic Foundation 2011, with Dr Rajiv Kumar), and The Man who Tried to Buy the World (Penguin, 2003). 

Jo was a scholar at Balliol College, Oxford, where he received a first class degree in Modern History in 1994. 

He also has an MBA from INSEAD and a licence spéciale from the Institut d’Etudes Européennes of the Université Libre de Bruxelles, where he was a Wiener Anspach Fellow. 

He is married to Guardian journalist Amelia Gentleman. They live in north London and have two children. 

Steve Stanley led or assisted on inspections in a variety of contexts and settings over 17 years. These included: national and regional work-based learning inspections; general further education colleges; sixth form colleges; higher education institutions; employability programmes; local authority adult learning provision. He was one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors for 13 years. 

From 2018 to 2019 he led on Ofsted’s new electronic evidence gathering system and methods for the inspections of further education and skills. 

He was a specialist adviser at Ofsted from 2014 to 2018. This included presenting on the role and impact of inspection to government representatives from around the world. Assessing the impact of Ofsted’s work and making recommendations for improvement. Contributing to the chief inspector’s annual report. Evaluating the quality of evidence and reporting nationally.

As a principal officer from 2010 to 2012 at Ofsted Steve played a key role in devising and assessing inspection frameworks. This included helping to bring together in closer alignment the inspection frameworks of further education and skills, and schools. Also, devising the handbooks and guidance for further education and skills inspections, national careers service and dance and drama awards inspections. 

From 2000 to 2003 he was a director of courses at a leading audio engineering higher education school. He was the chair of the university programme assessment board for academic standards and awards. 

As head of music and performing arts at a further education college, he devised and put in place one of the first world arts and technology learning programmes in the 1990s. 

Steve is a board member for the Baluji Shrivastav Foundation. A foundation dedicated to promoting the work of blind musicians. 

He has a master’s in inspection and evaluation and is a qualified teacher. He lives in north London with his wife Sophie and two children. 

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