From education to employment

New Deputy Chief Executive for Education Partnership North East

Woman stood outside building smiling

Education Partnership North East (EPNE) is delighted to announce the appointment of Sunderland College Principal Toni Rhodes as their new Deputy Chief Executive. 

Following a Governor-led recruitment process Toni will work closely with Chief Executive Ellen Thinnesen on EPNE’s corporate strategy while continuing to oversee curriculum and quality for the group which also includes Hartlepool Sixth Form College and Northumberland College. 

Toni joined EPNE in 2021 and has 15 years-experience of working in education, holding several senior positions at Ofsted outstanding colleges including Barnsley College and the TEC Partnership. 

During her tenure as Principal, Sunderland College and Hartlepool Sixth Form College she has played a crucial role in EPNE’s leadership team and the college group becoming the North East’s top performing college group for student achievement in 2023 and receiving an Ofsted ‘Good’ rating in 2022. 

On her appointment Toni said:

“I am delighted to be taking up this position and continuing to lead on the amazing work that has been achieved by our staff over the last seven years. 

“I’m looking forward to the developments ahead with a new strategy for 2025-2030, including our exciting journey to outstanding.” 

Ellen Thinnesen, Chief Executive of Education Partnership North East, added:

  – “Having worked with Toni many years ago in another region, I am delighted she is part of our future and I am looking forward to working with Toni on the development and launch of a very dynamic 2030 strategy.” 

James Stuart, Chair of Governors, added:

“The Board has been focussed on how we achieve our future strategic ambitions and to ensure we have the right capability and capacity in place to unlock them.

“This role adds depth to our executive team and enables Governors to significantly enhance our continued regional strategy with both coherence and capacity.

“I am really excited to see Toni’s appointment and have every confidence Ellen and Toni will further accelerate our strategic place based approaches, especially as the investment in Toni’s post is in response to the opportunities of devolution and our passion for the North East region.” 

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