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New era for Oldham College as Principal set to depart after 13 years

ALUN Francis OBE is set to leave his post for a new challenge after more than a decade of renewal and progress at Oldham College.
NEW CHAPTER: Alun Francis OBE is leaving Oldham College later in 2023 to take up the post as Principal and Chief Executive at Blackpool and The Fylde College

ALUN Francis OBE is set to leave his post for a new challenge after more than a decade of renewal and progress at Oldham College.

The 57-year-old was appointed Principal and Chief Executive almost 13 years ago in February 2010.

Since then, Oldham College has gone on to make significant and sustained advances in the quality of its educational offering, facilities, results and reputation.

Since 2010 the College has attracted around £45 million to upgrade or replace facilities and create a site ranking alongside the best in the region – most recently with the addition of a new Construction Centre and incorporation of the former Greater Manchester UTC into the estate.

There has also been national recognition and awards acknowledging the calibre of teaching and learning, and ongoing contributions made to the local economy and community. Recently, these include being crowned as the Edufuturists ‘FE College of the Year’ 2021,and a Princess Royal Training Award for the flagship Teaching for Distinction programme. There were also Gold medals for learners at the WorldSkills UK National Finals 2022 – and Oldham College is a finalist in the 2022/23 Beacon Awards in the Support for Students Award.

Mr Francis has accepted an offer to become Blackpool and The Fylde College’s new Principal and Chief Executive later this year.

Jonathan Edwards, Chair of Oldham College, said: “Although we will be sad to see Alun depart, we also see this as a milestone opening up an exciting new chapter and opportunities for Oldham College.”

“Alun is the first to acknowledge that he has been supported by an excellent senior leadership team, terrific staff and governors here. The support, endeavours and creativity of the people working for and alongside him are key to our achievements – and that means Oldham College has a very bright future.

“We are expecting high-calibre applicants with new perspectives and ideas to be in the running to become our next Principal, and to help build the next phase in our success story.”

Alun Francis came to Oldham College from a post as the Director of Transforming Learning at Oldham Council where he had served since 2007. In 2021 he was awarded an OBE for his services to education and he became Interim Chair of the Social Mobility Commission last week.

Alun Francis said: “This was a tough decision: I have huge affection for our staff and learners, and for the wider Oldham community, because we have been on amazing journey together.”

“I’m incredibly proud of all our achievements here, but I am just one person at Oldham College and – before my departure – I am fully committed to progressing important projects, like our plans to bring University Campus Oldham onto our main site.

“I will be passing on an exciting platform of people, culture and facilities. I have total confidence that with fresh leadership and ideas, they will move things on to even greater heights in the future.”

Alun Francis’s departure date from Oldham College is yet to be finalised. The arrangements for the appointment of his successor will also be confirmed at a later date.

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