Karen Dobson, Principal and Chief Executive of Newcastle and Stafford Colleges Group

Karen Dobson, Principal and Chief Executive of Newcastle and Stafford Colleges Group (NSCG) has been awarded an OBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours List 2019, for her services to further education.

Potteries-born Karen began her career in the public sector with the NHS as a Nurse, Ward Manager and Health Visitor before moving into further education as a Lecturer in Health and Social Care. She joined Newcastle College in 2002 as Director of Curriculum and Strategy and in August 2004 was promoted to the post of Principal.

During her 14-year tenure as Principal of Newcastle College, Karen has overseen a number of extensive and ambitious capital projects to relocate and rebuild the entire Newcastle College campus.   She has driven growth in learner numbers and curriculum and quality enhancements at Newcastle before spearheading the merger between Newcastle College and Stafford College in 2016.

As Principal and Chief Executive of NSCG, Karen has been instrumental in establishing the newly formed Group as one of the top performing colleges in the West Midlands and without doubt one of the most successful merged colleges nationally. In the two years post-merger, Stafford College is now unrecognisable following a £13.5M investment into the campus and student facilities, with further significant developments in the pipeline. Under Karen’s diligent leadership, the combined Group has outstanding financial health, a growing population of over 10,000 students on full-time, part-time, higher education and apprenticeship programmes and fantastic achievement rates that sit firmly in the top 5% of colleges nationally for 16-18 learners.

On hearing the news, Karen said: “I am absolutely thrilled and very surprised to be named to receive an OBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours List and am proud of the things I have helped to make happen during my time in the further education sector. I am also humbled by the recognition, which would not have been possible without the incredible support of the governors, the hard work and dedication of my senior team and staff, our wonderful and diverse student body and of course the constant help and support from my wonderful family.”

In a double celebration, it has also recently been announced that Karen is on the shortlist of 8 nominees for the prestigious title of ‘FE Leader of the Year’ in the TES FE Awards 2019, with the winner announced at a London event in March 2019.

Continued Karen: “It is a privilege to be the Principal and Chief Executive of this great College, working with a talented staff team who unfailingly put the students’ interests at the heart of everything they do. I am committed to ensuring that NSCG continues to be one of the best colleges in the country to work and study.”

Having dedicated much of her career to improving the life prospects of the people of Staffordshire, Karen is a true advocate of the transformative power of education and training. She holds a Health Sciences degree from Coventry University and an MBA from Keele University. Always a keen ambassador for sport, Karen has competed at the All England Club (Wimbledon) representing Staffordshire Tennis and has captained various Ladies County Tennis age groups. Naturally competitive, she continues to channel her sporting passion into playing for County and Club and as a spectator she supports the numerous NSCG sporting teams. Karen is also Vice-Chair of the Association of Colleges (AoC) Sport Board, where she influences government policy and inspires others to follow her lead.

Commenting on the honour, Simon Leech, NSCG Chair of Governors said:

“Karen is an unsung champion in the FE sector who epitomises all one might expect of someone worthy of this recognition.  She has been with the Group since 2002 and during this time has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to ensuring the young people of Staffordshire get the best possible opportunity to develop, progress and prosper.  In Karen, we have an outstanding leader of one of the best all-round colleges in the country by any measure – academic, progression, employability, sporting, financial or reputational and she is a highly respected figure both in the college and in the wider community she serves. I am delighted that her efforts have been rewarded in such a visible and appropriate way.”

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter yesterday

The Environmental Impacts of Remote Work: Stats and Benefits: Working from home is a necessity rather than a luxury… https://t.co/NEJrovahxg
View Original Tweet

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page