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Leeds College of Building Announces First Female Principal & CEO 

Image of new Leeds College of Building Principal and CEO, Nikki Davis.

Leeds College of Building has announced Nikki Davis as the next Principal & CEO and the first woman to hold the post in the 60-year history of the institution.

Nikki is currently the College’s Vice Principal for Teaching, Learning & Quality and will take up the position on 1st August. Incumbent Principal & CEO, Derek Whitehead, will continue in the role until the end of the current academic year to oversee the transition period.

Prior to working at Leeds College of Building, Nikki held the post of Vice Principal (Technical and Professional) and Assistant Principal (Employer Engagement) at York College, Head of Department at Kirklees College, and Programme Manager at Leeds City College.

The announcement coincides with International Women’s Day 2022 (Tuesday 8th March). Nikki said:

“I’m delighted to be appointed to the role of Principal & CEO at Leeds College of Building and to build on its previous successes and first-rate tradition of delivering exceptional training to learners from across the UK. This is an exciting time for the College, and I very much look forward to working with students, staff, employers, and partners to ensure that Leeds College of Building delivers on its potential.” 

Derek Whitehead will be retiring from the role after 37 years of working in Further Education and vocational skills training. He was appointed Deputy Principal at Leeds College of Building (the UK’s only specialist Further Education construction college) in 2004, before becoming Principal & CEO.

Leeds College of Building has around 5,500 students, covering 16-18 full-time study programmes, adult provision, HE courses, and bespoke programmes for employers. Over half of these students (around 2,800) are enrolled on apprentice training across all areas of the College’s provision, from Level 2 up to degree apprenticeships.

In 2019, the College was graded ‘Good’ in all areas in its Ofsted inspection and opened phase two of its £13m South Bank Campus. Inspections now show quality at ‘good or better’, HE meets all UK standards, and the ESFA gave the College a ‘good’ rating, indicating a healthy financial position.

Derek Whitehead said:

“I have genuinely enjoyed all 18 years spent at Leeds College of Building. I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved and being involved in leading such a great team of talented, agile, and responsive staff, together with stakeholder and Governor support. I’m delighted to be leaving the College in such good shape at the end of a very rewarding career in Further Education. 

“I have never lost a love of construction after all these years. Helping students develop skills that can make a transformative difference to their future and society is an absolute privilege. It is the accomplishment of which I’m most proud. Leeds College of Building is a fantastic organisation to lead, and I know Nikki will do a superb job at taking the College to the next stage in its development.” 

Peter Norris, Leeds College of Building Chair of Governors, said:

“The College is passionately committed to inclusivity in construction and promoting diversity in the workforce, and so we look forward to Nikki commencing her role as Principal & CEO. Not only will her appointment ensure seamless continuity, but she also has outstanding knowledge of leadership in the Further Education sector.

“The Board would also like to acknowledge the commitment and hard work of Derek Whitehead in supporting students to achieve their aspirations over so many years, to ensure that the construction sector is supported and developed in the Leeds City Region and beyond.”


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