From education to employment

New Year honours list 2023 for FE and Skills, who was awarded a CBE, MBE or OBE?

In the New Years honours list for 2023 there have been an additional two Dames, one Knighthood, seven CBEs, five OBEs, eleven MBEs for those working (or formerly working) in FE, Skills and EdTech.

Congrats to all of those who received awards and to all of their teams who have supported the award winners to serve the sector, learners and their communities.

Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE)


Sally is a leading board member of the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) since 2017, driving innovation, evidence-based teaching, adaptive leadership and inclusive practice. She became President of The Association of Colleges in 2020, providing strong leadership to over 220 colleges particularly during the pandemic. She plays a leading role on the steering group of the ETF’s Senior Leadership Development Programmes delivered in partnership with Oxford University’s Saïd Business School. She mentors newer principals and is also a regular ‘star contributor’ to the Prep for CEO programme at Oxford. She was Chair of the Women’s Leadership Network and AoC’s Employment Committee, leading on issues of equality, diversity and inclusion. In 2013, she successfully divested Reading College from Thames Valley University, embracing it into Oxford & Cherwell Valley College creating a new, larger, college group ‘Activate Learning’ to include: four University Technical Colleges; two secondary schools; an apprenticeship training provider; workplace training/consulting; and a specialist engineering training provider. In 2019, she successfully led Activate Learning through further substantial growth, including mergers with Bracknell & Wokingham College and The Guildford College Group.

Nicola Whitmont DANDRIDGE CBE

Nicola was the first CEO of the universities regulator, the Office for Students (OfS) (2018 to April 2022), leading the transition to a new regulatory regime for higher education in England. She established the OfS and its regulatory framework, before overseeing the registration of over 400 universities and colleges into the new regulatory environment. She led the organisation through its first crucial years of operation to establish it as a competent, trusted and robust new regulator yielding 1.2% of the UK GDP and receiving over £8.5 billion in research income. Her focus was on protecting students’ interests, while ensuring the sector continues to be financially stable and well governed. She oversaw and promoted the access and participation agenda and equality of opportunities with record numbers of disadvantaged students participating in higher education.

Knights Bachelor


Ian led the creation of Oak National Academy and, in his role as Chair, more than 2 million children per week were supported during the pandemic, making it a permanent fixture in the school’s system. As Chair of Ofqual, he steered the country to successful GCSEs, A-Levels, Technical Award qualifications last summer while delivering a full return to exams this summer. He chaired DFE’s Initial Teacher Training Reform, the single biggest reform to initial teacher training in the country’s history delivering on time and helping to reshape the teacher training market in the best interests of pupils and teachers at a national level. He has previously been the government’s expert adviser on PSHE, expert adviser on language education and expert adviser on curriculum to Ofsted, making significant contributions to education each time. He is also CEO of Tenax Schools Trust.

Sector Reaction:

David Hughes, AoC Chief Executive said:

“It is fantastic to see so many college leaders and those working across the FE sector getting recognised in this New Years Honours list. This is a testament to the incredible work which happens every single day in colleges the length and breadth of the country.

“I am particularly delighted to see four individuals who have given their time to support AoC in recent years pick up gongs, including our former president Sally Dicketts who is made a dame. Sally’s tireless work as a champion for the sector deserves recognition and this is richly deserved.

“I am also pleased to see AoC chair Shaid Mahmood has been made an MBE for his work guiding AoC and as an education leader. There is also recognition for the vice chair of the AoC board Sue Higginson who has been made an OBE and fellow AoC board member Jatinder Sharma, principal at Walsall College, who has been made a CBE. A big well done too to Lesley Davies, former AoC deputy CEO and soon to be Chair at Cheshire College, who is made a CBE.

“To all those working across our sector who have been recognised I would like to send my heartfelt congratulations.”

The full list of 2023 New Years honours for FE, Skills and EdTech:

Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire

Nicola Dandridge, former chief executive of the Office for Students, for services to higher education

Sally Dicketts, former chief executive of Activate Learning and past president of the Association of Colleges, for services to education


Ian Bauckham, chair of Ofqual, for services to education

CBE: Commanders of the Order of the British Empire

Lesley Davies, former chair of Hull College, for services to further education

Professor Becky Francis FBA. CEO, Education Endowment Foundation. For services to education. 

Jatinder Sharma, principal and chief executive of Walsall College, for services to further education

Peter McGhee, principal of St John Rigby Sixth Form College in Greater Manchester, for services to further education

Bev Robinson, principal and chief executive of Blackpool and The Fylde College, for services to further education

Paula Sussex, chief executive at the Student Loans Company, for services to higher education

Peter Joseph McGhee. Principal, St John Rigby Sixth Form College, Greater Manchester. For services to further education

OBE: Officers of the Order of the British Empire

Sue Pittock, chief executive officer of Remit Training, for services to education and skills

Susan Higginson, principal and chief executive, Wirral Metropolitan College, for services to further education

Alaric Horridge, chief executive of Cadet Vocational Qualification Organisation, for services to further education

Mouhssin Ismail, former principal of Newham Collegiate Sixth Form Centre, for services to education

Angela Noon, former chair of the Department for Education’s skills and productivity board, for services to further education

MBE: Members of the Order of the British Empire

Shaid Mahmood, chair of Leeds City College Group and chair of the Association of Colleges, for services to further education in Leeds

Scanning Pens Co-Founders both received an OBE: Exporters and business leaders recognised in this list include co-founders John (‘Jack’) Churchill and Toby Sutton, both awarded an OBE for services to international trade and to people with special educational needs and disabilities.

Teresa McLaughlin, student engagement and student voice lead at Trafford College Group, for services to education

Bhavena Patel, senior relationship manager at the Institute of Apprenticeships and Technical Education, for services to further education

Mouhssin Ismail. Former principal, Newham Collegiate Sixth Form Centre, London Borough of Newham. For services to education

Arit Eminue, founder and director of DiVA Apprenticeships, for services to further education in the creative industries

Anne Gornall, executive director of Greater Manchester Learning Provider Network, for services to further education and to skills

Veejaykumar Patel, founder of Business 2 Business UK Limited, for services to employment and training

Paul Nee, deputy director for SEND at Westminster Kingsway College, for services to further education

Iain Mackinnon, former Secretary of the Maritime Skills Alliance, for services to education and skills in the maritime sector.

Medallists of the Order of the British Empire

Anne Reese, deputy chief executive officer of EKC Group, for services to education and to the community in East Kent

Peter Nicol, chair of governors at Bury College, for services to education

Christopher Ashworth, estates manager at Ashton Sixth Form College, for services to further education

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