Edition 100: Brenda Sheils, John Callaghan

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The curtain is to come down on a 38-year education career with the retirement of Solihull College principal Brenda Sheils.

She joined the Midland college as deputy principal in 2000 and three years later became its principal.

Ms Sheils had begun her teaching career at a Cambridgeshire comprehensive school in 1975 and since then worked in schools, community education and colleges in Devon, Cheshire and Gloucestershire.

Brenda Sheils

Brenda Sheils

“I am so very proud of the excellent contribution the college has made over the years to the economic development and social well-being of Solihull, Birmingham and the wider region,” she said.

“The college has recently achieved the Investors in People Gold Award which recognises the strong values, ambitions and commitment to achieving excellence by everyone who works or studies with us.”

Her retirement comes the same year as she was honoured with an OBE for services to FE.

“It was an absolute privilege to be awarded the OBE. It was also a very big surprise,” said Ms Sheils.

“I was presented with the award by the Prince of Wales, who warmly congratulated me and was particularly interested in the Prince’s Trust scheme at the college.

“It was a personal honour but it also reflects so well on the hard work and success of the staff and students at the college.

“Although it was not planned this way, going to Buckingham Palace and collecting the OBE has been wonderfully timed with my departure. I am pleased that I am leaving the college in such a great position.

“The college has a very strong reputation.”

Her replacement has been announced as current North East Worcestershire College principal of four years John Callaghan. He was previously deputy principal at Derby College for six years having started his career as a software specialist with Birmingham City Council, before working at the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) and for RSM Tenon & KPMG, as well as having senior posts at Tamworth & Lichfield College.

 John Callaghan

John Callaghan

Mr Callaghan is expected to stand down in June to take over the reins at Solihull College.

“I will miss it, I’ve put a lot of my heart and soul in here so there’s an emotional attachment there as well,” he said.

“Over the last few years there’s
been a very significant upturn in our fortunes in terms of finance and quality and it’s the staff that have done that not me, they have supported me and allowed me to lead them to create an improved college and I am certain that will continue.”