Trevor Phillips OBE has joined adult education provider Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) as its chair of trustees.
The former chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, and current president of the John Lewis Partnership Council, takes over from John Taylor, who has chaired the board since 2013.
Mr Phillips said: “I passionately believe in the power of education as a liberating force.
“Both my parents were able to transform their lives though later-life educational opportunities, so I have seen how adult education can give people a second chance in their lives.
“I have admired the work of the WEA for nearly four decades and would like to do whatever I can to make the opportunities it provides to be more widely available.”
He added that “the role of this type of education is vital to the future flourishing and prosperity of our society, and the WEA has a central role, both as provider and with others, as an advocate for learning throughout life”.
Ruth Spellman, chief executive of the WEA, said she was “delighted” to have Mr Phillips on board.
“His experience as a campaigner for equalities, democratic participation and human rights will be invaluable to the association as we further develop the profile of adult education,” she said.
“The WEA works with some of the most disadvantaged communities in England and Scotland to give people the skills and confidence needed for work and life.
“Trevor’s life long commitment to helping these communities and his extensive experience of leading national organisations will be invaluable as we continue to press for more investment in adult education.”
Alongside the appointment of Mr Phillips, the WEA also elected its first female president, Lynne Smith.
Ms Smith started as a student with the WEA in 1987 and, having been involved at branch, district and regional levels, was elected deputy president in 2007.
Ms Spellman added: “The appointment of Trevor and the election of Lynne demonstrate the values of the WEA in action.
“Lynne is the first woman president and Trevor the first member of the black and minority ethnic community to be appointed chair. This leadership team means we can reflect our diverse student population.”
The principal of Wigan and Leigh College, Michael Sheehan, has left his position with immediate effect.
The college confirmed his departure, and said vice-principal for curriculum, Anna Dawe, would be acting-principal until a permanent successor was found.
Liz Shea, chair of the board of governors, said: “The college has seen great improvement throughout Michael’s time as principal and I am confident that the college will continue to go from strength to strength.
“I would like to thank him for his commitment and dedication to the college throughout this time.”