AoC president faces challenger for the top job

Never mind the race to become prime minister, the race to elect the next president of the Association of Colleges is where the real drama is happening.

Trafford College Group principal Lesley Davies has challenged incumbent leader Steve Frampton.

Frampton, the former principal of Portsmouth College, is reapplying for the role after having completed one year of his two-year term, under rules introduced after Ian Ashman served the previous maximum one-year term in 2017.

Alison Birkinshaw replaced Ashman, before retiring after one year in office; then Frampton was elected unopposed in May 2018. He is now facing off against Davies in the first test of the new rules.

According to the AoC, the president “acts as ambassador for the organisation and the sector” and helps drive policy formation and maintains the profile of further education with ministers and external partners.

Every college which is an AoC member will get one vote in the election; which will close next Wednesday. The result is expected to be announced on Thursday 20 June.

Both candidates provided a 200 word manifesto on why they should be elected.

In Davies’, she wrote her commitment to the education sector has “never been stronger”, adding: “The challenges we face cannot be underestimated and, although our funding is of major concern, it is not just about our finances.

“I would work on your behalf to ensure that government puts the long-term sustainability of colleges at the heart of its policymaking; offering constructive challenge and representing your views to better inform policy development.”

She concluded: “I hope you will consider me a fitting candidate and it would be a privilege to serve as your president.”

Davies has been principal of Trafford College since 2016, during which time it merged with Stockport College, to form the Trafford College Group (TCG) in April 2018.

She confirmed she would stay on as college principal if elected AoC president.

Before becoming principal, Davies was a lecturer, before serving as the AoC’s deputy chief executive and working at Pearson, in roles such as vice president of quality, standards and research, and senior vice president of BTEC and apprenticeships.

She was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s 2015 Birthday Honours, for her services to education.

She wrote about this “extensive experience” in her manifesto, which also referenced the “productive partnerships” Davies had developed with people in the government.

In his manifesto, Frampton wrote that being the AoC president was a “great privilege” and he was “excited for the task ahead”, working to ensure colleges were in the strongest possible position for the Comprehensive Spending Review this year.

He said that, during his year in the role, the association had helped shape the new Ofsted inspection framework, worked with the DfE on teacher recruitment and retention strategies, and launched the #LoveOurColleges campaign.

“Together we’ve achieved two parliamentary debates, had questions raised to the PM, DfE and Treasury, encouraged 70,000 people to sign a student led petition, achieved 500+ pieces of national and regional press, and had hundreds of MPs writing to ministers,” he added.

“However, until we get that much need financial boost, the fight continues.”

Hampton wrapped up his manifesto by stating: “I am your president and I am passionate about supporting you and the work you do.

“I am proud to represent you, but even prouder to work side-by-side with you, and I hope to continue the work we have started together.”