Former student Samantha Harvey has returned to Derby College as the first head gardener at its Broomfield Hall land-based studies campus.

Ms Harvey’s role will involve supporting students in work experience programmes
and leading work to open the grounds to
more visitors.

She studied horticulture at the college 15 years ago, before training and working at London’s Royal Botanic Kew Gardens, where she won a number of awards including top practical student, best vegetable plot, and top student at plant identification.

Ms Harvey then worked as head gardener on private estates in Yorkshire and Warwickshire and also volunteered at the Botanic Garden in Belize, where she managed the orchid nursery and trained staff to look after the delicate plants.

Speaking as the college announced her appointment earlier this month, Ms Harvey said: “It is wonderful to be back at
Broomfield Hall.

“As head gardener, I will be using my experience at Kew and the private estates to re-establish and expand the borders and shrubs in key parts of the grounds, including the walled gardens.

“This will provide horticulture students with valuable work experience for their future careers and also create a wonderful visitor attraction.”

Meanwhile, Cambridge Regional College (CRC) has appointed Paul Skitt as assistant principal, to head employer engagement.

The former head of business development at the College of North West London, who started in his new role last month, will focus on increasing the college’s work with regional employers, offering specialised training to support their growth.

“Cambridge is a great city with a vibrant, growing economy and I’m looking forward to working with employers here and inviting them into the college to see our fantastic training facilities and meet the students
who could be part of their future workforce,” he said.

“As a college, we want to continue making sure we meet the skills needs of local and regional employers through apprenticeships and staff development, as well as training our students for jobs in the local economy.

“There is a huge opportunity to work with regional employers and support their growth and CRC is well placed to meet their needs for more skilled staff.”

Sean Harford has also started in his role as national director of education at Ofsted, taking on responsibilities for early years and FE and skills in addition to schools.

Lorna Fitzjohn, who had been national director for FE and skills since April 2014, will now focus solely on her position as Ofsted regional director for the West Midlands.

Mr Harford, who started in his role last month, said: “Now that we are working on the shared basis of the common inspection framework, this is the right moment to draw together all that Ofsted does in these areas [early years, schools and FE and skills] and to ensure comparability and consistency across Ofsted’s inspection of these sectors.”

Mr Harford joined Ofsted in 2003 as an inspector and has since worked in school improvement, school inspection policy,
and organisational restructuring.

Before joining the inspectorate, he was a teacher and senior leader in a secondary school in the East of England, as well as associate adviser for Cambridgeshire
County Council.

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  1. Sadly the loss of a designated lead for Learning and Skills at Ofsted has not had much publicity since it leaked out in early summer. It means that the expertise to inform government about FE outcomes and practices becomes further diluted along with the specialist leadership to influence inspection practices. It is not a surprise as the writing has been on the wall since the Adult Learning Inspectorate ‘joined’ Ofsted and the chance to learn from their best practice was missed as Ofsted stayed the same. One size will now truly fit all. The sharing of best practice and ability to influence to improve FE will continue to diminish. The sector needs an FE lead within Ofsted if standards of inspector training and communication are not to suffer. Chief inspectors will continue to come from a schools background and not have a real interest in FE. Having internal training events and managers whose interests are dominated by the schools agenda will, like diminishing funding for adults, lead to continued erosion.