Professor Becky Francis, an education academic and parliamentary adviser, will lead the Institute of Education (IoE) from July 1.

She starts her new job as director of the leading research organisation, which is part of University College London (UCL), after almost four years as professor of education and social justice and director of research at King’s College London’s department of education.

Prof Francis said she took the role at the IoE because it is “the biggest job in education research in the UK and being able to have a hand in strategically directing that feels like an amazing opportunity as well as an amazing responsibility”.

This appointment also follows her stint as an adviser to the education select committee.

She is the permanent replacement for former director Chris Husbands, who moved on to become vice-chancellor at Sheffield Hallam University in January.

Prof Francis said one of the “exciting” challenges will be to “strengthen the already multidisciplinary nature of the IoE’s research through the resources available at the UCL”.

Before she joined King’s, Prof Francis was also a director of the Pearson think tank and served as director of education for the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.

The former chief executive of Dyson, Martin McCourt, has also switched his focus to education and skills by becoming chairman of specialist training provider Learning Curve Group (LCG).

Mr McCourt, who spent 15 years leading the British electronics firm, and has also worked at Mars, Toshiba and Duracell.

Commenting on his move to LCG, Mr McCourt said: “I have enjoyed success developing ideas and products throughout my career, and I am excited to be part of a company in a sector that is new to me but which has great potential for technological advance.

Brenda McLeish, chief executive of LCG, said Mr McCourt would bring a new dimension to the board and will help move the business to the “next level”.

Nick Spenceley, principal at Seevic College in Essex, has announced his decision to retire following a battle against cancer.

Mr Spenceley was diagnosed with stage three prostate cancer shortly before he started his role at the college in January 2013.

Prompt surgery followed by a rapid recovery allowed Mr Spenceley to take up his duties just one week late.

However, two further cancer-related health scares in the last 12 months have seen him decide to announce his retirement.

Mr Spenceley said: “I am proud that my cancer did not impact on my work at Seevic.

“Apart from the handful who were told at the time, nobody even guessed that I had been ill until I disclosed it during fundraising for Movember at the end of 2013.

“I have now reached the age of 60 and I am still well but, given my recent health scares, I have taken the decision to enjoy my retirement and my family.”

After graduating from Cambridge University, where he read English, Mr Spenceley’s career has seen him work at colleges across Essex and Hertfordshire.

Before joining Seevic, he spent seven years at Harlow College where he served as deputy principal.

Mr Spenceley’s last day at Seevic will be July 29. A new principal will be appointed in March.

And the current operational director at the Schools, Students and Teachers Network (SSAT) Bill Watkin has been appointed as the new chief executive of the Sixth Form College Association (SFCA).

He will start in the post on April 18 following the retirement of current SFCA chief executive, David Igoe.


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