Principal and social mobility tsar to move colleges

Alun Francis will replace Bev Robinson at the helm of Blackpool and The Fylde College, it has been announced

Alun Francis will replace Bev Robinson at the helm of Blackpool and The Fylde College, it has been announced

12 Jan 2023, 13:25

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Principal and new interim chair of the social mobility commission Alun Francis is moving college.

Having led Oldham College for more than a decade Francis announced today that he is set to join Blackpool and the Fylde College as principal later this year.

He will replace Bev Robinson at Blackpool who will be retiring after a near-30-year career in further education.

Francis joined Oldham College in 2010 from Oldham Council where he served as director of transforming learning. He was made an OBE in the Queen’s New Year 2021 Honours for his services to education.

Francis said it was a “tough decision” to leave Oldham for Blackpool.

“I have huge affection for our staff and learners, and for the wider Oldham community, because we have been on amazing journey together,” he added.

Francis was named as the new deputy of the government’s Social Mobility Commission in October.

He stepped up to be chair of the commission last week, for an interim period at least, after Katharine Birbalsingh – Britain’s so-called “strictest headteacher” at Michaela Community School in London – quit.

Writing exclusively for FE Week, she said her controversial opinions “puts the commission in jeopardy” and was doing “more harm than good”.

Francis will now lead the commission until a permanent chair is appointed.

His departure date from Oldham College, which is judged as ‘good’ by Ofsted, is yet to be finalised and arrangements for the appointment of his successor will also be confirmed at a later date.

Bev Robinson

Robinson has led Blackpool and the Fylde College, also judged ‘good’ by Ofsted, since 2013 and will be retiring in the summer.

She has been a contributor to influential government reviews including serving as a member on the independent panels for both the Augar review on post-18 education and Sainsbury review on technical education.

Robinson, who was made a CBE for services to further education in the King’s new year honours list 2023, is also on the board of the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education – a role she will continue in her retirement.

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