Judith Doyle awarded FE Leader of the Year‏

The country’s top FE college leader has been announced as Judith Doyle, principal and chief executive of North East based Gateshead College.


Judges of the TES Awards said that Judith Doyle was a “truly worthy” winner of the FE Leader of the Year award, thanks to her widespread regard amongst college colleagues and the wider North East business and professional community.


The Times Education Supplement’s FE Awards celebrate those who have had an outstanding influence on post-16 education in the UK. The shortlist for the FE Leader of the Year Award included a further five of the country’s leading principals selected from a total of 379 colleges across the UK.


Judith Doyle is described as a dynamic and inspirational leader by her peers both within the college and throughout the region. Judges heard that Judith is energetic and passionate, engaged with staff and is wholly committed to helping students progress into employment or further study. In addition, Judith’s development of outstanding partnerships with employers and extensive links with the North East LEP, CBI and NECC was also recognised.

Gateshead College was also reported to have exceeded key financial targets, with the financial health of the college continuing to be rated as ‘good’ by the Skills Funding Agency.

Judges commented that “winning the accolade of leader of the year from such a formidable shortlist requires a standout performance. Taking a college from requiring improvement to outstanding is a good start, but to achieve that while raising the college’s profile with the business community and the local authority and ensuring financial resilience is exceptional.”

Since her appointment in 2013, the college has improved from an Ofsted grade 3, requiring improvement, to an Ofsted grade 1, also known as outstanding and the highest level awarded by the official regulation body. Thanks to the improvements made under Judith’s leadership, Gateshead College is now third in the country for overall success rates, boasting apprentices which are 10 per cent above national benchmarks for their achievements within their chosen course and field.

Judith said: “I am thrilled to be awarded FE Leader of the Year and that Gateshead College has been recognised nationally as a leading further education provider. We were the only North East college to be recognised and shortlisted in the awards which is a great reflection of our ambition.

“With support from a strong senior executive team and a highly skilled and experienced set of governors, we have continued to develop and deliver a clear and ambitious vision for learners, ensuring we provide them with an employment edge. This continued dedication to our learners and developing key relationships with local businesses has helped us become one of only two colleges to be graded Outstanding by Ofsted.

“We look forward to maintaining and creating more excellent partnerships and networks of employers, businesses and other training providers and organisations to support the college’s vision and mission to develop a curriculum to meet the needs of learners, local employers and local and regional priorities.”

The national award, which was one of 14 TES FE Awards 2016, was presented to Judith in front of hundreds of prestigious guests from the further education sector at the Grosvenor House hotel in central London.

A breadth of testimonials impressed the judges confirming the high regard in which Judith is held both within the college and throughout the region. James Ramsbotham, chief executive at the North East Chamber of Commerce, was one of those who provided a testimonial for Judith, he said: “What makes Judith an exceptional leader is her ability to also influence and lead others throughout both the private and public sectors. This, in turn, provides an abundance of opportunities for learners enrolled at the college, providing the best training programmes and job opportunities for students. These factors make Gateshead College outstanding and support why Judith is held in such high regard throughout the region.

“She inspires and motivates business leaders to engage their employees in aspirational skills development and I would go so far as to say we owe her a huge debt of gratitude for the positive impact she has made not only within the organisation she works for, but also on the regions businesses and organisations.”