Northumberland College principal announces retirement

Staff and students at Northumberland College will bid a fond farewell this summer to principal Nigel Harrett.

By Andrew Coulson
Thursday, 23rd June 2022, 3:25 pm
Nigel Harrett.
Nigel Harrett.

The Ponteland resident has announced that he will retire in August after more than three decades of working in further education.

He took over the helm in 2019 as it became part of Education Partnership North East – the largest college group in the region, which also includes Sunderland College and Hartlepool Sixth Form.

Under his leadership, the specialist technical and land-based college has undergone a transformation programme that included a successful Ofsted inspection and strengthened links with partners and stakeholders, as well as a significant investment in facilities and learning environments at its Ashington and Kirkley Hall campuses.

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Nigel said: “It has been a real privilege to lead Northumberland College and to use my leadership skills to positively impact the college’s success.

“I am proud of our strong team and I am sure Gary Potts, my successor, will continue to implement our ambitious vision at this exciting time as the college has a pivotal role to play as the county continues to develop.”

Starting his career working for the Newcastle and Gateshead Water Company with an ambition to becoming an accountant, his desire to make a positive difference to the lives of young people and communities led him to combine the two in 1989 by teaching accounting and business at Sunderland College.

Nigel progressed through the ranks to deputy principal and deputy chief executive, with overall responsibility for curriculum and quality management.

In 2019, Northumberland College was required to merge by the Further Education Commissioner and Sunderland College was selected as the merger partner, a decision supported by the Department for Education.

Subsequently, Nigel took the helm as principal for Northumberland College – with responsibility for implementing an ambitious stage of growth and development.

Ellen Thinnesen, chief executive of Education Partnership North East, said: “As an important member of our wider executive leadership team, Nigel has not only played a key role in the implementation of momentous change at Northumberland College, but he has also dedicated the entirety of his educational career to our college group. This is a tremendous achievement.

“Nigel has a lot to be proud of and can retire knowing he has truly made a difference.”