Peter Lauener (Chair)
In addition to his role at Orchard Hill College, Peter is Chair of the Newcastle College Group, the largest group of colleges in the further education sector; and of the Construction Industry Training Board, which works on behalf of employers to invest a levy paid by 20,000 employers to improve training and skills in the construction sector. He is also a non-executive director of Sheffield Children’s Hospital where he takes delight in supporting an institution which is one of four standalone children’s hospitals in the UK and is greatly cherished by the people of Sheffield. He is also trustee of Educators International, a small third world development charity which specialises in linking education administrators from the UK with their counterparts in developing countries.
Peter took on these roles following a 40 year career in the public sector, with a focus for most of that time on the funding and organisation of the education system and in particular the post 16 education and skills system, including higher education.
Rama runs his own consultancy company specialising in project management with expertise in IT Service Management, Service Improvement and Business Process Change. Since 2005, he has worked with schools and Trusts to facilitate the set-up of Academies, University Technical Colleges, Studio Schools and Free Schools. He is a Trustee on three Academy Trust boards and assisted in the set-up of several other Multi Academy Trusts and their boards. He currently works with multiple Trusts leading on their Academy conversions, re-brokerages, mergers and Free Schools projects. Rama brings a wealth of knowledge from over twenty years in the retail, hospitality and banking sectors and over ten years working in the Academies sector. He enjoys good food, good music and good company.
Dr David Watkins
David graduated with a degree in Chemistry from the University of York and was then awarded a Post-Graduate Certificate in Education before embarking on his career as a teacher and, more latterly, a manager in the Further Education College sector. He rose through the ranks becoming Principal of Hackney College, then Vauxhall College, and then Carshalton College from where he retired in 2011. Along the way, he achieved a PhD by part-time study from the University of London, wrote a couple of textbooks, and for many years he was the Honorary Treasurer of the Association for College Management.
Amongst other things since his retirement, David has returned to teaching chemistry, he has assisted and supported senior managers in education who are experiencing employment issues, and he has joined the Qualifications Governance Committee of the Royal Society for Public Health.
To the Orchard Hill College Board he brings expertise and experience relating to the post-16 college sector and he also makes particular contributions in the areas of finance, audit and HR. Above all, David is passionate about directing resources to deliver high quality learning experiences which help students with additional needs to realise their potential and their ambitions.
These roles have included the development and implementation of strategic programmes to support educational improvement; managing complex stakeholders; finance and business management and maintaining key relationships in a political environment.
Currently Julie is an interim Chief Operating Officer and Company Secretary for a medium sized mainstream multi academy trust (MAT) in Surrey, with responsibility for the oversight and smooth running of the business and operational functions. Prior to this role, for six years, she was the strategic lead for SEND and School Organisation within Surrey County Council leading an unprecedented basic need expansion programme and developing an improvement strategy for SEND in the LA. Both roles had a strong focus on robust financial management.
Julie is committed to supporting the development of all students to achieve their fullest potential, facilitating positive enabling environments and seeking opportunities to effect real and lasting system improvement for this to be possible.
Mark is a former Head Teacher of Alternative Provision, Special Education and Mainstream Schools, with particular expertise in Social, Emotional and Mental Health Difficulties, leadership coaching, staffing and finance. For 12 years Mark was Principal at The Alternative Centre for Education (ACE), a 5-16 Special School in Brighton and Hove, where he also worked as an interim head of three mainstream secondary schools.
In 2012 Mark set up his own business, Acuity Education Ltd, and has been working as a freelance consultant ever since.
Mark is a qualified leadership coach and his current contracts include being a Specialist Adviser for New Schools Network and co-coordinating the start-up of two new free schools.
Dr Asha Patel
Dr Asha Patel is a Clinical Psychologist who was working in forensic mental health settings and realised that interventions were coming too late in life for many people. She moved into early intervention and prevention by working closely with children and educational settings to ensure therapeutic environments are created within schools and colleges.
In 2016 she set up a social enterprise Innovating Minds to work with schools to create a whole school approach to mental health. Her work also includes developing the groups programme ‘Healing Together’ to support children that have witnessed domestic abuse.Dr Patel brings a wealth of knowledge from over 10 years of clinical experience within the field of mental health and ensuring safeguarding is at the heart of every engagement.
Her ground-breaking work has been recognised with many awards including outstanding contribution to society, 10 of the best in healthcare and medical and Social enterprise awards.
Peter Holmes, Chair