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 has always lived in South London (apart from a five year stint in Mauritius), is married and has a daughter. He has worked in the retail and hospitality sectors for over 20 years in various roles including IT Service Management, Service Improvement and Business Process Change Management. Since 2005, Rama has worked with various schools and Trusts to facilitate the set-up of Academies, University Technical Colleges and Free Schools. He has been a Trustee on two Multi Academy Trust Boards. Rama also runs a business consultancy company. He enjoys good food and a good laugh.
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.
Dr Caroline Allen
Caroline started her professional career as a teacher, working in Hong Kong and in the UK. She taught English as a Foreign Language/Business English, Special Needs and all ages. She has been Principal of Orchard Hill College since 1995, and developed the College for students with special needs from a small ‘unit’ to an established specialist College, recognised nationally and internationally for its innovative work, and has been graded as ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted. Caroline established Orchard Hill College Academy Trust as a MAT in 2013 and subsequently led the alignment of the MAT and the College to become Orchard Hill College & Academy Trust, being appointed CEO of Both. She holds Non-Executive roles on the Boards of national funding bodies, FE Corporations and London Councils.
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.
Peter Holmes, Chair
Dr Caroline Allen