New CEO puts students top of the agenda

Chris Webb, CEO of Bradford College

The new boss of Bradford College knows first-hand how colleges change lives and is looking forward to helping people in the region, of all ages and background, realise their dreams.

Chris Webb, who took up his role as Chief Executive Officer of Bradford College on March 1, has spoken of his passion for colleges and determination to deliver the very best for students.

He said: “Colleges are unique and special. By providing the opportunities to study, learn and upskill our students, we provide a supportive helping hand up and in doing so give our students the chance to transform their lives.

“Further Education colleges are underfunded, undervalued and so often overlooked, but the work we do and the place we hold in our communities is immeasurable.”

Introducing himself to staff during a training day on Monday, the father-of-three, who has joined from Barnsley College, added: “There is nothing more important than our students.

“Bradford College only exists for our students. Our jobs only exist to support our students. Our every working minute should be focused on delivering an outstanding student experience. And where we are not delivering on this goal, we need to quickly improve.

“Not because OFSTED or the Office for Students says so. Not because the Further Education Commissioner says so, and not because the Secretary of State or the Department for Education says so. But because our students deserve it.

Born and raised on a council estate near Romford in Essex, Mr Webb credits going to college with transforming his life. After underachieving at school, he worked in a range of jobs, including stacking shelves and selling insurance, before he found a passion for sports coaching that prompted him to go to back into education. He took evening A Level classes at his local college which then led to him going to university at the age of 25 and get a degree in IT and Sports Science. A career in teaching followed which has included time as deputy principal at South Thames College in Wandsworth, London, director of school at Newcastle College on Tyneside and then eight years at the Outstanding-rated Barnsley, where, for the last three years he was Chief Executive Officer and Principal.

He said: “I am very proud of what I have achieved and where I have come from. But I would not have got here if it wasn’t for the support, help and encouragement from a whole host of people, including those FE evening lecturers at Havering College of Further and Higher back in the early 1990s.”

Mr Webb knows he has arrived at Bradford College at a crucial time as it works to become financially sustainable and raise standards.

“Bradford College has and is going through some troubled times and I doubt that the next few years will be any easier,” he said.

“But by working together we can build a better future for all, students and employees.

“We need to quickly secure two critical aspects of the college. The first is to stabilise and secure the long- term financial sustainability of the college and the second is to quickly and significantly improve the quality of the student experience in both further education and higher education.

“If we can quickly secure those two aims we will provide a better future for all here at the college.”