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Farewell, Alison

Tuesday 15 Aug 2023

Alison Robinson has retired as Chief Executive and Principal, after a period of more than five years in the role, and a near decade long association with Myerscough College & University Centre.

Alison Robinson At Desk Cropped

Alison became only the second woman to hold the role, being appointed Chief Executive and Principal in April 2018, having previously held the position of Vice Principal and Deputy Chief Executive since 2014.

Alison first joined Myerscough College in January 2014, after an 18-year spell firstly in teaching and then as an integral part of the management team of Runshaw College. Alison’s early teaching career goes back to 1991, where she taught a variety of humanities and social science subjects across a range of post-16 providers across Lancashire from Levels 1 to 5, before moving on to teaching postgraduate students on the Diploma in Management Studies.

During Alison’s tenure, Alison has taken the College on a significant upward trajectory, improving the quality of teaching and learning, the financial stability of the College and, overseeing the challenges faced by the Covid-19 pandemic.

In addition, she has led a £35m development scheme across all of Myerscough’s campuses, as well as overseeing expansion of the Myerscough footprint, with the opening of two brand new centres, at Walton Hall in Warrington, and at Ullswater Community College in Penrith, Myerscough’s first in Cumbria. In addition, Myerscough’s Liverpool centre at Croxteth Park underwent a major refurbishment programme, as well as significant developments at the college’s main Bilsborrow campus, as part of an ongoing Strategic Plan.

Other notable achievements include a partnership with with UCLan for a new veterinary medicine school for Lancashire, higher education provision being awarded Gold by the Teaching Excellence Framework, lobbying parliament for fairer funding for the sector, the College receiving numerous regional and national awards, launching a drive to make Myerscough carbon neutral, Chairing the Lancashire Local Enterprise Partnership Skills and Employment Board, and Myerscough gaining an Outstanding classification by OFSTED for how well it helps and protects young people.

Also during Alison’s time in charge, Myerscough successfully negotiated the global Covid-19 pandemic, and had to face becoming victim of and recover from a significant cyber attack, all while fighting against national austerity cuts to education plus a cost of living crisis in the UK.

Reflecting on her tenure, Alison says:

‘’It’s been my dream job. I grew up on a farm about seven miles away, and I lived in the next village to our main campus for 23 years.
‘’I decided at the age of 14 that I wanted to be a lecturer in a further education college. So, to be Chief Exec and Principal at Myerscough really has been the pinnacle of my career, and I’ve loved working with so many amazing staff, that’s been the best bit about it.
‘’Our mission statement of ‘inspiring excellence’ is embodied in everything we do, and we have a real ambition to become an outstanding college.
‘’It has been an honour to lead such a dedicated and passionate group of staff, with every individual, demonstrating real commitment to delivering our philosophy of making all learners the very best that they can be.
‘’We’ve really put ourselves on the map in terms of our land-based curriculum. We’re now the biggest provider of our type across the UK, and in sportsturf, the biggest in Europe. We’ve also put agriculture back on the map, with massive investments in precision farming technology, and that’s something that we’re really proud of.’’

Alison said she would miss the being in charge at one of the top land-based and sport colleges in the country, and the people who work within it:

‘’As I leave Myerscough I have lots of fabulous memories of working with our amazing teams,’’ she said.
‘’We know the last few years have been incredibly challenging. But I am really proud that we have lobbied hard for improvement in College funding and finally last week the Education Secretary, Rt. Hon. Gillian Keegan MP announced that the Government will pump in nearly £500m into colleges over the next two years to help fund pay increases.
‘’We all know that further education staff, both teachers and support staff work incredibly hard and deserve a better pay deal and it is pleasing to hear that the Government is now beginning to recognise this too.
‘’Whilst I am excited about the next chapter of my life, I will be very sad to leave this fabulous college and the wonderful people who work in it.
‘’Myerscough will always have a special place in my heart, and it has been my great honour to have been your Chief Executive & Principal.
‘’So, thank you to all staff for your hard work, dedication to the College and our students. You have been a fabulous team to work with and I will miss you all.
‘’I wish everyone all the very best of health, happiness, and success for the future. This now presents a great opportunity for the new Chief Executive and Principal to drive the College further forward, as we strive for continued success.’’

Alison Robinson’s retirement sees Wes Johnson move from Lancaster and Morecambe College, and takes up the position of Chief Executive and Principal on September 1.

Allan Foster, Chairman of the Myerscough Corporation, the governing body of the college, added: ‘’We are be losing an outstanding educator and manager who has led the College successfully through a number of major and totally unexpected issues with clarity, strategic insight and with brilliant human relations skills.

‘’She has loved working for this unique College and has great affection and respect for the staff, our students and other stakeholders.

‘’I speak on behalf of all governors and members of our Corporation in paying tribute to Alison’s excellent collective work in these demanding times.

‘’We will miss her greatly.’’

Everybody at Myerscough College and University Centre wishes Alison a long and happy retirement and all the very best for the future.