Making strong contributions at local and regional level
Our partner colleges are led by principals who are committed to transforming lives through learning.
Together, they are united in their vision to address the region's skills needs and provide the sustainable, long-term solutions needed to boost the economy.
Their long standing history of collaboration has already made an extensive contribution to assisting businesses to grow and had a significant impact on increasing individuals skill levels across the region.
Find out more about each principal/CEO by clicking on their image.
Appointed in 2022, Nikki is the first female CEO and Principal in Leeds College of Building’s 60-year history. She is the College’s former Vice Principal for Teaching, Learning and Quality.
Nikki began her career in hospitality before moving into teaching. Nikki’s first role was Course Leader for Business and Economics at Calderdale College in 2002, before moving to Park Lane College as Curriculum Manager for Business and Enterprise. Nikki progressed to Head of Department at Kirklees College, then Assistant Principal (leading the apprenticeship programme) and Vice Principal for Technical and Professional programmes at York College.
Nikki moved to Leeds College of Building in May 2019. Under Nikki’s leadership, the College is focused on diversity, inclusivity, and access for all to the opportunities offered by the construction sector. The College is also engaged in green and sustainable skills training to help contribute to critical national net-zero targets.
Nikki was appointed Chair of the West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges in 2023.
Palvinder joined Kirklees College as Principal and Chief Executive in June 2021. He has worked in further education since 2000 and has held a range of senior appointments, most recently as Group Deputy Principal (Finance, Planning and Resources) for NCG. Prior to this, he held senior positions at both Luminate Education Group (formerly Leeds City College) and Barnsley College.
He has worked across curriculum and professional services functions and has expertise in strategic planning, curriculum improvement, financial and business planning, culture change and developing strategic partnerships with employers and government agencies.
He is currently the Chair of the Association of Colleges Equality Diversity and Inclusion Steering Group and Trustee for the sectors workforce development body, The Education and Training Foundation.
With over 20 years’ experience in the sector, Palvinder is passionate about the role and value of further education and the power it has to transform lives and communities.
Sam Wright has worked in Further Education for 28 years. She became Principal and CEO at Wakefield College in February 2011. Sam became the Principal and Chief Executive of the Heart of Yorkshire Education Group following the merger between Wakefield College and Selby College on 1 March 2022.
Sam started her career in Further Education as a lecturer before working as a middle and senior manager, with a focus on curriculum and quality. She is inspired by the opportunity to improve lives and help individuals to achieve their potential through learning, as well as further developing excellent relationships with key partners and employers to inform the Group's strategy, curriculum development and delivery.
Sam is a member of the Wakefield Enterprise Partnership and Chair of Wakefield’s Learning and City Board, alongside sitting on a number of other boards and groups across the city including Young People’s Strategic Partnership and the Wakefield and District Housing Advisory Panel.
David has 18 years’ experience of working in the Further Education sector and is passionate about education for all.
He has a wealth of experience in senior management, strategic planning and cultural transformation.
David began his career in Performing Arts as a performer, as well as owning his own theatre company. It was during this period that David found his passion for education and retrained as a teacher. Over the next 18 years, he went on to manage departments and faculties before moving into senior management.
Having supported his previous colleges to achieve Good and Outstanding judgments by Ofsted, he is excited to be leading the Calderdale College community through the next chapter of its journey.
Colin is the CEO of Luminate Education Group (formerly Leeds City College Group). He joined Leeds City College in 2015 and prior to that, he was Principal of Barnsley College for seven years where he steered the college to an Ofsted rating of outstanding.
He has worked in the further education sector for over 30 years; his background is as a teacher and manager in Skills for Life, and provision for students with disabilities or learning difficulties. He has also worked as a part-time inspector for Ofsted and the Adult Learning Inspectorate.
Colin was awarded an OBE for services to further education in the Queen’s 2015 New Year Honours list.
Diana Bird was appointed Principal of Shipley College in 2022. She has a long connection with the college where she first started as a student over 20 years ago and has worked in several roles in further education.
With a degree and Masters in Cultural Studies, she is a teacher and ESOL subject specialist and held roles as Head of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and Head of Sector for Essential Skills before she was appointed as Vice-Principal for Curriculum in August 2020.
“This is my college, I know what’s special about it. Shipley College is on my doorstep and part of my daily life. I want to serve my community. I want to make sure the young people where I live get the best opportunities and best education."
Chris joined Bradford College from Barnsley College, in March 2019.
He has more than 20 years’ experience in the education sector, having also spent time as Deputy Principal at South Thames College and Director of School at Newcastle College.
Graduating from Canterbury Christ Church College University with a degree in IT and Sport Science, Chris began his teaching career in 1997 with a part-time role at Bedford College teaching and coaching footballers. From there he went to City of Westminster College to become a full-time lecturer then onwards to Braintree College as a Curriculum Leader. His next move was to Hereford College where he was a Head of Department before going on to Newcastle College where he was Curriculum and Pastoral Manager for the sixth form and later promoted to Director of School for Business and Care.
He left the North East to take up the role of Deputy Principal at South Thames College before moving to Barnsley College in March 2011 as Vice Principal for Quality and Development. Two years later he became Deputy Principal Finance and Development before taking the Principal and CEO role in 2015.