Skills and Education Group understands and champions education and skills-oriented organisations, providers and learners.

  • By forming lasting strategic partnerships with our membership, we create opportunities in the wider education and skills sector to support the development of the workforce.
  • In providing high-quality services centred on collaboration, responsiveness and diversity, we support all learners in achieving their full potential, no matter what their age, background or ability.
  • In everything we do, we’re guided by ethics, professionalism, teamwork and a drive to achieve educational, economic and social advancement for all. Learn more about how our foundation champions social mobility in the further education and skills sector.

Together, our qualifications, funding opportunities, professional development programmes and initiatives in support of teaching, learning and assessment, and governance make real change in people’s lives locally, nationally and internationally.

We’re much more than a brand, we’re a system for success.

Skills and Education Group:
More Than 100 Years in the Making


East Midland Educational Union formed

East Midland Educational Union (EMEU) was formed as a direct response to the withdrawal of science examinations in 1899. Despite the hostility, the collective voice of the EMEU succeeded in getting the examinations re-established, with 852 entries recorded in 1912.


The Titanic strikes an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean and sinks.


RACOFEEM established

The East Midlands Council becomes known as the Regional Advisory Council for the Organisation of Further Education in the East Midlands (RACOFEEM).


The first meeting of the United Nations is held at Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, London.


Robins Wood House established

Robins Wood House is established as the base for EMEU, RACOFEEM and the East Midland Regional Examinations Board. The latter still has a presence in the building as Cambridge Assessment.


England wins the World Cup on home soil.


Setting examination

By 1970, the EMEU is setting nearly 500 written examinations and receiving 67,000 subject entries. It is also working closely with City and Guilds on what would today be known as apprenticeships.


The Rt Hon. Sir Edward Heath becomes Prime Minister after leading the Conservative Party to victory during the general election.


Combination activities

As Local Education Authorities’ budgets begin to tighten, it is decided to combine the activities of the EMEU and the RACOFEEM to create what is known as East Midland Further Education Council (EMFEC).


HRH The Duke of Cambridge, second in line to the British throne, is born.


emfec formed

On 1 January 1992, emfec becomes a member-led charity and is free to provide its services to support the newly incorporated colleges, due to take place the following year.

During this year, emfec also signs a partnership agreement with the Académie de Strasbourg, marking the start of a long-standing relationship.


Parliament passes the Further and Higher Education Act 1992.


ABC Awards established

ABC Awards is formed as a national awarding body. This is a joint partnership between emfec, CENTRA, SRCET (later known as AOSEC) and SWAFET (later known as Learning South West).


The euro is introduced.


Extending facilities

emfec begins a major refurbishment programme at Robins Wood House, extending the facilities for skills and knowledge development within the region. John Allen, then Principal of Lincoln College, becomes Chair of emfec.


A whale takes a dip in the River Thames in London.


New strategic plan

A review of the organisation in 2011 results in a new strategic plan focused on positioning emfec to support the development and achievement of excellence in the further education sector.

Paul Eeles becomes the new Chief Executive of emfec, following the retirement of Jennie Gardiner.


The Arab Spring grips the world as revolutions take place in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya.


Centennial year

Linda Houtby, former Principal and Chief Executive of Grantham College, becomes Chair of the emfec group following John Allen's retirement.


London hosts the Olympic Games for the third time.


Changing of our Chair

Linda Houtby, former Principal and Chief Executive of Grantham College, becomes Chair of the emfec group following John Allen's retirement.


The Ebola virus epidemic becomes a global health crisis.


Developing services

emfec continues to respond to member and stakeholder needs, regularly reviewing its portfolio of services. At the heart of this are professional services to support and develop staff in the broader further education and skills sector, such as professional development and international and project work.


Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II becomes the longest reigning monarch in British history.


Skills and Education Group formed

emfec group renews its long-term partnership with Académie de Strasbourg, celebrating 24 years of collaboration.

emfec group joins Skills and Education Group.


The United Kingdom votes to leave the European Union.


Certa joins the Group

Open College Network Yorkshire and Humber Region (OCNYHR) joins Skills and Education Group.

Atholl Stott becomes the new Chair of Skills and Education Group, and Linda Houtby becomes Chair of OCNYHR.


One Love Manchester, a benefit concert organised in response to the bombing after Ariana Grande’s concert at Manchester Area two weeks earlier, is held.

The worker bee becomes a symbol of unity and defiance in the wake of the attack.


emfec changes its name

emfec formally changes its legal name to Skills and Education Group, and ABC Awards changes its legal name to Skills and Education Group Awards. The ABC Awards, Certa Awards and emfec brands remain in the market place.

John Yarham becomes the Chair of Skills and Education Group Awards.


HRH Prince Harry marries Meghan Markle.


The Foundation formed

Skills and Education Group launches its Foundation, focusing on social mobility and widening participation.

emfec's brand is removed from the marketplace.


England becomes Cricket World Cup champion after beating New Zealand.

Executive Leadership Team

Paul Eeles

Chief Executive

A proven and experienced leader, Paul takes meaningful action to increase social mobility and inclusion through skills and education training.

Simon Feneley-Lamb

Chief Operating Officer

Committed to further education, Simon facilitates opportunities that help individuals overcome barriers to social and economic advancement.

Scott Forbes

Director of Membership Services and Communications

To fully support our learners and providers, Scott fosters a culture of determination, foresight and ambition for our team.

Michael White

Director of Awarding Services

Undaunted by any challenge, Michael combines teamwork with innovative strategy to create new opportunities and a system of success for our customers.

Board of Trustees

By engaging our stakeholders and communities, our trustees maintain accountability, accessibility and the highest ethical standards within our organisation. Their understanding of the challenges and opportunities in the skills and education sector ensures that we deliver services that are tailored to meet the specific priorities, values and expectations of everyone we support.

Working Together

For us, collaborative efforts build lasting success. Meet our family.