Conference Summary


Jurys Inn Hotel
Watling St
LE10 3JA

Date and Time

Thursday 26 May 2022 (08:45 to 16:30)

The only further education and skills conference dedicated to growing the potential of practitioners and middle managers.

We are delighted to welcome you to the Skills and Education Group Annual Conference 2022, a celebration of our 110-year anniversary.

Due the the Covid-19 pandemic we had to cancel our conference for 2020 and 2021, but we are excited to be able to run this fantastic event once more and see you face to face.

As delegates, you will have the opportunity to hear from leading voices within the sector, and participate in a range of interactive training seminars.

There is much to celebrate within our sector. The work that you do truly transforms the lives of individuals, providing benefits for learners, communities, and the wider economy. We hope you will join us for what will be an inspiring and thought-provoking conference.

Headline Sponsor

The Skills Network

The Skills Network is an award-winning e-learning training provider serving the corporate, public and educational sectors.

Formed in Yorkshire in 2009, The Skills Network is the UK’s largest provider of e-learning experiences offering over 150 courses in 30 countries around the world and upskilling more than 35,000 learners in the UK alone each year.
Over the last decade, The Skills Network has had over 1.6 million learners using its learning portal EQUAL, accessing educational content from CPD through to professional qualifications at levels two, three, and four.

The Skills Network supports 5,000 organisations and 500 colleges & independent training providers in delivering distanced learning courses, staff training and apprenticeship programmes through expertly developed technology which meets tough regulatory requirements set by Ofsted, Ofqual and ESFA while continuing to uphold the highest standards in their unregulated material.

2019 Conference Highlights


Key Speakers

Jake and Hannah Graf MBE

Actor and British Army Captain

Inspirational Speakers

Paul Eeles

Chief Executive

Skills and Education Group

Yultan Mellor

Principal and Chief Executive

Northern College

Simon Parkinson

Chief Executive and General Secretary


Dr Fiona Aldridge

Head of Skills Insight

West Midlands Combined Authority

Stephen Evans

Chief Executive

Learning and Work Institute

John Holford

Robert Peers Professor of Adult Education

University of Nottingham

Jane Hickie

Chief Executive

Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP)

Alun Francis OBE

Principal and Chief Executive

Oldham College

Dr Louise Karwowski

Director of Education


Dr Julie Mills OBE

Chief Executive and Group Principal

MK College

Atholl Stott

Chair of Trustees

Skills and Education Group

Mark Dawe

Chief Executive

The Skills Network

Martin Sim

Deputy Further Education Commissioner

Department for Education

Mamello Atisa


Fashion Enter



Registration and exhibition


Welcome address by Atholl Stott, Chair of Skills and Education Group

Our Chair of Trustees will welcome all delegates to the conference. In this opening speech, Atholl will reflect on the last few years, touching on the challenges caused by the pandemic and the recent successes of the Skills and Education Group, which are highlighted in our 2020/21 Impact Report.


Keynote address by Mark Dawe, Chief Executive, The Skills Network


Levelling up on social mobility in further education

This plenary session will look at the ways in which further education can improve social mobility.

Our panel will discuss the importance of further education to communities across the country and how it can play a key role in the government's Levelling Up agenda.

The panel will be chaired by Paul Eeles (Skills and Education Group) and will feature input from Alun Francis OBE (Oldham College), Dr Julie Mills OBE (MK College) and Jane Hickie (AELP).

The session will also highlight the work of the Skills and Education Group Foundation, which champions social mobility in the sector and provides grant funding to help learners succeed. Mamello Atisa, a grant recipient, will also be part of the panel.


Break and exhibition


Martin Sim, Deputy FE Commissioner, Department for Education

Hear from the Deputy FE Commissioner as he discusses apprenticeship drop outs, and provides an update on the Commissioner's plans around intervention.


Removing barriers from adult education

Our second plenary session will consider how we can remove barriers for adult learners, so that we can increase participation and aspiration in adult education.

The panel will look at some of the obstacles that prevent adults from returning to education, including learning and cognitive issues, and how we can remove them.

This session will be chaired by Yultan Mellor (Northern College) and will feature input from Dr Louise Karwowski (Cognassist), John Holford (University of Nottingham), Simon Parkinson (WEA), Stephen Evans (Learning and Work Institute) and Dr Fiona Aldridge (West Midlands Combined Authority).


Lunch and exhibition


Keynote address by Jake and Hannah Graf MBE

Jake and Hannah, the UK's first transgender parents, will speak about their inspiring lives and careers in this keynote address.

Both of them endured childhoods of feeling trapped and lived through times of intolerance, growing up in the 1980s when the Section 28 law was passed. They will speak about their experiences and their personal journeys to transition.

Jake and Hannah will also speak about their careers, achievements and work as role models to many within the LGBTQ communities. You can find out more about them in their speaker profile above.


Break and exhibition


Training Seminars

Training seminars will include:

- Strong Leadership in Every Season - Hannah Miller (Founder, sidekick)
- 8Wise Ways to Better Mental Health and Wellbeing - Kim Rutherford (Founder, Dalton Wise Coaching and Therapy)
- Building a Stronger Board-Management Relationship - Fiona Chalk (Founder, Governance4FE)
- Impactful Learning Support - Dr Louise Karwowski (Director of Education, Cognassist)
- The Talent Trilogy - Attract, Retain, Nurture - Ian Sackree (Chief Executive, Sackree)
- Ofsted: Back to Basics - Julie Ashton (Senior HMI, further education and skills)
- Effective Technical Teaching: Bringing Learning to Life!
- Mentoring for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion - Rajinder Mann OBE (Vice Chair, Burton and South Derbyshire College)
- Preventing Labour Exploitation - Frank Hanson (Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority)
- The Future of Learning - The Skills Network