11 August 2021

Kelly Harris (Boston College) participated in our Emerging Leaders programme in the 2019/20 academic year. The skills and knowledge she gained through the programme helped her to achieve promotion to the position of Assistant Principal at the college earlier this year.

Here, Kelly speaks about how the programme benefited her career and how it supported her wider journey of learning and progression.



I’m really nosey.

There. I’ve said it.

I’ve always liked finding out what’s going on and learning about the way things and people work, and this curiosity has driven my interest in further education.

After discovering that pursuing my A levels wasn’t for me, I switched to an early years and education apprenticeship. I was a young mum with a drive to provide, and I could learn and work simultaneously: earning money, gaining experience, meeting people in the sector, and - yes - following my nose.

From working in nurseries and preschools, I moved into teaching apprentices, where I met my current manager, who came to my college to introduce an FE teaching and learning hub. She was so inspiring as she described “being brilliant today and better tomorrow”, and really brought a buzz around her. With a young family, she faced challenges in advancing her career, but I thought, “If she can do it, why not?” Now, I’m working with her at a further education college as assistant principal for performance and quality.

In all this, two things have remained constant: my desire to learn and the opportunity to do so through further education. And Skills and Education Group has played a part in this.

From the first session of the 2019/20 Emerging Leaders programme, I knew I was in the right place. We assessed our Gallup strengths, but, instead of looking at what needed to be developed, we focused on these strengths and how they could help us to achieve our goals.

Knowing my strengths was a game changer for me, as it really helped me to overcome my anxieties, particularly around if I was able or good enough to succeed. I could also see it working for others in the programme, as we recognised that we’re all made up of different qualities, and that we can accept ourselves for who we are. We could see the paths we’re taking and how we’re all pulling from different experiences, and that really resonated with me.

This, combined with the comprehensive information and resources presented by experts, the guidance and genuine support from my assigned mentor, and the “If you need anything, just shout” approach to learning, made the programme a perfect fit for my professional growth.

And, even as I’m growing, the FE sector continues to grow, too. Whilst current government initiatives, the focus on adult learners, and ongoing funding issues are reminiscent of earlier in my career, there are also a lot of new factors influencing education, including a change in the cultural background of learners, which are bringing great benefits to the field. I’m also so impressed by the work of the teachers in the sector, most of whom are dual professionals who merge their industry skills and expertise with a willingness to share their knowledge with others.

It really is a fabulous sector in which to work and train, and I’m so very excited to continue my journey.

Because, after all, you really can’t ever stop learning, can you?

Kelly Harris

Assistant Principal: Performance and Quality, Boston College



Could the Emerging Leaders programme be the perfect fit for your professional growth too?

Places are now available on Cohort 3 of the programme, starting in September. You can find out more and book your place here.