Award Crest
York College

SMT montage NEW Sept 2017

Top row (left to right): Dr Alison Birkinshaw, Louise Doswell, Graeme Murdoch, Sharon Smith.

Bottom row (left to right): Trevor Armer, Andrea Shepherd, Glyn Jones, Nikki Davis.

Dr Alison Birkinshaw OBE - Principal and Chief Executive

I took up this post in January 2008 having previously been Principal at Nelson and Colne College. Prior to that, I was Deputy Principal at another Lancashire College, Runshaw. 

I feel privileged to be Principal of such a fine college, rated Outstanding by Ofsted (December 2013) and currently the No.1 GFE College in Yorkshire. I am enormously proud of our students and their achievements and feel honoured to work with such a talented staff team who deliver first-class teaching in a superb learning environment. My greatest reward is seeing our students progress either to Higher Education or employment, knowing that York College has helped them progress to the next stage of their careers, allowing them to fulfil their ambitions.

When I am not working I enjoy spending time playing the bassoon and contrabassoon, walking in the Lakes or by the coast, swimming or going to opera and the theatre. I was delighted and surprised to be awarded an OBE in 2012 and an honorary doctorate from York University in 2017, both for services to education.

Louise Doswell - Deputy Principal (Resources)

I have worked in Further Education since 1999 primarily focussing on Employer and Adult Learning. I took up the post of Assistant Principal for Employer Engagement at York College in February 2008 with responsibility for Apprenticeships, Workplace Learning and Commercial Training. Prior to taking up this post at York College I spent eight years at Darlington College working on many projects with employers, schools and the army.

In my present role I have overall responsibility for Information Systems and Services, Human Resources, Health Safety and Welfare, Management Information Systems, Administration Services, Estates and Timetabling.

Living in North Yorkshire, I enjoy walking, playing golf, scuba diving and gardening. 

Graeme Murdoch - Deputy Principal (QA and Support)

I have worked at York College since October 2003. Prior to that I spent 20 years working in land-based colleges. My role is to coordinate and manage Quality Assurance and the Support Divisions of the College, ensuring York College is at the top of its game in these respects. I like to have a high profile around the College and keep in touch with as many people as I can, because it is ‘good to talk'.

In my spare time I am keen on sports (more watching than doing these days), and a little bit of trivia for you ... I own a 1963 Ford Super Dexta Tractor (which still works). 

Sharon Smith - Deputy Principal Teaching, Learning and Curriculum Development

I have worked in FE since 1993 and, prior to joining York College in August 2017, I held senior management positions at Calderdale College and The Sheffield College. As an ex-vocational student who flourished in further education, my teaching background is in Leisure and Tourism and Health and Social Care.

I feel very privileged to join York College and in my role of Deputy Principal I will be responsible for continuous improvement in the quality of teaching and learning, student outcomes and curriculum development and innovation, so we can continue to meet the needs of students and make a difference to their lives and futures.  

In my spare time I enjoy walking in the countryside with my husband and Labrador and like camping and holidaying in Scotland. I also like to read fiction when I have time including thrillers, horror and science fiction. 

Trevor Armer - Director of Finance

I have worked at York College since May 2001. I joined the College, having previously held a variety of senior finance positions in the private and public sectors.

My role is to oversee the financial aspects of the College so that we can continue to invest in high quality teaching and support for students.

In recent years, the College has become a bit of a ‘family business’ with my wife working in TLAS (Teaching and Learning Administrative Support) and my children attending as students. This has meant that I have had first hand experience of the excellent opportunities and support College staff provide to students on both A Level and Vocational courses.

Out of work, my time is taken up walking, trying to get and keep fit and gardening in our allotment. I also have an interest in rock and pop music with a growing appreciation of reggae and folk music.

Andrea Shepherd - Assistant Principal (Higher Education, International, Adult and Development)

I came to work at York College in 2014, after working at Colleges in South Yorkshire for many years. In my current role as Assistant Principal I am responsible for HE, International and Adult Learning Programmes. I am really privileged to be able to work with such a wide range of students and I am so proud of all of their fabulous achievements.

I live in South Yorkshire and I like spending my spare time outdoors, especially by the coast. When I am not at College, I enjoy walking, swimming, reading and spending time with my grown up daughter.


Glyn Jones - Assistant Principal: 16-19 A Level

I have worked at York College since 1996. I was previously in charge of Biology, at the then York Sixth Form College, and then Science. I still consider myself a scientist and take a keen interest in our links with the University of York, Hull York Medical School and the National Science Learning Centre. I previously taught at a sixth form college in East London and, before going into teaching, I worked as an environmental scientist and as a professional skydiver and aerial photographer.

In my current role at as Assistant Principal I am responsible for A Levels, which encompasses around 1,000 students studying a very wide range of courses. Year on year I am immensely proud of our A Level students’ achievements. In 2016 students had an impressive overall A Level pass rate of 98% and the College is currently rated 3rd in the country for A Levels (based on A Level points per entry).

I live in York and I am married with two daughters and a dog. In what little spare time this leaves me, I enjoy playing guitar, cycling, walking and photography 


Nikki Davis - Assistant Principal Employer Engagement

I began working at the College in August 2015, following a career that has included roles at Kirklees, Leeds and Calderdale Colleges. Prior to working in Further Education, my background is in hospitality and business management.

In my current role as Assistant Principal; Employer Engagement, I am very much looking forward to working with employers across the region to develop effective working partnerships, particularly in apprenticeships.

Outside of College, I have two young children and a Labrador who drag my husband and I out on walks and bike rides whenever possible.