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Strategic Plan Doc V4
Lee Probert

Chief Executive and Principal

I was appointed Chief Executive and Principal of York College in December 2018 and I took up the role in June 2019. Prior to this role I was Principal of City of Bristol College. This role marks a return to Yorkshire, since I was Deputy Chief Executive of the Hull College Group until December 2015.

Being Chief Executive and Principal of York College is a prestigious role and one which I hold with pride. York College is a hugely successful college and impacts positively on the lives of many thousands of students each year. My primary driver is supporting our students to progress towards and achieve their goals.

Outside of York College I am a member of the Constellation Multi-Academy Trust (East Yorkshire), Chair of York Skills and Employment Board, and a member of the CBI’s Employment and Skills Board.

Lee Probert 2022 WEB
David Hawkins 1
David Hawkins

Vice Principal: Finance and Professional Services

I joined York College in June 2018 having previously spent nearly 10 years at Sandwell College in the West Midlands. Prior to that, I spent over 20 years in senior finance roles in the private sector, mainly working in housebuilding and construction.

My role is to provide a pro-active lead on all financial matters in the College, to enable the necessary investment and support for our students. I also have overall responsibility for Information Systems and Services, Human Resources, Health Safety and Welfare, Catering and Estates.

Away from College, I enjoy playing and watching most sports (I still just manage to beat my 21 year old son at badminton), and always like a holiday or two each year.

Danny Brett

Deputy Chief Executive & Principal

I joined York College as Deputy Chief Executive & Principal in February 2022, following seven years at Bishop Burton College, leaving the College as Vice Principal.

I’ve been in the education sector for 15 years now, starting as a sessional lecturer back in 2007. Since then I’ve undertaken a number of paid and voluntary roles in schools, higher education, Local Enterprise Partnerships, the Association of Colleges (AoC), and I’ve been involved in a number of national initiatives.

I’ve long admired York College for its work with the local, regional and national community, and I’m thoroughly excited to be part of that work.

I’m a huge advocate of lifelong learning and the power of education in general. I am passionate about providing the best opportunities for young people and adults in all its forms, something I very much look forward to continuing at York College.

More recently I’ve been lucky enough to support the ongoing development of technical education reform, specifically in the area of T Levels where I’m part of the AoC National T Level Strategic Leadership Group as well as Vice Chairperson for the ESFA T Level Ambassador Network.

To join the team at York College, and be involved in their own extensive rollout of T Level provision, is something I’m thrilled to be part of.

With a background in sport and health, I also enjoy volunteering as a committee member for the English Colleges Football Association. In my spare time I love spending time with my family, including my twin daughters and son, alongside keeping active at the gym or getting out running.


Danny Brett 2022 WEB
Chirs Leng 1
Chris Leng

Director of Human Resources

I am the College’s Director of Human Resources and have led the Human Resources function for 15 years.

My principal responsibility is the College’s HR strategy, making sure it’s always consistent with our values. Other priorities include the recruitment, selection and retention of staff and the development and maintenance of our HR systems to ensure we have accurate and up-to-date information.

Maintaining strong staff and union relations, developing and maintaining accessible and relevant HR policies and procedures, including Payroll, are all part of my role too. I’m fortunate to have a very hardworking, skilled and committed HR team working with me to make all this possible.

What motivates me is delivering a responsive and professional service that people value, working constructively with colleagues. Making sure our staff are respected and valued for the immense contribution they make to the College, and to our students, is also very important.

Outside of work the important things in my life are my wife and kids, family and friends, football (two teams - the Whites, and the Millers), keeping fit (intermittent, sadly) and rock n’ roll (Beatles = Good; Stones = Bad; 70s Bowie = Good; post 70s Bowie = Bad).

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Marie Neal-Smith

Director of Curriculum, Creative (Adult Lead)

I joined York College in 2000 to lead and deliver the Higher Education (HE) fashion provision, after a career in the fashion industry, while continuing to freelance in fashion. I have now worked in Further Education (FE) for 21 years, holding various roles including developing, leading and teaching HE programmes.

Outside my work at York College, I have been a mentor for the local authority’s Adult Learning centres. I also launched a brand of my own and, for a time, ran the business alongside my teaching.

In 2017 I was appointed Interim Curriculum Manager of Adult Learning. This was made permanent in 2018 and I was made the Head of Adult Curriculum in August 2019. In my new role as Director of Curriculum, Creative (Adult Lead), I’m responsible for three curriculum areas - Art & Design, Humanities & Social Sciences and Performance & Production.

As Adult Lead I ensure we develop and deliver a thriving adult learning offer to meet the needs of our community, region and wider national requirements and I am fully committed to helping people lead successful lives.

Outside college life I still enjoy all things creative and always have a project on the go. Walking is an essential part of my daily life and I’m a working mum to two girls that I couldn’t be prouder of.

Martin Halliday

Director of Young People’s Learning

I’ve been part of York College for 21 years now, starting out in a teaching role. For the past 10 years I have been closely involved in curriculum and pastoral management.

My role at the college is Director of Young People’s Learning, which includes leading on our study programmes for 16-to-19-year-olds and ensuring we deliver a high-quality education and experience for all students.

A big inspiration for me is seeing the social and academic growth of our students as they move into adulthood, during their time at York College. Preparing young people for their next steps in life is a real motivating factor in my role.

In my spare time I play golf (off a struggled handicap of seven) and I love the theatre. I also have a passion for travelling and experiencing different cultures.

Martin Halliday 1
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Paul Lawrence

Director of Strategic Partnerships and External Relations

I joined York College in 2017 as the Director of Marketing. Prior to this I held senior positions within the charity, university and commercial sectors, both in the UK and China.

I joined York College as it was clear it puts students at the centre of its offering, and the energy and drive by everyone to help students achieve the best they can was inspiring.

My role within York College is to strengthen our overall partnerships and relations in terms of collaborations, either short-term or long-term, all with the student journey at the centre.

As well as overall responsibility for Business Partnerships I also have oversight of Marketing and Communications.

Academically, my Masters in Applied Linguists majored in cognitive development within second language acquisition and my MBA explored the area of global academic collaboration.

I have an interest in travel, wildlife, culture and languages, and my favourite places to have lived are Africa, China and of course Yorkshire. At the weekend I also enjoy being a personal trainer, specialising in strength and conditioning, and hunting down the best places to have a full English breakfast.

Sarah Barbacane

Director of Curriculum for Professional and Commercial Industries (Higher Education Lead)

I’ve been at York College now for 11 years, joining as Head of Quality Improvement- a position I held until 2014 when I took on the role of Head of Curriculum for Sport and Public Services.

In August 2021 my role broadened to encompass Beauty, Hair, Sport and Uniformed Protective Services. I’m really pleased to have a cross-college role and I’m looking forward to working with all the teams we have here in College.

My passion remains curriculum and seeing the positive impact it makes to students. York College is an organisation which aligns with my own values of high expectations, achieved through support. We’re all here for the same reason, which is making a positive difference to young people.

Outside of work I love sport, though now as a spectator rather than a competitor. I have a real passion for travel too, and I love getting out walking or horse riding with my two children and spending time with family and friends.

I’m originally from the North East but now live in the East Riding.

Sarah Barbacane 2
Louise Jones 2
Louise Jones

Director of Information and Data Services (IDS)

I’ve worked in education since 1992 and began at York College in 2016, originally on an interim basis but took a permanent role 18 months later.

Starting out in Grimsby College, where I stayed for 22 years, I’ve also worked at the Newcastle College Group (NCG) and the DN College Group, which Covers Doncaster and Scunthorpe.

I’m a real geek when it comes to data and I’ve seen a lot of changes since I started my career, when everything was on paper. I’ve seen the introduction of everything which has brought us to the computerised systems of today.

In my role I oversee a fantastic team, covering admissions, student data, curriculum, timetables, exams and reporting services. I love the team here at York College. My IDS colleagues are one of the reasons I love coming to work.

Outside of College, I love walking and have recently joined the Ramblers Association. I also love foreign travel and I’m looking forward to another road-trip through America. I live in Grimsby with my husband and daughter.

Victoria Howarth

Director of Quality of Education

I returned to York College in January 2022 after studying for my A Levels here in 1996, at what was then York Sixth Form. I also began my teaching career here in 2005 before leaving in 2007. It’s lovely to be back.

Since 2007 I’ve held various middle and senior leadership roles in the North East and Manchester and have spent the last five years working across three Further Education Colleges in London, holding various senior roles leading on quality, curriculum and student experience.

My role at York College is to develop strategies and plans to secure the ongoing improvement of the quality of education for students. It’s my job to work with colleagues to review the quality of, amongst other things, teaching, learning and assessment. I also ensure that all college provision reflects on our staff performance, and continuously improves to provide all our students with an excellent experience.

Having lived away from York for the last 15 years, I’m really pleased to be back in North Yorkshire and plan to spend the next few months renovating the new home I share with my partner. I’m also loving reacquainting myself with all that York and North Yorkshire has to offer.

I am delighted to return to York College and am really excited about my role.



Victoria Howarth WEB
Ingrid Kellock WEB
Ingrid Kellock

Director of Student Experience

I joined York College in 2016 after nine years at Barnsley College, where I held a variety of roles including leading English programmes for 14 to 19-year-olds and adult students. I also led the curriculum and pastoral provision for students at risk of becoming NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training).

One of the key functions of my current role at York College is to provide a strategic approach to ensuring students enjoy a personalised, distinctive and inclusive educational experience. Much of this involves providing opportunities for social and cultural growth and development, whilst embracing the rich breadth of students’ backgrounds and circumstances.

Partnerships and collaboration are at the centre of all that we do and I’m passionate about enabling students to feel they are partners in enhancing their College experience whilst being encouraged to engage in decision-making and enacting change. It’s important that all students are listened to, engaged with, feel valued and prepared for whatever next steps they want to take.

I was born and grew up in Barnsley and I often visit, but have lived in York for five years. I have 10-year-old twins, who keep me busy, as well as having the biological ability to drive me bonkers (I wouldn’t change them for the world). My interests include going to see live music and theatre, languages, spending time with family and friends and occasionally dabbling in my first love, singing.

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