TSC 2017 logo

Tuesday 7th March 2017, Leicester City FC, King Power Stadium, LE2 7FLbksb Host and OneFile Sponsor Logos

The must-attend event of 2017 for all those involved in the delivery or management of Functional Skills or GCSE

Now in its ninth year, The Skills Conference is firmly establishing itself as one of the premier, must-attend events in the education calendar. Featuring leading experts in English, maths and ICT skills in education and industry, this event will focus on current themes in the skills landscape including Functional Skills, GCSEs, and apprenticeships. A combination of keynote sessions, workshops and open forums make for an exciting and varied programme, which will address the most prominent issues facing the skills sector in 2017 and beyond.

As well as the usual policy, inspection and funding updates, the focus of the 2017 event will be on sharing advice, guidance and ideas on inspirational teaching strategies.  Renowned experts and practising facilitators will be on hand to inform and inspire the 400+ delegates expected, with keynote speakers, engaging workshops, and invaluable networking opportunities.

Price per ticket: £125 +VAT


The Skills Conference provides an outstanding opportunity to gain new perspectives and ideas for improving functional skills and GCSE outcomes in your organisation and will specifically focus on:

  • A national perspective on the future of skills provision, including the outlook for Functional Skills and GCSEs in English, maths and ICT
  • An update on the Functional Skills Reform Programme from the Education and Training Foundation
  • Effective delivery strategies for Functional Skills and GCSE
  • Up-to-date information on funding, focused on maximising income for skills
  • Information on how to improve inspection results by improving skills development and achievement
  • The impact and importance of skills for apprenticeships
  • Innovative ideas for embedding Functional Skills into existing curriculum areas

Speaker line-up to date:

More speakers will be added regularly. 

Dame Asha KhemkaDame Asha has over 30 years’ experience in further education and skills and is possibly one of the most prominent figures working within the sector today. She is the Principal and Chief Executive of West Nottinghamshire College Group. A multi-million pound business in its own right, it makes a difference to 32,000 young people and adults, has a turnover approaching £65m and is the largest college provider of apprenticeships in the UK delivering over 14,000 in all trade occupations each year. The College is also the sponsor of Vision Studio School (Nottinghamshire’s first studio school). Dame Asha has personally driven a £50m investment transforming the College’s estate a project which recently concluded with the opening of Mansfield’s first University Centre. As the founding Chair of the former AoC India Dame Asha spearheaded education developments between the UK and India, overseeing numerous partnerships and establishing alliances with key Indian stakeholders. She has accompanied several Ministerial delegations to India joining the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Education Ministers in recent missions. She sits on many national boards and committees including the Cabinet Office’s Education Honours Committee. Her contribution to education has been recognised through many accolades. In 2009 she was awarded the OBE for services to education and in January 2014 became the first Indian born in living memory to be awarded the DBE. Also in 2014 Dame Asha was named inaugural recipient of the Dadabhai Naoroji Award and ‘Woman of the Year’ by the Prime Minister.

Mark Dawe AELPMark was appointed as the new Chief Executive of AELP in March 2016 succeeding Stewart Segal following his announcement to step down in January 2016. Most recently, Mark Dawe was the chief executive of OCR, the exam board, for 5 years. He is currently a governor of Sawston Village College, vice chair of Stapleford Community Primary School and a scout leader. Mark has a wealth of experience across a board spectrum in the education field. Prior to his role at OCR, Mark was Principal of Oaklands FE College having been Deputy Director and AELP Board Director, FE Strategy at the Department of Education and Skills and before that as Deputy Director, Adult Basic Skills Strategy Unit after joining the department in 2003.

Having read Economics at Cambridge University before qualifying as a chartered accountant at KPMG, Mark joined Canterbury College, becoming Head of Corporate Services in 1994. In 2000, he helped set up eGS, an e-procurement provider to the public sector.

Naomi Nicholson OfqualNaomi joined Ofqual in 2011 and became Director of Strategic Relationships in Ofqual’s new Vocational and Technical Qualifications Directorate in 2015. Her career began in the voluntary sector as a support worker at a women’s training centre and then as a legal advisor to refugees. She moved into the civil service in 2009, developing a cross-government strategy on the violence against women third sector at Government Equalities Office. In 2010 she came back to education, managing National Curriculum test development at the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority. She is a governor of a small primary school and lives in Warwickshire with her partner and their three young children.

Sue Southwood The Education and Training FoundationSue is Head of Maths and English at the Education and Training Foundation and also has responsibility for supporting its work to support learners with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND). She is currently managing the Maths and English Functional Skills Reform Programme.

Before joining the Foundation in September 2014, Sue was Head of Basic Skills at NIACE where she worked for 9 years.  Sue began her career as a Literacy and GCSE English teacher for Norfolk County Council. An experienced manager with over 25 years’ experience in the sector, Sue has led a variety of national programmes to develop and improve practice and has written several publications. Prior to joining NIACE, Sue held a number of posts including Curriculum Manager at City and Islington College, and also spent a year in Spain as an EFL Teacher.  Sue also has experience of workplace learning, setting up and managing basic skills at work programmes for Northern Foods, Ford Motor Company and Transport for London.

Joseph Valente: The Skills ConferenceJoseph began his apprenticeship at college with no GSCEs and had to undertake further education to obtain a minimum of C grade in maths, English and ICT. Without further education and adding these qualifications to his skill set, he would never have completed his apprenticeship, become a qualified engineer, started a business and won The Apprentice.

Beej KaczmarczykBeej is well-known in the FE and Skills sector and has an excellent reputation for his skills as a consultant and trainer, and as an expert in education policy, management, planning, teaching and learning, funding and finance. An experienced consultant with over 20 years’ experience, he has worked across a wide range of educational institutions in the UK and abroad. Prior to this he was Deputy Head of a large comprehensive school and executive director at two FE colleges, and acting Principal at one. As a Senior Consultant with Network Training he led and developed new leadership programmes for senior and middle managers in the post-16 sector, and delivered a wide range of national and in-house events, as well as provide interim support to FE colleges. In 2005 he established Sector Training with two other colleagues to deliver professional development and management training for colleges, schools, local authorities and awarding organisations. He has developed and delivered significant organisational development and change programmes not only in the post-16 sector in England and Wales, but also in Poland, Lithuania and Estonia. He has initiated and piloted new approaches to curriculum development, workplace learning, management coaching, leadership development and performance management, and also supported organisational restructuring in colleges, schools and other national agencies. In 2012 Sector Training was acquired by Pearson, and Beej led the training and consultancy team. In 2015 became a director of the Learning Curve Group to establish and grow their professional development and improvement services. Beej is also a governor of his local FE college.

Profile Coming Soon

Profile coming soon.

lesley littlewoodLesley started her teaching career as College Lecturer, specialising in Employment programmes and hard-to-reach learners. She has worked in prison education, in every category of prison establishment, for over 20 years as a teacher and OLASS Manager, meeting the needs of a variety of learners in English, maths, Personal Development and Offender Behaviour programmes. Leading on ENiGMA for the LTE Group and Novus has allowed Lesley to follow her own belief that creating challenging, dynamic and innovative opportunities, for both colleagues and learners is what creates success, achievement and a passion for learning!

Profile coming soon.

Esther Barrett: The Skills ConferenceEsther has been working in the education sector for nearly 20 years. From teaching Literacy and ESOL in the community she went on to design courses, train teachers and expand learning opportunities on a regional learning network project. As an eLearning advisor with Jisc Wales she supported the ACL and voluntary sectors. Now a Jisc Subject Specialist in Teaching, Learning & Assessment, Esther offers consultancy and training to HE, FE and Skills providers across the UK in such areas as digital capability, blended learning and web conferencing. She has also been closely involved with the digital literacy movement in Wales. She was recently awarded a PhD in Digital Linguistics.

Lesley Roberts: The Skills ConferenceLesley joined West Nottinghamshire College Group with a wealth of knowledge and experience in delivering high quality apprenticeships in one of the largest employers in the UK, McDonalds. She was also an advisor to BIS on apprenticeship reforms. The College has a national reputation for excellence when it comes to delivering employer focused provision.

Helen GrovesHelen has worked in education for over 40 years. Her career has covered teaching in secondary schools, 6th form colleges, general FE, HE and community based education. Helen has been a part time inspector since 1993 and held senior management positions in education for more than 30 years. These include Deputy Principal in a Beacon FE College and CEO of a voluntary sector community learning consortium delivering across Yorkshire and the Humber region.

Bob CraigBob is a freelance trainer, coach and consultant, with over twenty years experience in learning and development contexts as an English teacher and HoD, an AP, a teacher trainer and Head of Learning and Development. In 2010 Bob set up Bob Craig Learning and Development Ltd (BCLD) and since then he has supported over 70 FE Colleges, local authorities, the MoD, ACAS, BUPA and the AA (cars not booze). He often works as an associate for respected organisations such as: e-Memoir (webinars), FETN (tutoring), QLS, ACER and ATL.

Bob delivers workshops and keynote speeches at national conferences and works in-house on topics such as: cultivating curiosity, building resilience, promoting growth mindsets, inspiring reluctant readers and writers in English classes, improving SPAG needn’t be a drag, delivering good and outstanding lessons, consistently, coaching and mentoring and promoting independent learning. Bob says: “Experience has taught me that improvement happens when students and staff are curious, solution-focused and resilient and focus on small improvements or ‘marginal gains’ that can be implemented with minimal or no preparation”.

As well as being a passionate advocate of FE and post compulsory education, Bob is a practising hypnotherapist and a solution-focused coach.  He is also a very poor bass guitar player, an avid reader and a keen walker, having recently walked 150 miles from Paisley to The Isle of Mull to get married.

Kevin Hewitson: The Skills ConferenceKevin became a teacher in 1977 and has been head of department, key stage co-ordinator, and assistant principal. He has been responsible for learning strategies and influencing teaching and learning in order to engage and challenge all learners. He set up Advocating Creativity in 2011 and now works as an educational consultant in a range of roles. He is a practical, innovative, strategic thinker who likes to find effective and creative solutions to the learning equation. Kevin is also an author of educational resources and articles. As well as running a range of teaching and learning workshops Kevin provides coaching and mentoring support. Any spare time is taken up with family and the restoration of cars and motorcycles.

Kayte HaselgroveKayte Haselgrove currently works at Bishop Burton College as the Curriculum and Learning Manager for English and Maths, leading the English and Maths team and providing support across college to improve the development of English and maths skills within core programmes. Prior to this Kayte worked as a consultant with FE colleges around the country, improving English and maths provision by delivering training and providing a mentoring service both to English and maths teams to develop teaching and learning techniques to engage students and raise achievement and to vocational teams to improve the promotion and development of English and maths across the full study programme.

Kayte has a history of outstanding success rates in her own teaching career, having taught GCSE and FS (E1-L2) English both in FE colleges and training providers in Yorkshire, as well as a Level 3 qualification in Promoting English and Maths in Teaching and Learning, a bespoke qualification for teachers written by Kayte on behalf of a college in South Yorkshire and accredited by Industry Qualifications.

Andy Hedgecock: The Skills ConferenceAndy Hedgecock has been Head of Training and Development with Nottingham City Transport since October 2015. Prior to that he ran Avenham Associates, an editorial, business writing and development consultancy. Andy’s academic background is in cognitive psychology and Artificial Intelligence, but he has spent most of his life supporting adult work-based learning and working as an author and journalist – his short stories have appeared in critically acclaimed publications and his nonfiction writing has appeared in The Spectator, The Morning Star and Time Out.

Dr Roshan DougDr Roshan Doug is a specialist teacher in English with over thirty years of experience in education. He has taught English in Britain and abroad both in the private and public sectors. Initially, he worked for the British Council teaching English at Athens University and then took up various positions such as Director of Studies in private schools in Oxford and London. For the last twenty years he has worked in FE colleges teaching GCSE, A Level, Access to HE and undergraduate degree modules in English. Most recently, he has specialised in Functional Skills English, increasing the success rate at his college from 33% (2011) to 81% (2016).

Doug provides a unique take on today’s management and delivery of Functional Skills in schools and colleges. He focuses on a particular thinking about literacy, underachievement and disaffection of pupils/students in compulsory education. He combines this with the government’s current concerns about the role of English in the National Curriculum. In regard to such issues, Doug has given talks and papers at a range of universities including Birmingham, Oxford and Cambridge where he has also held lectureships, residencies and associate professorships. In 2016 he was commissioned (by BIC – the pen company) to produce a Government White Paper on the importance of handwriting on developing pupils’ confidence and cognitive skills.

Today, as well as researching and teaching, he is an INSET trainer for the Poetry Society of Great Britain; English examiner for AQA; Birmingham Poet Laureate (2000-01), and an academic who writes for specialist publications such as The English Review, The E-mag and The Journal of Curriculum Studies. As a freelance journalist, he also writes for The Guardian, TES, The Daily Mail, The Times, The Independent and BBC Radio 4.  

Carol Smith: The Skills ConferenceCarol has over 15 years’ experience in designing and delivering English, maths, ICT and employability programmes to adults and young people. A fully qualified teacher and literacy specialist, she first joined bksb Ltd in February 2012. Carol is now installed as bksb’s Project Manager English, with responsibility for bksb’s English and international products. In addition to this, she develops and delivers training programmes at events and to individual customers.

Jason Stirland: The Skills ConferenceJason joined bksb Ltd in April 2013 as a Technical Engineer, maintaining technical support for the company. After developing skills in MIS integration, SQL and other programming techniques, he is now operating as a Software & Product Specialist, responsible for the maintenance and monitoring of mission critical cloud based services and business data. In addition to this, Jason is a key member of the bksb development team and provides support to the design of new software structures, interfaces and processes. He also regularly delivers webinars and training to bksb clients.

Tim Clarke: The Skills ConferenceTim became Chair of the bksb board in 2014, having originally joined the board and Audit Committee of West Nottinghamshire College in 2002. He left four years later due to a career move but maintained his college links as Chair of its Employer Engagement Steering Group. Tim retired as a Senior Director of Royal Bank of Scotland in 2009, having thoroughly enjoyed a very varied career involving extensive overseas posts, Head Office exposure and tutoring on technical courses at the Bank’s ex-Stately Home/residential training establishment. He is now a Business Consultant with Fraser Brown Solicitors and UHY Accountants in Nottingham.

Interested in exhibiting at The Skills Conference 2017? Email us now for details about our sponsorship packages.





Video: Highlights from The Skills Conference 2016


TSC 2017 icons

Book your ticket below:

To book your place at The Skills Conference 2017, simply fill out the form below. Each delegate ticket costs £125 +VAT.

Please note: If you are paying by credit card we will call you to request your card details. If you are paying by invoice please ensure you enter your purchase order number.

Terms and Conditions: Cancellations made in writing before Tuesday 21 February 2017 will be refunded. Cancellations made after this date will be liable for the full fee. *

 I have read and agree to the terms and conditions (please tick)

To add additional delegates, please complete their details below:

Add another?

* required fields