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Celebrating Neurodiversity at NCG

Any understanding of autism should not be approached from a position of ‘deficit’, but rather from apposition of ‘difference’. Autistic people are not neuro-typical people with something missing or something extra added on. They are different. If we are serious about equality and inclusion within any area, then we must first of all understand that difference.

– Christine Breakey (2006), The Autism Spectrum: A Guide to Good Practice

 

This month, organisations nationally have been recognising the importance of neurodiversity and championing diversity and inclusion. Below we take a look at how colleagues at Carlisle College induct new learners and introduce them to their course, how Newcastle College’s Autism Academy creates a safe space for learners with their Autism Base Room, how Newcastle Sixth Form College engage their leaners and colleagues in neurodiversity and how colleagues and learners recently came together at Lewisham College to celebrate their personal and academic achievements.

 

Carlisle College – Transitioning into College Life

For young learners, transitioning into college life can be daunting with a lot of new information to take in.  This transition tentatively begins in Year 9, when colleagues from Carlisle College’s Transition Team first become involved in the learner’s journey by attending Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) review meetings and discuss the possibility of the learner attending the college. By Year 10 and Year 11, there is a more active focus among colleagues on inviting the learners into the college for visits and tours, usually during academic holidays. Taster days and infills are also often arranged to give the learner and their family as much information as they need to make an informed decision on their next steps.

Recently the Transition Team were also inspired by a ‘quiet hour’ held by some of the local supermarkets for autistic shoppers who struggle with music and noise. The team at Carlisle organised a Quiet Advice and Guidance Evening, allowing young learners to meet colleagues and curriculum leaders in a classroom environment, rather than a hall or a refectory.  This change in location meant teaching colleagues had more time to talk to the young learners about the details of their course, while Learning Support and Student Ambassadors were also on hand to answer questions around support and college life. Learners that went on to register with the college were then offered a quiet enrolment session that avoided the long ques often seen at busy times and ensured a calm and friendly atmosphere was created.

Understanding the behaviours of an autistic learner is key for a teaching or support colleague, as it is this understanding of how students learn and interact with the world around them that can allow colleagues to tailor classroom activities to their individual needs.

To support our teaching and support colleagues, Carlisle College are currently running Autism Awareness Training.  The session offers an overview of autism and the various traits learners can present, explores lesson planning and student profiles for learners with autism and examines how the teaching colleague can differentiate tasks.

This training introduces colleagues to a range of techniques and strategies to support learners including the importance of keeping the student’s profile up to date as they develop and become more comfortable or confident and modifying assignment briefs to be more user friendly. These strategies go a long way in ensuring our learners have the tools they need to unlock their potential.

 

Newcastle College – The Autism Base Room

Colleagues at Newcastle College are proud of their Autism Base Room, a space for learners to strengthen their social, communication and independent living skills. In addition to being available for enrichment and fundraising events, trained and experienced colleagues supervise the room at all times, ensuring learners can drop-in during break times and free periods.

The Autism Team offer in-house training to give colleagues a better understanding of autism and the way it affects young people. The objectives are to:

  • Identify the four key areas of need when working with learners with autism.
  • Know of the importance of understanding the young person with autism, their profile of strengths and areas for development.
  • Identify the key areas to support young people with autism build relationships with their peers, staff and people in their community.
  • Develop an awareness of the sensory and communication differences that young people with autism may experience.

Central Support Service can also offer a wide range of services including:

  • Social groups, activities and skills training
  • Travel training support
  • Employability support
  • One-to-one study support outside of the classroom
  • The loan of assistive technology and/or specialist equipment
  • Support in exams and with Special Exam Consideration applications
  • One-to-one or group support in the classroom
  • One-to-one mentoring sessions
  • Help with applications for funding and finance

The Autism Team also offer additional support for potential learners through Easter and Summer programmes, ensuring learners have a smooth transition into college and onto their chosen course. These are an ideal way for potential learners to familiarise themselves with the college environment, meet staff from the Autism Team and also meet other learners who will be coming to study at the campus.

 

Newcastle Sixth Form College – Getting Quizzical

The Learning Support team at Newcastle Sixth Form College were fully involved in the new Autism Acceptance Campaign being run by North East Autism Society. As part of the Sixth Form’s celebration of the campaign and to keep awareness high, they conducted a week long quiz for all learners, with high levels of participation. The fun event meant that on each day, learners were given a fresh focus and reminders of the campaign.

As part of their ongoing commitment to learners, colleagues are placing a significant focus on targeted study sessions as they prepare for their A level exams. This targeted support is just one of the really positive actions, with measurable benefits for the learners being implemented. Learners are being encouraged to book in for 1:1 support sessions and personalised revision timetables are being developed for learners.

 

Lewisham College – Autism Awareness Fundraising Celebration

The supported learning offer at Lewisham College exists to support learners with ranging abilities however, they have a particular focus on learners with Autism.

Earlier this month, 150 colleagues and learners came together in aid of Autism Awareness, celebrating the achievements of learners on the autistic spectrum and the rich contribution they make to the life of the College and its student .

With quizzes, competitions, music and drama, homemade cakes and handmade cards, the event was designed to highlight the role that the college plays in supporting learners and families living with autism.

A significant concern for people on the autistic spectrum is being unable to access education or find the right support to find employment, with only 16% of autistic adults in the UK in full-time paid employment, 32% in any kind of paid work and one in three autistic children being excluded from school (National Autistic Society, 2016). Therefore, creating an inclusive environment is crucial for our learners and their development.

The events raised funds for the National Autistic Society, which supports people with autism in education, at work and in the community and preparations are underway to launch a supported learning programme at Southwark College in September 2019.

 

Sending special thanks to all of our colleagues working within the SEND provisions at NCG. The teams across NCG make a profound difference to our learners and ensure our colleges are safe, welcoming and enriching environments that support our purpose, to unlock potential through learning.

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NCG Announces Proposed Changes to Intraining and Rathbone Training

We have today (Tuesday 19 March 2019) opened consultation with Intraining and Rathbone staff on some fundamental changes to the way in which we operate in England, including the closure of our network of training centres and a radical refocussing of our apprenticeship proposition.

If we proceed as currently proposed following consultation, we will in future operate a single, smaller, digitally-enabled business focussed on delivery of high-quality apprenticeships for the tech, management and professional occupations.

That future operation will be closely aligned with the Group’s overall mission and values – working closely with NCG colleges to enrich its proposition and generate bottom-line benefits for clients and learners.

Intraining and Rathbone accounted for less than 20% of Group revenue in 2017/18.  The changes we are proposing will strengthen NCG’s already robust position, supporting our ambition to invest in teaching, learning and facilities.

The unfortunate effect of these proposals would be substantial redundancies in Intraining and Rathbone.  We will confirm our future plans once the consultation has concluded.

In moving forward, we will put the interests of learners first and support them to finish their programmes wherever possible.

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International Women’s Day 2019 with NCG COO Karen Heaney

In aid of International Women’s Day 2019, we sat down with NCG’s first Chief Operating Officer, Karen Heaney, to get her thoughts on what the day means to her and the valuable lessons she has learned throughout her career.

 

Why is International Women’s Day Important to you?

I think it’s great to have a day of reflection where we can all appreciate how far we have come in terms of equality in the workplace and to champion those pioneers who made it possible – from the suffrage movement through to recent examples of trailblazing women.

It is so important to celebrate strong, positive females as role models for young women looking to develop as professionals and as people. “If she can do it then so can I” can be such a powerful motivation.

 

Who and what has inspired you as a professional?

To be honest, you normally expect to hear about those successful public figures but for me it was a leader early in my career who challenged me, helped me push for more and showed me how to be fearless.

My experiences with her encouraged me to make some career-defining decisions that have shaped my professional life. Above all, she taught me that it is acceptable to challenge. Challenge people’s ideas, challenge boundaries and challenge myself to go beyond where I thought I could be. To this day I think of her advice, “Think about what is going to happen if you don’t, but what could happen if you do”.

 

What pieces of advice would you give to your younger self?

The absolute worst thing you can do is to not have an opinion. If you truly believe in something then let it be known, it’s so much better to express your opinion than to feel like you can’t.

Be uncomfortable. It is good to be stretched and feel like you are out of your comfort zone. Do things outside of your remit if you know you can add value.

Grab opportunities and learn to realise what an opportunity looks like. It may appear small or out of the ordinary at first but taking opportunities can often have amazing outcomes.

Above all else, know your value and believe in yourself. I think women are their own worst critics and we give ourselves reasons not to do something. It’s all about confidence and self-belief. Take that leap of faith.

 

What motivates you to achieve more?

I’m a perfectionist who always thinks that we can improve the way we do things. Put simply, to have fun, work hard, play hard and enjoy everything we do with passion.

 

Thanks, Karen!

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NCG Announces Changes to Lewisham Southwark College

NCG has today announced that Lewisham Southwark College is to be rebranded as two separate Colleges; Lewisham College and Southwark College.

The rebrand comes into effect on 1st October 2018 and will see both colleges remain a part of NCG.

NCG Chief Executive Joe Docherty said, “This decision will allow the newly established colleges to develop curriculum programmes that better meet the needs of the communities they serve and to work more closely with key stakeholders, including crucially the local authorities of Lewisham and Southwark.

“Two new principals will be appointed to lead the colleges – both charged with the opportunity to make sure the offer better meets the respective local challenges while continuing to collaborate on areas where that makes sense.

“These are incredibly exciting opportunities and in making this move we will better meet NCG’s purpose, to unlock potential through learning.”

The move to create two new colleges has been well received by the local councils. Damien Egan, Mayor of Lewisham, said, “Further education opens up opportunities for so many Lewisham residents of all ages.

“This move will allow the newly-branded Lewisham College to tailor their curriculum to the needs of our borough and we welcome this.”

Cllr Peter John, Leader of Southwark Council, added: “This is welcome news for Southwark residents, who deserve a better and more focused further education offer than we have had in recent years.

“The council has worked with local schools to ensure Southwark children receive a first class education, and we expect the same standard from our further education colleges.

“We look forward to working with the new Southwark College to help our residents reach their potential and have every opportunity to succeed in life.”

It is anticipated that most colleagues will be unaffected by these changes. NCG will of course continue to consult and communicate openly and honestly with any changes that occur as a result of the redevelopment.

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NCG Excellence Awards 2018 Recap

Last week, NCG welcomed colleagues from all of our divisions to the second annual NCG Excellence Awards. Here we share with you a recap of the evening!

Director of Learning & Organisational Development Elouise Leonard-Cross served as compere for the evening and got us underway by welcoming our divisional winners, sponsors and guests.

CEO Joe Docherty revealed that this year we received more than 800 nominations for the 12 available award categories, emphasising the achievement of the shortlisted divisional winners and the overall winners who were about to be announced.

After an energetic game of ‘Dreamboats or Petticoats’, a 1950s themed version of Heads or Tails, our guests were served an ‘American Diner’ themed meal of Presley Pork Pulled Burgers, Blue Moon Buttermilk Fried Chicken and Grilled Corn Cobs followed by a delicious Key Lime Mousse Pie.

Following a short break to wet the whistle, the awards proper began.

2018 Winners

Excellence in Advice & Guidance

Customer Services Team – Lewisham Southwark College

This team care about the people who come to the college and put them first each and every day. Their strength lies in the rapport they build with young people who want to learn at Lewisham Southwark and maintaining a relationship with them throughout their journey at the college.

 

Excellence in Learner Support

Wellbeing Team – West Lancashire College

An exceptional support team, always on hand to support learners who may otherwise disengage with learning. They regularly attend TAF, Social Service and CAHMMS meetings and ensure young people are supported in the best way by delivering group or individual workshops, building resilience and confidence.

 

Excellence in Enriching the Learning Experience

Luke Pearson – Rathbone

Luke has really supported the Intraining Black Country site in promoting Equality and Diversity as well as British values. He has organised specific events which have been promoted on LinkedIn; this has significantly raised the profile of Intraining in the local area, and forged useful connections and networks.

 

Excellence in Unlocking Learner Potential

HCBS English & Maths Team – Newcastle College

This team is outstanding, they all go above and beyond to unlock every learner’s potential and do so with a positive attitude, collaborative approach and sheer determination!

 

Excellence in Innovation or Technology

Chris Weeks – Group Services

Innovation does not have to be complex, sometimes what appears to be fairly straight forward can often be very complex behind the scenes.  By standardising the printing across all divisions Chris has saved the business money and improved the service.

 

Excellence in Internal Customer Experience

John Whittingham – West Lancashire College

Throughout his many years at the college, John has always wanted what is best for his customers and is always willing to go the extra mile, often working evenings and weekends to ensure that the IT services he provides are best suited to the needs of the business.

 

Our Values are what define us as an organisation, and we are thrilled to celebrate colleagues who live by them. The next three categories are designed to raise the profile of colleagues who have shown excellence in Our Values: Ownership, Valuing our People, and being Open and Honest.

 

Excellence in Values: Ownership

Gemma Stephens – Rathbone Training

Gemma demonstrated ownership and initiative in arranging placements for learners, re-engaging external agencies to build relationships to improve the learner intake and supporting other members of staff with their work load whilst maintaining a high standard of delivery for her own caseload and supporting other centres outside her own base.

 

Excellence in Values: Valuing our People

Lauren Plews – Newcastle Sixth Form

Lauren has coached and mentored a group of newly qualified teachers in NSFC, she has shared her own good practice, and enabled the group to support one another through regular coaching community meetings. Lauren managed this in addition to her own full-time teaching role.

 

Excellence in Values: Open & Honest

Colin Luhrs – Carlisle College

Overseeing Apprenticeship growth that would be the envy of many in the sector, Colin has achieved this in true collaboration with the vast number of staff involved in the Apprenticeship learner journey, shaping the offer, quality and processes in an open and honest way that has united staff.

 

The following three categories are designed to recognise the individual colleagues who have really inspired us to be the best we can. These are the teachers, lecturers or tutors who lead by example, constantly have high expectations of us and encourage us to meet them.

 

Excellence in Teaching: Work Based Learning

Karen Livsey – Intraining

Karen is dedicated, hardworking and goes above and beyond to accommodate the needs of her learners. Karen not only supports her learners on a 1-2-1 basis but also delivers classroom teaching for Maths and English, drop in study sessions and support through webinars.

 

Excellence in Teaching: Higher Education

Dan Civico – Newcastle College

Dan has introduced a definite and outstanding industrial link to the Interior & Spatial Design Foundation Degree programme which has benefited the students hugely.

 

Excellence in Teaching: Further Education

Zara Sharma – Kidderminster College

Treating every student as individuals, Zara works tirelessly to help learners reach the best of their ability, inspiring classrooms full of young people to strive for greatness. Zara is described as being “as kind and caring as Miss Honey, in a world full of Trunchbulls”.

 

Congratulations to all of our very worthy award winners, and to all of our talented colleagues who were nominated for an award.

Finally, we would like to say a huge thank you to everybody who has contributed to making this year’s NCG Excellence Awards a brilliant success, and to our sponsors NCFE and Capita UNIT-e for your generous support.

We’ll see you again next year for the NCG Excellence Awards 2019!

#NCGExcellence

#WeAreNCG

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Catch up with winners from NCG Excellence Awards 2017

The judging process for the NCG Excellence Awards 2018 has now concluded.

The process begins with nominations from colleagues, which are reviewed by a divisional panel. The shortlisted divisional winners are then invited to the Awards evening where, following the deliberation of a second panel made up of senior leaders, the overall winners are revealed.

Each winner exemplifies NCG’s organisational standards and values. We caught up with winners from the 2017 Awards and asked them about their experiences:

 

Oli Matthews & Deborah Macleod (on behalf of the Apprenticeships Team)

Carlisle College

Oli Matthews & Deborah MacleodWhat impact has winning an Excellence Award had on you?

Winning the NCG Award for ‘Excellence in Innovation or Technology’ has had a positive impact upon Carlisle College’s Apprenticeship Team. The Award served as motivation for developing our Apprenticeship provision for a third consecutive year, enjoying a 24% increase for 2017/18. Overall, Carlisle College has now expanded its Apprenticeship provision by over 90% in just three years.

How did winning an Excellence Award make you feel?

Very grateful for the nomination and appreciative of the recognition, especially when taking into account all the notable feats announced within our category. Upon winning the Award, we were eager to report back to our colleagues in the Apprenticeship Team, so that they could share in the success and take comfort from all the hard work involved.

What was your favourite part of the Awards evening?

Our favourite part of the Awards evening was meeting the Partnership of Training Providers within NCG, as Carlisle College was a recent addition at the time. It was both impressive and inspiring to hear of the highlighted achievements across the organisation and within all categories, whilst we joined in the celebratory atmosphere. Further to this, it was also rewarding to take a step back and to reflect upon the accomplishments within our party.

We would like to pass on our best wishes for this year’s nominees!

 

James Edge

Newcastle College

James EdgeWhat impact has winning an Excellence Award had on you?

People within my department have asked me to share good practice, which is always a pleasure. I am also now an Improvement Practitioner for the School of Engineering and people often comment on the award.

How did winning an Excellence Award make you feel?

I was shocked! Being nominated was a huge achievement in itself. I was extremely grateful for the nomination at the time so winning was an amazing achievement. It made me feel very valued as a Programme Leader.

What was your favourite part of the Awards evening?

Meeting like-minded people from the other Colleges within the group. It was lovely getting to know them and find out how their colleges differ from ours. It was also great to meet colleagues from different departments within Newcastle College.

 

Matthew Ward

NCG Group Services

Matthew WardWhat impact has winning an Excellence Award had on you?

Its raised my profile across the group and allowed me to engage better with staff and stakeholders on environmental issues and help push the group in a more sustainable direction, which is important to me.

How did winning an Excellence Award make you feel?

It made me feel valued within the organisation and that the work I am doing is not going unrecognised and is making a difference.

What was your favourite part of the Awards evening?

My favourite part of the evening was getting to meet all the other nominees from across the group and learn about all the great things they have done as well.

 

Gemma Rooney

Rathbone Training

Gemma Rooney

What impact has winning an Excellence Award had on you?

I have gained more confidence within my job role and feel valued as a member of the Rathbone Team. It has encouraged me to always encourage others to fulfil their duties and help and support my team to do this. It has also shown me that nothing is impossible to achieve if you set your mind to it.

How did winning an Excellence Award make you feel?

Winning an Excellence award has made me feel as though I do an amazing job at the daily tasks I carry out. I feel that my colleagues really appreciate me as a team player and the work I do. I also feel as though I provide the young people with a good service and a chance within their careers to allow them to progress!

What was your favourite part of the Awards evening?

The favourite part of the evening was the whole event, I was so honoured to get into the finals and to win the award was amazing. The pick & mix was great fun – my colleague and I really enjoyed the sweets! We were sat at a table with lovely people from Rathbone Wales, The Marketing team & Ian Webber who were all great company.

 

Tina Vos

West Lancashire College

Tina VosWhat impact has winning an Excellence Award had on you?

It gives you a sense of pride to be recognised and builds your confidence and self-esteem.

 

How did winning an Excellence Award make you feel?

It made me feel very proud and also that I helped someone else achieve their goals too.

 

What was your favourite part of the Awards evening?

It was really nice to be a winner but also to meet other people from the different groups and being able to socialise in a relaxing atmosphere.

 

Anthony Crute

Newcastle Sixth From

Anthony CruteHow did winning an Excellence Award make you feel?

I felt honoured that the students had taken the time to nominate me and write such positive things about me. It made me feel proud that my practice was being identified as something which was being highlighted and recognised by the students and the college.

 

What was your favourite part of the Awards evening?

I enjoyed the chance to spend time outside of the work environment with some people from my own college and NCG as a whole. It was great and very motivating to hear what students from such a different variety of courses/backgrounds had to say about other teachers.

 

Matty McLeish

Carlisle College

Matty McLeishIt was a great honour to be nominated and successfully win this award, however for my peers to recognise the work commitment and effort that you do not recognise yourself was another great achievement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remember, we’ll be live-tweeting all the goings on at the NCG Excellence Awards 2018, follow us at @NCG_Official to join in the fun keep up to date with all of our winners!

#NCGExcellence

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NCG Excellence Awards 2018

This month we will host our second annual NCG Excellence Awards!

The NCG Excellence Awards is an opportunity to celebrate the amazing work done by colleagues across NCG achieving our purpose, to unlock potential through learning.

The awards will be contested over 12 categories, which include:

• Excellence in Advice & Guidance
• Excellence in Learner Support
• Excellence in Enriching the Learning Experience
• Excellence in Unlocking Learner Potential
• Excellence in Innovation or Technology
• Excellence in Internal Customer Experience
• Excellence in Values – Ownership
• Excellence in Values – Valuing Our People
• Excellence in Values – Open & Honest
• Excellence in Teaching – Higher Education
• Excellence in Teaching – Further Education
• Excellence in Work Based Learning

Those attending the celebrations on Thursday 28th June at our Newcastle campus will enjoy a ‘1950s Rock & Roll’ themed event, which was voted for by those who attended last year’s awards.

We’ll be live-tweeting throughout the event, follow us at @NCG_Official to keep up to date with all of our winners!

#NCGExcellence

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NCG appoints new Director of Quality

We are pleased to announce that we have appointed a new Director of Quality to maintain and raise standards across the group’s eight colleges and training providers.

After a UK-wide recruitment process, we have appointed Steve Wallis, who is currently assistant principal at Hartlepool College of FE.

This senior role is vital to ensuring high quality provision for students and we are delighted to have made such a high calibre appointment.

Steve has a great track record of quality improvement, including securing an outstanding grade for apprenticeships, personal development and behaviour and welfare at the last Ofsted inspection at Hartlepool.

He also devised a successful curriculum strategy to increase higher and technical level skills, such as aerospace engineering and environmental technologies – which resulted in hundreds of learners going on to apprenticeships and higher education.

Joe Docherty, NCG chief executive, said:

“Steve was a ‘stand out’ candidate with clear skills to ensure that our colleges and training providers build on their already ‘good’ reputation for quality across the UK.”

Steve, who will join NCG in April, said:

“I’m delighted to be joining the team at NCG – it is incredibly exciting to be working across the Group to assist quality assurance and continuous improvement.

“The Group’s national reach is extensive and highly valuable to the communities it serves. I’m looking forward to working closely with my new colleagues to add value and ultimately help secure excellent results for our learners across NCG.”

Steve will be taking up his post with the group on 16 April 2018.

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NCG appoints top public servant Peter Lauener as Chair

One of the country’s most respected public servants, who previously led the Education and Skills Funding Agency, is joining NCG as Chair.

After a long and distinguished career, Peter Lauener retired from the Civil Service in November 2017.

He advised numerous Secretaries of State on education and skills policy, and most recently led the Education and Skills Funding Agency, where he was the accounting officer for a budget of more than £60bn.

Since retiring, Peter has been undertaking a short term interim role as chief executive of the Student Loans Company. Peter will join NCG in the Spring.

Before leading the Skills Funding Agency and the Education Funding Agency, his career included the implementation of the Youth Training Scheme and of adult training when working for the Manpower Services Commission in the 1980s, the setting up of Training and Enterprise Councils in the 1990s and the development of the further education sector in the 2000s.

Peter has championed skills in the UK through his role as official delegate for Worldskills and he helped in 2016-17 to establish the Institute for Apprenticeships which is responsible for setting standards for apprenticeships in England.

Peter said:

“I am looking forward to taking up this new role at NCG and getting to know the different colleges and organisations in the Group.

“There is nothing more important than developing the skills of all our people and NCG has a critical role in supporting learners, businesses and communities.”

Joe Docherty, NCG chief executive, said:

“Peter has played a leading role in the shaping of education and training in the UK for some years now.

“He has steered a course for the Skills Funding Agency and the Education Funding Agency through a period of great political and economic change, and consequently made a positive impact on the education and training of people across the country.

“Peter’s insight and experience across the top of tiers of the education industry will be hugely valuable to NCG as we continue to grow and develop our offering.

“NCG works with thousands of learners, employers and apprentices every year and having an expert team at the helm is very important.”

Peter lives in Sheffield, the home of NCG’s national training provider Intraining, and will take up his post from March 1, 2018.

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