Weston College Principal Dr Paul Phillips CBE has been given an honorary knighthood by Her Majesty the Queen in this year’s jubilee birthday honours list.
He was honoured for services to education and, in particular, his leadership commitment to key national educational agendas such as mental health, higher technical education and inclusive practice for which he has shown a lifelong commitment, sharing best practice as the National People Lead for one of three Department for Education National SEND Centres for Excellence in the UK – a status awarded to the college in 2019.
Chair of Governors, Andrew Leighton Price, said: “The work of Paul Phillips has been phenomenal for the college, turning it around from a college requiring improvement and in dire financial straits on his arrival in 2001, to building it to ‘outstanding’ and one of the best performing college’s in the country (c£69m). It is testament to his leadership, that this growth has been achieved organically rather than through merger, with the college now part of the WorldSkills UK Centre of Excellence network and having its own University Centre (University Centre Weston).
“His financial capability, people leadership and entrepreneurial ability, has shown a strong track record of being in surplus year on year, and his work with employers and stakeholders has gone way beyond that of a educational institution – with the college leading a strong skills focused coastal regeneration strategy for the last ten years to benefit the people of Weston-super-Mare and the West of England, which has acted as both a catalyst for job creation and economic growth.
“However, it is his commitment to provide responsive solutions to complex learner educational agendas on a national scale that have made a difference to thousands of students, as a National Leader of Further Education (NLFE) he has been trailblazing an education based mental health support service, his specialist model of best practice for learners with SEND, his commitment to prison education delivered in nineteen prisons and his determination to secure and lead the West of England Institute of Technology.
“His work has developed truly innovative levelling up strategies, which he has shared with hundreds of schools and colleges across the UK and overseas, and it is this sharing of best practice which has shown him to be truly worthy of this award.”
On receiving the news, Dr Phillips, said: “I have always believed that everyone has the ability to achieve their potential regardless of their background and starting point in life. As leaders of education, it is our duty to show ingenuity, inclusiveness and responsiveness to get every leaner to where they want to be. We have to keep ensuring that education is as individualised as possible, putting in support where it is needed most and at the correct time for each learner.
“We owe it to every student to get it right. This year being the Platinum Jubilee is an extremely special year to be in receipt of this award from Her Majesty, and I would like to thank my fantastic staff and governing body for believing in me over the years, as well as the region’s employers who provide fantastic progression career opportunities and, of course, my students who continually make me proud on a daily basis.”