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Oxford-based Activate Learning appoints new chief executive


Gary Headland Activate Learning new Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
Gary Headland DL will succeed Sally Dicketts CBE at Activate Learning as Chief Executive in April 2022

Oxford-based education group Activate Learning has appointed a new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) who will take over from incumbent Sally Dicketts CBE in April 2022. This follows after Sally informed the Activate Learning Corporation Board in May that she will be stepping down after 18 years at the helm.

Sally, who has worked in further education for more than 35 years and was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Honours List in July 2013, will be succeeded by Gary Headland DL.

Gary joins from the Lincoln College Group (LCG), where he has been Chief Executive for seven years – with responsibility for further education colleges in Lincoln, Gainsborough and Newark and a large education export capability.

Before his appointment at LCG, Gary was a Director of Northgate Public Services for three-and-a-half years, a Director at Norfolk Constabulary for more than two years and a senior Royal Air Force officer for nearly 23 years, serving in locations throughout the UK and overseas in Germany, Italy and the Middle East.

Gary said: “I am honoured and proud to be invited to lead Activate Learning through the next phase of its distinguished history.

“Activate Learning is a pioneering education group with a global reach, committed to transforming lives through its approach to learning.”

Chair of Governors, Sue Sturgeon, said: “Sally is an inspirational leader, and we are sorry to see her leave, but understand her desire to move on and wish her well.

“Gary has a fantastic career track record, and the work that he has done within the FE sector has been very innovative.

“The Board of Governors feel that he has exactly the right skills and attributes to guide Activate Learning into an exciting new chapter delivering exceptional operational and strategic leadership to the group.”

Speaking about the appointment of her successor, Sally Dicketts said she wished Gary every success in the role.

She added: “It was a very hard decision for me to retire from doing a job that I love after being with the organisation for so long. However, I know that this is the right time for me to move on.

“I’ve loved being part of Activate Learning, and I know that Gary will love working here as much as I have, surrounded by some of the most passionate and highly capable people I’ve ever worked alongside.”

The Board of Activate Learning has also agreed to explore the potential of a merger between Activate Learning and LCG and believe the possible future working relationship could be incredibly beneficial to staff as well as the students and employers who are served by the colleges.

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