Gary Headland

Gary Headland

Gary Headland MA MBA Chartered FCIPD MIoD
A former Royal Air Force officer, civilian police director and private sector director, Gary Headland is the CEO of the Lincoln College Group which in the UK comprises further and higher education colleges in Lincoln, Gainsborough and Newark and a commercial partnership with the Immigration and Removal Centre at Morton Hall. Overseas, the LCG has a female Further Education College at Al Qatief and a male Higher Education Technical Trainers College in Riyadh, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and run joint international programmes at two Colleges in the Sichuan Province of China. Gary is also the Chairman of the Institute of Directors in Greater Lincolnshire, Chair of the Federation of Greater Lincolnshire Colleges, Patron and Director of the Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce; Member of Court of Bishop Grosseteste University; Member of the RAF College Cranwell Independent Advisory Panel; and Member of the Association of Colleges International Portfolio Group.


2019 has been an extraordinary year for the Lincoln College Group: After five challenging years the business model of the Lincoln College Group is reaching maturity and we have very strong momentum.

The whole organisation has gone from strength-to-strength, improving the quality of our provision as well as the relevance of the education that we provide to our communities.

I’d like to pay strong tribute to my team. During the past 34 years of my professional working life I’ve been privileged to work with some tremendous teams. My current team counts among the very finest I have worked with; together we are achieving some extraordinary things and I am immensely proud of them.

After five challenging years the business model of the Lincoln College Group is reaching maturity and we have very strong momentum.

Our further and higher education colleges in Lincoln, Gainsborough and Newark have improved again the quality of education provision while also opening a range of new programs increasing the relevance of our provision locally. These new programmes include a Care College, a Policing College and a Construction College in Lincoln. There are two really important characteristics of these new programmes, which we refer to collectively as ‘supra’ study programmes:

  • First, and foremost, is the exceptionally strong engagement by employers. The curriculum, wider enrichment activities and learning environment, are co-designed with employers to ensure they are highly relevant. Employers also play an active part in delivery with visits to their businesses, inspirational talks, work placement, etc.
  • Second, is the investment not only in the provision of high quality education but with matched funding by us to invest heavily in immersing the young women and men in the sector into which they wish to work, ensuring that they are highly inspired and with the right mindset for their chosen career; we call this the employability ‘wrapper’. As you would expect, the range and type of activities varies significantly from programme to programme. As an example, in addition to completing their core study programme (eg, engineering plus English and maths as appropriate) the A&DC students will complete mandatory physical fitness training twice per week, a week of adventurous training at RAF Crickhowell in South Wales, the National Citizenship Scheme, the Industrial Cadet Scheme plus immersion visits to RAF main operating bases, training bases and a wide range of visit to defence industry companies.

Our student numbers for 16 to 18-year-olds have grown for the first time in years and this not only improves our financial health, but also ensures a really vibrant college campus; frankly there is an amazing buzz across our UK college campuses.

At a personal level, outside of my career in the RAF, this is the longest I’ve ever been in any job and if I’m honest that has created some unusual feelings for me but I am very clear that through further and higher education locally we can help people and businesses to achieve extraordinary things and that is incredibly motivating. I am also heavily involved in many activities in our region that enable me to work with other businesses, including the LEP, Chamber of Commerce and the IOD, and that ensures that I am very busy and also exceptionally happy in my working life.

My New Year’s resolution for 2020 is to take a little more care of myself, to get myself back into shape so that I can lead the organisation effectively. There is a message here for all of us who lead and that is to make sure that we look after ourselves as well as the people who we lead: both are important!

Merry Christmas to you all and I wish you a healthy happy and productive 2020.

Gary Headland MA MBA Chartered FCIPD MIoD
A former Royal Air Force officer, civilian police director and private sector director, Gary Headland is the CEO of the Lincoln College Group which in the UK comprises further and higher education colleges in Lincoln, Gainsborough and Newark and a commercial partnership with the Immigration and Removal Centre at Morton Hall. Overseas, the LCG has a female Further Education College at Al Qatief and a male Higher Education Technical Trainers College in Riyadh, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and run joint international programmes at two Colleges in the Sichuan Province of China. Gary is also the Chairman of the Institute of Directors in Greater Lincolnshire, Chair of the Federation of Greater Lincolnshire Colleges, Patron and Director of the Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce; Member of Court of Bishop Grosseteste University; Member of the RAF College Cranwell Independent Advisory Panel; and Member of the Association of Colleges International Portfolio Group.

Monday marks the start of a national campaign to raise awareness of the role that further education colleges play in their local communities.

#LoveOurColleges is a week of action across the sector designed to demonstrate why the Chancellor should ensure meaningful and sustainable investment in colleges in his comprehensive spending review.

Our contribution will be to show the community a snapshot of a Week in the Life of Lincoln College.

We’ll talking about the social and economic value we add to the community through education, training and employer engagement.

Colleges and college staff transform lives, they help people make the most of their talents and ambitions and drive social mobility.

Colleges help businesses improve productivity and drive economic growth; they are rooted in and committed to their communities and drive tolerance and well-being.

They are an essential part of England’s education system – educating and training 2.2 million people every year.

Over the last decade, colleges have had to deal with an average 30% funding cut, whilst costs have increased dramatically.

This has resulted in a drastic drop in learning opportunities for adults, fewer hours of teaching and support for young people, and teacher pay at less than 80% of schools and support staff seeing no increase in pay for several years.

This situation is not sustainable and ultimately impacts upon students, businesses, communities and the wider economy.

Although Lincoln College Group works hard to mitigate the impact of these funding cuts by generating additional income through its international and commercial business, it is vital that the government listens to these arguments and responds positively.

Gary Headland MA MBA Chartered FCIPD MIoD
A former Royal Air Force officer, civilian police director and private sector director, Gary Headland is the CEO of the Lincoln College Group which in the UK comprises further and higher education colleges in Lincoln, Gainsborough and Newark and a commercial partnership with the Immigration and Removal Centre at Morton Hall. Overseas, the LCG has a female Further Education College at Al Qatief and a male Higher Education Technical Trainers College in Riyadh, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and run joint international programmes at two Colleges in the Sichuan Province of China. Gary is also the Chairman of the Institute of Directors in Greater Lincolnshire, Chair of the Federation of Greater Lincolnshire Colleges, Patron and Director of the Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce; Member of Court of Bishop Grosseteste University; Member of the RAF College Cranwell Independent Advisory Panel; and Member of the Association of Colleges International Portfolio Group.

As 2018 draws rapidly towards a close, I reflect back on another highly demanding year. In truth, I think 2018 has been the most challenging of the past 33 years of my professional working life.  

There can be no doubt that a decade of austerity is taking its toll on the further education sector as a whole and we are not immune to that. Equally, I believe that we have risen with courage to the challenge of doing our level-best with the resources allocated to us by Government and those we have been able to create for ourselves.

I am extraordinarily proud of our staff across all three of our UK college campuses (in Lincoln, Gainsborough and Newark) and those who work in our wider international and commercial operations to generate additional and much-needed resources. Our people work tirelessly with passion and compassion, helping our learners to learn and to prepare effectively for the world of work. Our people are perhaps not saints but they are extraordinary and I admire them greatly.

Despite our very challenging financial climate, we retain a relentless focus on continuing to improve the quality of our provision and also the relevance of the education and training that we provide to the communities whom we serve.

We were very pleased to be assessed this year by Ofsted as ‘good’ for our further education provision and we have continued to improve the quality of our provision since then and we are determined to continue to do so. We were especially proud that Ofsted recognised our dedicated teaching staff for their “focus on the craft of teaching” as that is our core purpose.

Our higher education provision also improved strongly; currently assessed under the Teaching Excellence Framework as Silver we are reaching for the highest standard of Gold which is now within our grasp and with a fair wind early in 2019, will be achieved.

Working closely with our communities, we have created new educational products and services including our ‘Made in Gainsborough’ initiative working closely with local businesses, the Gainsborough Community Trust, the local council and the local enterprise partnership. 

In Lincoln, our work with the Royal Air Force and the wider defence industry continues to grow and create terrific opportunities for people to work in this large and important sector for our region. 

In Newark, our work in partnership with the FTSE100 Dixons-Carphone Warehouse is going from strength-to-strength and we are proud to support such a strategically important company to increase its capability, capacity and productivity. We are equally proud to work with a very large number of small and medium enterprises across our region and we are determined to do more to help them.

If you are not aware already, further education colleges like ours are charities. We use our incorporated status to operate commercially so that we are not wholly reliant on the government for our funding.

We do not have shareholders; the profit we make each year is reinvested in the provision of high quality education and training to provide recognised social and economic value for our communities. Please bear that in mind when you next choose a provider to meet your education and training needs either as a business or as a member of the community seeking education and training for yourself or a family member; an investment in your local further education college is an investment in your community.

We are so proud to serve our communities. We know we are not perfect. We are striving always to do better and to do more. We err, we occasionally come short, we learn and we try harder.

2019 is already looking like another very challenging year.  But, we are resolved to do absolutely everything we can, within our means, to improve the working conditions for our people, the quality of provision for our students and the relevance of our provision to our local employers and communities.

I wish everyone a healthy, happy and successful 2019!

Gary Headland MA MBA Chartered FCIPD MIoD
A former Royal Air Force officer, civilian police director and private sector director, Gary Headland is the CEO of the Lincoln College Group which in the UK comprises further and higher education colleges in Lincoln, Gainsborough and Newark and a commercial partnership with the Immigration and Removal Centre at Morton Hall. Overseas, the LCG has a female Further Education College at Al Qatief and a male Higher Education Technical Trainers College in Riyadh, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and run joint international programmes at two Colleges in the Sichuan Province of China. Gary is also the Chairman of the Institute of Directors in Greater Lincolnshire, Chair of the Federation of Greater Lincolnshire Colleges, Patron and Director of the Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce; Member of Court of Bishop Grosseteste University; Member of the RAF College Cranwell Independent Advisory Panel; and Member of the Association of Colleges International Portfolio Group.

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