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Executive Group

Aimhigher has established an Executive Group comprising partner organisations with an interest in increasing progression and ultimately access to higher Education (HE). The new service aims to engage with those people who possess perceived or real barriers and the least favourable conditions to encourage them to attend university or to develop higher levels of the skills required by industry and commerce.

The Executive Group is an important point of reference for the Aimhigher programme and provides valuable guidance and support to the team as the company develop activities that encourage progression and help people achieve their potential.

Philip Burch

Founder and Director

Philip Burch

Philip has had a lifelong association with work-based, vocational learning in catering establishments in London, Paris and the West Midlands. He discovered early in his working life that through the further education system he could help students find their niche in catering. This not only gave him a buzz, but gave students a real sense of pride and achievement which they gained in vocational aptitude, practical skill and confidence: turning second chances into real successes.

His career led him into operational and strategic management in the FE sector developing people, students, systems and the curriculum. His own professional achievements validate taking a skills-based route into a satisfying and successful career. Philip led the successful Aimhigher project in Northamptonshire for 7 years.

From these fundamental principles Philip is a founder Director of the similar organisation “Aimhigher Northamptonshire Ltd”, a not for profit company working with young people in schools, colleges and the workplace to support their progression to the next level of learning.

His passion for progression among disadvantaged groups is also embodied in the principles of The Progression Trust where he is Director of Compliance and Quality.

Philip sees the potential for ‘second chance’ principles to be realised through the both organisation’s activities. He believes that providing an awareness of appropriate educational and vocational opportunities and the aspiration to capture them, young people will develop and apply a positive, systematic approach to their journey through education, training and work which will provide benefits for them.

Telephone: 07896 746035

Ann Comerford


Ann Comerford

Ann originally came to Aimhigher at the start of the project in May 2003 and was the Project Administrative Officer. Her role was to support the Co-ordinators and the Development Officers in the planning and organisation of events both internally and externally, maintain diaries and calendars and to control all the financial processes for the project. She was also responsible for HR for the team and was the lead on communications for the project. The role and the range of responsibilities grew as did the project over the years and Ann remained with the project to its close at the University of Northampton in October 2011.

Ann has a strong sense of value for the ethos of the Aimhigher project and the work it undertakes and was determined that there should be an opportunity for this work to continue. She wants the new Aimhigher Northamptonshire Ltd to have the opportunity to succeed for the young people of the future. She is aware that we are operating in difficult times, but we have a good brand, a range of services to offer together with qualified and capable staff as part of the team. She knows that we need to support and overcome a range of obstacles to ensure that our young people can progress to their next level of learning, and yes it can be done.

Working with our Partners is also a valuable part of the work we do and being able to work collaboratively on some of our projects has proved and will continue to prove to be invaluable. We are grateful to those who have support us in the past and are continuing to support us now, but also to those who are new contacts, welcome and we look forward to new and exciting ventures.

Telephone: Tel 07521 153701

Email: office.aimhigher@gmail.com

John Sinclair

John Sinclair

Mr John Sinclair is Acting Dean in the School of Science and Technology at the University of Northampton, where he has responsibility for resource management, academic quality, educationalpartnerships and performance management.

Originally from the Aberdeen area, and a graduate of the University of Aberdeen, Mr Sinclair has a background in Quaternary Geology and has researchinterests in long-term climate change, sea level change and the geology of radon.

Having begun his career at St Mary’s University College in Twickenham in 1989, Mr Sinclair joined the (now) University of Northampton in 1993 as subject leader for Earth Science before becoming Associate Dean in 2004 and Deputy Dean in 2010. Mr Sinclair is an active STEM Ambassador and has championed the role of the University in providing enrichment activities forschools for many years. In his current role, Mr Sinclair is also responsible for the effectivemanagement of the School of Science and Technology’s strategic educational relationships with FE Colleges, business and with Universities overseas.

Liz Waddingham

A career teaching in Northamptonshire Schools. Initially teaching Food and moving into Design and Technology Having taught in a range of secondary and middle school I moved into the Local Authority Advisory Service and trained as an Ofsted inspector. As an advisor I worked in schools and setting in many areas including the Isle of Man. As the County Advisor for Design and Technology I worked with many schools to improve Design Education for young people. I worked at a national level on school design and Health and Safety. The role developed into School Improvement and I led teams in Northamptonshire Schools to bring about improvement. A secondment to a National Challenge School saw me go back into school as a senior leader. For the last 5 years I have been responsible for raising standards and for moving 2 schools from special measures to good. I now work for a trust helping a range of schools to use data to improve outcomes for young people

Professor Bill Jones

Professor Bill Jones

After graduating in English Literature, Bill Jones joined the Adult Continuing Education Department at Southampton University, where he took a leading role in developing university access and widening participation for the local community.

In 1998 he moved to Newcastle University as Professor of Lifelong Learning. From 2003-2008 he was head of Higher Education for the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE), where he was closely involved in the national and regional widening participation initiatives which culminated in Aimhigher and the Lifelong Learning Networks.

He is now a consultant in lifelong learning, an executive member of the Universities Association for Lifelong Learning, and holds an Honorary Chair in Lifelong Learning at the University of Leicester. His research interests include the history, policy and practice of adult education, and interdisciplinary links with his other research field of English literature especially of the eighteenth century. He has published widely in both these fields, including a history of rural adult education, a definitive edition of the poetical works of William Falconer, and a comparative study of widening participation policy and practice in South Africa. His latest publication is a history of university lifelong learning, 1981-2006.

Sally Muldowney

Sally Muldowney

Sally joined the Widening Participation Team at the University of Northampton (then University College Northampton) in 2001 after 6 months working for the Learn Direct Hub where she began to develop skills for working within the Education Sector. This Widening Participation Team evolved into Aimhigher Northamptonshire in 2003 and Sally continued her work with Adults and in the Community.

Prior to working in Education Sally has had a varied career, working with a variety of companies, including the Studios of Madame Tussaud. At 50 she took a huge leap of faith and left work to pursue a dream of studying for a degree. She graduated in 2000 from the University of Northampton with a Degree in Industrial Archaeology/Property Management. Although now no longer working Sally continues to have a keen interest in encouraging everyone to achieve their potential and the ethos of Aimhigher is very much to the forefront of her values. Through her prior work with Aimhigher she has a keen interest in the Voluntary and Community Sector in Northamptonshire and was part of the Countywide Forum as a representative for Kettering. She continues to be involved with different organisations including a keen interest in history through Northamptonshire Association of Local History and researching her own family history.

Richard Nutt

Apprenticeship Specialist

Richard Nutt

Richard’s early career was spent in production engineering from where he progressed to the automotive industry working for GKN in their aftermarket division, initially in technical roles, logistics management and then as National Sales Manager for GKN’s aftermarket products.  He moved on to become an Operations Manager with Argos, where he developed and delivered systems training programmes and gained a passion for training.

He has worked in the Skills Sector for nearly 20 years and has a wealth of experience working nationally and locally to engage employers, schools and colleges with Apprenticeships and other government funded programmes.

More recently Richard has worked with the department for Business Innovation and Skills in developing and implementing growth and digital strategies to increase apprenticeship capacity to reach the government 3 million aspiration.