The new Chair of Governors at Truro and Penwith College has spoken of his desire to ensure every student who attends the college leaves with not only a better education, but much improved life chances, as he settles into his new leadership role.
Robert Townsend, a former accountant at the John Lewis Partnership, Imerys and FX Plus has sat on the board of Governors at the College since 2019 and was recently voted in following the departure of previous Chairperson Jonathan Burnett.
Robert has served as a school governor throughout his children’s education, having previously governed at St Minver School and Truro High School for Girls before his daughter attending Truro College prompted him to take on a more involved role at the College.
Speaking about the difference of his new governance role, Robert said: “The role of Governor is quite similar across all education providers but what makes it different at a large, tertiary college like Truro and Penwith is that there is more government and political involvement, it is a sector that feels much more in the political sphere. You also get those big links with industry and employers that you don’t tend to get in smaller institutions.”
For Robert, being Chair of Governors is a role that carries pride and one that he thoroughly enjoys, although he is under no illusions that it comes with increased responsibility amid a series of unique challenges.
“Sometimes it feels like the sector is an afterthought within government, so we must do more to educate those decision makers and stakeholders about the power of Further Education providers to transform the lives of people and communities,” he said.
“Truro and Penwith College is a big player in Cornwall, we punch above our weight in the community and help people go on to achieve their ambitions whether that’s in higher education or employment, but we need to work together to amplify that message as much as possible.
“The whole skills agenda needs leadership centrally. It’s left as a political statement, but it could really make an impact if we engage with the right people.”
Talking of his pride at being at the helm in the ongoing development of the College, Robert added: “I’m proud to be in this role, proud of the College, while conscious of the responsibility that it’s not a five-minute job.
“I signed up to that and that’s why I’m doing it. I’ve got a passion for what the College does, not just in providing exceptional teaching and learning but also through its new enrichment offer, career support and striving to ensure all our students leave as well-rounded individuals fully prepared to take their place in society.
“Truro and Penwith College already has a justified reputation as one of the best learning experiences in Cornwall and I look forward to working in partnership with the passionate staff and my Governance colleagues across Cornwall to continue pushing standards as high as we can, to help people realise that whatever their ambitions, they have opportunities within Cornwall and beyond.”
While juggling the responsibilities of Chair of Governors, with working as Head of Finance for the charity Cornwall Museums Partnership, Robert enjoys running, tinkering with engines and riding motorcycles.
He insists being a Governor is a valuable and worthwhile role and appealed for anyone who thinks they may be interested in taking on a college governor position to get in touch for a discussion.
“We welcome interest from people who think they’ve got something to give through their skills, passion and enthusiasm at Truro and Penwith College,” he added. “Come and be a part of it and help us transform lives in Cornwall for the better.”
If you would like to discuss the role of Governor at Truro and Penwith College, please contact Clerk to the Corporation Alison Winter on 01872 305000.