Senior Management Team at Plumpton

Jeremy Kerswell, Principal

Originally from West Sussex, Jeremy grew up on a small holding, where his love of the countryside and interest in wildlife and animals began. Having worked across England's FE and HE sectors for 18 years, Jeremy became Principal of Plumpton College in October 2015.  

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He went on to study animal science at Reading University, and it was after a short period of employment in both the animal and agricultural industries, he decided to forge a career that would combine his passion for the natural environment with education. Having previously worked at other land-based colleges, including Brinsbury and Hadlow, Jeremy was appointed as the head of Cannington College in 2008, a successful land-based college in Somerset. He was known amongst his peers as the driving force behind its success. 
Plumpton attracts students from across the South East to study a range of land-based courses from entry to masters level. With the most extensive college estate in the country, an all-important role of the college is bringing those real-life experiences to life for students, modelling best current and future practices in all aspects of sustainability and land management. 

James Hibbert - Deputy Principal, Resources, Student Services and Farm

James joined Plumpton College in 2007, initially as the Student Services Manager. Since then, he has progressed within the organisation to Deputy Principal in 2015.

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James' background lies in operational management and has overseen several major projects that have facilitated the college's continued growth. 

James has a BSc Hons in Geography and is a trained investigator, project manager and risk assessor. He also held a commission in the HM Forces, Army, which gave him the foundation to excel in incident management and contingency planning.

James leads a team of managers within the college who provide most of the infrastructure and services supporting our staff and students.

Phaedra Tanghe - Vice Principal, Student Support

Phaedra has worked in the education sector for 20 years, starting her career in further education as a bank staff member in the travel and tourism department at a general further education college. This role exposed her to a wide range of experience & knowledge of supporting students with varying needs, which has become the foundation of the work that she does now.

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Since gaining this initial experience, she has completed her teacher training qualification and maintained her passion for ensuring that all students, including those with high needs, have access to the best quality education, intervention, and support to secure their success and develop their independence. 

Throughout her career, she has undertaken roles where she can make a personal impact on students, either through her own delivery of outstanding lessons or strategically managing initiatives across the teams she has led. She has undertaken a range of leadership positions within both the retail and further education sectors. Before joining Plumpton College in 2016, she was Head of Studies for English & maths, Travel and Tourism and Hospitality. 

Phaedra is responsible for leading the support functions at Plumpton College, which ensures that learners are supported holistically and given the right opportunities to achieve their full potential. Phaedra is passionate about supporting learners while they study at College and advocates for ensuring all learners have an outstanding experience during their time with us.

Phaedra focuses on providing learners with as many opportunities and experiences as possible to raise their ambitions. She oversees the Personal Development, Inclusive Learning Development, English & maths, 14-16 and Safeguarding and Wellbeing teams.

Jo Buckley - Vice Principal, Curriculum and Quality

Jo has been in a senior management role for since 2016, and is passionate about helping students, her colleagues and individuals reach their potential. She has extensive experience working holistically across the college to enable an agile, learning-focused and results-driven culture. 

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Leadership is not about being in control, but about empowering others to reach their full potential.”

Before joining Plumpton College, Jo worked as a teacher at previous South East colleges. Jo is a graduate of Brunel University London, where she studied for a degree in Sports Studies & Leisure Management before gaining her PGCE PE and MA from the University of Brighton. 

Every day is a learning day, and Jo is known for her passion, drive, energy and clear-sighted approach to providing students with what they need to succeed and building their skills and confidence, giving them the routes to their dream job or University place as well as giving them the tools, they need to be able to make a positive contribution to their local communities.

Sarah Jeffers - HR Director

Sarah has operated as the HR Director at Plumpton College, joining in November 2015. Sarah provides strategic business partnering to the senior management team as well as manage a group of HR professionals responsible for supporting the managers and their employees.

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With over 25 years of professional human resources experience, Sarah has a wealth of HR and Change Management experience working across a variety of industry sectors. Sarah studied business at degree level, a course that included organisational analysis and business change as well as an undergraduate placement with the Metropolitan Police Service in London. On completion of her degree, Sarah undertook a further graduate programme with the Met Police, in their change consultancy team where she was involved in a number of organisational projects considering culture and performance.

On leaving the Met Police, Sarah worked for a variety of organisations including the Royal Bank of Scotland, NatWest and RSA. Always working in people centric roles, Sarah has worked in employee engagement, graduate management, change management, acquisitions, and generalist HR to develop her knowledge and skills to support the organisations which she worked within.

In 2000, Sarah achieved her Certificate in Personnel and Development (CIPD) from the University of Greenwich, and in 2006 achieved full membership to the CIPD (MCIPD).

On joining Plumpton College, Sarah has been involved in a number of key strategic change programmes that have looked to develop the culture of the organisation. A strong people culture of trust, support and empowerment has been created which in turn has led to high staff retention and therefore a consistent experience for students. Staff have been developed with the latest industry skills and teaching practice. Staff are technically and professionally competent and benefit from a variety of development programmes. Sarah has developed an employee engagement approach which has created a high level of employee engagement, motivation and sense of belonging through sponsoring college wide initiatives such as the approach to Employee, Diversity and Inclusion, cross college engagement opportunities, and effective onboarding processes.

Sarah provides advice and support to colleagues to help them achieve strategic and operational goals, while mitigating risk. Along with a strong business acumen, her comprehensive background in HR management, recruitment, retention, employee relations, policy interpretation, employee engagement and employee wellbeing has resulted in strong and trusted relationships with senior leaders, governors, staff and managers.

Chris Knell - Director of Finance

Chris is responsible for finance, registry, business services, and commercial services. He is also the Managing Director for One Garden Brighton and trustee for the Plumpton Charitable Foundation.

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A chartered accountant with over 10 years of experience at the directorship level, Chris holds fellowships with the Institute of Directors, the Royal Society of Arts, the Association of Accounting Technicians and the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy.  
His previous experience encompasses private, public and voluntary roles, serving as Finance Director for two large national charities and volunteering as Treasurer for two other charities. Chris is a founding member of the Institute of Directors, London Young Directors Forum in 2007. Chris represented the UK at the G20 Young Entrepreneurs Summit in Mexico 2012.