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Dedicated lifelong learning disciple

Britain's TECs can look forward for the first time in their eight-year history. Jonathan Hunt reports from their conference

JACQUI Henderson, the TEC national council's new chief executive, is ideally qualified to spearhead the drive for lifelong learning.

At the age of 30, with two young children, she returned to education, first to her local FE college in Ashington, then to Newcastle University. For the next 18 years she was employed in all levels of education, from primary reception classes to secondary curriculum development, finishing as an FE inspector and adviser.

She joined Northumberland TEC at its formation in 1990 and became its managing director in 1995.

After a career spent in the North-east, she is unfazed about taking up a key post close to the corridors of power.

She said: "I am delighted to be joining a first-class team." She added that her style will be different from that of her predecessor Chris Humphries. She plans to establish a more collegiate management structure among the now all-female team.

Jacqui Henderson believes the national council must concentrate more resources on communications as well as policy-making. "It is a fine line," she said, "but we do have to talk to a lot of people - among ourselves, with government, our partners and the public. We must define what TECs do more clearly and simplify our message."

She warned TECs not to be complacent, believing they must make many changes over the next couple of years to "adapt to new structures, new partners and a broader remit".

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