It was in 2007, shortly after Dudley College of Technology had been rated “inadequate” by Ofsted, that Lowell Williams was appointed principal. He put in place a range of remedial actions, communicated a clear vision to staff and governors, and laid out a detailed annual plan. He then worked tirelessly to achieve it.
The entry for this award evidences how Williams’ relentless pursuit of excellence has raised the expectations and aspirations of staff, students and stakeholders. Following another inspection by Ofsted last year, Dudley was rated “outstanding”, with the report acknowledging high levels of student engagement, satisfaction and achievement, and greatly increased student recruitment.
The £60 million development of the Dudley Learning Quarter, led by the college, has helped to rejuvenate the town centre economically and revitalise the skills base of the local West Midlands area.
Williams’ performance-management approach has helped to foster a culture of continuous improvement and, according to the college’s submission, he stretches those around him to reach their full potential with a combination of challenge and support. He has raised the profile of the college locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. The college’s overseas work has bolstered the UK’s reputation and brought in resources for use locally.
According to the college students’ union, Williams “has always been committed to listening to the views and opinions of the student body; in turn promoting and improving the student experience”. The judges said: “Throughout his time at Dudley College, Lowell has really thought outside of the box, and has shown great strategic thinking. He has developed a unique model for the college, finding a unique niche, particularly highlighted in the international work of the college.”