According to the judges, Sam Parrett “embodies what it is to be a true leader, not just a person at the top of an organisation”.
Appointed principal of Bromley College in 2010, she oversaw a merger with Orpington College the following year. Then, in 2016, at the request of the FE commissioner, she led the country’s first three-way college merger, bringing together Bromley, Bexley and Greenwich Community colleges – the latter at the time struggling under the weight of an Ofsted “inadequate” rating and a significant financial deficit – to form London South East Colleges.
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Today, the organisation boasts more than 13,000 students, 1,000 staff and a £60 million turnover. Success rates across every college campus have risen steadily over the past three years. Around 90 per cent of students pass their vocational qualifications, putting the merged college in the top 25 per cent of all colleges in the country. In March 2019, Ofsted inspectors rated London South East Colleges as “good” with outstanding features.
London South East Colleges attracted £18 million of investment in 2018-19, and 97 per cent of students progress into employment, an apprenticeship, or further and higher education. Parrett’s establishment of a multi-academy trust, which includes seven alternative, special and mainstream schools and an apprenticeship provider, has supported strong progression for learners.
The judges said: “Sam Parrett has twisted old ways of being into new ways of doing. She showed immense bravery and stepped forward into situations that no one else wanted to go near. She’s a standout leader, with an incredible amount of energy.”