“I have known Cathie since 2004 when I joined the Board of Guildford College and was assigned to the Curriculum and Standards Committee to which she, as Vice Principal for Curriculum and Standards, was responsible. In 2007 I took over the chairmanship of this Committee. From the beginning I was impressed by Cathie’s quiet authority. To my mind she had the toughest job in the College – ensuring that we provided for the teaching and learning needs of some 14,000 students and maintained standards across a huge range of academic and vocational qualifications. Over time I learned to master the jargon and the intricacies of the self assessment reviews which we conducted annually, but this only added to my admiration as I came to appreciate the way in which she had set up systems which monitored the progress of each individual student and the red alerts when things seemed to be going wrong. She master-minded the successful integration of Merrist Wood, a land-based college, into Guildford College and then played a substantial part in the successful further assimilation of Farnham Sixth Form College and the establishment of the Guildford College Group with the three colleges. On both occasions her calm authority and sensitive handling of staff played a substantial part in the success of the venture. She is a woman of very considerable ability with a thorough knowledge of further education. I would willingly recommend her to anyone seeking help and advice in this sector.”
Margaret Sharp, Baroness Sharp of Guildford
House of Lords, London SW1A 0PW
“Cathie joined the College in August 2014 with a specific remit to support the College with the transition of K College (Dover and Folkestone campuses) to East Kent College. Cathie worked with the College for nine months and during this time made a significant impact. Cathie’s extensive experience as a senior manager has been highly beneficial. Cathie’s excellent attention to detail and sound experience of quality improvement enabled us to successfully embed systems and processes at a very early stage, whilst coaching and mentoring both senior and curriculum managers through the process.
Cathie formulised the College’s post inspection action plan identifying key areas for development and focus, the quality improvement plan was shared and communicated effectively, with progress against the plan communicated in frequent campus based meetings. Cathie as Campus Principal worked closely with our curriculum managers in a coaching capacity, Cathie successfully supported the managers in the writing of their quality improvement plans and her diligent consistent approach ensured that progress was made in a timely way. During the Ofsted Support and Challenge visits, curriculum managers were able to confidently articulate the progress that they were making in their respective curriculum areas with an evidence based approach.
During these nine months as Vice Principal Curriculum, I worked closely with Cathie. Cathie was fully committed to the College and at times worked under pressure and to very tight deadlines. Cathie’s consistent, professional and calm approach has been invaluable to the College and instrumental in ensuring that progress and improvement has been made within a short timeframe. I would strongly recommend Cathie to other organisations.”
Vice Principal Curriculum
East Kent College
“After a complex re-organisation to a group structure comprising several colleges and a common platform of group services, we enlisted the help of Cathie to support aspects of our self-assessment process. This involved revisions to the documentation and process, highly effective briefing sessions on the role and purpose of self-assessment and individual coaching sessions for managers throughout the process. What could have been an overly complicated experience during a time of change turned out to be a smooth exercise. Cathie instilled a sense of calm but at the same time brought very effective challenge, ensuring that self-assessment remained evidence based and that improvement actions were highly targeted to bring maximum benefit to as many learners as possible. Cathie’s considered and calm approach yet fiercely focussed on rapid improvement for learners is not easily come across and I can recommend the services of Prest Education Management Solutions highly.”
“Cathie worked with our middle and senior leadership teams to improve our critical analysis and evaluation skills to sharpen our self-assessment reports and chaired the SAR validation panels. She provided the perfect balance of support and challenge which resulted in rapid improvement of our leadership skills in this area. Cathie was invaluable to me personally during the transition period of my new role, with her in-depth knowledge of the leadership challenges in the education sector and her prowess as a coach and mentor.
I would heartily recommend Cathie to anyone who is looking to improve management and leadership competencies in their organisation.”
Principal at Reading College and Group Director at Activate Learning
“Cathie joined Walsall College on secondment during the period March 2012 – September 2012 as Interim Deputy Principal – Delivery and Success.
The remit was to lead the Curriculum and Quality agenda, with particular emphasis on ensuring the College is prepared for its forthcoming visit by Ofsted, as well as providing leadership for the College’s curriculum, training & development, quality and international functions.
Whilst Cathie has been here, she has demonstrated clear and experienced thinking in the above disciplines. She has provided confidence and quickly gained the utmost respect of senior colleagues and Governors. Her demonstrable experience in Further Education, alongside her ability to translate this, in response to the current environment, including that of Ofsted (gained as a practising Inspector) made her a valuable member of the team, providing professional counsel and advice. She is willing and is both prepared and able to take on wider projects as necessary, a real asset to my Executive team.
I would fully support Cathie’s involvement in leading a College agenda with confidence.“
Principal & Chief Executive
“Cathie worked with Aylesbury College from February to May 2013 to support our work on quality improvements. As a practising Inspector her extensive knowledge and experience of quality improvement and the new Common Inspection Framework was invaluable in providing challenge and support to managers to bring about improvements in teaching and learning and the student experience. Throughout Cathie was outcome focused in meeting the objectives of the brief. Her feedback was always honest, constructive and solution focused and she was able to quickly gain the trust of all she worked with to bring about changes. Aylesbury College was delighted to be graded good by Ofsted in May 2013. I would recommend the excellent educational service that Cathie provides.”
Karen Mitchell, Principal & CEO
“As a satisfactory College facing significant quality challenges I turned to Cathie Prest to provide mentoring and coaching support to a new and diverse team of curriculum directors. Over a period of 18 months Cathie help transform these leaders into confident and positive role models for staff who now contribute significantly to College strategy and decision making. I am proud to say that the College is now judged outstanding for leadership and management. Thank you Cathie.”
Graham Razey, Principal &CEO
East Kent College
“Cathie provided a perfectly focused service, paying great attention to detail and accurately responding to the brief provided. She was well prepared and provided us with the challenge that we wanted. She was able to give us a perspective that enabled us to inform our improvement plans and to see our own organisation more objectively. Feedback reports were timely and crystallised the outcomes of the activities undertaken, giving sound information that was then used by teams to bring about sustainable change. An excellent service, tailored precisely to our needs.”
Jean Roberts, Director of Teaching and Learning
“I have known Cathie for 10 years. We both completed the Senior Leadership Programme together. During that time Cathie has been an invaluable source of advice for me with regard to quality improvement, teaching & learning and leadership issues.
More recently I have employed Cathie as a consultant in order to help our Governors with their Self-assessment. Cathie won the confidence of our board quickly. She was well prepared and able to offer good advice over the issues that we needed to address. Most importantly she enabled the governors to identify the key issues themselves. Cathie provided us with effective advice; she was personable but challenging and she worked very well with the board. As a result of her engagement our Governors have a much clearer understanding about their performance and the performance of the college.”
Paul Wakeling, Principal
Havering Sixth Form College
“Engaged, committed and collaborative, Catherine shows good judgment and an ability to spot key issues”
Chair, Standards Committee, Surrey Police Authority
“Cathie came to help us with our SAR validation. We were very conscious that this would be an inspection year for us, so wanted to ensure we had the right balance of challenge, to prepare managers for inspection, but also to ensure that the supportive and developmental element of validation was not lost. Cathie hit just the right mark with all of our Managers, very quickly picking up on the key issues that existed within each Department and teasing out the key actions that needed to be addressed. We would be happy to work with Cathie again on this and similar projects.”
Head of Quality, Plumpton College