Bath College is a successful GFE college with an annual turnover of £23m, an entrepreneurial culture and highly effective employer partnerships.  The selection panel sought to appoint an exceptional Principal and Chief Executive to maximise business opportunities and to maintain the college’s position at the forefront of emerging strategies in education and training, while leading the college forward on its journey to outstanding.

The selection panel was keen to attract both current serving Principals and aspiring leaders seeking their first Principal post; candidates needed to demonstrate a track record of success in a senior leadership role along with thorough knowledge of the FE sector.


AoC Create worked with the selection panel to gain a clear understanding of the Board’s vision for the future of the college as well as success indicators and any challenges the successful candidate would face. We constructed a detailed profile of the ideal candidate to ensure the executive search was targeted appropriately.

Following the briefing we created impactful advertising messages and candidate information, and launched a bespoke microsite.

We undertook a targeted search campaign, in which we identified and approached the strongest individuals according to the selection panel’s preferences.  The executive search was complemented by a number of other attraction methods to raise awareness, including online advertising, e-shots and social networking.  All interested individuals were directed to the bespoke microsite and nurtured by us throughout the process, to ensure that interest and momentum remained high.

We received 21 applications, of which 16 were sourced directly through our search campaign.

Following the application closing date, AoC Create screened all applications in line with the selection panel’s criteria and conducted rigorous checks in order to produce a thorough report on each candidate. We then provided feedback to the selection panel and advised them on recommendations for long list interviews.

AoC Create conducted long list interviews with nine candidates, as agreed with the selection panel. Each candidate answered a series of pre-arranged competency questions and was assessed by two of our recruitment managers to ensure quality and consistency.  We provided detailed reports on each candidate’s performance and met with the selection panel to provide feedback and make recommendations.  Seven candidates, including current serving Principals and second tier candidates, were short listed for final selection.

AoC Create designed a full assessment centre tailored around the college’s objectives.  This comprised a presentation and interview with the selection panel, meetings with student, staff and senior team panels and a strategic written exercise.  Two members of the AoC Create executive recruitment team / Bath College account team were present throughout the two day assessment process to oversee logistics, brief participants, collate feedback and provide guidance. We ensured that candidates were thoroughly supported before and during the assessment days and provided impactful guidance to the selection panel throughout the assessment process.

Following a successful first day of activities, three candidates progressed to the second day which comprised a further presentation and interview with the selection panel. Questions were designed overnight by AoC Create to ensure that specific areas identified in day 1 feedback were fully addressed.


The selection panel was delighted to appoint Laurel Penrose, Deputy Principal and Deputy CEO at North Warwickshire and Hinckley College and South Leicestershire College. Laurel was specifically identified and contacted by AoC Create through our search campaign.

We have received excellent feedback on our service from Laurel and from the Chair at Bath College, as well as from other candidates who took part in the assessment process.


Executive Recruitment Support

If you need recruitment support, you can learn more about how our executive recruitment team can support your college here.