Roger Cadbury – Patron

Roger has an MA degree from Cambridge. His career was in business in the food industry heading up various companies. He has chaired several voluntary bodies including the Bournville Village Trust, the Croft Trust for Adult Education, and the Warwick Independent School Foundation. He is a past Governor of Fircroft College and currently Patron.

Dr Cheryl Turner – Chair

Cheryl has over 40 years’ experience of working in adult learning at local and national levels, including 20 as a teacher in community, further and higher education settings. She believes strongly in adult learning and its power to change lives for the better.  While employed by the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA), she organised and supported many rural and inner-city courses. Later working for the National Institute for Adult Continuing Education (NIACE), she became NIACE’s Head of Learning in Families and Communities, supporting providers and researching, publishing and speaking on adult learning. On secondment to the government’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) she supported BIS’ work on equality and diversity and later, on secondment to the Local Government Association, she was the Senior Policy Advisor on adult education for local authorities. She is a Senior Research Fellow at the Learning and Work Institute, a WEA Ambassador, and is immensely proud to be associated with Fircroft and its wonderful work.

Mel Lenehan - Governor and Fircroft College Principal and CEO

Mel has always worked in the education sector. She started as a practitioner teaching in higher, further and adult education in the areas of Sociology, Politics and Psychology. Before joining Fircroft College, Mel spent 15 years working in a variety of roles for the WEA. Mel is passionate about adult education and the way it can change lives.

Neena Chauhan – Staff Governor (Support)

Neena graduated with honours from University of Birmingham with a degree in Social Policy. Since graduating, she has worked for over five years in the adult education sector in social research, volunteer development, project support and marketing and communications. Neena enjoys working in education and is passionate being involved in projects that have real impact on local communities, helping improve educational opportunities and progression for all.

Makhdoom Chishti

Makhdoom has broad experience in dealing with principles of public life in relation to selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership. Makhdoom was an executive management professional with over 35 years of experience, working in public, private and voluntary sectors. He was responsible for the management and development of a portfolio of major development projects that delivered Birmingham’s housing, international kabaddi tournaments, Birmingham Paralympics, international exchange programme, employment, regeneration and economic development objectives. Makhdoom has previously been associated with Birmingham City Council in diverse roles such as Equality and Community Engagement Executive and Principal Strategy and Projects Manager. He is currently working as a Community Development Consultant.

Jon Darling - Vice-chair of the Governing Body and Chair of Audit Committee 

Jon is a chartered accountant with 20 years of experience in internal audit and risk management. He has refreshed and relaunched several internal audit functions and frameworks to make them more risk-based in their planning and reporting. Jon has been a Governor for 3 years. 

"Fircroft gives people a chance to improve themselves through education, especially where they’ve faced barriers and challenges that have affected their opportunities. Fircroft provides the learning environment for this and supports a range of wider initiatives that focus on social justice. It’s also a great team of governors and leadership, and I enjoy their company and learning from them" - Jon Darling.

Jon is a big sports fan, supporting Sheffield Wednesday, Yorkshire CCC and Minnesota Vikings. He loves reading crime novels and Calvin and Hobbes cartoons, and has a wide and varied Spotify playlist, from Doris Day to Metallica.

Reverend Jennifer S. Mullis OBE - Chair of the Remuneration Committee

Jen left the Civil Service (after 30 years) in March 2017. She is the Managing Director of Wordsmith and Willow Limited - a small consultancy company specialising in: Further education and skills policy; Solutions for disengagement and poor aspirations in young people; Strategic development of organisations; and Unlocking creativity for personal development and growth. Jen is a Methodist Minister and was awarded an OBE in the 2017 New Year’s Honours’ List for her work contribution to Further Education and the communities in Yorkshire

Tom Pettitt - Chair of Education Committee

Tom has spent all his working career in the Third Sector, generally running small charities. These include an environmental organisation, a volunteer group, an IT training charity and a Law Centre. Currently, Tom has retired from his role as Head of Finance at Woodbrooke, a Quaker education and conference centre just 400 yards from Fircroft. A regular cyclist, he helped form Pushbikes, Birmingham’s cycling campaign group, back in the days when the car was seen as king in Birmingham. Tom is currently the Chair of the Education Committee.

Parminder Garcha 

Parminder works as Senior Responsible Officer – Adult Education, at Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority. Previously he worked at Birmingham City Council, serving as Head of Service for 14-19 Participation and Skills and Interim Head of Careers. He is an expert in Post 16 education, adult education, employability and skills. This has been gained through extensive experience of working with local colleges, training providers, voluntary sector, schools, employers and councils for over 20 years. He is passionate about the young people and adults achieving their full potential into higher education, employment and/or apprenticeships.

He has held several roles previously at the Learning and Skills Council, firstly at the Black Country office as the lead for European funding, managing multi-million-pound budgets and then as lead for adult skills in Sandwell. He transferred to the Birmingham and Solihull office, where he led on several projects including college mergers, work-based learning, apprenticeships, quality and intervention.

Prior to working in public service, he held several roles, working for British Trust for Conservation Volunteers, a national environmental charity, a local welfare-to-work provider and a community education charity. He started his career as a young entrepreneur in the publishing business.

Parminder has served as a Board member of several local charities and colleges and holds several positions: He is Chairperson of Sikh Nari Manch UK, a small local charity working in the field of social welfare and adult learning in Erdington, North Birmingham. He is Trustee of Victoria Specialist College in Northfield, who support young adults with Profound Multiple Learning Disabilities and Complex Health Care needs. He is also Governor at Joseph Chamberlain Sixth-Form College, judged ‘outstanding’ in inner-city Birmingham.

His varied other interests include parenting, being a father of two children, currently in secondary schools in Birmingham and teaching Yoga. He qualified as a Kundalini Yoga Teacher in 2009 and runs various classes and retreats. He is currently studying for an MSc in Public Leadership and Management at the University of Birmingham.

Vivienne Shapley - Safeguarding Link Governor 

Vivienne previously worked for over ten years for British Waterways, which later became Canal & River Trust, whose aim is to provide wellbeing for all. During this time Vivienne specialised in property portfolio management and currently works for Galliford Try as an Internal Audito. Vivienne has been on the board for a year and also sits on the Staff and Student Services Committee and Operations Committee. 

I am passionate about continued development both in the classroom, professionally and personally having seen and experienced the positive and transformative impact this can have on an individual’s life. - Vivienne Sharply.

Vivienne also dedicates her time to being a leader at her local Brownies where she enjoys helping the Brownies try new things, have fun and fulfil their potential.

Full minutes of all meetings, except those deemed to be confidential by the Governing Body, are available on application from the Clerk to the Governing Body at:

Fircroft College, 1018 Bristol Road, Selly Oak, Birmingham, B29 6LH