Take a look at who our Governors are below (updated January 2023):

Fircroft College Governors

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.

Professor Geoff Layer – Chair of the Governing Body

Geoff says:

I am delighted to have been appointed as Chair of the Governing Body. I have a passion for wanting to try to make education available to all and to ensure that people of all ages and development have opportunities and Fircroft makes a real difference to people’s lives.

I have been very focussed in my career on expanding access to HE and being a governor enables me to both put something back into the system but also to help shape the future role of the college. I have always been an advocate of adult learning and have been involved in all the major national adult learning bodies and this role helps to focus that interest.

Social Justice and recognising that learning and education isn’t just about schools. I am passionate believer in Lifelong Learning as we all learn throughout our lives. Society is changing and we have the chance to rebalance its values to include building communities.

In 1978 I taught my first adult education class on behalf of the WEA and the TUC at Consett Steelworks in County Durham and that opened my eyes and horizons to the power and influence of education. I was able to build on that concept of using education to enable people to develop throughout my career in Universities and eventually becoming Vice Chancellor at the University of Wolverhampton for over 10 years as well as being the Chair of the Disabled Student Commission and leading major national education initiatives.

I will work closely with governors in listening to the views of staff, students and communities and to see how Fircroft can make a difference to people’s lives. 

Carole Parkes - Chair of the Staff and Student Services Committee 

Carole is an Emeritus Professor of Responsible Management and Leadership and has both a business and academic background. Carole has been a champion for the UN backed Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) since its inception in 2007 (whilst at Aston Business School). She is the former Chair of the PRME Chapter UK & Ireland, has been a member of the PRME Global Advisory Committee and worked at the PRME Secretariat in New York as a Researcher in Residence. At the PRME 10th Anniversary Global Forum in 2017, Carole was presented with a PRME Pioneer Award ‘for her leadership and commitment to the development of PRME’ and appointed a UN PRME Special Advisor. She is also a board member of Business in the Community (BITC). Carole is a journal and book editor and publishes on issues related to sustainability and social justice including poverty as a challenge to business and management.  

Carole became a Governor at Fircroft as she is interested in the work of the college, its mission and commitment to social justice through education.  Carole says "I care deeply about social justice and more specifically the transformative power of education within that.  I also see education for sustainability as critical to education at all levels.  I am excited to work with the governing body and the leadership and management team to contribute to its mission and goals in the years ahead. In particular to use my knowledge and skills in any way that will benefit Fircroft".

Eluned Griffith Jones - Chair of the Education Committee; Member of the Staff and Student Services Committee

Eluned says:

Having spent over 35 years working across the education sectors I want to share my skills and expertise with the Fircroft community but at the same time continue my own personal and professional development journey. 

Education is a right, not a privilege, so I am passionate about ensuring that everyone can achieve their personal and professional dreams and ambitions through education, regardless of personal circumstance. 

Eluned is a qualified Careers Adviser and graduate employability specialist and has worked within schools, further education, and adult education with the past 25 years in the higher education sector. She has expertise in developing social equity programmes, employability within the curriculum, regional skills, and internationalisation. Until January 2020 Eluned was the Director of Student Employability at the University of Birmingham. In 2020 Eluned was awarded an MBE for services to career development in higher education in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. 

My aim is to use my expertise in careers, skills, and educational development to support Fircroft’s social justice mission and to help ensure that it continues to thrive and grow into the future."

Being Welsh, it’s not surprising that Eluned is a passionate Welsh Rugby supporter, but she is also a Wolves fan (sorry Blues fans!) and a keen follower of women’s cricket. She dabbles with art, loves to travel, and would really like to get back into amateur archaeology.

Claire Mutchell - Staff Governor 

Claire joined the governing body in December 2020. Claire has had 2 careers, the first in training and education in the public sector and the second in catering and hospitality, recently becoming Fircroft's newest Kitchen Manager. 

Claire started her career teaching life skills to disaffected teenagers, she then worked at Birmingham and Solihull Learning and Skills Council, where, amongst other positions, she managed funding for a caseload of Further Education, Apprenticeship and Adult and Community Learning Providers. Claire finished her career in this sector as a WorkForce Strategy Manager at Solihull Council, this was a multi-agency role where she had responsibility for training the Children’s workforce and developing inter-agency relationships.

For the last 11 years, Claire has worked in hospitality and catering. She was a Head Chef and personal chef in France, Austria and Italy. In the UK Claire has been a Catering Manager and redesigned and created Catering provision in two different organisations.  Claire says:

"I believe passionately in Fircroft’s mission and values; in particular, social justice, social mobility and sustainability. I really believe we can make a difference to the local community and make an impact on climate change"

Claire enjoys nature and gardening, as well as exploring the link between our food and climate change. Creating a more sustainable food chain is very important to her. She also enjoys painting, music and the arts and is a keen skier and traveller.

Jon Darling - Vice-chair of the Governing Body; 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.

Tom Pettitt - Chair of the Remuneration 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 Remuneration Committee.

Parminder Singh 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.