Day in the Life - Nick Isles, Deputy Principal of Milton Keynes College

Wed 29 May 2013

“There’s nothing more important, motivating and uplifting than working with people who want to improve themselves.”  So says Nick Isles, Deputy Principal at Milton Keynes College, and with a schedule like his it is just as well he likes his job.

Nick has a stunning CV from the world of private enterprise.  He has been prominent in well-known think tanks and as a business consultant achieving acclaim with his book, The Good Work Guide, a post-Credit Crunch tract which teaches that people who feel fairly treated at work are more productive.  He still owns a successful consultancy business, so why become Deputy Principal at Milton Keynes College?  “Education is like nothing else,” he says.  “I work for an inspirational Principal [Dr. Julie Mills] among a group of really dedicated people in a values-driven organisation.  I tell everyone that when you enjoy what you’re doing you don’t notice the work and I’m living proof that that’s true.”

Nick leaves the house at seven on this particular day for a meeting with his media and public relations team.  “Raising the profile of the College as a place where people can learn and move their lives forward is so important,” he says.  With that in mind the College has just appointed a new Head of Communications and Marketing who formerly worked for Network Rail.  “Success is largely down to the team you build around you,” he says.  From there it is to the train station for a meeting in London with a frontbench MP to talk about education policy, creating new businesses and improving skills.  He believes political contacts are crucial: “Since I’ve been here we’ve had visits from big names like Tessa Jowell and Maria Eagle as well as the city’s own MPs.  It’s vital people in power know what we can offer and what we need from them to improve what we can give young people.”

Back from London Nick goes to UCMK for more meetings.  For the first time this September Journalism students will go on there to upgrade skills learnt at the College to degree level.  Nick is determined to create links with other educational establishments to widen and deepen the learning available to students.  He says, “If we want to help them develop a love of learning we have to make sure our part of the bargain is up to scratch and that means providing choices within a system designed to meet the students’ needs.”
What remains of the afternoon will be spent at Nick’s desk refining those strategic plans, but not for too long – there is an Open Evening to prepare for and attend.  “These are our showcase events, when we reveal to prospective students and their parents just what they can get out of us.  It’s also where we learn what people are looking for, and we’re always striving to make sure the two reflect each other as closely as possible.”

Nick has a very clear idea of what will constitute success in his role at the College.  “If every learner and every organisation we work with feels valued and inspired and is more fulfilled having worked with us, and if we can create more life chances for people, more skilled workers and more pathways to success for everyone, then we’ll all have done our job.”

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