The Principal of Northampton College has spoken of her “immense pride” and praised colleagues, staff and students having been awarded the OBE in the King’s Birthday Honours.

Pat Brennan-Barrett was given the honour in recognition of her 36 years of service to Further Education, which has seen her play a key role in developing the post-16 education and skills agenda across the East Midlands and work tirelessly to develop a commercial culture to tackle increasing competition within the sector while continually improving quality. 

Under her leadership, Northampton College has risen 156 places in the National Achievement Rate Tables in just five years to become one of the UK’s top colleges and the region’s leading FE provider, now ranked 7th out of more than 210 colleges for 16 to 18-year-old education and training.

She said: “I am absolutely delighted to receive this honour and this is something that fills me with immense pride. This is not just an award for me, it's recognition of the way my colleagues, governors, and the college’s employer and sector body partners are making every effort to support our students.

"It’s a real pleasure to be part of such an important sector that makes a difference to so many people. Northampton College is very much the 'college in the community' and supporting the next generation of workers to equip them with the skills they need to make an impact in the world is something I am particularly passionate about.

“The privilege of being principal of such a wonderful college is something that I cherish every day. I am very touched, humbled, and grateful for receiving this honour and thank everyone who continues to play a part in our 'journey to outstanding'.”

Pat, who worked in London for 25 years before making the switch to Northampton College, is passionate about developing support mechanisms for students with any form of additional needs or disadvantage and her innovative approach has transformed performance, endorsed by an ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted rating in this area.

She has tirelessly championed the work of students with any form of additional needs or disadvantage at a national level and has given evidence to the Education Select Committee and House of Lords Select Committee. As a key member of the national SEND Policy Group, Pat has worked with DfE colleagues to help reform education policy.

Patrick Leavey, Deputy Principal at Northampton College, said: “Pat has committed her life to young people and her determination to go ‘above and beyond’ has changed thousands of lives. She is completely committed in helping to support the region’s post-pandemic economic and social recovery. She is more than a Principal. She is a leader, a visionary and a pioneer. She has truly made a difference.”