Sally Dicketts, alumna of Saïd Business School’s Further Education Strategic Leadership Programme, has been made a Dame in the New Year Honours List 2023.
The honours system recognises people who have made achievements in public life and committed themselves to serving and helping the United Kingdom.
Dame Sally joined the inaugural cohort of the Further Education Strategic Leadership Programme (FESLP) and has played a key role in its development since its launch in 2017. Run in partnership with the Education and Training Foundation (ETF), the programme is led by Associate Fellow, Steve Mostyn and Client Director, Dr Louise Watts. They work with a steering committee comprising FESLP alumni and leading further education (FE) experts to ensure the programme addresses development objectives, with contribution from University of Oxford faculty and expert practitioners. Through her contribution to the committee, Sally has helped build resilience and leadership capability across the FE sector.
Reflecting on the honour, Dame Sally said: ‘I am truly honoured and humbled to receive this Damehood. It has been a privilege to see the impact we in further education have had on improving the lives and opportunities of our students and their communities. This recognition is a tribute to our sector.’
A statement from the Cabinet Office regarding her honour said: ‘[Dame Sally] is a leading board member of the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) since 2017, driving innovation, evidence-based teaching, adaptive leadership and inclusive practice. She became President of The Association of Colleges in 2020, providing strong leadership to over 220 colleges particularly during the pandemic.
Making services to education a life-long mission, Dame Sally previously recalled what prompted her to dedicate herself to education. Being dyslexic, and having been placed in a remedial class when she first started secondary school, she fought her way into A-Levels, and despite a gift for maths, she was told by a teacher that she didn’t ‘have the right credentials’ to take the subject at that level. ‘It was at that moment, I decided nobody should be humiliated the way I had been in my school years. I would become a teacher and make the system better.’
Reflecting on the benefit and impact of Oxford Saïd’s Further Education Strategic Leadership Programme, Dame Sally said: ‘As a teacher naturally l like to see what is happening in the classroom. But I run a very large organisation, and there is an expectation that I should simply take a ‘view from the balcony’ rather than entering the ‘dancefloor’ where everything is happening. What the Strategic Leadership Programme taught me is that it is OK to do both.’
The Cabinet Office statement added: ‘She mentors newer principals and is also a regular ‘star contributor’ to the Preparing for CEO Programme at Oxford. She was Chair of the Women’s Leadership Network and AoC’s Employment Committee, leading on issues of equality, diversity and inclusion.
‘In 2013, she successfully divested Reading College from Thames Valley University, embracing it into Oxford & Cherwell Valley College creating a new, larger, college group ‘Activate Learning’ to include: four University Technical Colleges; two secondary schools; an apprenticeship training provider; workplace training/consulting; and a specialist engineering training provider. In 2019, she successfully led Activate Learning through further substantial growth, including mergers with Bracknell & Wokingham College and The Guildford College Group.’
Another alumnus from the programme, Jatinder Sharma, was also promoted from OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) to CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) for services to further education in the New Year Honours List. He is Principal and Chief Executive of Walsall College.
Oxford Saïd is proud to work with the Education and Training Foundation to have a significant impact in delivering leadership development across the FE sector. Learn more about our work in Public Value.