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Key Staff

Neil Bates FCGI CCMI – Principal and Chief Executive

Neil is passionate about learning & skills and about the potential that education and learning has to transform the life chances of people living and working in the local community. He is concerned about the inherent inequality within the education system which restricts the opportunity and potential of too many young people.

Neil has a strong commitment to partnership working and to contributing to public and community service at a local, regional and national level. He is the former Vice Chair of the Learning & Skills Improvement Service and a founder Director of GTA England. He is a former Chairman of the National Training Federation, the first Chair of the Association of Learning Providers and still sits on the ALP Strategic Partnership Board. He is a Trustee and Director of The Edge Foundation which is chaired by Lord Baker. He is also a school governor.

Neil is a regular speaker at conferences and has undertaken a number of research projects in the UK, India, China, and the United States.

Lee Bird – Head of Faculty - Engineering

Lee joined PROCAT in 2012 as Training Manager for Engineering & Manufacturing, having spent ten years in both Engineering and Training Management roles within the sector. Lee is responsible for the delivery of Apprenticeships and Further Education programmes within Engineering, Rail & Manufacturing. A key aspect of Lee’s role is developing existing and new provision that meet the needs our employers.

Quality assurance is also a substantial part of Lee’s role, ensuring that the teaching, learning and assessment is consistently at a good or better standard and that the College meets the requirements of awarding bodies and funding contracts.

Helen Russell – Director of Business Development

Helen has an extensive background in education, skills and economic development, working with organisations such as the Training and Development Agency, Essex County Council and Local Enterprise Partnership. Holding a strong belief that education and training is a leading vehicle for social and economic improvement, Helen is committed to improving the quality, equality and breadth of technical, practical training. 

Working on a number of Government projects and initiatives, Helen has a wealth of experience in research and development, strategic planning, business engagement, project delivery and organisational change. Over recent years, her work has helped to secure over £30 million of investment into education and training in the local area.

Helen joined the organisation in November 2014, having worked with the college for some time on a number of projects to support training and skills in key sectors of the economy.

Vanessa Osbourn - Head of Quality

Vanessa has recently taken over as Head of Quality for PROCAT, and still holds the role of National Quality Manager for Creative Sport and Leisure. Vanessa has spent most of her career in the Sports, Leisure and Exercise & Fitness Vocational environment. Her experience expands across Physical Education and Dance, in Secondary Education, Sports, Exercise and Fitness Apprenticeships in Further Education as well as Coach Education within National Governing Bodies and ASE Framework within Professional Football.

Vanessa is responsible for both the Further Education and Apprenticeships delivery within Creative Sport and Leisure as well as the Quality Assurance of our provision, so that it meets the requirements of awarding bodies and funding contracts. She is passionate in providing outstanding teaching, learning and assessment across the Active, Leisure and Learning Sector and is committed to supporting and up-skilling our current and new work force within this sector.

Brian Maskell - Head of Faculty Construction, Utilities and Infrastructure

Following a successful career in industry organising and running many large and complicated projects, such as the refurbishment of historic buildings with the National Trust, Brian moved in to teaching in 2007 to teach on the CIOB site management programme. Brian has since completed his teacher training DTLLS, QTLS and Leadership training.

Brian has predominantly been teaching and leading the development of professional construction courses, including HNC/D and Civil Engineering.

At PROCAT, Brian is now looking forward to developing Higher Level Apprenticeships and Professional Construction courses as Head of Faculty, and to take PROCAT forward to be an outstanding provider of construction professionals to the construction industry. 

Debbie Wallace - Head of Human Resources

Debbie has over 22 years’ operational HR experience gained whist working as a senior manager for an international company based in South East Essex.

Debbie is MCIPD accredited having graduated from Anglia Ruskin University in 2001.During Debbie's career she has worked on a range of HR topics from the implementation of basic HR procedures and policies through to more complex TUPE & redundancy consultations.

Debbie joined the PROCAT team in September 2016 as Head of HR and her priorities are to focus on the strategic development of the HR function to ensure this meets the needs and expectations of the college and its learners.

Ros Parker - Director of Learning

Ros joins PROCAT with extensive experience of working with employers, museums, trusts and education providers to achieve excellence in the delivery of skills that enable young people and adults to achieve their aspirations.

Ros is relentless in her focus to create learning environments that inspire individuals to develop the skills, knowledge and experience they need for sustainable employment and progression into further learning. Developing an innovative and relevant suite of qualifications that employers, students and Apprentices value is always a key priority and presents an exciting challenge that Ros is keen to embrace.


Dawn Cooke - Head of Employability Skills

Dawn has worked in post 16 education for nearly 20 years starting as a volunteer through to managing an Ofsted rated ‘Good’ college.  Dawn is passionate about giving students the chance to reach above and beyond their potential through developing a wide range of skills.  Recently Dawn has run her own consultancy company working for Colleges on improving their English, maths and Foundation provision as well as leading on reviews of safeguarding and Prevent for both providers and local authorities.

Dawn is enjoying the chance to work for Procat and the exciting vision it has for all the learners and looks forward to developing a curriculum that meets the needs of all stakeholders.