From Forces to Further Forces, through Further Education

Campbell Christie CBE shares his journey from biology teacher, through a career in the Royal Navy and service as CEO and Principal of Bracknell and Wokingham College, to ETF Associate and ambassador for the Further Forces Programme

I trained originally as a Biology teacher and then taught in a secondary school for three years, before joining the Royal Navy in 1983. My final appointment, after 27 years’ service, was as the Commodore in charge of the Royal Navy’s training policy. I was also Professional Head of the Training Management Specialisation, some 250 officers often nicknamed affectionally, the ‘schoolies’.

Having completed my own resettlement transition process with the Career Transition Partnership and having returned to Civvy Street, I had the opportunity to continue to serve by becoming the Principal/CEO of Bracknell & Wokingham Further Education College in 2011.

Discovering a hidden jewel

I relished the opportunities that this appointment offered and I realised quickly just what a hidden jewel FE is and how much it contributes to the country’s prosperity, through its critical role in delivering the skilled personnel that our businesses need. This was reinforced by my Directorship of the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership, where I owned the skills portfolio.

On leaving Bracknell & Wokingham College in June, I was really delighted to be invited by David Russell to become an ETF Associate to support the promotion of the Further Forces Programme. This programme seeks to attract service leavers to retrain to become teachers in the FE sector while being mentored – and at no cost to the service leaver or the provider. My Royal Navy career convinced me that high-quality transition support for service leavers back into worthwhile civilian careers is essential. Equally, my time as a Principal/CEO and as a LEP Director convinced me that the FE sector is truly the powerhouse for the country’s skills. But the sector needs more teachers and trainers; particularly in technical subjects. The Further Forces Programme will deliver this – we just need to get the message out there!

Find out more about the Further Forces programme.

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