New Principal for Lowestoft Sixth Form College

Lowestoft Sixth Form College is set for a change in leadership, with Keith Shiels stepping down from the role of Principal to return to the classroom where he began 37 years ago.

Mr Shiels will leave the sixth form this summer, when Kerry Payne, East Coast College Assistant Principal for Higher Education, will take over the role.

Mr Shiels started his career in 1985 at Benjamin Britten Academy, teaching history and geography for 26 years. When the new Lowestoft Sixth Form College opened in 2011, Mr Shiels became a Director of Faculty, teaching ICT. He became Vice Principal in 2017, and following the merger with East Coast College was appointed to Lowestoft Sixth Form Principal in 2019.

During this time, he was named runner up in the National Teacher of the Year Tes awards, and contributed the highest value-added results in A Level ICT in the country. He is also proud to have seen the sixth form achieve a 100% A Level pass rate in his last three years as Principal.

Mr Shiels said: “It has been a great privilege to have led such a wonderful establishment and I have many fond memories from my time here. But I believe it is time to pursue my last chapter of my career before retirement – a return back to the classroom where it all started 37 years ago.

“I will miss all of the staff, some of which have been at the sixth form with me since it opened, and some who I have known for over 20 years back to my Benjamin Britten days. It has been a pleasure to teach so many fantastic students who really appreciate your help, and it has been wonderful to see them go on to achieve success.

“It has been a great honour to serve the community for the last 37 years at Lowestoft schools and I feel very proud to have had an input on so many students’ education.”

Ms Payne joined East Coast College in 2006 as a Lecturer in Science, and progressed to the role of Curriculum Manager and then Head of Higher Education. She took up her role as Assistant Principal seven years ago, where she looks after the college’s Higher Education, Access to Higher Education, Maritime, ESOL and Neaco provisions.

On her appointment, Ms Payne said: “I am very proud to have the opportunity to work closely with the Lowestoft Sixth Form leadership team. I will inherit a fantastic, dedicated staff team and wonderful students.

“I am confident that we can build on the successes of recent years continuing the student-focused ethos to enhance the academic Level 3 provision with our University of Suffolk degree offer and wider university progression opportunities. We will continue to support students to explore their next steps through relevant and exciting industry related experiences and apprenticeship opportunities.

“The Sixth Form academic offer will continue to integrate well with the established vocational and technical expertise of East Coast College, providing curriculum that matches local requirements, maximising choice, and opportunity for the region’s local students of all ages.”

Stuart Rimmer, Chief Executive of East Coast College, said: “The College gives Keith our thanks and best wishes for his next step. The exciting new chapter for our sixth form will see us continue our strong academic delivery combined with the essential focus on every student securing a progression to higher education or a good apprenticeship. We look forward to students joining us after the summer.”