Mike Kilbride is the new Principal of Birkenhead Sixth Form College, moving up from his role of Deputy Principal, as Kathryn Podmore departs the post after a hugely successful 11 year tenure in charge.
Mike steps into the job having served nine years as Deputy Principal since joining the College in 2008, and has played a crucial role alongside Kathryn in turning the institution into a superb, top tier provider of sixth form education with national recognition.
Kathryn leaves big shoes to fill, having overseen the College securing an Outstanding rating from Ofsted in all departments, along with A Level results placing in the top 10% nationally, and a host of national and local award wins, resulting in the College having an enviable reputation as the top sixth form in the area.
Kathryn Podmore leaves after 11 years as Principal
New Principal at the College, Mike Kilbride, said of his credentials as Kathryn’s successor: “Having been here for nearly a decade, I believe that I played a key role in getting the College to where it is, so I understand what we’ve had to do to get here; I understand what it took to achieve this position.
“I take on this role extremely seriously, but I’ve got lots and lots of ideas and I really want to see this College maintain its achievements and build upon them. In two, three, four years’ time, I want the College to be seen not only as outstanding, but to be renowned for how we do it even more than what we do. If someone said to me that you can be the top college in the country but you have to sacrifice your values, or you can be in the top 20 and maintain your values, I know what I’d take. Our values aren’t for compromise.”
Mike continued: “What I would like to emphasise is that, while this is an evolution in some respects because I’ve been here for a number of years, this is also a time that we need to change and develop. There’s a completely new Senior Management Team in place with me, in Rob Myatt as Deputy Principal and Paula Blakemore as Assistant Principal, so working with them and other staff at the College, I know that we’re going to have a very, very strong future. That knowledge isn’t born out of arrogance or entitlement; it’s born out of the recognition of what it took to get where we are, and that informs my planning in moving forward.”
New Principal Mike Kilbride alongside Deputy Principal Rob Myatt and Assistant Principal Paula Blakemore.
Mike explained that, although his responsibilities have shifted, he will still be very much involved in the day-to-day activities of the College, and he is more than aware of the challenge that lies ahead.
“When you take on the senior position, it’s quite humbling. Anybody who looks at these jobs and thinks that when you get them, you get filled with arrogance couldn’t be more wrong. Every time you walk down the corridor and you see the people, you see the students, you see the walls, the furniture – and you know you have the potential to make all of that go wrong. You have the potential to damage people’s futures and damage an organisation, so if that’s not humbling and doesn’t make you work through the weekends and holidays and be a 24/7 employee then nothing will.
“Fortunately, in Rob and Paula, I’ve got two people who are just amazing in their jobs. They can hoover up work like there’s no tomorrow, they make good decisions and they are extremely experienced. There’s a common mentality that resides in this Senior Management Team and that’s really important, because we’re all trying to achieve the same thing in the right way.”
As Kathryn Podmore leaves her proud legacy at Birkenhead Sixth Form College, Mike wished her well in her new job as CEO of Wirral Academy Trust, and concluded: “She said to me ‘I know that you can do it’, which was a nice and comforting thing to hear.
“I’ve worked with Kathryn for nine years and in that time we’ve been supportive of each other. I like to think that I’ve been loyal, and in the hard times that maybe no one else saw, that we were able to share that, so when it came time for the change, I think we both knew it was the right decision for us to take up different roles. We’re not parting as we’re involved with Wirral Academy Trust, and I’ll be working with her on that, which I look forward to.”