An enthusiasm for education, food production and the countryside are the hallmarks of the new Director of Newton Rigg College, Robert Marshall-Slater.
Robert has been appointed to lead the Newton Rigg campus which runs full and part time further education courses ranging from horticulture to health and beauty to sport. Newton Rigg became part of Askham Bryan College in 2011 and specialises in rurally-focused education, particularly agriculture.
Catherine Dixon, Chief Executive said: “We are delighted to welcome Robert who brings a wealth of experience not only of Cumbria and education, but also of the food industry and business in general. His passion for inspiring young people to grasp opportunities, develop their potential and forge their future careers fits perfectly with the Askham Bryan College ethos. ”
From a part-time job in catering, Robert’s career took off, as he worked in leading hotels across the world – from Zurich to London and from Hong Kong to Bermuda – ultimately becoming Head Chef at the award-winning ‘Lovells’ at Windrush Farm in Oxfordshire. Moving to the North West 25 years ago, a particular highlight was working under Michelin-starred chef Nigel Haworth at Northcote Manor, Blackburn, becoming the Group Food Operations Manager.
But it was a former tutor who inspired him to change course and begin his career in education leading to a range of qualifications including an MBA Masters in Business. For the last eight and a half years he has been Head of School at Kendal College.
“I remember my own college days as the best time and the thought of being able to pass on that enthusiasm really made me think and I decided that teaching was what I wanted to do,” said Robert. “Seeing young people grow and develop, and realise the paths that education can open to them is hugely rewarding.”
His love of the outdoors and the countryside chimes with an interest in the provenance of food and the vital role played by British and, in particular, Cumbrian farmers. “Feeding a growing world population, and with the complications of Brexit, means that the land-based courses we offer at Newton Rigg could not be more relevant. It is a time of change for farming. The government needs to wake up and realise that it’s agriculture which underpins so much of our country’s future and the education of the next generation is a fundamental part of that.”
Having lived in the region for two and a half decades, Robert knows the area and its characteristics well. “Newton Rigg is very much at the heart of the community. When I talk to people there’s often a family connection – they, or a member of their family, were or are Newton Rigg students, or they have a friend or relation who works here, and that’s important to them and to me.
“I would love to see even more people visiting us and using the campus, but that existing connection and affection for the college is a great foundation upon which to build,” he said.