Trustees and honorary appointees

Dame Ruth Silver


Dame Ruth is the founding President of the Further Education Trust for Leadership and co-chairs the Skills Commission. She was the founding chair of the board of the Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS) in October 2008 and chaired both the board and the elected LSIS council.

In 2010, she was appointed by the government to chair the National Taskforce on the Future of the Careers Profession.

Dame Ruth was for 17 years the Principal of Lewisham College, a large vocational further education college in south-east London serving a diverse and multicultural population. Under her principalship, the college offered inspiring and challenging courses and aimed to ensure that all members of the community were provided with every opportunity to succeed.

An Ofsted inspection report described Lewisham as a ‘thinking college’ with ‘a highly professional culture which values critical reflection, experimentation and sharing of practice’. The report added that ‘the college is outstanding in meeting the needs and interests of learners … and skilful in aligning its provision to current learner and economic needs’.

Dame Ruth was a founder member of the London Skills and Employment Board and an adviser to the House of Commons Select Committee on Education and Skills and co-chaired the Skills Commission for over ten years, an independent body that meets every month in Parliament to discuss important issues in skills, further education and training policy. She was a founding trustee of the Edge Foundation, which is devoted to raising the status of vocational learning, and was the first chief assessor for the Qualifying Programme for Principals. She is also visiting professor on educational developments at London South Bank University. She was a member of the UK Women and Work Commission.

In 2014, she worked with Glasgow’s colleges in the post-merger realignment of their curriculum offers.

In 2015-16, she chaired the Scottish Government’s Commission on Widening Access to Universities.

Dame Ruth has also written and broadcast extensively on educational matters and is committed to economic and social inclusiveness, particularly in the inner city.

Before beginning her career in education, Dame Ruth studied psychology and literature at Glasgow and Southampton universities as an NUM scholar and trained at the Tavistock Clinic in Adolescence and Transition. She went on to teach and work in child guidance before moving into senior leadership and policy development roles. She was awarded a damehood in 2006 for services to further education.