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Where Are You Now?

Darren Hankey

Darren Hankey

BA (Hons) Business 1995

Darren Hankey is the Principal Hartlepool College of Further Education. After joining the College in 2001 as Assistant Principal, he became Vice Principal in 2012 before taking the post of Principal in August 2013.

“I left school at 16 with two O-levels in English and Geography and a CSE grade 1 in PE. I was going to be a footballer, so I wasn’t really interested in anything else. But if I’m honest with myself, I probably didn’t work hard enough.”

His first taste of a ‘proper job’ came with a subsidiary of WH Smith where he worked in book distribution, and on top of that he spent four years at night school boosting his qualifications.

“It was hard work, there were 60-hour weeks with the job and the studying, but it was worth it,” said Darren.

“By 1992 I was offered a place at the University of Sunderland, and I spent four years there before coming out with a 2:1 in Business and Economics.

“Along with what is now Leicester College, Leicester is my hometown, the University of Sunderland helped transform my life.  As well as my degree, it gave me the knowledge, skills and confidence to go on to become a teacher and, ultimately, a college Principal.

“I had the chance to take the second year of my degree in the States and this was also down to the opportunities provided by the University.

“It was around that stage I thought out becoming a teacher, a few people had mentioned it to me but teaching in schools didn’t really appeal – I always wanted to teach in a college.

“I took a job at a college in Hammersmith, it was inner city, multi ethnic, vibrant and creative and there were lots of issues to deal with each day. It took me an hour and a half to commute there on the tube each day.”

With six years of London life under his belt, Darren was back on his travels, this time heading back up north to Hartlepool College of Further Education after being handed the task of heading the Business Management team.

Since then he has risen up the ladder, working through the senior management team before finding himself in the Principal’s office.

He has overseen a remarkable change of fortunes for the College, which was told it needed to make drastic improvements in 2013.

The last Government inspection was rated as “good”, and the College is now ranked as the seventh best in England for its work in linking students to apprenticeship roles.

“We want to keep things moving in the right direction, there is constant competition but it is nice when you look at national statistics and see Hartlepool College up there with the best of them.

“The ultimate accolade would be for us to get an Ofsted grade of outstanding.” 

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