The CEO of Education Partnership North East and leader of Sunderland College, Ellen Thinnesen, has received an OBE from HRH Duke of Cambridge at Windsor Castle.

Here’s everything you need to know…


Ellen Thinnesen, leader of Sunderland College, receives OBE in New Year Honours list



The Chief Executive of Education Partnership North East, Ellen Thinnesen, was invited to Windsor Castle to collect a prestigious Royal honour which recognised her services to education.

Named in the Queen’s New Year 2021 Honours list, Ellen attended an investiture ceremony in December where she was officially presented with her OBE by HRH Duke of Cambridge.

Ellen was honoured for her outstanding contribution to education and her work with Education Partnership North East, a regional college group that includes Sunderland College, Northumberland College and Hartlepool Sixth Form, which serves diverse communities across the North East of England.

Across Education Partnership North East’s six main campuses, an ambitious vision and strategic plan have resulted in the transformation of curriculum, quality and financial performance across the college group and alignment of investment and resources to meet the needs of regional and local industry. 

Supported by excellent partnerships, this has resulted in the college group leading the skills agenda in sectors such as engineering and manufacturing, construction and housing, health, care and science, digital and land-based industries. 

A strategic focus on the North East’s disadvantaged and vulnerable students has also been enabled through the creation of an award-winning student and welfare services department, and the development of outstanding provision for young people with Special Education Needs and Disabilities.


Changing the future for young people across Sunderland and the region… 

Ellen was appointed Chief Executive and Principal at Sunderland College in 2016 and became Chief Executive of Education Partnership North East in 2019. 

She chairs the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (NE LEP) Skills Advisory Panel and is also an NE LEP board member. 

Ellen is a member of the Association of College’s (AoC) Board and actively represents Education Partnership North East on a variety of national, regional and local forums. 

Having begun her career as a qualified nurse working in hospitals in Yorkshire and Humber and central London, Ellen then lived and studied in the United States before returning to England to progress a career in Further and Higher Education. 

Ellen has previously held high-profile positions within the education sector in Greater Manchester and the Yorkshire and Humber region. 


‘A truly memorable and humbling experience’…



Ellen said:

“The investiture at Windsor Castle was a lovely day being among so many dedicated and remarkable people who have had such a significant impact on their communities was a truly memorable and humbling experience.

“I would like to thank the inspirational people that I am privileged to work with every day who have made this a reality. 

This includes my excellent leadership team and wider college staff, national, regional and local partners and many other supporters and stakeholders.

“There are so many people who have been instrumental in my career and the success of the vision and strategy of Education Partnership North East. 

The award of my OBE is attributable to my supportive family, but most importantly, to those colleagues, past and present, who have believed in the vision and shown tremendous dedication to the service of others. 

I am continually grateful for this.” 


Rob Lawson, former Chair of Governors at Education Partnership North East who also received an OBE, said:  

“On behalf of the board and all of the staff and students at Education Partnership North East I would like to congratulate Ellen on her investiture at Windsor Castle. 

It is richly deserved and we’re delighted her inspirational leadership and positive impact within the education sector has been formally recognised. 

She is an exceptional, charismatic leader and an exemplary ambassador for the further education sector and the North East. 

We are all extremely proud.”


Which other Sunderland figures should be awarded an OBE? Get in touch online. Twitter: @SunderlandVibe, Instagram: @SunderlandVibe, Facebook: @SunderlandVibe.

Facebook Comments