Aspire Sussex provides community-based Adult Education that is vibrant, accessible and sustainable, and responds to the needs of our local communities.

Our Mission

To enable people to achieve their personal aspirations, whatever, their starting point, and inspire them to learn, enjoy and achieve.

West Sussex County Council

Some of our courses are delivered through a contract we have with West Sussex County Council. We work in partnership with WSCC to ensure the County Council meets its objective of ensuring that residents of West Sussex can access the skills training they need to succeed in playing their part in society and in supporting the growth of the West Sussex economy.

In 2012 West Sussex County Council (WSCC) investigated a range of options for the longer term provision of their Adult Education Service, with the aim of providing the best delivery model to secure the future of local Adult Education provision in West Sussex.

On 1 September 2012 Aspire Sussex Ltd (previously West Sussex Adult & Community Learning Service) became an independent, charitable, social enterprise.


If you have any comments about Adult Education you can contact us by emailing or by phoning 0345 601 0161.

If you have any comments about the contract we have with West Sussex County Council that you wish to direct to the County Council, please email

Aspire Sussex is governed by an appointed board of seven trustees. Further information on the remit of our trustees and the code of conduct can be found in the documents on the bottom of the page.

Biographies for Trustees

Norman Boyland (Chair)

With a background in research, development and operations in the pharmaceutical industry, Norman works in the areas of skills, innovation and economic development. He was Chair of the Learning and Skills Council South East Region 2006 – 2010, additionally chairing the National Capital Committee during the same period. He remains a non-executive director of the Innovation Centre at the University of Sussex and Chair of Trustees of 4SIGHT, a charity for the blind and partially sighted. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws by the University of Brighton and is a Deputy Lieutenant of West Sussex.

John Burke

John Burke is a retired Assistant Chief Fire Officer who spent 18 years of a 31 year career in middle and senior management posts with management focus on training, ICTt, emergency operations, risk, projects and strategy. He was Regional Project Director for the North East, with responsibilities for FiReControl, Firelink and a range of regional collaboration initiatives.

He was a member of the 999 Liaison Committee, undertook work to produce national guidance for CPD and Work at Height and participated in European projects rescue from height and depth. Since retiring from the Fire and Rescue service he worked on behalf of the Chief Fire Officers Association as senior professional advisor to the FiReControl Project.

Other experience has included contributing to the work of the Institution of Fire Engineers and fourteen years as chairman of a school governing body. Academic awards include membership of City and Guilds of London for fire service management, a BA (Hons) in Business Studies and a Post-Graduate Certificate in computer based information systems.

Lyn Glanz

Lyn Glanz has lived and worked in the Netherlands, the UK and Switzerland where she was Dean of Graduate Programmes for a Swiss University. Originally a qualified social worker, she has been actively involved with global mobility issues as both a consultant and researcher, designing and delivering bespoke programmes in a number of countries for major multinational concerns and academic institutions. She brings international experience in educational quality systems having acted as an official auditor or prepared accreditation documentation for Swiss, US, UK, Croatian, Dutch and Lithuanian education programmes.

Robyn Kohler

Prior to joining Aspire Sussex Ltd in 2015, Robyn was the CEO/Principal of Friends Centre, an independent Adult Education charity in Brighton and Hove. She moved into the ‘not for profit’ sector five years ago, after ten years as Head of Faculty for Skills for Life and Adult and Community Learning, including the remit for ALDD, International and Additional Learning support, and has lead on Equality and Diversity.

She has 15 years of management experience in Adult Education, and ten years of experience in sales/marketing and business development prior to taking a break to have her family. She was the Chair of Governors at a primary school in Bexhill-on-Sea for five years as well as being a Governor trainer for ESCC prior to training as a teacher.

Robyn has led on the Hastings and Rother Employability and Skills projects, and worked in partnership with the East Sussex NHS Trust to deliver Skills for Life projects.

Melanie Muir

Melanie is the Director of Operations at St. John’s School and College – a registered charity based in East Sussex, where she has worked since April 2017. Melanie has responsibility for the finance, IT and estates teams. Prior to St. John’s, Melanie gained over 10 years’ manufacturing industry experience, within UK branches of large, publicly listed corporations and smaller private equity backed groups.

Melanie is committed to lifelong learning and, since leaving full time education, has achieved a BTEC National Certificate in Business and Finance, became a Fellow Chartered Certified Accountant, and was awarded an MSc in Operations and Supply Chain Management with distinction, which she studied online with the University of Liverpool. Melanie is currently studying for an MSc in Charity Accounting and Financial Management.

David Smith

David has worked in education and skills for forty years. He currently works as an Education and Skills adviser and consultant, having previously been the Director of World Skills Engagement with the Association of Colleges (AoC). He had previously held roles as Pro Vice-Chancellor at Canterbury Christ Church University, Senior Account Director for the Skills Funding Agency in the South East, Area Director for Sussex, Surrey and Kent with the Learning and Skills Council and as a Vice Principal in two Sussex colleges, after beginning his career as a school teacher.

He has a strong interest in building collaborative partnerships across the education and skills landscape and has worked on FE college mergers, relationships between professional sports clubs and the education and skills sector, support for the ambition to deliver a national ‘legacy’ from the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games. With a background in the FE funding agencies as well as in colleges and universities, he brings experience and working knowledge of post-compulsory education and training across Sussex to the trustee role.

Caroline Pickup

Having had two successful careers, firstly in the Civil Service and secondly in Further Education, Caroline is now CEO and owner of her own company working on organisational development, strategic and transformational Human Resources.

Caroline has worked at a senior level in strategic HR and organisational development for more than 25 years. Across two major careers, within the Civil Service and in Further Education, Caroline’s key achievements have focussed on organisational development; always people focused and values driven. She first worked for HMRC for twenty years where she held roles as a training manager and trainer. She then joined the Further Education Sector where she worked for a further twenty years in various roles with 12 years as Head of HR including strategic Human Resources. Used to working within a culture of continuous change, Caroline has led and developed organisation wide performance improvements. As Assistant Principal, she held a wide portfolio of responsibilities which also included strategic leadership of Business Development, Marketing and Events, Health and Safety, Facilities and Catering, development of new funding streams and efficiency initiatives.  Having responsibility for strategic business areas above and beyond HR has been enormously helpful in seeing how different elements of a business fit together effectively. Key strengths and areas of expertise include commercial acumen, strategic HR and business strategy, business and organisational development, performance management, leadership and management, learning and development, change management, redundancy processes, recruitment and selection, equality and diversity, health and safety, policy and procedure.

A resourceful business leader and manager, Caroline is committed to a culture of continuous improvement and she is a strong proponent of lifelong learning having been an adult student herself.  A Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, since 2002 she has achieved a BA (Hons) degree in Business Studies, a Diploma in Management Studies, an MBA (Public Services), and a Certificate in Leadership in Public Relations.  Caroline was previously a Trustee for Independent Lives, a user led charity working towards a society where everyone can live their live independently, regardless of any disability, care need or caring responsibility.  She retains a strong interest in this work and believes education and learning in every sense and at all levels helps to support everyone’s lives, experiences and fulfilment.  Caroline has a genuine interest in helping other organisations and individuals to develop and succeed; to listed and make a difference is very important to everyone and to every group or organisation.

As a registered charity, we rely on government funding and generous help from the public. In recent years, our level of funding has decreased, meaning that we depend more heavily than ever on donations from businesses and individuals in the local area.

If you are able to donate to Aspire Sussex, there are a number of different ways to do it: online, in person, via telephone or by post.


We have teamed up with to make it easier to donate to Aspire Sussex online (link opens in a new window).
We also fundraise through Easy Fundraising (link opens in a new window). This is great way to give, especially if you do a lot of online shopping, as it costs you no more but we get a little donation from the retailer!

In Person

You can donate by visiting any one of our centres across West Sussex. To find your nearest centre, please visit ourcontact page.


You can donate by calling us on 0345 601 0161 and making a payment for any value on all major credit or debit cards. Please note that we don’t accept American Express cards at this time.

By Post

You can send a cheque made payable to “Aspire Sussex” to our Finance Team at Aspire Sussex, Chichester Adult Education Centre, Chichester High School Campus, Kingsham Road, Chichester PO19 8AL.

If you would like to make your donation anonymous, please inform us at the time of donation. If you have any queries about any part of our Donations process, please do not hesitate to email us at or call us on 0345 6 01 01 61.

Our values underpin the way we work. They are:

Accessible Learning

Providing the greatest possible range of adult education opportunities reaching the widest range of people

Social Responsibility

Sustaining an enterprise that supports and delivers not-for-profit Adult Education, and offering quality provision and opportunity to those least able to pay


Working together with a variety of business and community partners to respond to local need


Maximising every opportunity to create new and different adult education services and delivery models


Being an organisation that builds trust with learners and staff alike, by operating with integrity, honesty and reliability


Supporting learners and to be the best they can be

We believe that students are entitled to a learning experience that takes place in a safe, healthy and supportive environment. In addition, we consider that safe learning is essential to maximise students’ experience and achievement. A copy of our Safeguarding policy is available on request.

The Prevent Duty

From 1 July 2015, Aspire Sussex has a legal duty to report concerns about any student or staff member who may be being radicalised or who may be radicalising others. Reporting a concern does not automatically criminalise the person reported. If s/he is being radicalised, they may be supported by a range of partner organisations through the Channel programme and will not have a criminal record.

Health and Safety

Aspire Sussex always takes a sensible and proportionate stance on Health and Safety; focusing on real risk with potential to cause harm rather than wasting resources on trivial matters and unnecessary paperwork. Having said that, we take our duty of care to you very seriously.

If you have any concerns relating to Safeguarding, Radicalisation or Health and Safety, please speak to someone in your local centre or contact Lynne Smith by calling 01444 810718 or 07753 457981, or by emailing

‘Remember, if you don’t speak out, we can’t help.’

Gender Pay Report

Last updated 04/04/18


Aspire Sussex is an Adult Education Charity that plans, promotes and delivers adult education within Sussex. Aspire “spun out” of local authority control in September 2012 and became a registered charity the following month.

We have 6 Trustees – 50% of our Trustee Board are women

We have a Senior Management Team of 8 – 75% of our Senior Management Team are women

The Difference between the Gender Pay Gap and Equal Pay

The Gender Pay gap is a measure of the difference between the average hourly earnings of men and women, irrespective of role or seniority, expressed as a percentage of the hourly pay rate of male employees and reported on a mean (average) basis and median (middle point) basis.

In contrast and Equal Pay issue can arise where one gender is paid less than the other for performing the same of comparable work. Since 1970 UK law has stipulated that men and women in the same employment performing equal work must receive Equal Pay.

Gender Pay Gap Report for the snapshot date of 5th April 2017

The Gender Pay Gap regulations came into force in April 2017. The regulations mean that all employees with 250 or more employees are required to report their gender pay gap on an annual basis. As at the snapshot date of 5th April 2017, Aspire Sussex had 282 employees of which 229 (81.2%) were female and 53 (18.8 %) were male.

In line with the Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017, set out below are Aspire’s pay rates for women and men.

Mean gender pay gap 7.2%
Median gender pay gap 10.2%

Aspire’s gender pay gap is less than the national picture. The ONS reported an 18.1% gender pay gap in 2016.

The pay gap regulations also require organisations to report on the percentage of women and men employed in different pay quartiles. This means that our total pay scale, from highest to lowest, has been divided into four and we have reported on the percentage of women and men in each quartile. The proportion of each gender in each quartile pay band was as follows:

Quartile Male Female
Upper 23.9 77.1
Upper Middle 24.3 75.7
Lower Middle 15.5 84.5
Lower 12.7 87.3

These results reflect the fact that we employ more women than men at every level across Aspire. In the lower two quartiles the balance of our workforce in 2017 was around 85% female to around 15% male. In the upper two quartiles the balance was around 76% female to 24% male. This shows that, even though the upper quartiles remain majority female, the increase in the proportion of males in higher earning roles results in Aspire’s gender pay gap.

We are also required to report on bonus pay rates. Aspire does not pay bonuses to staff.

I can confirm that the data contained in this report is accurate and that Aspire’s gender pay gap has been calculated in accordance with mandatory requirements.

Robyn Kohler
Chief Executive Officer

As Lead Partner in two Building Better Opportunities (BBO) projects, Aspire Sussex has teamed up with eight local charities to deliver the ‘Working Together for Work’ and ‘Local Learning Perspectives’ projects. The delivery will support people across Sussex, Surrey and Croydon. The BBO project is funded by the European Social Fund and the National Lottery, through the Big Lottery Fund.

Our partners are:

o Albion in the Community
o My Sisters’ House CIC
o Sussex Community Development Association (SCDA)
o Surrey Care Trust
o Surrey Lifelong Learning Partnership
o Sussex Oakleaf
o The Platform
o WEA – Workers’ Educational Association

Each partner is working within their local communities to provide a range of options that can be tailored to fit the individual’s needs.

Our projects…

Working Together for Work

This project aims to support families as a whole with multiple complex barriers to work, to develop their skills, capabilities, talents and resilience. The goal is to support more adults and young people into employment or training by providing an increased focus on employment through skills for work and employment opportunities.

As well as providing services to help the adults in the family become work ready, the project will help their children’s learning and ambitions. This is achieved by working closely with other services and agencies engaging with families; to provide a wrap-around support on a one to one basis and at family level, by delivering courses where parents/carers and children are involved in learning together.

Of the participants that this project is helping we have already seen 6% moving into either education, employment or job search. This is alongside an increase in participant’s improved family quality life feeling less socially isolated and enjoying improved self-confidence.

See below a Case Study from our partner SCDA.

Local Learning Perspectives

This project aims to promote and increase social inclusion through supporting individuals in the community while developing their basic and social skills. Our partners will guide and support each participant in their path to overcome the challenges and barriers that prevent them from moving forward.

The activities delivered through this project include:
Learning programmes in the community;
Training, learning support and qualifications for members of local communities seeking employment or looking to become more ‘employment ready’;
Additional support to improve chances of job entry;
Additional support to improve chances of entry into education/training.

Participants on this project are also reporting an increase in confidence and feeling less isolated with 12% moving into either employment, education or job search.

See below case studies from The Platform and Surrey Care Trust.

Twitter: @biglotteryfund #BigLottery