News - 11 February 2014

High Flying Principal Prepares For Take Off

High flying new Nottingham principal Ailsa Gough has worked in some of the world’s most challenging places. 

Now the former Royal Air Force (RAF) education, intelligence and training director is gearing up for her next mission – getting Nottingham’s newest £10 million technical academy off the ground. 

The Nottingham University Academy of Science and Technology (NUAST) for 14 to 19-year-olds will offer GCSEs and A Levels alongside technical courses. Places are available from September 2014. Go to  The academy is being built on Abbey Street, on the site of the former Dunkirk fire station. More than 20 employers are already supporting the curriculum. 

“NUAST is recruiting from across the region. Students will gain a well rounded education comprising traditional academic and technical qualifications, leading to real jobs or university afterwards,” said Ailsa, 53, who lives in Nottinghamshire, has a strong background in education and training, and took up the NUAST post last September.

Young people and parents can find out more about NUAST at a series of free showcase events and open evenings where they will have the chance to meet Ailsa, learn about the courses and qualifications on offer, and the careers opportunities they lead to. 

The next employer showcase event takes place on Wednesday February 12th from 6pm to 8pm at Experian’s Landmark House 1A, Experian   Way, Nottingham. NG80 1ZZ . Experian is one of 20 employers supporting the brand new technical academy.

The showcase event will be an opportunity for parents and students to meet with employers and to see the type of work learners will be involved in when they study at NUAST.  A range of employers from the science, technology and engineering sectors will be present.

A series of open evenings are also being held fortnightly at Dunkirk and Old Lenton community centre, Montpelier Road. To find out more, and to book your free place, go to or call Jackie Brown on 0115 9421202. 

“NUAST will be a small and specialist academy with a strong work and discipline ethic. I’m really looking forward to meeting young people and their parents and answering any questions they may have,” added Ailsa, who is a fully qualified teacher (BEd, MSc) and joins NUAST from her most recent role as the RAF’s Director of Education. 

Born and educated on the West Coast of Scotland, she taught in the Shetland Islands as a physical education teacher before joining the RAF as a training and education officer in 1986.  Ailsa has served in Europe, the Middle East and across the United   Kingdom, and worked as an education and training adviser in specialist ground and flying training establishments. 

As the RAF’s Director of Education from 2009 to 2012, she had responsibility for the management of the RAF Modern Apprenticeship Programme, making it one of the top three providers in the UK. She also led the RAF’s lifelong learning strategy (GCSEs to PHDs), Ofsted inspections, succession planning for more than 200 training and education officers and 100 civil servant personal learning advisers, training and education policy and the audit and evaluation of ground and flying training. 

Ahead of NUAST’s opening, Ailsa’s remit includes all aspects of setting up the new academy, including meeting with and supporting parents and prospective students, working with employers to firm up the curriculum, continued liaison with key partners, stakeholders and local organisations, and appointing the NUAST staff team. 

NUAST is co-sponsored by Sir Harry Djanogly through the Djanogly Learning Trust, and the University of Nottingham. Its lead employer sponsor is Toshiba. The academy is being built by BAM Construction, has been designed by Bond Bryan Architects and is funded by the Department for Education. 

NUAST is being launched to address regional gaps in the engineering, science and information technology sectors in the East Midlands,  and will train the next generation in the skills that businesses need to grow. The curriculum will have major input from employers to enable young people to gain a rounded education and train in the skills that businesses need. 

To find out more go to or call Jackie Brown on 0115 9421202. 

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