Established in 1963 as a not-for-profit distance learning provider, the National Extension College (NEC) has a strong, proud heritage in widening access to education. Our aim is to transform lives and open up new possibilities for people of all ages by offering access to essential qualifications like GCSEs and A levels, as well as vocational qualifications in management, business and teaching.

These courses can be studied flexibly, at any time and anywhere, and offer each student an exceptional level of support to achieve their future ambitions. We are widely recognised as a specialist in online learning and continue to seek out new areas for innovation.

Meet some of our team

From course design and student support to marketing and editorial, people are the heart of what we do. Our hardworking team are here to make the student experience as rewarding as possible.

Esther Chesterman


Esther Chesterman is NEC's CEO and Head of Centre:

"I work with the college trustees and the senior management team in ensuring that our mission to widen learning opportunities with flexible and high quality learning is met. I do this by working with the team to offer a positive student experience from beginning to the successful end."

Our Senior Management Team

Kerrin Compton, Deputy Director: Finance and Operations

Alison Edwards, Education and Quality Manager

Amanda Davies, Marketing Manager

Helen Smith, Office Manager

Helen Davies, Online Learning Editor

Louise Tolhurst, Examinations and Assessment Manager

Our trustees

NEC is part of the Open School Trust, an educational charity guided by a board of trustees. Each bringing a unique set of experience and skills to the charity, the trustees are responsible for guiding NEC’s overall direction.

Our partners

We work with awarding bodies, charities, unions, and other educational organisations to give our students the best support in their lifelong learning journey.

Our history

Since 1963, the National Extension College have been pushing the boundaries of distance learning to widen participation.

Established 1963
Started working with prisons and trade unions
Campaigning for GCSE access
NEC moves online
Esther Chesterman joined as CEO