On 23rd March it was announced that the NFTS Board of Governors had appointed Sophie Turner Laing, former CEO of Endemol Shine and MD of Sky, as its new incoming Chair. She becomes the School’s first female chair, succeeding Ingenious founder Patrick McKenna, who will step down at the end of his final term in August, having held the post since 2013.

The NFTS, which has some 600 students studying a wide variety of industry focused MA courses, Diplomas and Certificates covering the whole screen sector, from film and TV to animation and games, has regularly featured in The Hollywood Reporter’s annual ranking of the world’s top ten film schools.  It has been described by The Guardian as the world’s best film school, reflecting the fact that the School’s graduates are invariably snapped up by industry on graduation, demonstrating the unique strength of the School’s distinctive teaching model, which is strongly influenced by commercial partners.  These include the BBC, Channel 4, Sky, Disney and Amazon.  

Patrick’s leadership of the School has been transformational.  It has greatly expanded its educational footprint, with the opening of state-of-the-art equipped premises in Beaconsfield and new teaching facilities in Glasgow (NFTS Scotland), Leeds (NFTS Leeds) and Cardiff (NFTS  Wales).  The number of students taught has more than doubled, whilst the progressive change in the School’s gender and ethnic balance within the student body has set the standard for improving performance on diversity in recruitment.

Patrick has done a phenomenal job as Chairman. During his tenure, the NFTS was the first ever film school to win a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education and the first educational institution to be awarded a BAFTA for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema, in recognition of the role it has played developing British creative talent.

I have many happy memories of working with Patrick and would like to thank him for the invaluable support and advice he has given to me personally, and to the School more broadly over the past nine years.

Dr Jon Wardle

NFTS Director