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Chair steps into the breach

The chairman of a college board of governors has taken the unprecedented step of taking over as chief executive after his principal resigned.

Freelance personnel executive Martin Millgate stepped down as a governor and took up the reins at Airedale and Wharfedale College after the resignation of principal Chris Pratt.

Mr Pratt, who has been principal for four years, quit ahead of the publication of an inspection report believed to be highly critical of management at the college.

Inspectors are thought to have handed out a grade five - the lowest possible - for governance and management at Airedale and Wharfedale, although the criticism is thought not to extend to teaching at the 19,000-student college.

Mr Millgate was not available for comment as The TES went to press, but said in a statement: "While the inspection report identified some areas for improvement in governance, the grade could be attributed largely to deficiencies in management processes, identified as a fundamental issue we have to address."

Mr Pratt, who is currently working out six months' notice at the college, said: "It has been a privilege to lead the college over the last four years, and a great deal has been achieved. Further developments need to be made and I feel that the college is at a stage where new leadership is required."

A college spokeswoman said she could not comment on the details of the inspection report, due to be published in June.

But she said the board of governors had felt Mr Millgate "had the business skills to maintain continuity and stability".

She stressed it was the board's decision to ask Mr Millgate to step in as an interim measure. Governors, under the chairmanship of vice-chairman Mary Hunter, hope to advertise for a new principal within weeks.

The problem arose because the college has no vice-principal, relying instead on two executive directors, responsible for finance and programmes at the college.

With staff heavily involved in planning for the new year, it was felt that existing staff could not step into the breach.

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