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Colleges chief 'duped' company

A TES investigation has led to a call for the resignation of Roger Ward, the chief executive of the Association of Colleges.

Mr Ward is accused of using his position to promote Education Lecturing Services, a staffing agency with which he was closely linked, at the expense of a rival.

Kevin McNeany, chairman of the rival, Nord Anglia Education PLC, demanded the resignation saying Mr Ward duped him into providing ELS with commercially sensitive information.

The TES investigation shows that Mr Ward was involved in the setting up of ELS; that he has consistently promoted it; that he sought ministerial endorsement for it and proposed its expansion into higher education, and even into the United States.

Mr McNeany's accusation centres on a meeting between Mr McNeany and Mr Ward in August 1995. Mr Ward was then chief executive of the Colleges Employers Forum, which later merged with another body to become the Association of Colleges, an employers' organisation representing the vast majority of colleges.

Mr McNeany was anxious to get CEF endorsement for his company, which placed part-time lecturers on a self-employed basis in further education colleges. The ELS already had such an endorsement.

There was a third person present at the meeting and Mr McNeany says that Mr Ward introduced her as one of his assistants though he discovered three weeks ago that she was, in fact, an employee of ELS.

Mr McNeany has now written to Howard Phelps, chairman of the AOC to call for an investigation. He wrote to Mr Phelps: "I had been duped into giving a full briefing to our biggest competitor and had unwittingly supplied them with confidential and commercially sensitive information...

"Our company has invested many hundreds of thousands of pounds in the legal, financial and operational development of our product. "

Mr Ward said: "There is no prospect of Roger Ward resigning at Nord Anglia's request." He denied introducing the ELS employee as his assistant."Mr McNeany's memory of the meeting is at variance with others present and if he wishes to challenge that then I await his letter."

FE Focus, pages 27, 30-31

Mr Ward said there was no financial or commercial link between the CEF and the ELS.

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