Eight college leaders quit in eight weeks

The wave of resignations in the autumn term has left college leaders 'fearful for their own futures', AoC warns

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The new academic year has brought with it a wave of resignations from leaders of further education colleges up and down the country.

To date, eight chief executives have quit since September for a variety of reasons, including colleges getting into financial difficulties.

The departures have prompted the chief executive of the Association of Colleges, David Hughes, to call for leaders not to be vilified when things go wrong, in an article for Tes.

Mr Hughes warned the departures fuelled "an atmosphere in which more college leaders are now fearful for their own futures." He added: "That is not healthy, helpful or fair. We will struggle to create the culture, the environment and the institutions we want if the leadership roles are fraught with risk and potential vilification."

Timeline 

25 September: Andrew Cleaves, principal and chief executive of Birmingham Metropolitan College

The chief of the college quit with immediate effect, and the college declined to comment on his departure.

Late September: Maria Thompson, principal and chief executive of Havering College

The leader of Havering College, who had been in post for more than six years, left the college at the end of September, it confirmed.

1 October: Dame Asha Khemka, principal and chief executive of Vision West Nottinghamshire College

The high-profile college leader, who was awarded a damehood in 2014 for her services to FE, left the college following warnings over its finances after it was forced to seek exceptional financial support from the Education and Skills Funding Agency.

10 October: Joe Docherty, chief executive of NCG

The leader of one of the country’s biggest and most geographically spread-out college groups quit with immediate effect in October. The group received a "requires improvement" Ofsted grade earlier in the year, down from the "good" it received two years prior.

The college group comprises: Newcastle College: Newcastle Sixth Form College; Lewisham and Southwark colleges in South London; Carlisle College; Kidderminster College; West Lancashire College; Rathbone Training; and InTraining.

12 October: John Connolly, principal and chief executive of the RNN Group

The college chief quit after considering whether he was “the right person” to take the college forward by mutual agreement with the board. A spokesperson cited the “very difficult and challenging political and funding landscape” the college was operating within.

The college group incorporates Rotherham College, North Notts College and Dearne Valley College.

18 October: Terry Jones, principal and chief executive of Peterborough Regional College

The former RAF pilot left by mutual agreement with the board agreeing that “a different skill set” was needed to lead the college.

1 November: Raoul Humphreys, principal and chief executive of Cornwall College

Mr Humphreys quit his post 18 months into his role, after taking over from Amarjit Basi, who had left amid financial difficulties at the college. The college has received two emergency government bailouts in as many years.

13 Nov: Gary Phillips, principal and chief executive of City College Plymouth

The college leader resigned after he was criticised by the FE commissioner and the University and College Union (UCU) for his previous role at one of London’s biggest colleges. He had faced a no-confidence vote from staff at the Plymouth college, but, in a statement confirming his departure, the college said: "In the short period since Garry’s appointment he did a great deal of good work."

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