FE commissioner: Principal Shelagh Legrave appointed

The chief executive of Chichester College Group takes over from Richard Atkins, who had been in post for more than four years

Julia Belgutay & Kate Parker

FE commissioner: Shelagh Legrave appointed

Shelagh Legrave, chief executive of Chichester College Group, has been appointed as the next further education commissioner. This comes after Richard Atkins retired from the role after more than four years in post. 

Ms Legrave has been principal and chief executive of Chichester College since 2010 and chief executive of Chichester College Group since 2017. Her time there has included successfully leading the Chichester College Group through two mergers to achieve an outstanding judgement from Ofsted in 2020.

When she takes up the commissioner’s post in October, she will lead a team of 18 deputies and advisers, working closely with the Education and Skills Funding Agency.

Mr Atkins told Tes in February that he was more optimistic about the sector as he prepared to leave the job than he was when he started in 2016. He said he was “feeling some of the positivity” around the Skills for Jobs White Paper published in January, and the changes in the sector he had seen in his time in post.


Atkins: 'I am more optimistic now than when I started'

More: FE commissioner to stay in job 'up to 12 more months'

Background: FE White Paper - government to ‘overhaul’ accountability


Mr Atkins took over as FE commissioner in 2016, after a long career working in FE institutions, including as principal of Yeovil College and then Exeter College. His term was due to come to an end last October but it was announced in September that, amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, he would stay in post beyond that date. 

Interim commissioner

Announcing Ms Legrave’s appointment today, education secretary Gavin Williamson said: “I am delighted to appoint Shelagh to this vital role. She is hugely experienced in the sector, with a track record of outstanding success and improvement. At this crucial time for the country, an outstanding further education sector will be more important than ever, and I look forward to working with Shelagh to support and challenge the sector to be the best it can be.

“I would like to thank Sir Richard Atkins for everything he has done over more than four years as further education commissioner. He has made a huge impact in the role, which has developed significantly under his leadership, and I wish him all the best in his retirement.

“I would also like to thank Frances Wadsworth, currently a deputy further education commissioner, for agreeing to step in as interim further education commissioner for the period until Shelagh starts in role.”

‘A great privilege’

Shelagh Legrave said: “It is a great privilege to be appointed further education commissioner, particularly at this critical time, when skills will be vital to rebuilding our economy and communities. As the FE White Paper has set out, colleges will be at the forefront of education and training that will enable social mobility and address the needs of employers. I look forward to supporting the education secretary and skills minister to ensure that further education and sixth-form colleges across England are in the strongest possible position to change people’s lives for the better.”

Kirsti Lord, deputy chief executive of the Association of Colleges, said: "Congratulations to Shelagh Legrave on her appointment as the new FE Commissioner. Her wealth of experience will be invaluable as she looks to support and challenge colleges at this vital time for our sector. We look forward to working with her to build a vibrant and robust sector with strong institutions and leadership, which continues to deliver for students, businesses and communities.”

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Julia Belgutay & Kate Parker

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