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FE future can be bright, says new Stockport College principal

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FE colleges must stop looking to the past and instead adapt to survive and thrive, according to a leading principal.

Simon Andrews, who took over as principal of Stockport College earlier this month, said the sector was facing a difficult future but there were benefits to be gained.

“It is important to acknowledge these are difficult times,” he told TES. “Colleges need to develop and change in accordance with the new landscape. There’s no point hanging on to how things used to be.

“We are entering a new world with new demands and requirements. I’m going to position Stockport College to maximise all the benefits from this brave new world.”

Mr Andrews has made it his goal to make Stockport one of the leading FE colleges in the country after a turbulent few years.

Ofsted downgraded the college from outstanding to inadequate after an inspection in 2013, and FE commissioner Dr David Collins subsequently found “significant” weaknesses in leadership.

Under the leadership of a new management team led by interim principal Ian Clinton, the college set out on the road to recovery and was upgraded to "requires improvement" last December.

Mr Andrews joined Stockport after taking Macclesfield College from inadequate to good in just over a year.

He said he planned to change the college’s culture to put students first, building timetables and services around their needs. A-levels are out and a new vocationally focused curriculum is being introduced.

“One of the key areas of growth in Greater Manchester is the need for new housing,” said Mr Andrews.

“Stockport College is well-placed to serve the demand required for construction skills. We have fantastic facilities and a great tradition in delivering these skills and others in a growing economy.”

He said the college would “make the most” of whatever government funding was available, and planned to boost numbers of 16- to 18-year-olds learners and apprentices, as well as expand HE provision, to attract more money.

However, savings of £5 million a year from the college’s budget will have to be made through around 150 redundancies and other savings.

Mr Andrews said: “Further education colleges face lots of challenges. Stockport College is no different. By developing a shared vision with staff and students we will make Stockport College one of the best in the sector.”


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