The further education sector has reacted with shock and sadness to the death of Garry Phillips.
It was revealed on Friday that the former principal of City College Plymouth; Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College; and New College Telford was found dead over the Christmas break. It is understood that there were no suspicious circumstances.
An inquest into Mr Phillips’ death was opened on 31 December, and a hearing is set to take place in the spring. Ahead of the funeral on Friday, friends and colleagues of Mr Phillips have taken to social media to pay tribute to him.
After joining City College Plymouth in the summer, Mr Phillips resigned in November. Prior to this, he served as principal at Ealing, Hammersmith and West London from 2014 until 2018, a period in which its Ofsted grade improved from "inadequate" to "good".
He previously served as principal of New College Telford, and vice-principal for curriculum and quality at Burton and South Derbyshire College. The former apprentice also worked in several other colleges during a career in further education spanning more than two decades.
Garry Phillips, pictured with students at City College Plymouth
Garry Phillips remembered
Here is a selection of the tributes paid to Mr Phillips on social media by those who knew him:
“Really sad to hear. Worked with Garry at Mid Cheshire [College] when he led on quality. Taught me a lot in the early days. Always supportive. A truly great bloke. Thoughts and best wishes to the family” – Mark Harris, dean of higher education at Trafford College Group
Such sad news Garry was a pleasure to work with and my thoughts are with his family and friends. https://t.co/cIEF4nvowR— Kelly Huntington (@Kelly_H80) January 6, 2019
“Worked as part of Garry’s SLT at [Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College]. Very sharp and intelligent leader. Dedicated to the sector. Thoughts and prayers are with his family” – Yvonne Ogorek-Zarate, head of skills pathway at Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College
Such a tragedy. Garry was enormously committed to making a difference to those studying in further education. https://t.co/6rJcFrtXZe— Shelagh Legrave (@ShelaghLegrave) January 5, 2019
“Awful news. Came to Norwich to see what we were doing and I liked him. Rest in peace and our thoughts are with his family now” – Dick Palmer, former chief executive of Norfolk Academies and the TEN Group
So sad to hear this.Praying for the family. https://t.co/ZvM1gdcJ98— Stella Mbubaegbu CBE (@StellaMbubaegbu) January 4, 2019
“RIP Garry, sad loss, so sorry to hear of this news. We met once, he was very sharp and clever” – Ali Hadawi, principal of Central Bedfordshire College
I am shocked and really saddened to hear about Gary Phillips suddenly passing. I had only recently asked if he would be my mentor and he had kindly agreed. #FE is a stressful but highly rewarding career and we need to be kind to leaders who take on the challenge. @tesfenews— Gemma Knott (@GemKnott) January 4, 2019
“Worked with/opposite Garry in the merger that never happened between [West London College and Kensington and Chelsea College]. He had a fresh and engaging approach that I liked. Whatever happened there, this news is awful and my thoughts and prayers go out to his family. No job is worth paying that kind of price for” – Ian Rule, interim director of finance at Barnet and Southgate College
Very sad news, thoughts are with his family. I remember Garry when he was at BSD College and the Collaborative work with Staffordshire University. https://t.co/pHgOm6QCTo— Sandra Fradley (@fradleysandra) January 5, 2019
“Sad news indeed. Worked with Garry at New College Telford. An engaging man with real drive and focus. Condolences to his family” – Bob Hill, education management consultant