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How many principals does our chief executive speak for?

We were fascinated to read "Who can speak for FE colleges?" (TES, 24 March), co-written by our chief executive, Nick Lewis. He emphasises the need for co-operation "when it is in the best interests of our colleges" and suggests that differences should be dealt with "by rational argument".

Is this the same person who, since incorporation, has absolutely refused to discuss conditions of service with his lecturing staff? Indeed, is this the same person who has forbidden his lecturing staff to write directly to members of their governing body, even though there is no staff representation on that body and therefore no other way of informing them of the concerns of staff? (Even Wilmorton College had staff governors.) Since incorporation our chief executive has refused to enter into any argument, rational or otherwise, with his lecturing staff. His response, in meetings, to staff who question his policies has been "If you don't like it you know what you can do..." Does this reflect the comments about "unity" which he makes in the article?

We also notice that the lecturers' union, NATFHE, is omitted from his list of bodies considered to have legitimate opinions about further education. The implied criticism of the Association for Colleges for questioning government policy, and his attitude to trades unions come as no surprise to those of us who have been experiencing the results of his total commitment to the Colleges' Employers' Forum, of which he is a prominent member. We wonder how many principals Nick Lewis speaks for; for the sake of further education, we hope not many.


NATFHE branch officers

Broxtowe College of Further Education

High Road

Chilwell, Nottingham

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