Highbury College has appointed Penny Wycherley as interim principal and chief executive – weeks after its principal was suspended.
Stella Mbubaegbu announced her planned retirement in October, but insisted her decision had "nothing to do with" with a £150,000 expenses row. She was suspended by the Portsmouth college only weeks later.
In September, Department for Education minister Lord Agnew said he was “deeply concerned” over £150,000 in expenses claimed on the principal's corporate credit card over a four-year period. The college has been placed in supervised college status by FE commissioner Richard Atkins.
Ms Wycherley has extensive experience as a college senior manager and interim principal in struggling FE institutions. In 2006, she was appointed principal of South Kent College. In 2011, she became interim principal at Great Yarmouth College and, in three and a half years, the college moved from a grade four Ofsted rating to a grade two. In January 2015, she became interim principal at Waltham Forest College, before serving as interim principal at City College Plymouth from November 2018 to May 2019.
She said: “It’s an exciting time for the Highbury College Portsmouth, with so many opportunities for us to serve and develop. Although there is much publicity about the challenges facing staff in further education colleges like Highbury College, those staff do amazing work in educating and training millions of young people and adults.
“At Highbury College Portsmouth, the staff are working hard to ensure that the students at the college continue to have a positive experience and to lay the foundations for their future. Our staff are proud to make a difference to individuals and to the communities we serve. I welcome this opportunity to work with them doing just this.”