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Praise for The TES as colleges chief quits

College employers' leader Roger Ward has resigned as chief executive of the Association of Colleges after being given an ultimatum to step down or be sacked by his board.

Members decided to seek his resignation after hearing preliminary findings of an independent inquiry into links between Mr Ward, the staffing agency Education Lecturing Services and a healthcare firm.

Lawyers advised a board meeting on Tuesday that they could either dismiss Mr Ward from his pound;90,000-a-year post or seek his resignation.

The move follows disclosures by The TES that he was paid pound;650 a month in a consultancy agreement by a healthcare company, and that there were improper links between himself and the ELS agency. Mr Ward was also recalled to the House of Commons education and employment select committee after senior members of his own organisation revealed that he had misled MPs. He always maintained there were no improper links.

Margaret Hodge, chair of the committee said: "This is good news for the further education sector which can now focus on the crucial issues ahead. This is all thanks to The TES. It reflects the very best of investigative journalism."

Mr Ward will be paid until the end of the month and receives a severance payment of three months' salary. He must return his company car and any AOC files but has negotiated to keep his laptop and mobile phone. He will be offered counselling.

Mr Ward has signed a gagging clause and agreed not to disclose the terms of his severance, but the association has the right to disclose the terms of the agreement as it sees fit. He has been banned from working with colleges for one year.

Howard Phelps this week resigned as AOC chair and Jim Scrimshaw, chair of Barking College, was elected in his place.

The board's decision came after a verbal report from solicitors McKeag and Co who were asked to investigate the affairs of Mr Ward following The TES revelations. This inquiry is now discontinued.

Don Foster, Liberal Democrat education spokesman, was appalled at the decision to discontinue the inquiry. "It leaves a rather nasty taste in the mouth. This inquiry must be completed for the sake of the sector."

FULL story, FE FOCUS, page 33

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