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Principal jumps onto another sinking ship

The former principal of a failing college has been acting as a consultant to another failing college.

David Wilce has been advising People's college, in Nottingham, on issues of student retention. In June, the college received one of the worst inspections ever published. The report said that leadership and management were unsatisfactory, managers failed to ensure that all students received a satisfactory education, and the college did not provide value for money.

The Learning and Skills Council effectively called for the resignation of the principal, John Rudd, and he subsequently resigned.

Two years ago David Wilce was principal of Rother Valley college, in South Yorkshire. In March 2002 inspectors found that leadership and management were unsatisfactory. Standards had declined since its last inspection and insufficient progress had been made in rectifying weaknesses. These included inconsistent student support across the college, insufficiently robust quality assurance, and inaccurate management information. Mr Wilce subsequently resigned. Some 20 lecturers lost their jobs and five were made redundant. On August 1 the college will be dissolved, and its assets taken over by Rotherham college of arts and technology.

Angus McLardy, regional support official for Natfhe, the lecturers' union, said: "It is somewhat ironic that a principal who left a college in such trouble that it is being taken over, should be advising a different college experiencing similar problems."

Stephen Hyde, the chair of governors at People's, said Mr Wilce had been recommended by the Learning and Skills Development Agency, and approved by the local LSC. "Someone who has been through the same experience can have learnt from that experience," he said.

He added that the college post-inspection plan was "98 per cent" complete, and a new three-year budget had just been signed off. Formal interviews for an interim principal were due to be held this week.

* Rob Valentine, the former executive director of Nottinghamshire LSC, which was the subject of an inquiry into allegations of bullying, is now an associate of Principal Learning Ltd, a consultancy firm contracted by South Yorkshire LSC to support their strategic area review.

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