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Principals warned off AOC elections;FE Focus

The organisation which represents principals has been warned by some of its own members to keep clear of the forthcoming elections for the new board of the Association of Colleges, writes Ngaio Crequer.

Some members of the Association of Principals, and some outside the group, were angry when the APC appeared to intervene in the row over the future of the board of the AOC.

Just before the meeting of AOC principals and chairs in Birmingham to discuss the handling of the departure of former chief executive Roger Ward, the APC wrote to its members to suggest what line they should take.

A letter from Bernard Smith, chief executive and general secretary of the APC, advised members "to press the AOC board to be resolute and to take firm and immediate action to bring to an end the current uncertainty, (and) to urge the present AOC board to remain in office..." Hilary Cowell, of the AOC board, is president of the APC, and another AOC board member, Michael Blagden, is vice-president.

The main concern is that the election for the new board is open and democratic and that there is no canvassing for slates as there was in the election of the present board.

Southwark College principal Dorothy Jones, a member of APC, called for the organisation to "keep at arm's length" from the AOC. "We have to have a break with the past, and for professional associations to be having slates of candidates is not the way forward. I have made my view clear to the APC council."

Adrian Perry, principal of Lambeth College, complained about not being consulted on the issue of urging the board to stay. "This matters because at least some of the APC nominees were very close to Roger Ward. For seems members of the Association were prompted by Roger Ward to secure the election of the candidates he wanted. I regard this as improper: paid officials should take no part in selecting the board."

David Gibson, of City College, Manchester, said there had been no time for all the regions to respond to requests for their views. "People standing for election should stand as individuals in the sector." Mr Smith, of the APC, was unavailable for comment.

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