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Sweeney's off - to the pub

Bureaucracy-buster Sir George Sweeney will retire as principal of Knowsley College next September - 40 years to the day after he started in FE.

Despite his national status - a knighthood, chair of the FE bureaucracy task force, head of the committee on self-regulation - he has stuck to his roots.

He is proud to give visitors a guided tour of Huyton, where he grew up, including a pint in the Pipe and Gannex, named in honour of another o f Merseyside's favourite sons Sir Harold Wilson. Sir George was offered promotion several times but always turned it down, insisting there was no higher office than principal and no better place than Knowsley.

So, how does he think FE has changed since his first day lecturing at Hull Technical College? "There is a consistent line of improvement for those of us who have spent our time in FE colleges. The range of things we do, the quality of the things we do and the buildings in which we do it I think are all better."

His successor will have exciting times, he reckons. And, should they need help or advice, they will find him in the Pipe and Gannex humming his favourite tune: "Three Wheels on My Wagon", by the New Christy Minstrels.

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