Fair and prudent

17th July 2009 at 01:00

We were surprised by your article on agency and consultancy costs ("Colleges spend millions on consultants", FE Focus, July 3). Had we been given an opportunity to present our views on this, we would have shared our approach very openly.

Lewisham College has always been a place of ambition and, just recently, we aspired to build the finest college building in the land for our community. The Pounds 900,000-worth of consultancy fees are part of the costs we are now attempting to recover from the Learning and Skills Council.

And our agency staff costs are a distinct strength. This year, a large proportion of our income comes from projects, helping us to maintain a stable staffing base. We have avoided major redundancies for the past few years through the flexibilities afforded by our dedicated agency colleagues, many of whom progress to permanent jobs with us.

Lewisham College is doing its utmost to make sense of a hard world and we aim to buy quality teaching and consultancy from businesses serving the sector. I believe we are fair, deliberate and prudent in this and welcome a chance to explain what we do.

Dame Ruth Silver, Principal, Lewisham College, south-east London.

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