New team begins turnaround;FE Focus

5th March 1999 at 00:00
Matthew Boulton principal Christine Braddock is determined to regenerate a college that now has one of the worst reputations in the country and has a new management team to help her, writes Ngaio Crequer.

The Further Education Funding Council's inspection took place in November 1998. After April that year, when Ms Braddock took over, the college's acute financial situation, nearly pound;4 million of debts, and falling enrolments, had quickly became known.

Urgent and major steps had to be taken to restructure the college, during the next few months, if it was to remain open. Nearly one-quarter of staff left, and a new management team was put in place.

Former principal Tony Colton's contract was terminated. Mr Colton had sat on the committee which decided to enhance his pension. The new principal has commissioned an inquiry into the decision, which was subsequently rescinded.

Barry Seagar, the chairman of governors, resigned, and Alan Smith, the deputy principal, left. The clerk of governors is taking early retirement on medical grounds.

Most of the college's governors resigned last summer, and the governing body is now being reconstituted.

Ms Braddock said: "The previous management left the college in disarray and in a state of disrepute.

"Since I came here in April last year I have worked with a new management and governance team to turn that situation around.

"The core of the original problems has been the lack of sound management information. These have now been dealt with through the introduction of new computerised systems for registrations, enrolment, records and finance which all corrected the weaknesses of the past.

"The management and systems failures have let the teaching staff down," says Ms Braddock.

"It is important we ensure it can never happen again. The college finances are now in order and with the assistance of financial backing and the support of the funding council and the new constituted board the college can achieve recovery," she says.

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