Principal leaves after Ofsted blow

The principal of City College Coventry is to leave his job after the Skills Funding Agency demanded “fundamental changes” following a disastrous Ofsted inspection report.

After 16 years in post and two previous poor inspections, Paul Taylor (pictured) was hit with grade four (inadequate) results across each inspection headline field last month.

We have made it clear through the issue of a notice of concern, that an improvement plan that does not include fundamental changes to leadership and governance will not be acceptable,”

He is to be replaced as soon as an interim principal can be found.

It was unclear whether he has decided to leave or was asked to go, but the agency said it had called for change at the top of the 8,000-learner college.

“We have made it clear through the issue of a notice of concern, that an improvement plan that does not include fundamental changes to leadership and governance will not be acceptable,” said an agency spokesperson.
“We will consider and discuss next steps with the college.”

The statement leaves a questionmark hanging over the college’s board of governors, including its chair since 2001, Warwick Hall.

However, a college spokesperson said she was “unaware of any changes planned for the board of governors”.

Coventry’s Ofsted report, published on April 23 following inspection in March, also gave grade fours throughout the main findings board, including apprenticeships and 19+ learning programmes.

Its highest mark was a single grade two for teaching, learning and assessment on independent living and life skills.

Mr Taylor had wanted to stay on despite the blow, saying: “If I walk away I’ll regret it forever.”

But a statement from the college read: “The decision has been taken that Paul Taylor is to leave his position as principal of City College Coventry.

“The board of governors led by the chair and with the support of the Skills Funding Agency and the Association of Colleges is seeking an interim principal. The aim is for the interim principal to be in post by July.”

Meanwhile, Walsall College, among the first to be described as outstanding under Ofsted’s new common inspection framework, and Yorkshire’s Kirklees College, which got a good grading from Ofsted last year just 18 months after it too had been labelled inadequate, are to be involved in the bid to improve the Coventry college.

Mr Hall said: “There is much we can learn from the experience and performance of these two colleges.

“A year after its poor Ofsted report, Kirklees achieved a rating of good across every element of its operations, except leadership and management where it was rated outstanding. This is an achievement I want City College to emulate.”
The Coventry college statement added that a performance improvement action plan was being implemented.

“We are also building a relationship with Walsall College, which has been rated as outstanding, through which it will benchmark its performance and improvement,” it said.