Tributes paid to former FE Commissioner Sir David Collins

Tributes have been paid to former FE Commissioner Sir David Collins who died after losing his fight against cancer.

Sir David (pictured), whose career in FE spanned over 40 years, which included becoming the first elected president of the Association of Colleges, passed away last Thursday.

He held the role of FE Commissioner from 2013 until 2016, responsible for intervening in colleges that ran into financial or Ofsted trouble. In this post he had a leading role in the post-16 area review process.

His longest leadership role was at South Cheshire College where he spent 16 years as principal, taking the college to an ‘outstanding’ rating.

Sir David received a CBE in 2005 and then a knighthood in the Queens New Year Honours in 2016.

Martin Doel, a professor of leadership in FE and Skills at FETL and a former AoC chief executive, said: “David was an inspiration to me and to many others. His commitment and contribution to further education and its students was immense.

“We will miss his sharp intellect, his honesty, his infectious sense of humour and his absolute determination to do the best for students, for colleges and FE providers of all kinds and for the communities that they support.”

Current FE Commissioner Richard Atkins said: “Very sad news indeed today. Sir David Collins was a true champion of FE colleges and an inspirational sector leader.

“He will be greatly missed. I won’t forget the inspiring leadership development days he led at both colleges where I was principal.”

Prior to South Cheshire College Sir David held roles at Redditch College, Sandwell College, and Bolton College.

He served as AoC president from 2008 to 2009 before becoming chief executive of the Learning and Skills Improvement Service, and then interim principal at Guildford College Group.

Before his death Sir David produced a CV to show his achievements, in which he wrote: “In essence, my career has been devoted to improving quality in further education.”