Four new deputies have been appointed to support the FE commissioner in his drive to slash the number of colleges rated grade three or four, FE Week can exclusively reveal.

The new recruits – which include two principals who will retire from their colleges later this year – mean Richard Atkins now has an army of eight deputies who will help him to carry out “diagnostic assessments” at up to 60 colleges at risk of failing.

Ioan Morgan (pictured above far left), Meredydd David (middle left), the principal of Reaseheath College, and Frances Wadsworth (middle right), the boss of Croydon College, are the new faces in the team, while Teresa Kelly (far right) has been promoted after two years as an FE adviser.

The roles, advertised by the Department for Education in October, will last two years and come with a salary of £700 a day.

The four join existing deputies, Marilyn Hawkins, Steve Hutchinson, Andrew Tyley and David Williams, and a team of 10 advisers to support Mr Atkins with his widened remit.

This will include assessments at some colleges with a grade three overall, particularly those that have been graded three several times in a row.

Speaking exclusively to FE Week, Mr Atkins said “about 60 colleges would benefit” from the process, although “they won’t all be urgently in need of intervention or failing”.

“But experience tells me that some of those – a third, or a quarter – will need to take action, particularly if they wish to benefit from the restructuring fund, particularly if they want to avoid insolvency, particularly if they’ve already got two or three grade threes on the trot” – a trend he said he wanted to “eradicate”.

“Those colleges will need to take pretty urgent action as a result of our diagnostic. So that’s why we’re doing it,” he added. “And then I hope in a couple of years’ time not only are there fewer grade fours in the sector, there are fewer threes.”

Other aspects of Mr Atkins’ new improvement toolbox, first announced by the ex-education secretary Justine Greening in July, include overseeing a £15 million college improvement fund, and the National Leaders of FE programme.

The first five deputy FE commissioners were appointed in November 2015, alongside a team of 16 advisers, to support the previous commissioner Sir David Collins carry out the area reviews of post-16 education and training.

Ms Hawkins and Mr Williams were among that first cohort, having both previously been FE advisers.

In May 2016, Sir David’s team stood at 22, with four deputies and 18 advisers.

And in October that year, Mr Hutchinson and Mr Tyley were promoted from adviser to deputy, at the same time as Mr Atkins was appointed as Sir David’s successor.

Meet the deputy FE commissioners

Meredydd David CBE (starting September 2018)

  • Principal, Reaseheath College, 2004 – present (Ofsted ‘good’ 2015)
  • Vice-principal, Sparsholt College 1998 – 2004
  • Board member, AoC, Landex, National Land Based College, and Cheshire and Warrington LEP
  • Awarded a CBE, June 2009

Ioan Morgan CBE

  • Interim principal, Tresham College (Nov 2016 – July 2017) and LeSoCo (June 2014 – July 2015)
  • Principal, Warwickshire College 1997 – 2010
  • Caused controversy in 2009 when he was offered the job of chief exec of Learning and Skills Improvement Service but backed out after announcement was made but before contracts signed
  • Former chair of the 157 Group
  • Awarded a CBE, January 2007

Frances Wadsworth (starting April 2018)

  • Principal, Croydon College, Jan 2011 – present (Ofsted ‘good’ 2014)
  • Principal, East Surrey College, May 2004 – Dec 2010
  • Board member, CITB and Ofqual

Teresa Kelly OBE

  • Principal, Abingdon and Witney College, 2004 – 2015
  • FE commissioner adviser, appointed November 2015
  • Awarded an OBE, June 2013

Marilyn Hawkins

  • Appointed FE commissioner adviser in 2013, promoted to deputy in 2015
  • Runs her own education consultancy, Marilyn Hawkins Ltd
  • Principal, Barnet and Southgate College – 2003 – 2012
  • Executive director, Learning and Skills Council – 2000 – 2002

Steve Hutchinson

  • Appointed FE commissioner adviser in 2014, promoted to deputy in 2016
  • Consultant and financial adviser to the FE sector since 2008
  • Interim principal, K College – 2014
  • Senior education advisory manager, KPMG – 2004 – 2006
  • Regional finance director, Further Education Funding Council – 1998-2000

Andrew Tyley

  • Appointed FE commissioner adviser in 2014, promoted to deputy in 2016
  • Runs his own consultancy, Tyler Associates Ltd
  • Principal, Walford and North Shropshire College – 2007-2014
  • Director of finance, Harper Adams University – 2006-2007
  • Director of finance, Adult Learning Inspectorate – 2003-2006

David Williams

  • Appointed FE commissioner adviser in 2013, promoted to deputy in 2015
  • Director, W3 Advisory – 2010 to present
  • Partner, Grant Thornton – 2000-2010

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  1. Is there an equivalent intervention regime in the University sector? No, thought not. They are a law unto themselves. The distance between Ofsted and the QAA is about a million miles, innit?