Warwickshire College Group names new principal and CEO

Sara-Jane Watkins will leave South Gloucestershire and Stroud College after 22 years to lead WCG

Sara-Jane Watkins will leave South Gloucestershire and Stroud College after 22 years to lead WCG

24 May 2024, 15:19

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Warwickshire College Group has hired a new principal and chief executive nearly 12 months after announcing the departure of the last one.

Sara-Jane Watkins will leave South Gloucestershire and Stroud College (SGS) after nine years as college principal and deputy chief executive of SGS Group, which contains an academy trust and a commercial operation. 

WCG has been led by interim principal and CEO Peter Husband since January. It was announced last June that then-group CEO Angela Joyce will leave WCG to lead Capital City College Group.

The search for a permanent successor to Joyce closed at the end of February. FE Week understands the college has to date been unable to announce Watkins’ appointment as it was waiting for government approval of her salary. Colleges paying leaders more than £150,000 need Department for Education and Treasury approval before confirming appointments. 

The Department for Education did promise to speed up the process after colleges complained it was causing delays in the recruitment of principals. 

Watkins said: “I am honoured and excited to be stepping into this role. My dedication to education has always been driven by the belief that every student deserves access to high-quality learning experiences, and I am eager to continue this mission at WCG.”

Her college career began at Hartpury College where she progressed to the role of communications director before joining SGS as director of corporate planning in 2002. 

SGS retained its ‘good’ Ofsted inspection outcome in a report published earlier this year. 

WCG oversees six colleges; Royal Leamington Spa College, Warwick Trident College, Rugby College, Moreton Morrell College, Pershore College and Evesham New College.

It won a long-running High Court battle last year allowing it to sell a disused college building for non-educational purposes in the face of heavy local opposition, including local MP Harriet Baldwin. 

“Collaboration will be key as we work to secure investment and necessary support to provide the best possible resources and opportunities for our learning community. I am eager to contribute to the ongoing success of the college and to make a positive impact on the lives of our students and ensure we remain a vital resource for the communities and businesses we serve,” Watkins said.

Gill Clipson, chair of WCG, said: “We are looking forward to maintaining the high quality of our provision and the strong reputation which we have established as Sara-Jane leads us through the next stage of development for WCG, focused on excellence in all we do and serving the needs of our local communities.”

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