Easton and Otley College principal David Henley quits following damning Ofsted report

Easton and Otley College principal David Henley.

Easton and Otley College principal David Henley. - Credit: Archant

An East Anglian college principal has quit following a damning Ofsted report.

Easton and Otley College, which has almost 4,000 students spread across its campuses in Suffolk and Norfolk, said “fresh leadership” was required as it announced that principal David Henley is set to relinquish his post with effect from August 31.

In July the college, was rated inadequate by Ofsted after a four-day visit in May, a fall from the previous good rating given in 2013.

In a message to employees, Mr Henley said: “I am particularly sorry to be leaving at such a challenging and exciting time for the college.

“The foundations that we have put in place for recovery will soon be evidenced by improved outcomes for our students and I am confident that 2016/17 will be seen as the year that we turned the corner.

“The work you all do, in support of specialist land based industries across the region, is of paramount importance.

“With a renewed and refreshed governing body, led by new chairman Mark Pendlington, I know the team is wholly committed to supporting and guiding the ongoing journey of recovery.”

• Easton and Otley College vows to improve after “inadequate” rating from Ofsted inspectors

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Mr Pendlington, who has only recently taken over the role from Sally Bendall, said: “It was bitterly disappointing to get a rating of inadequate from Ofsted and we need to address the issues raised.

“We have got a recovery plan in place and we decided mutually with David Henley it was time for fresh leadership. It is not a good position for the college and is something we are absolutely determined to address.

“By the end of September we will be giving a report back to the [Further Education] Commisssioner to win his confidence and support for the plan going forward.

“Change and uncertainty is always difficult and challenging, and we have got to say enough is enough in terms of instability and change. The mutual parting with David will restore a stable and focused, considered future.”

Mr Pendlington added action is being taken as a consequence of the dramatically worsened Ofsted report this year.

“When you have an Ofsted report as disappointing as the one we had it shows something has to change,” he said. “It happened on the watch of a number of people, and there have got to be consequences for an outcome like we had.

“Everyone needs to see we have sat up and listened to what the report said, and from the considered discussions we had with David, the conclusions we reached was we need to signal that things are changing here.”

Mr Pendlington added the financial settlement with Mr Henley was “within the terms of his contract”.

He will be replaced by Jane Townsend, who has worked at the college since April and has 20 years experience in FE and land-based sectors.

Mr Pendlington added he has “total confidence” in Jane Townsend to lead as interim principal until a permanent replacement is found.

“At the moment there is nobody better then Jane to help lead the senior team,” he said. “What we haven’t got is a lot of time to think and talk.

“Above all, as we prepare for the start of the new term, our new and returning students can have total confidence in our ability to provide them with the very best start to their working lives.”

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