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New Leadership for Stockport College

Stockport college logoStockport College is the largest educational provider and a leading employer in the Borough of Stockport. A key strategic partner for the local authority, the College is based within the heart of Stockport district and has served the community since 1889. Following a difficult two years, during which the College experienced financial challenges and falling student numbers, a disappointing Ofsted inspection resulted in the College being graded inadequate in 2014. An interim CEO in association with the Governing Board, steadied the organisation, providing a platform for a programme of transformation to promote sustainability, quality, teaching and learning and financial stability. This underpinned the College leadership’s determination to develop and deliver a strategy to achieve its ambition in continuing to be the number one choice for further and higher education in Stockport.

A critical factor in the success of the strategy was to address the strength of the leadership team, which was largely populated with interim executives. The decision was taken to appoint two permanent posts; a Principal / Chief Executive, and a Vice Principal-Finance.  In September 2014, Wickland Westcott was invited to lead both searches. The first important decision related to timescales, whether to start immediately given the urgency to move forward from a commercial, financial and continuity of leadership perspective, or to wait until after the impending Ofsted inspection. Given the early market engagement conducted by Wickland Westcott and the positive findings sourced, the decision was taken to progress initially with the VP-Finance search, followed shortly afterwards by the Principal / Chief Executive, ahead of the inspection. Wickland Westcott’s search strategy for the VP-Finance focused on identifying commercially experienced professionals with exposure to change programs in complex, customer oriented environments. Psychometric testing was an important tool in the assessment process, identifying those individuals best equipped to move across from the private sector. The search for the new Chief Executive targeted experienced Principals with a track record in turning around failing colleges.

Both searches were successfully completed in a five month period and, during the search process, the College was re-inspected by Ofsted and was upgraded to a grade 3. The blend of commercial capability, change management experience and turnaround expertise offered by the appointed candidates matched the profile of skills required to secure the future of Stockport College, with the Vice Principal-Finance, joining the College from British Gas, and the Principal / Chief Executive, from Macclesfield College. This combination of an improved Ofsted grading and development of an experienced and competent leadership team has given the College the firm footing required to move forward as a progressive educational entity, continuing to serve the needs of the community in Stockport.

Commenting on these appointments Louise Richardson, Chairperson Stockport College, said “now we are out the other side of the appointments I would like to thank you for the huge effort you put in to achieving our successful appointments. I am totally convinced we have made the right decision on both counts and wanted to put on record my thanks”.