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New Great Yarmouth College head warns of challenges

PUBLISHED: 12:02 28 January 2011

Penny Wycherley new principal of Great Yarmouth College.

Penny Wycherley new principal of Great Yarmouth College.

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2011

THE new interim principal at Great Yarmouth College has warned that “everything is under the microscope” as she begins work to turn around its fortunes.

Taking over this week – only months after the college’s performance was rated unsatisfactory by Ofsted inspectors – Penny Wycherley, 60, will today meet staff to inform them of major restructuring plans that may include redundancies.

She admitted “significant challenges” would lie ahead as she moved to balance the budget and improve teaching quality.

Mrs Wycherley, who has held high-level positions in colleges, retail, the public sector and most recently as a director of education services company Tribal, said the college had clearly lost its way – but the problems were completely fixable.

She revealed that consideration of previously announced plans to share services with City College Norwich had been put on hold by governors until stability had been achieved.

Mrs Wycherley arrives three months after the resignation of long-serving principal Robin Parkinson and follows Heather Maxwell, who was appointed as interim principal on a short-term basis to begin the turnaround.

She described her commitment to the college as “open ended” but said if a monitoring visit by Ofsted inspectors in May brought the hoped for verdict of “significant progress ,” it was possible that recruitment of a permanent principal would take place.

Mrs Wycherley said: “We need to refocus on learners and put them at the heart of what we do. I have five children who all went through FE colleges and anyone of these students could be my son or daughter.

“FE offers people the opportunity to develop their lives and achieve their potential and I want to ensure Yarmouth College is able to do that. At the moment it is like a big cruise liner in dock. We need to get out to sea and go on the trip.”

In a message to the workforce she said: “Staff I have met are very worried about the future but I have already seen some good teaching in my short time here.”

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