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Easton and Otley College appoints Jane Townsend as permanent principal

PUBLISHED: 10:51 20 March 2018 | UPDATED: 10:51 20 March 2018

Jane Townsend, the interim principal of Easton and Otley College. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Jane Townsend, the interim principal of Easton and Otley College. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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East Anglia’s main land-based college has elevated its interim principal into the role permanently so she can continue to drive improvements and restore its Ofsted rating.

Easton and Otley principal Jane Townsend with the college's winter stock winners. Picture: Carl Whitman.Easton and Otley principal Jane Townsend with the college's winter stock winners. Picture: Carl Whitman.

Jane Townsend won a rigorous three-week national selection process to become the first female principal at Easton and Otley College, which has almost 4,000 students across two campuses near Norwich and Ipswich.

She became deputy just a month before an Ofsted inspection last May which brought an inadequate rating, amid criticism of teaching quality, attendance and student achievement, which prompted the departure of previous principal David Henley.

Since then, during her time as acting principal, Miss Townsend has set in place a turnaround plan centred on staff training, which has already brought improvements in the number of teaching staff graded as good or outstanding.

After being appointed to the role permanently, she said she wants to “drive growth and help one of the largest educational establishments in the region become a place that reaches its full potential, and become a first choice of study for people of all ages who want great jobs and careers in land based industries.”

Easton and Otley College principal Jane Townsend, pictured with BBC Countryfile presenter Adam Henson. Picture: John NiceEaston and Otley College principal Jane Townsend, pictured with BBC Countryfile presenter Adam Henson. Picture: John Nice

She said: “I am absolutely delighted and excited to get this job after a particularly tough and challenging seven-stage selection process. It is the culmination of 25 years’ experience of working in education, and I take quiet pride in being the first female principal in the history of the college.

“Easton and Otley has massive potential, much of which we have been exploiting since last August when I became interim principal. We are on the fast-track to recovery and growth, and I have been overwhelmed by the active support and endless goodwill I’ve had from stakeholders across our region, and from staff.

“I want to put my mark on the organisation and bring even more professionalism to everything we do. My first job is quality and raising standards. This will be the springboard to drive our growth and become the college we know we can be. I want to continue to establish standards, I want to ensure that more and more students are proud to study here and I want the college to be an employer of choice.

“I also want to promote our increasing range of vocational courses and bust some myths surrounding A-levels being the only credible choice for young people after GCSEs.”

Miss Townsend said she also wants to further bolster her senior management team. With a new strategic finance director in place, recruitment has started for a commercial director and a new higher education development director.

Mark Pendlington, the college’s chair of governors, said the calibre of candidates for the principal’s role was “outstanding”, and the recruitment process was “one of the toughest in the industry”.

He said. “Jane consistently proved herself to be the most ideas driven and best qualified for the challenge we face of driving recovery and securing growth. The board was unanimous in deciding to appoint her, and we wish Jane every possible success.

“We are recruiting hard for new students, with an exciting range of new courses being added to our curriculum. Talented students are already recognising the wide range of opportunities, in the sector we serve which is the largest in the region and the biggest employer.

“With Jane as our principal, and with a highly talented executive and staff team, we are ready to make the most of every opportunity and exceed on all expectations. Our students present and future, parents, employers, and our fast-growing region deserve nothing less.”

Greg Smith, chief executive of the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association, added: “We congratulate Jane Townsend on becoming the new principal of Easton and Otley College.

“The strong relationship that we have with the college is a vital aspect of our role in supporting agriculture in the county. We have enjoyed working with Jane since she has been at the college and look forward to continuing this into the future, now that she has deservedly been appointed principal full time.”


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