Great Yarmouth College principal stays to continue turnaround

THE experienced principal who is turning around Great Yarmouth College, which had been branded 'inadequate' a year ago, has extended her temporary contract to the end of 2013.

Penny Wycherley took the helm of the college in January following a damning Ofsted report in December 2010, and at a monitoring review this June inspectors said it was making 'reasonable progress'.

Just 16 months ago, the Suffolk Road campus had been thrown into disarray when the college's number two, finance director Roy Hughes, made a formal complaint of harassment against then principal Robin Parkinson.

Mr Parkinson was suspended and stepped down from his role four months later after 17 years in the job.

An independent investigation found no evidence of bullying, but concurred with Mr Hughes regarding flaws in the restructuring of the college overseen by Mr Parkinson.

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Ms Wycherley initially signed a one-year temporary contract, but governors said they were so impressed by improvements at the college they offered to extend her tenure as principal.

And Ms Wycherley said she was glad to accept.

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'I saw the passion to make this college work and the disappointment that it hadn't been working in the past,' she said.

'I decided this was the job I wanted to do and that's stuck with me. It's about serving our community.'

Her family live more than 200 miles away in West Sussex but Ms Wycherley said she was committed to Yarmouth and willing to make the sacrifice.

Ms Wycherley has now dedicated her energies fully to Yarmouth and drawn up a three-year strategic plan to ensure improvement across the board.

And learners say they have noticed the improvement. Lewis Read, 17, is studying animal management at the college.

He said: 'It's a lot better organised here than it was last year. I'm definitely heading in the right direction and getting a lot of help.

'Part of our course is actually doing work experience now - lot's of employers look for that so it's good we can get that.'

Michael Sanders, 31, runs his own computer repairs business but is learning animal management to diversify while electronics work is scarce.

He said: 'The support has been good.'

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