Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

A Short Apprenticeship for the Big Boss

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

A Short Apprenticeship for the Big Boss

Article excerpt

New FE commissioner Richard Atkins reveals how he spent three weeks learning from the 'master' - his predecessor, Sir David Collins

When FErret hears any job title containing the word commissioner, he likes to imagine a world-weary figure tasked with taking on the seedy underbelly of society to root out evil and corruption. Picture Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon in the Batman films.

While the role of FE commissioner is a little less dramatic - more data scrutiny and steering groups than villains, chases and explosions - it's a serious job. Overseeing the area reviews and leading interventions into struggling colleges, not to mention recommending to ministers what action needs to be taken, is no small task.

Therefore, FErret reckons that the recently retired commissioner - Sir David Collins - should be excused his final flourish, which we reported on earlier this month. In his last appearance before retirement, Collins told the Westminster Education Forum that a mafia contract would have helped him to deal with the few "odd principals and odd chairs of governors" who stood in his way.

But what about his successor? Richard Atkins retired as principal of Exeter College in April, leaving glowing Ofsted judgements and TES FE Awards trophies in his wake. And during his tenure as president of the Association of Colleges (AoC), he proved himself to be a well-respected and popular figure across the sector.

It was fitting, then, that he made his first public appearances in his new role at the AoC annual conference last week. Before his keynote, he gave a low-key speech to a small number of assembled college governors. …

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