AoC head pledges no flashiness

November 6, 1998

The unassuming head of a Northwestern inner-city college has been chosen for the Pounds 100,000-plus post as "champion" of the further education sector.

"I'm not going to be flash," said David Gibson, principal of City College, Manchester, who has been named as the new chief executive of the Association of Colleges.

Mr Gibson's catchment has included some of the United Kingdom's most deprived areas, including Manchester's Moss Side, and he is renowned for widening access initiatives.

Dismissing the pre-appointment hype which called for a high-profile leader from outside the sector with political clout, Mr Gibson said that further education did not need "more people being parachuted in from outside".

Referring to his colourful predecessor Roger Ward, who left after controversy over undisclosed consultancy payments, he said he did not need champagne and a Jaguar car, he just "needed to deliver".

"I wouldn't regard myself as flash or over the top," he said.

"It is important that the image of colleges and the AoC is one of professional bodies committed to the task they face.

"It should not be about individuals. It is about partnerships and participation."

Mr Gibson, former president of the Association of Principals of Colleges and a member of the National Advisory Group for Continuing Education, said that the sector faced "more opportunities than there have ever been", but had to be seen to deliver the government's targets.

His priority, he said, was to ensure that the sector was well-organised enough to capitalise on the faith invested in it by government and to ensure that it could speak with one voice.

He dismissed suggestions that sleaze had blighted the sector. "My personal view is that the sector has been very accountable," he said.

"There have been one or two cases, but the number is minute. Governing bodies are passionately determined to be businesslike and effective."

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