Whistleblowers: Manager to follow his mentor out the door

January 23, 2003

North Birmingham College deputy principal Ian Douglas is set to follow his former boss Joan Short by leaving the troubled Midlands institution after government inspectors branded their leadership "unsatisfactory".

With both managers having spent the six months since the Ofsted inspection visit on extended sick leave, a senior source has confirmed that Mr Douglas had applied for retirement on grounds of ill health and that his request was with the Department for Education and Skills. Ms Short officially left her post as principal at the college at the end of last month, the college has confirmed.

The departures come more than three years after an investigation by The THES raised questions about Mr Douglas's rapid rise at the college and about the pair's treatment of a whistleblower.

The THES reported in November 1999 that there were concerns that Mr Douglas - who has one O level and two CSEs - had risen from personnel assistant to deputy principal, via two unadvertised posts, in just two years. Concerns about the appointments were raised with the Department for Education and Employment by lecturer Ian Walker, whose identity as the whistleblower was made known to the college and who was one of only two staff at the college to be selected for redundancy at the time.

The college settled his claim that he was victimised for blowing the whistle in March 2001.

At first, and with explicit support from governors, Ms Short and Mr Douglas rode the storm, which included a vote of no confidence in May 1999 and a union survey in September 1999 that found that 88 per cent of staff thought senior management lacked integrity. Both went on sick leave after the Ofsted inspection visit in April 2002, which led to the condemnation of their leadership of the college and to plans to merge North Birmingham with neighbouring Sutton Coldfield College.


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