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Job loss college hired Olympian

Roger Black
Roger Black


A cash-strapped college planning to cull scores of jobs hired a former Olympic athlete to give an inspirational lecture.

North West Kent College paid medallist Roger Black to deliver a motivational speech to all staff ahead of an Ofsted inspection.

Talks by the 45-year-old, who has specialised in conferences since retiring, cost up to £10,000.

Just days after the college announced it plans to cut 65 jobs, the Messenger has learned it employed Black for a "staff development day" at the Kent Showground, in Detling - where hiring a pavilion could have cost an extra £10,000.

It was in the same month government inspectors visited the Oakfield Lane, Dartford, and Lower Higham Road, Gravesend, campuses.

The college has strongly denied being lavish in its spending, saying the event was in line with its budget.

But one staff member, who attended, said: "The idea was to inspire us with an upcoming Ofsted report, but is it really necessary when you need to save millions?

"I remember he said 'you have to run your perfect race', but we were all laughing because he said when he did it he came second! The whole thing was a waste of time."

The source also alleged college managers regularly meet at Dartford's plush Rowhill Grange Hotel.

Last month North West Kent College, which has about 600 staff, announced 65 posts are at risk. Bosses are attempting to save £3million and blame lack of government funding.

Nine management, 14 teaching and 42 support posts are under threat across both campuses, which have 4,000 students.

Principal David Gleed denied the college had gone on a lavish spending spree.
He said: "I completely reject the claims. We work closely to our budgets and have done over the past 10 years.

"The decision to restructure was as a result of the government's level of funding."

What do you think? Join the debate by adding your comments below
What do you think? Join the debate by adding your comments below

He admitted the November 1 staff development day at which Black spoke took place, but was unable to specify its cost.

Mr Gleed added college managers met in various locations, but that cost was covered in the budget.

Ofsted inspectors gave the college a 'satisfactory' rating after visiting the college on November 26. The report praised improvements, but said overall performance is 'inconsistent'.

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