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Hadlow Group hit with more resignations as investigations continue into college finances

The Hadlow Group has been hit with yet more resignations as investigations continue into its finances.

Staff were told in an email last month that Mark Lumsdon-Taylor, the group's deputy principal and chief executive, was resigning after 16 years and that Paul Hannan, principal and chief executive of the group which runs West Kent and Ashford College, had left on health grounds.

However, it later emerged that the pair had both been suspended following the formal intervention of the Further Education Commissioner - which recommends what actions college governing bodies could make to improve performance - after concerns over the group's finances were raised.

West Kent College (7788428)
West Kent College (7788428)

Since then, chair of governors Paul Dubrow has stepped down and it has now been revealed fellow governors Theresa Bruton, Bob McNicoll, and April McMahon have all also resigned.

The group said last month it had appointed an independent team of accountants to investigate allegations around college funding, which some reports have suggested could result in a criminal probe.

However, Kent Police said it has no record of an investigation, and the college also said it was not aware of any police involvement.

Ashford College (7788480)
Ashford College (7788480)

A spokesperson for the group said: "The intervention by the FE Commissioner and Education and Skills Funding Agency relates to some concerns around the colleges’ long-term financial health.

"Our focus throughout the process has been on the students, their experience and the continued provision of high quality teaching and learning. All of this remains unchanged.

"We are proactively working with both the ESFA and FEC on a solution and have received a number of positive messages from a range of stakeholders, including local MPs, who are supportive of the college and the continuation of further education within the area.

Mark Lumsdon-Taylor
Mark Lumsdon-Taylor

"We do not anticipate any changes to our current curriculum offer, or the courses planned for September."

A spokesperson for the Department for Education added: "We do not routinely comment on ongoing investigations.”

The visit by the FEC came just three months after college bosses were left baffled after receiving a 'Requires Improvement' grade from Ofsted, despite being rated 'Good' in six out of eight assessment areas.

Paul Hannan
Paul Hannan

Inspectors praised the quality of teaching, learning and assessment, effectiveness of leadership and management, personal development, behaviour, welfare and 16-19 study programmes but found too many students leaving their course early and not achieving their qualifications, and too few apprentices making the progress expected of them.

Mr Lumsdon-Taylor declined to comment when approached.

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