In November 2020, Portsmouth College and Highbury College announced a potential merger. Since then, the Colleges have been working closely together on a variety of different projects and a joint shadow board made up of equal representatives from each organisation has been formed.

Penny Whycherley

The joint shadow board is delighted to announce that earlier this week Penny Wycherley was offered and has accepted the position of Chief Executive Officer Designate (CEO) for two years and will be working with Simon Barrable who will become the Principal Designate of the potential new college.

The two-year interim CEO position will oversee the proposed merger process, starting with due diligence, followed by consultation with stakeholders including current staff, students, parents, local employers, universities and secondary schools.

During the due diligence and consultation stage, and in addition to the CEO role, Penny will continue as interim Principal at Highbury College until 30 July 2021, handing over the reins to current Portsmouth College Principal, Simon Barrable, who will become Principal of the proposed joint organisation this summer.

In a joint statement Paul Quigley, Chair of Governors, Highbury College and Nick Wynne, Chair of Governors, Portsmouth College said: “We are delighted that Penny has agreed to lead the potential merger process as her wealth of college and wider public sector merger experience is invaluable to both organisations as we move towards our one city, one college vision. Penny’s experience in the post-16 education sector (both in A Levels and vocational qualifications) is extensive and includes senior leadership roles at South Kent College, Great Yarmouth College, Waltham Forest College, City College Plymouth, Eastleigh and Chichester Colleges, on top of ‘coal-face’ teaching experience and a position within the Ofsted inspectorate team.”

The educational and socioeconomic benefits to the Portsmouth community of a potential college merger have been positively received by many city stakeholders, including the University of Portsmouth.

Professor Graham Galbraith, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Portsmouth, said: “This is an exciting time for post-16 education and training in the city. The proposed college will enhance the quality and choice of courses for young people to make the most of their potential.

“The announcement is very timely following the publication of the Skills for Jobs White Paper, which sets out a long-term vision for the further education sector through the necessary changes and sustained funding, which must accompany these proposed reforms.

“We look forward to working with our further education sector partners in developing more ladders of opportunity between the further education and higher education sectors so young people can access the education and training they need to help realise their ambitions and develop the skills required throughout their increasingly changing working lives.”

Article Details

  • Date 22/01/2021