West Cheshire College has confirmed both its principal and his deputy have decided to leave to pursue other opportunities.

Principal and chief executive Nigel Davies and deputy principal Adrian Humphreys left the FE college, which has campuses in Chester and Ellesmere Port, at the end of April.

Mr Davies, 52, who lives in Nantwich, had been described as being ‘off sick’ by the college on February 11 following a governors’ meeting which discussed whether interim support was necessary.

Then principal Nigel Davies set up his own company during a week when back-room staff at West Cheshire College took part in a national strike day over a pay freeze and OFSTED inspectors were back at the college.

So a member of the business community who contacted The Chronicle expressed surprise after receiving an alert from Companies House which revealed Mr Davies had set up a company called FE Skills Academy on February 25 during a week when OFSTED paid a return visit following a damning inspection last September and back-room college staff took part in a national strike day.

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However, Mr Davies told The Chronicle by email it was ‘not active or operating as a company’ until this week.

He said: “I found my time as principal and CEO at West Cheshire College very enjoyable and I will take with me many happy memories and recollections from my three years at the college. It was a pleasure working with a group of professional and committed individuals and I definitely feel the staff and students are a credit to the college; I will remember their creativeness and encouragement.”

West Cheshire College's Handbridge campus

He added: “As you are aware I recently decided to leave the college and explore new career opportunities and other professional opportunities; these are not exhaustive in their undertaking and will include many different possibilities. FE Skills Academy has only recently, in fact in the last couple of days, gone live as a company.

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“It will offer tailor-made personalised support services to the education and skills sector; this will include consultancy, project management and interim management support.”

Christine Russell, chair of the college’s board of governor, said in a statement to the workforce: “I wish to inform all staff that Nigel Davies, principal and chief executive, has decided to leave the college to explore new career opportunities and other professional opportunities. The corporation would like to thank Nigel for his leadership, commitment and support.

“Nigel would like to thank everyone for the continued support he received over the past three years and wishes everyone the very best for the future.”

West Cheshire College in Ellesmere Port
West Cheshire College in Ellesmere Port

In a separate statement about the deputy principal, she said: “On behalf of the college’s board of governors, I wish to inform all staff that Adrian Humphreys has decided to explore opportunities outside of West Cheshire College.

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"We are currently reviewing Adrian’s duties and responsibilities and how this will be managed moving forward.

“Adrian has asked me to pass on his very best wishes to all staff and to thank them for their continuous hard work and support during his time at the college.”

A college spokeswoman said: “As a member of the college’s executive leadership team and to ensure continuity of leadership and support, Helen Nellist has been appointed as acting principal.”