A COLLEGE has a new leader who hopes to develop stronger links with businesses and the community.
Stuart Cutforth took over the reigns as principal and chief executive at Northumberland College this month.
He brings with him a wealth of experience in further education (FE) and is joining the team at Northumberland from South and City College Birmingham where he was deputy principal.
Mr Cutforth said: “My role is to enable quality teaching and learning so that the needs of students are consistently met. I hope to build on the college’s many strengths to develop a culture of high standards, where performance and achievement flourish.
“This college has the capacity to grow and working in partnership with other local organisations it can become everything that Northumberland and its communities deserve.”
Mr Cutforth started working life as an electrical apprentice with the National Coal Board. He has had a 33-year career in FE, working in seven colleges in a number of positions from lecturer through to principal.
His held his first post teaching electrical engineering at North Nottinghamshire College for nine years before leaving to join Halton College in Cheshire as a senior lecturer in microelectronics.
Jacqui Henderson, chairwoman of governors at Northumberland College, said: “It is an exciting time to join the college and build on the very successful year we have had.”
It is hoped the appointment will be the start of a more settled future for the college, which has had a series of difficulties recently.
Earlier this year, the Ashington-based college was thrown into turmoil after the woman chosen to be its new boss decided not to take the job.
Governors announced in February that Laurel Penrose had been appointed as its new principal and chief executive.
She was due to take up the post just before summer, but it emerged in May that she had had a change of heart.
This upset followed on from a controversial and abortive bid to merge with NCG, the parent company of Newcastle College.
The proposed merger, which sparked a protest campaign by college lecturers and local politicians, was dropped a year ago when the Northumberland governors decided to pull out of the deal.
Prior to this, the college had suffered financial setbacks and the collapse of major building plans.