IT was with mixed feelings that I learned of the resignation of Janak Patel, principal of Sussex Coast College.
On the one hand, one hesitates to comment on his decision to resign without being privy to all the facts; yet it is a worry that such a positive and enthusiastic young individual has felt it necessary to resign so early in his tenure as director.
His sudden departure is a loss, yet his immediate resignation following the adverse inspection report, may also show courage and integrity in accepting full responsibility for the negative Ofsted report, a characteristic rarely shown by some politicians and other managers, in similar circumstances.
Although Mr Patel cites personal reasons for resigning, it is important that lessons be learned and that he is not a scapegoat for other issues.
It is a well-known fact that Ofsted inspectors can and do get things wrong. They rely heavily on statistical data, upon brief visits to classrooms and upon accounts from disgruntled staff and students.
Although Hastings and the surrounding area has many wonderful features, this catchment area is also the home of many families with serious financial and social problems with a high rate of unemployment, especially with our youth.
Excellent educational and vocational initiatives are in place at the college to handle disadvantaged and disabled young people, initiatives that are a credit to staff and students.
Any visitor to the college on open days will also have been deeply impressed by the various exhibitions and musical festivals put on in the last year, social activities that may not be reflected in academic results.
While it is essential to respect Mr Patel’s privacy, it is also important to be assured that there’s been fair play and that Mr Patel has not been held responsible for omissions, not entirely of his own making.
Inspections by Ofsted are often very stressful experiences for all staff and wrong impressions are easily formed.
But be assured there are many very capable staff in place, all deeply committed to the goals of excellence in adult education.
It will be a sad day, then, if the reputation of the college is damaged by clumsy and premature evaluations.