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by Tom Freeman
08 April 2015
Glasgow colleges in turmoil

Glasgow colleges in turmoil

The pressure is mounting on former First Minister of Scotland Henry McLeish after a third high-profile name sensationally quit the Glasgow Colleges Regional Board, which he chairs.

Barclay McCrindle, president and chief executive of the Glasgow Clyde College Student Association (GCCSA) has joined both Pamela Gillies, the principal of Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU), and Maureen McKenna, the education director at Glasgow City Council, who are thought to have stepped down over concerns over the way the board is run and the leadership of McLeish.

The Herald newspaper broke the story yesterday, three weeks after the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) called for an independent review of the board. It seems McLeish circulated a letter of complaint over the move in which he criticised the SFC, and this may have been the catalyst.

McLeish told the Herald both women had found themselves “in a conflicted situation”, but failed to illuminate what that conflict was. I hear the comment has not gone down well at Glasgow City Council, where McKenna does not rely on any funding from the SFC.

McKenna has fiercely championed the collaboration work between Glasgow schools and further and higher education institutions, and in her letter of resignation she said she did not believe “the board is presently able to play a constructive role in that partnership”.

Last year the SFC did direct Universities to build stronger strategic partnerships with colleges and to enable successful student transitions, and in December Pamela Gillies signed an agreement with Glasgow Clyde College principal Susan Walsh to enhance collaboration between GCU and the college.

However in February Welsh was suspended pending a review, just months after receiving an OBE and being praised in an Education Scotland report. The board of the college has refused to comment on why the action was taken, but it is thought she did not see eye to eye with McLeish. The SFC intervened in the case, a move which teachers' union EIS described as "baffling".

EIS has expressed concerns too about the Glasgow Colleges Regional Board’s interpretation of an ‘integrated city-wide curriculum’. They have complained staff are being transferred to posts at the City of Glasgow College on poorer pay and conditions from campuses outwith the city centre.

This is an extract from my weekly education briefing, which you can sign up to here

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