Expert in failed businesses appointed at Highbury College as interim principal

Troubleshooter Penny Wycherley has been appointed chief executive and interim principal at Highbury College.
Troubleshooter Penny Wycherley has been appointed chief executive and interim principal at Highbury College.
Share this article

A TROUBLESHOOTER principal has been put in charge of Highbury College.

Penny Wycherley, who has been an Ofsted inspector, is seen as a fixer in the further education sector and has worked with struggling colleges and failed businesses.

Stella Mbubaegbu, principal of Highbury College, pictured at the college with students. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

Stella Mbubaegbu, principal of Highbury College, pictured at the college with students. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

Ms Wycherley will become interim principal and chief executive officer at Highbury.

It comes as the FE Commissioner put the college in supervised status. Principal Stella Mbubaegbu's position is unclear with reports she has been suspended. The college has not confirmed or denied this.

READ MORE: Grant cash covers less than half of Highbury College principal's £150,000 credit card spending despite claim

Highbury’s principal Ms Mbubaegbu announced her plans for retirement from the Cosham college in October amid scrutiny over her £150,000 credit card spend. She spent cash on five star hotel stays and £434 on a set of headphones.

Ms Wycherley said: ‘It’s an exciting time for the Highbury College Portsmouth with so many opportunities for us to serve and develop.

READ MORE: Highbury College chair moves aside as FE commissioner moves in to supervise college

‘Although there is much publicity about the challenges facing staff in further education colleges like Highbury College, those staff do amazing work in educating and training millions of young people and adults.

‘At Highbury College Portsmouth, the staff are working hard to ensure that the students at the college continue to have a positive experience and to lay the foundations for their future.

‘Our staff are proud to make a difference to individuals and to the communities we serve. I welcome this opportunity to work with them doing just this.’

READ MORE: Highbury College bosses face £2.9m refurb bill as Portsmouth tower cladding fails Grenfell test

This year the college has faced a series of problems including battling to get back £1.4m from a Nigerian state authority over a venture in the country. It is also bidding for government cash to fund refurbishment of its accommodation tower as it failed post-Grenfell cladding tests.

Ms Wycherley previous turned around Great Yarmouth College from inadequate to good within three and a half years.

A Highbury spokeswoman said: ‘Penny started her working career in the NHS, where she spent ten years combining high-level management roles with bringing up her young children.

‘She has commercial experience in turning around failed business and her career has encompassed college teaching and curriculum management. In 2001 Penny became an Ofsted inspector.’

READ MORE: Highbury College principal charged £150,000 to corporate credit card