Singing the praises of FE

Wednesday 18 December 2019

Ian Pryce CBE of The Bedford College Group is laying claim to being the longest on-going serving Principal and Chief Executive of a further education establishment.

Others may have lasted longer in the previous century, but in today’s fast-changing environment, Ian’s 21 years+ in situ is looking like a record.

“Loyalty and long-service are increasingly things of the past, but when you’ve got an opportunity to take a good college and make it great, then it’s worth sticking with that winning team,” said Ian, now 61 and hoping to stay until he collects his pension.

Having started at the Bedford College as finance director he was promoted to Principal and CEO in a slightly unusual step then of someone from a non-teaching background taking the helm. In fact, Ian making all the right money moves, has meant that his staff can concentrate on what he sees as the “important stuff” - providing the best service to students.

That approach has seen The Bedford College Group win teaching prizes at the Times Educational Supplement awards three years in a row, have staff who judge World Skills events (and students who compete) and a board room full of prizes for everything from a sword for Health and Safety to membership of the Chartered Institution for Further Education. 

Ian continued: “The talents of our team members across all college services means that our students enjoy their experience with us, more than 90% would recommend us to others and there is no higher compliment.

At a national FE level, Ian is known as the “Singing Chief Executive” having written tracks about various issues aimed at Government Ministers and more which are widely shared on social media.

During his two decades at Bedford College, which became The Bedford College Group in 2017 following the merger with Tresham College in Northants, Ian has been a co-founder of the Collab Group and is a member of the Syndic of Cambridge University.

In Bedford he was founder Chair of the very successful Bedford Free School, recently mentioned by PM Boris Johnson, established the Bedford College Academies Trust which has brand new primary and secondary schools at Wixams, rescued the internationally known Shuttleworth College and took over a “Hogwart’s style” private girls’ school site to establish a successful co-ed Sixth Form. All are now flourishing. 

Ian added: “There is more I want to do and luckily I have an energetic young, but experienced, team around me who are stepping up to take on the new challenges. There is a generation of young people out there who need to be helped through the changes ahead. If I am able to complete 25 years as Principal and CEO I will consider myself to have had the best job not just in Bedford. but in the region.”

The Bedford College Group is No1 college, based in the region, for Overall Student Achievement. 

IAN PRYCE PHOTO

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