Posted on 10 April 2012
New Principal Mike Potter
An Oxford University physics graduate and former Royal Navy Commodore who was made a CBE for services to training has been appointed Principal of the Guildford College Group.
Mike Potter, who in his naval career was Aide-de-Camp to HM the Queen and Commodore responsible for all of the Royal Navy’s shore based training needs, aims to make Guildford “the College of first choice in Surrey”. After leaving the Royal Navy Mr Potter was Principal and CEO of Wirral Metropolitan College (WMC), which under his leadership boosted its Ofsted rating, improved results and took a lead role in raising educational standards in the Northwest.
Mike Potter, who starts at the College in August, grew up in Staffordshire and graduated from St Peter’s College at Oxford University. He then spent 31 years in the Royal Navy, including time as a submarine engineer during both the Cold War and the Falklands Conflict. He became Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Operations of the Naval Recruiting and Training Agency and his final naval post was Commodore Shore Training, responsible for all of the Royal Navy’s shore based training needs. Mr Potter was made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) for services to training and education in January 2006 and from 2002 to 2006 also served as an Aide-de-Camp to HM The Queen. A Chartered Engineer and Physicist, Mr Potter has an MA in Physics, an MSc in Radiation and Environmental Protection, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Nuclear Reactor Technology. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology, a Fellow of the Nuclear Institute and a Member of the Institute of Physics.
At Wirral Metropolitan College, his exceptional achievements have included moving the College from an Ofsted rating of 'satisfactory’ to 'good with some outstanding features'. The College is now in the 90th percentile for 16-18 performance and results overall, and one percent short of the ninetieth percentile for students aged 19 and above. In line with the Government’s agenda for improving educational standards in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, WMC has been the lead for the Northwest and has won a number of awards under Mr Potter’s leadership. The College is also the fastest growing provider of Apprenticeships in Wirral and the best performing Further Education College for 16-18 year olds in the Liverpool City Region. Another key focus for Mr Potter has been the formation of strong strategic partnerships in Wirral and the Liverpool City Region, reducing NEET (Not in Employment, Education or Training) numbers and working closely with the NHS and local authority to provide high quality, efficient and effective training. Mr Potter also chairs a number of leading strategic groups nationally.
On his appointment Mr Potter said: “Guildford is a great place to come to, it is a large College with huge potential. Some areas are already rated as very good and outstanding, but others need a bit of work. The re-investment over the next few years of £20m of savings will make the College’s facilities first class. The staff that I have met are very committed to moving forward, which gives me great confidence. For me, the Guildford College Group, which is already the largest in Surrey, should aspire to being the best and I see an Ofsted grading of 'outstanding' as the first step on the road to much greater things. I am keen for the Colleges to build strong and positive relationships with the local community, up-skilling the workforce and helping people into meaningful and enduring employment opportunities. My ultimate aim is to be the College of first choice for Surrey.”
Under the interim Principalship of Dr David Collins the College has already been making great strides towards being rated as outstanding. At an Ofsted inspection of Merrist Wood College’s residential provision in February the College was rated as “outstanding” in all five areas. Ofsted described the College as “a thriving and purposeful environment. It is a very enabling and nurturing place where students' emotional well-being, past experiences of study and anxieties around learning are all supported. The extent of individualised and group support enables students to thrive and do well.”
Stephen Caswell, Chair of Corporation for the Guildford College Group, commented: “Outstanding colleges need outstanding leaders. We were very lucky to find one in Dr David Collins CBE, our interim Principal since October 2011, who has done great things in his time with us. I would like to take this opportunity to thank David for his commitment and enthusiasm to date and also going forward as he hands over to our next outstanding leader in Mike.”