North Herts College boss with sites in Hitchin, Stevenage and Letchworth moves swiftly over ‘success rate fiddle’

Matt Hamnett, chief executive and principal at North Herts College

Matt Hamnett, chief executive and principal at North Herts College - Credit: Archant

The new principal of North Herts College has taken swift action after the shock discovery that success rates were fiddled in order to give it a boost in league tables.

Chief executive Matt Hamnett, who only took up his post in March, launched an investigation after unearthing the manipulation of figures before he arrived at the college, which has campuses in Stevenage, Hitchin and Letchworth.

Individual student records were omitted from annual returns to the government’s Skills Funding Agency between 2008 and 2014. This artificially boosted success rates by failing to report unsuccessful students – if the correct figures had been submitted, the college would have been placed 51st in national success rate tables, rather than 11th.

Mr Hamnett said yesterday: “No fraud has been found – funding claims were under, not over, rated. No successes were falsely claimed, no records were fabricated.

“On arrival I immediately identified issued with the way NHC’s learner data was being managed.

“With the full support of the NHC Corporation, and in consultation with the relevant agencies I immediately instigated an internal review to confirm the extent of the issues and to fully and properly address them to ensure we have the platform we need to realise our high aspirations for the institution.

“No financial fraud has been found at NHC. Funding claims were under, not over, rated. No learner successes were falsely claimed and no learner records were fabricated.

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“This is a story about NHC in the past not in the present or the future. This is a fantastic learning institution.

“Our dedicated pupils and dedicated staff do amazing work and it would be a tragedy for parents and potential pupils to make a decision on where they study in September because of what happened in the past. We are all about looking to the future.

“We are going to be an outstanding college.

“This has had a galvanising effect on the whole team meaning we are going to reach our goal of being an exceptional college far quicker.

“We are now drawing a line in the sand. We now consider the matter closed and intend to make no further comment.”

He confirmed that the college’s senior management team had been refreshed and although there was no evidence that governors knew of the omissions a number had ‘stepped aside’. The college’s success rates were still above the national average, he added.

For more on the story read the Times Educational Supplement