The head of the Cornwall College Group has been praised for his “visionary approach” and credited with reaching “new heights” as he prepares to step down.

John Evans is concluding his tenure as principal and chief executive of the Cornwall College Group this summer.

Under his leadership the Cornwall College Group is said to “re-established itself as a leading educational institution.”

Patrick Newberry, chair of governors, acknowledged John’s contributions, saying: "Under John's leadership, the Group has reached new heights.

“His visionary approach, commitment to excellence and unwavering passion for education have left an indelible mark on our institution. We thank him for his transformative leadership.

“The Cornwall College Group remains committed to building upon the legacy John leaves behind, with a continued dedication to providing exceptional education and addressing the evolving needs of the community.”

During his tenure, John established a number of ground-breaking initiatives across the Group’s ten campuses, which include Cornwall College Camborne and St Austell, Duchy College Rosewarne and Stoke Climsland, Falmouth Marine School, Bicton College, Plymouth Engineering Skills Centre, Tournament Golf College and University Centres in Newquay and at the Eden Project.

These include establishing 14-16 vocational academies and introducing the UK's first ecological postgraduate degree through Eden Project University Centre, to driving the development of Electric Vehicle (EV) labs.

Having started his career as an apprentice motor vehicle mechanic, apprenticeships were a special focus for John, leading to the Group being recognised as the top-performing college for apprenticeships in the South West, surpassing the National Average by an impressive 11.8%.

John has been the driving force behind Cornwall College being granted University Centre status, with Foundation Degree Awarding Powers, representing a significant milestone in its history.

Cornwall College has also achieved the prestigious Teaching Excellence Framework Silver rating.

As an Ofsted inspector himself, a personal highlight of John’s time in post was the College's recent Ofsted inspection, in which it secured an overall 'Good' Grade 2 rating, with 'Good' in each of the eight areas of inspection.

He spoke of his pride at the time, saying: "Receiving the 'Good' rating from Ofsted is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our staff, students and our entire college community. It reflects our commitment to providing top-notch vocational skills development and creating an environment that empowers students to succeed in their chosen fields."

Amanda Spielman, former chief inspector of Ofsted, personally commended the Group’s transformation during a visit to Cornwall College St Austell following the successful inspection, acknowledging its “dedication to changing lives and contributing positively to the wider community.”

John also leaves his mark through ongoing multi-million-pound redevelopment projects at Cornwall College Camborne and Cornwall College St Austell.

Securing funding from the Department for Education’s FE Capital Transformation Fund, John initiated a transformative project at Cornwall College Camborne to upgrade.

The St Austell campus secured a share of the same fund, designated to rebuild the campus into a modern, carbon-neutral hub.

Chair of governors Mr Newberry said he will remember John as “a visionary leader who tackled challenges on multiple fronts.”

He added: “From achieving the coveted Ofsted 'Good' rating and leading multi-million-pound campus redevelopments to actively lobbying the government in Westminster for increased funding, John’s achievements were many.

“On behalf of the Cornwall College Group board of governors, I extend our sincere appreciation for his dedicated service. We wish him continued success in all his future endeavours."