Wiltshire College’s vice-principal Ben Allen claimed yesterday that principal Di Dale is “off sick” but the Gazette understands she is in in negotiations with college governors over a severance deal from her £147,000-a-year post.

Mr Allen refused to comment on this but said: “Di Dale has been off sick. I cannot say if she will return or not.”

The management team was further reduced when vice principal Andrew Clare, responsible for finance, left his £99,000-a-year post suddenly at Easter. Acting principal Amanda Burnside told staff he had left immediately to “pursue other opportunities closer to home to gain a greater work life balance”.

She wrote to staff: “He has requested to leave as soon as possible and after careful consideration we have agreed the end of April. Taking into account remaining leave, Andrew will not be returning to the college at all this term.”

The college said Mr Clare left for personal reasons and would be replaced with an interim. He is the sixth vice principal to leave the college suddenly and with no job to go to in six years.

As well as tackling the Ofsted recommendations, the upheaval comes as the college oversees a £21 million building project at Chippenham and a partnership with a new University Technical College in Salisbury.

Mr Allen said: “There’s a lot to do but we’re all fired up and raring to get it done. We are in the process of rebuilding the senior management team.

“Andrew Clare is to be replaced in the next two weeks and we are recruiting for a new VP in curriculum and quality [currently held by interim Annette Cast] and then that will be a complete team.”

Mrs Burnside said: “I am absolutely planning on sticking around. I’ve got huge support here.

“No-one wants to come to work to be satisfactory. We can really feel the will.”

Asked about staff morale, Mr Allen said: “We are about to kick off a staff survey. My sense is, we realise that we’ve got a lot to do to get the college where we want it to be, which is outstanding, but I’m feeling a lot of energy and commitment to making that happen.”