Playing our part in PREVENT

The College continues to play its full part in combating extremism of all sorts. As I briefed staff at the recent Cross College presentation, Bracknell & Wokingham are relatively low risk areas and indeed over the last few years what threat there has been has come from far right extremists. However, the risk is higher in Reading and Slough and we do draw learners in from these areas.

We recently organised some very effective PREVENT Train the Trainer training from Bracknell Forest Council’s Justin Whitlock which we will cascade through the College. Summing up his training package he suggested that the 3 key words for all of us to remember and act upon are: Notice, Check, Share.

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Exciting Cup Tie victory

Congratulations to the College football team who beat Cox Green School 3:2 in a closely fought cup tie recently which had a nail biting finish. I was very impressed with Team Manager and Sports Lecturer Stuart Carrington’s half time pep talk.

Having received quite a few such talks in my playing days – and delivered a number myself when I was managing a variety of Royal Marines teams, I recognised a very professional motivator at work – well done Stuart!

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Brittlesand Symposium

I attended the Brittlesand Symposium at Wokefield Park recently.

The symposium had been organised by entrepreneur and businessman, Chris Dodson OBE DL (whom I have hosted at the College for a couple of visits).

The symposium attracted many fast growth businesses in Berkshire and apart from some excellent key note presentations (which included a very thought provoking session from handbag designer Anya Hindmarch MBE)also had 3 breakout sessions: growth finance, recruitment and retention, incentives and remuneration schemes.

I had been invited to co-host the recruitment and retention session. Unsurprisingly, employability skills were high on everyone’s agenda. However, and rather surprisingly, Work Experience was not only recognised as being important but, when I asked for a show of hands, most businesses did already offer work experience. Sadly this is not yet what we find across our catchment area.

As more detail emerges from the government’s Skills Plan – the ability and willingness of businesses to offer work experience will be critical if the Plan’s aim of ensuring that every post 16 – 18 year old on a college based technical education programme will be ‘entitled’ to a ‘quality work placement’ is going to be achieved.

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Principal’s Drop-In

I dropped into a second year Level 3 Children’s Play, Learning and Development class yesterday.

I was delighted to see the lecturer Julie Jones, demonstrating the skills that her students need to acquire to allow them to help youngsters listen to sounds in the environment and be able to describe the sound. Unsurprisingly, this enables young learners to be able to link sounds to what they hear.

Julie’s teaching involved a listening walk around and outside the college where no talking was allowed (pretty difficult in itself for some!) and closing their eyes to concentrate on the sounds they could hear.

This training will allow our students to carry out their own listening walks with children in their Key stage 1 placement and then write a reflective account.

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Be the Best You Can!

As an Arsenal (and Arbroath) fan I was delighted to hear Ex Arsenal Chairman David Dein give an inspirational talk to our students yesterday. He was joined by ex Arsenal and England striker, Tony Woodcock (who lives locally).

I was struck by his thoughts on the importance of Behavior and Attitude – as well as his advice on Entrepreneurship which he called ‘Stick your neck out!

A fantastic opportunity for us all! Thank you David and Tony.

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New Learner Induction & Welcome Fair

Today we delivered 3 Induction Sessions for our new full-time learners and organised a Welcome Fair for them.

Our focus was on Fun, Friends and Hard Work all wrapped around with Feeling Safe, Achieving Full Potential and Employability Skills.

It was very instructive to note that practically none of the new learners seemed to be aware of Prevent as a name. Having anticipated that this might be the case, Jon Samson, our Student Services Manager, has been adapting our Prevent message to be more explicit – which is why we are now using Prevent Radicalisation and Prevent Extremism in our messaging.

Jon’s Student Services Team organised a very popular Welcome Fair to allow our new learners to mingle and meet each other and to hear about the opportunities that were available to them at College or from the local community.

Part of the Fair was a quiz for which the prize was a free BBQ lunch delivered by our catering contractor Elior. Jon (and I) can vouch for the quality of the burgers!

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New Staff

I really enjoyed talking to our new staff (both curriculum and business support) earlier today as part of the comprehensive Induction package that our HR team organise for them.

I valued hearing about their experiences before joining the College and particularly valued hearing about why they had wanted to join the College – strong reputation and word of mouth recommendation were the 2 main reasons.

I was conscious of a warm and friendly welcome when I joined the College 5 years ago and I told our newest colleagues that I hoped that they too would fell that warm welcome from the rest of us.

The welcome and atmosphere of an organisation may be intangible but you can always tell when an organisation has it – and when it has not!

I provided our new staff with a backdrop of the national scene (Apprenticeship Reform, PREVENT, Skills Plan etc.), some facts and figures about the College and then covered our Values and our V5I vision:





In the heart of our Community

In business

Good luck to all those who have joined us recently!

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