Supporting Diversity

To assist in our continuing work to support diversity, we arranged for one of our lecturers to be trained by Stonewall so that she, in turn, could cascade that training to fellow college staff.

So far she has trained 21 members of staff and we plan for this training to be extended next term to all members of the College’s Senior Management Group.

This work follows on from the establishment of a LGBT+ society this year which has proved popular.

We will also be considering how best we can cater for the needs of all our college community – for example by actively engaging and supporting learners with our policies and curriculum.

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Art & Ceramic Exhibition -Private Viewing

I was delighted to be invited to last night’s Art & Ceramics Exhibition Private Viewing at Woodley Hill House.

Samantha Robertson, Joanne Hague, Sue Munday and Charli Pyle had really pulled all the stops out to deliver an excellent exhibition (curated superbly by Joanne, our Arts and Ceramics Technician – ably supported by Site Officer Peter Bax).

I was hugely impressed with the high quality of the exhibits and indeed with the wide range of topics and media.

My personal favourite was a painting of Afghan Girl ……………………..

– you may recall that she featured on the June 1985 cover of National Geographic magazine …… and was photographed again seventeen years later in 2002.

Courtesy of National Geographic/Steve McCurry

I really enjoyed talking to the visitors to the exhibition, many of whom were the artists themselves together on the night with their families.

One such artist was Reg, an art student at our Waingels Centre who was accompanied by his wife Tricia.

Many thanks to Grant Pratt from Bluematchbox Pottery Supplies for sponsoring the Ceramics prize – won this year by Lesley Brown.

L-R: Sue Mundy, Lesley Brown, Grant Pratt, Samantha Robertson

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Achiever’s Awards

I was really proud of the College at our recent annual Achiever Awards. The sports hall was transformed into a glamorous venue for the glittering ceremony that was to celebrate our students’ achievements.

The Awards are given to students because of their outstanding effort and passion for their course. As well as high achieving academic students, the awards also celebrate those who have overcome adversity to excel in their particular course area.

It was great to have strong Mayoral support from Wokingham Borough and Wokingham Town as well as from Bracknell Forest and Bracknell Town.

It was also a delight to welcome back Pete Reed OBE as our Guest of Honour. Pete is a three times Olympic gold medalist and five times world champion rower. Pete is also a serving Lieutenant in the Royal Navy’s Training Management Specialisation, which I had the honour to lead as ‘Tribal Chief’. Pete had taken a quick ‘time-out’ from the Henley Royal Regatta to visit the College.

Pete spoke to the College students about his training regime, his success in his 3 Olympiads and 5 World Championships and most importantly about how he had overcome his own challenges to achieve his great success. His message was simply that success for anyone, in any walk of life, is mostly down to hard work and determination – with just a sprinkling of good fortune!

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Association of Colleges – Reception

Yesterday (3 July) I attended the AoC’s summer reception, held on the Terrace at the House of Commons.

Our host was Peter Kyle MP (Labour) and of course the reception was organised by the AoC, whose CEO, David Hughes, spoke very powerfully about the need for greater investment in the FE Sector.

David also took the opportunity to launch the AoC’s ‘Transforming lives, communities and employers’ initiative, which marks the start of the AoC’s transforming lives awareness campaign.

We were also joined by representatives of the major parties: former Secretary of State for Education Nicky Morgan (Conservative), Shadow Secretary of State for Education, Angela Rayner (Labour) and Sir Vince Cable (Liberal Democrat). All 4 MPs spoke passionately about what Further Education meant to them personally and how important Further Education is for the UK.

I also enjoyed talking to AoC Create’s Hilary Clifford………..

………. and to FE Commissioner Richard Atkins CBE.

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ESOL Students learn about Scotland

I enjoyed talking recently to our English for Speakers of other Languages (ESOL) students about Scotland and its heritage.

Strangely enough Arbroath featured quite prominently!

Not just because Arbroath Abbey is where Scotland declared Independence in 1320………….

….nor because of the famous Arbroath Smokies….

……. but also ,of course, because of Arbroath FC!

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College Nursery – little known facts

I had a really good visit to our College Nursery last week. What a great team we have there, led very ably by Nursery Manager Julie Comerford.

It was also good to see our Site Officers Peter Bax and John Gale putting the finishing touches to some improvements previously highlighted in the Blog.

I like the way that good behaviour and being ready to learn is encouraged. Every youngster starts each day on the Green smiley face and only slips to Amber or Red if they misbehave. I rather like the idea of daily redemption!

I thought it might also be instructive to see some little known facts about the Nursery:

· We accept children from 3 months to 5 years old.

· The nursery is open for 42 weeks of the year including the three half terms.

· The nursery is open from 08.00-18.00

· Buttercup Room 0-2 years old, Daisy Room 2-3 years old, Bluebell Room 3-4 years old

· At the moment the nursery has children with 17 different home languages

· We work closely with other agencies e.g. Local Authority Early years childcare and Play team, CYPIT, Children’s Social Care, Child development Centre Team and liaise with local schools.

· We follow The Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum which begins at birth and follows the child to Key Stage 1

· We accept 2 year Old Funded Children and also 3 and 4 Year Old Funded Children

· We will be offering 30 Hours Funding from September

· We have a very simple to use, online bill payment system – bills are payable monthly and sent at the beginning of each month, to be paid within 10 days

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Careers Advice

Last week saw the College receive an inspection to determine whether our Careers Advice was still strong and deserving of having our Matrix Accreditation renewed.

The Matrix Standard is the unique quality framework for organisations to assess and measure their information, advice and/or guidance services, which ultimately supports individuals in their choice of career, learning, work and life goals.

I’m very pleased to say that the inspector found that the quality of advice our learners receive remains very high.

Here are just a few of her observations:

· The quality of the Careers Advice is a real strength. Careers sessions are in depth and frequently last over an hour. Staff are well qualified and maintain their expertise and knowledge through networking and memberships.

· Students described how the staff had advised them on a broad range of career options, as well as different pathways, and also employability. They gave examples of how both HE and vocational routes had been referenced, and the importance of building skills and experience alongside qualifications.

· The focus on employability is a key strength The development of the employability passport and work experience for all full time students have been particularly significant. Students spoke about receiving information and advice related to employability – for example the need to gain experience through volunteering or part time work, job search skills, interview coaching and personal presentation.

……….and the comment that really pleased me was from one of our learners:

“I can’t believe there is anyone here who wouldn’t know about the Careers Advice service. It’s really easy to book an appointment – you can just go to the Student Services desk”.

Well done the Careers Advice Team!

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