Romeo & Juliet – South Hill Park Arts Centre

I was delighted to be a guest of South Hill Park Arts Centre last night for a fantastic performance of Romeo & Juliet. The 26 strong cast were superb and the set, sound and lighting were hugely impressive.

Inspired by the production and overseen by the Project co-ordinator and College lecturer Jan Allen, some of our creative art students have produced a series of paintings that are on display during the run of this Shakespeare production.

South Hill Park’s interpretation of the play is set in the ruins and debris from the aftermath of war and the images depict this using a pen and ink technique.

The exhibited work on display in the foyer of the Wilde Theatre is made up of a collaboration between students on the BTEC Level 3 Art and Design course. The picture concept and drawing was done by Peter Lovelock with painting elements finished by Lia Deans and Colleen Hill. The barbed wire title was artworked by Sandeep Bains with the external figures of Romeo and Juliet created by Angela Bellus and Nymador Debora. The picture mounting was crafted by Amina Gawhari and Karmin Walsh.

Sitting next to me were Jessica Jhundoo-Evans, Chair of South Hill Park’s Board of Directors and Cllr Tony Virgo, a Director. I enjoyed my talk before the performance with Tony about his time at the BBC and his hopes for SHP and, in the interval, with Jessica about how to encourage young people to follow careers in the creative arts. We discussed how to take the message to young people and their parents that the UK’s creative arts industry is a multi-million pound industry with many excellent career pathways within it.

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Support for Thames Valley Police

I hosted Chief Inspector Sarah Grahame’s first visit to the College on Friday. Sarah is the, relatively, new Deputy Local Police Area Commander.

Our discussion ranged widely. The topics included the assistance we provide to the Thames Valley Police Cadets (who use our Church Road Centre every Tuesday evening), police recruiting targets, the possibility of delivering a Policing Degree locally and our Safeguarding/Prevent work. We also touched upon our Lockdown procedure which we will be exercising soon.

I was pleased to hear how much the support the College gives to the police (as a part of our community) is appreciated. A good example would be the anti-Hate Crime videos that Thames Valley Police commissioned from our Media students.

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Promoting the Skills Agenda

I was delighted to accept an invitation from the Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce to be the Guest Speaker at their Business Breakfast at the Coppid Beech Hotel this morning.


My theme was centred around market intelligence and where to find it. I highlighted the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership’s Skills Priorities Statement as well as the Bracknell Forest 2015 Skills Survey.

CofC Business Bkfst

But I also wanted to explain why Work Experience is so important and how it will be doubly important once T Levels are introduced.

I finished off with a run through of the implications for SMEs and for Corporates of the 2017 Apprenticeship Reforms.

It was gratifying to hear that the talk was well received and it was doubly pleasing to see the apprenticeships enquiries coming in later in the day.

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New Vicar of Warfield

I was delighted to be invited to represent the College last night at the Institution, Induction and Installation of the Reverend Catharine Morris as the Vicar of Warfield.

Warfield Church charts its origins back to 1016AD when Queen Emma granted permission for a chapel to be built, probably on the site of the present Michael the Archangel Parish church in Church Lane.

I was rather tickled at the end of the ceremony (which had been led by The Right Reverend Andrew Proud, Bishop of Reading) when Reverend Catharine thanked everybody for all the hard work that went into the ceremony (including a formal walk down the aisle, escorted by the Venerable Olivia Graham, Archdeacon of Berkshire) because it provided an excellent dress rehearsal for her own wedding to Vusi in Michael the Archangel church later this year – and she let ‘slip’ that her wedding dress would be bigger than her clerical vestments!

We wish her well!

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Retirement Message — Media Students’ support

I was very impressed yesterday with the professional manner in which 3 of our second year students studying on the level 3 BTEC (Extended Diploma ) in Creative Media Production dealt with a fast-ball request from me.

The request was to film my ‘virtual’ contribution to a fellow Principal’s retirement party.

Sadly, I will be on College business in London on the big day and I was delighted be able to contribute some warm words of praise via the short video clip that the students filmed and will edit later this week.

(L-R Marcus Brown, Mikle Woods and Winston Alla)

Two of the team are seeking professional careers in the film industry and one is seeking a career in journalism after university, for which all three have confirmed places.

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Girls’ Futsal and the Christmas Challenge match

We have been fortunate to have had the services of Nicole Farley this term to run Futsal as an extracurricular activity for our female learners.

Nicole is Founder of Nicole’s Futsal Finesse Training and is also currently a Youth Coach with Chelsea F.C.

I was delighted to be asked to be the surprise Christmas guest player on the Staff Ladies Team for the challenge match with the girls team that Nicole had been training up.

Appropriately, the girls won by a narrow margin after a hard fought but enjoyable game.

But it was damned hot under those red robes and white whiskers!

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Prevent Training

We were very fortunate to have secured Alamgir Sheriyar (Sheri) to come and provide an update to 16 of us (SLT, Prevent Governor and 11 other Managers) yesterday on the local and national Prevent context.

Sheri is the Prevent Regional HE/FE Co-ordinator, working for the Department of Education.

(Previous role as a PCSO in Kent)

In his Prevent Regional Co-ordinator role he is an expert in all things prevent related and a central point of contact for us to gain information and advice on the evolving threats associated with radicalisation and extremism.

His presentation was illuminating, thought provoking, empathetic and enjoyable. It was also very effective in reminding us of what we had gleaned from previous training sessions delivered by SECTU and from Bracknell Forest Council’s Prevent Lead. It also brought us up to speed with recent developments, such as the emergence of a number of right wing extremist organisations and support organisations in 2017.

A big take-away for me was that while our Notice – Check – Share approach is not wrong – Sheri recommended that staff need to be advised/reminded that they don’t have to do the Check piece themselves or have to triage information. The Check function (as well as the Share function if required) will be performed by Jon Samson, our Prevent & Safeguarding Lead.

It is good to know that Sheri will be back again in February to deliver his powerful message to a wider Staff and Governor audience.

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