Developing Employability Skills

It is good to see some of our Media students working with our Enterprise Advisers, Peter Smith and Richard Knight, to promote employability skills.

Enterprise Advisers are volunteers who work with School (and College) leadership teams help to develop effective employer engagement plans, drawing on existing local business networks.

L-R Peter – Richard.

Research from the Education & Employers Taskforce and other sources shows that young people who have a greater exposure to employers, achieve better employment outcomes.

Our media students are forming an Enterprise Focus Group which will work with Peter, Richard and Enterprise Adviser Coordinator, Alison Giles, from the Thames Valley Berkshire LEP on employer engagement for all our Media students.

Our students will be helping to identify students’ needs with regard to enterprise and employability. Peter and Richard will support them by providing linkages to companies for work experience and work shadowing, as well as to guest speakers and LinkedIn profile training.

(The Enterprise Adviser Network is a joint initiative delivered by The Careers & Enterprise Company and Thames Valley Berkshire LEP).

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Visit by Shanghai College Principals

I hosted a party of 25 College Principals from Shanghai last week.

They were in the UK to gain a better understanding of how the UK delivers Further Education. Their visit was being organised by Bolton University’s Martyn Shaw and Sheldon Stoutt.

[Some of the Chinese Delegation with its leader
Mr Zheng-he Zha the Principal of Shanghai Administration College in between Sheldon Stoutt and myself.]

They were particularly interested in our V5I Vision statements and how we actually make the College feel Vibrant, how we have high expectations for all our earners and what we put in place to provide strong support mechanisms for every learner.

They were struck by our range of provision: ranging from Full Time, through Apprentices and Workforce Development and Community Learning to Business/Professional and Higher Education.

As always, I was immensely proud to show them some aspects of the College in a short tour of the Church Road campus, where they met and were briefed by Ray Whitehouse and Tina Russell, among others.

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Diving – an Extra-Curricular opportunity

We have recently ‘partnered’ with a local diving centre, idiveteam, to offer extracurricular scuba diving lessons to students.

This will enable students to work towards a globally recognised PADI diving qualification at a discounted price.

The course has been added to the college’s enrichment programme, and will cover everything from how water pressure affects the body, to the practical skills needed for confined and open water diving.

Sports lecturer Stuart Carrington organised the partnership after discovering a passion for the sport while on holiday.

I know from my own experience as a former diving officer in the Royal Navy just how much diving develops self-confidence, leadership, teamwork and camaraderie as well as a sense of wonder for the underwater world.”

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LGBT+ Staff Training

In line with the College’s Values and our Respect Agenda, we have been keen to ensure that our College takes active steps to ensure that all our learners, and staff, feel valued, safe and able to be themselves.

I attended an excellent staff training session last week on LGBT+ and the bullying that sadly is all too prevalent in some institutions. It was delivered by Ruth Levy.

Ruth is one of our Curriculum Staff and had taken the personal initiative to undergo the LGBT+ training delivered by Stonewall and is now helping us to train up a significant cohort of College Staff – 30+ at present, both Curriculum and Business Support.

The complexity of terms was quite surprising and I think, for all of us, the most telling learning point was that Identity does not equate to Sexuality.

We were all impressed with the ‘No Bystanders’ short film which showed how early in life disparaging stereotyping can start and how we are all potentially guilty of such stereotyping.

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Army Youth Engagement Programme

The Army are piloting a Youth Engagement Programme and have asked Bracknell & Wokingham College to be the pilot FE College.

11 Brigade, based in Aldershot, have the responsibility to deliver the pilot with us – ably assisted by the 1st Battalion Scots Guards.

Three days have already been delivered at the College, where the basics of leadership, teamwork, employability and life skills were covered:

This week the pilot programme moved down the road to Royal Military Academy Sandhurst for our students to put into practise what they had learned.

I had the great pleasure of visiting them to see how they were doing. Libby Griffiths certainly seemed to be enjoying herself!

As the final leadership exercise of the day, before a tour of the Academy, the two teams joined up to work together to cross a cold – and very wet – water obstacle.


I admired Adam Blunden’s confidence as he ‘walked the plank,’ manhandling an oil drum into position to use as a stepping stone for the rest of the team.

The pilot finishes in a couple of weeks’ time with a visit to 1st Battalion Scots Guards at their barracks in Aldershot.

This has been a superb programme for our learners – helping them to develop really useful life skills and enhance their employability.


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Black History Month

I was pleased to see our Student Services Team celebrating Black History Month with a fine display in the Reception area.

This coincides with the government’s release today of the Race Disparity Audit that the Prime Minister ordered to help improve equality.

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Defence College of Logistics, Policing and Administration

I had the great privilege of visiting the newly opened Headquarters of the Defence College of Logistics, Policing and Administration (DCLPA) at Worthy Down near Winchester on 28 September.

My host was the Commandant, Brigadier Steve Shirley MBE. Steve and two of his key staff, Group Captain Chris Todd and Commander Niall Benfell, gave me a really comprehensive overview of the College and its output.

We have much in common – especially in areas such as Ofsted, Safeguarding, Prevent, Income Generation, Cost Reduction etc and I look forward to hosting a return visit to Bracknell for Steve and his team.

The Headquarters is housed in animpressive building with beautiful lines whose architect, Chris Liddle of HLM Architects, also designed the iconic Joint Services Command and Staff Course Building at Shrivenham, near Swindon where I used to work, back in the day.

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