Chichester College put the hard work of its students and staff in the spotlight for Colleges Week, which culminated in a visit from Chichester MP Gillian Keegan on Friday (23 October).
The MP, who is also Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills, enjoyed a tour of the campus as part of the ‘Love Our Colleges’ national campaign and she was able to gain an insight into the tremendous talent of students at Chichester.
She dropped into lessons carpentry and joinery students and spent time talking to them about their work and ambitions – as well as finding out about the college’s success on the national and international stage through skills competitions such as WorldSkills.
A tour of the college’s state-of-the-art training kitchens gave Gillian a chance to sample the work of some talented level 3 patisserie students before she stopped off at a mock crime scene, which was under investigation by some intrepid Forensic and Criminology students.
Shelagh Legrave OBE, Chief Executive of the Chichester College Group, added: “We were delighted to welcome our local MP, Gillian Keegan, to the college on Friday.
“It is really important to celebrate the work that we – as colleges – are doing every day in all areas of our campuses and to demonstrate to her why Ofsted awarded the group Outstanding during our inspection earlier this year.
“By going into the workshops, Gillian was able to experience this first-hand and it was great for her to hear from our students about their experiences and their hopes.”
Gillian added: “It was wonderful to visit Chichester College, especially during Colleges Week. We’re lucky to have such a fantastic college right on our doorstep teaching the next generation the skills we need in our local economy.
“Shelagh Legrave and her team are doing an incredible job, with the college moving from strength to strength; recently launching the new T Level qualifications, and now named as a ‘Centre of Excellence for WorldSkillsUK’ as part of last week’s celebration of further education.
“I always love visiting Chichester College as it is a shining example of what FE can achieve and how it changes people’s lives.”
The theme of this year’s Colleges Week (19-23 October) centred on the role of colleges in their communities, from boosting businesses to supporting people.
Bringing the whole further education community together, the week celebrates the impact colleges have on people, employers and the economy.
Chichester College Group, which also includes Brinsbury College, Crawley College, Worthing College and the new Haywards Heath College, is a member of the Association of Colleges (AoC). It wants to see colleges and funding for them prioritised nationally and locally to aid the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, which will be vital to the future success of the country.
David Hughes, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges, said: “This year has been unprecedented in every way, but colleges have risen to all the challenges thrown at them
“Colleges Week is a celebration of all the amazing things colleges do day in day out for students, employers and communities. It’s also about recognising just how important colleges are as we rebuild for a better future through retraining, skills and education.
“Despite educating 2.2 million people every year, including more than 600,000 16 to 18-year-olds, colleges have been neglected in recent years. The Prime Minister’s announcement earlier this month to expand the training system with colleges at the heart of the skills agenda is welcome. All colleges need now is the investment from government to be able to support even more people and employers. That will improve the life chances of millions of people but it needs college funding to be at the forefront of the upcoming spending review.”
Shelagh added: “At all of our Chichester College Group colleges, we have one clear mission statement – to change lives through learning. To be able do this, we have to ensure that all of our students are properly equipped with the skills they need to achieve their ambitions, both in work.
“This is more important than ever now, as colleges will be where people turn to retrain for new job opportunities or to upskill as the job market evolves.
“We are calling for the spending review to acknowledge the massive contribution further education makes to society and to our economy.
“It must be the starting point in providing the right levels of investment so colleges can play their part in building a successful economy as the country recovers from the pandemic and evolves post-Brexit.”