GRAHAM GUEST COLUMN FOR TELFORD JOURNAL, OCT 2019
It is humbling, and hugely rewarding, to witness the achievement of our students at Telford College. For example, take our inspirational group of higher education students who, in many instances, juggle employment and busy family lives with their quest to learn new skills. A few days ago, we gathered to celebrate our 2019 graduates across a range of courses including business, engineering, music, health and social care, early years services, and supporting children in primary education. Many of them combined their studies with full-time jobs, childcare and family responsibilities, and were supported by our tutors in overcoming other significant personal obstacles. Not only are their stories incredibly inspirational, but they also serve as a reminder that you don’t need to rack up thousands of pounds of student debt, or travel many miles away from Shropshire, to achieve a degree. One of the benefits of the merger between TCAT and New College Telford last year is that it has allowed us to create a complete one-stop-shop for all forms and levels of academic and vocational learning – full-time, part-time, apprenticeships, and much more. Our higher education programmes can be topped up into a fully-fledged BA honours degree with a further year of study – and that is what many members of our class of 2019 have now gone on to do. There are many different reasons why people sign up to these courses. For some, it’s a chance to further their qualifications to increase earning potential, while for others it’s a chance to retrain for a totally new career direction. As a result, our courses attract people from widely differing ages and backgrounds, benefiting from smaller class sizes and the support of the University Centre Telford at Southwater. It was fantastic to hear so many of this year’s graduates speak in glowing terms about the support they received from our tutors, using words like ‘absolutely amazing’ and ‘great at making you realise what you can achieve’. Julie Hellowell-Jones, who works at Ercall Wood Academy, said: “I left Telford College not only with a foundation degree, but also with new friends and a new career path.” The message is clear – it’s never too late to learn, and you don’t need to travel outside Telford to follow your career dreams.
It’s been a fabulous couple of weeks for both students and staff at Telford College.
It’s been a fabulous couple of weeks for both students and staff at Telford College.
First of all, we recorded our best-ever A level results with 100% pass rates in a host of subject areas, then followed it up with GCSE maths and English figures which were once again well above the national average.
A high level of maths and English attainment is particularly important, as these are the qualifications which open up the widest possible range of higher-level course and employment choices for young people.
Now, though, with results season coming to an end, our focus turns to ensuring that the next generation of students are connected with the right courses to match their skills, and meet their aspirations.
There has never been more choice on offer to young people in Shropshire, whatever their grades. So my message is: if you have a specific career in mind, don’t jump into a snap decision until you have checked out all your options.
The doors of our Haybridge campus are now open, from 10am to 4pm every weekday, before the start of the new academic year, for anyone wanting to drop in and talk about their results, and discuss further education options in more detail . . . academic, vocational, or through an apprenticeship.
If you’d like to know more about these drop-in sessions, full details can be found at www.telfordcollege.ac.uk
It’s been rewarding in recent days to hear so many of our students talking about how much they have enjoyed their time at Telford College.
We know that creating the right kind of environment and atmosphere is crucial to our success, so it is satisfying to hear students speak about meeting so many new friends, and praising the support they have received from tutors and mentors.
So, looking ahead, we will be starting the next academic year in great shape, with exciting new courses including aviation engineering – the only ones of their kind in the Midlands.
It’s all about matching our courses with the skills which local companies need, constantly evolving, and never being complacent in our quest to improve.
· Graham Guest is principal and chief executive of Telford College
Education and employment go hand-in-hand at Telford College.
Huge investment in university-standard facilities at our Haybridge campus means we offer courses which pave the way for careers in more than 70 different industries.
For example, we have expanded our engineering and construction programmes to help tackle a skills shortage.
And we have invested £750,000 in a new virtual and augmented reality suite which makes us one of the leading colleges in the country for developing skills in this exciting and dynamic hi-tech sector.
But cutting-edge technology is no good unless students are also equipped with the basics, and that’s why we are proud to see our maths and English results improving year-on-year.
One of our major innovations is the launch of our 7th Form – the first of its kind, blending traditional A level courses with direct links not just to universities, but crucially to industry mentors from local companies.
It means students get to hear first-hand from the people who have been there and done it, and understand the type of person they need to be to make it in their chosen career.
Having been a lecturer myself during more than three decades working in education, I know the importance of delivering consistently outstanding teaching and learning, and motivating students to be the best they can possibly be.
And having run my own business too, I’m equally aware of the value of giving students the sort of practical, relevant skills which remain constantly in step with the needs of the local economy.
There have never been so many opportunities for students, and I am honoured at having the opportunity to lead Telford College’s committed and experienced team during these dynamic and changing times.
We want to be the college for everyone in this community: whether you’re a school leaver looking to go to university or start a career, an adult developing their skills, or a business wanting to grow.
Graham Guest, principal and CEO
Read my news columns below and head to our social media links to keep up to date with our progress
For many people, this might even involve a potential career change. And believe me, it’s never too late to consider a new direction.
Here at Telford College, we’re encountering a growing number of people who have dipped their toes in the water of one particular sector, only to have a change of heart and switch to another.
But they needn’t worry –we have a team of experts on hand to help, at our learner hub on the Haybridge campus.
Zaneta Hyjek, from
Arleston, is one of many recent examples. The 20-year-old enrolled on a level two beauty course, but reached the end of her first year feeling it wasn’t right for her.
We helped Zaneta to move over to a level three business course with us instead – and it’s given her a new lease of life towards a career in marketing.
She went on to receive an unconditional offer from Manchester Metropolitan University to study business management – and is now hoping to travel to China this summer on an amazing fact-finding journey.
Not every young person knows exactly what they want to do when they leave school, and it’s our role to ensure they receive the help, support and information to understand the ever-growing range of study and career routes available.
It’s one of the reasons why we are running a series of ‘taster’ sessions at Telford College from January 28-31, giving prospective students the chance to try a bite-sized sample of a course so they get a feel of what it involves before signing up.
Before that, we’re also opening up our doors on January 23 for an open event,
from 5pm to 7.30pm, when staff and students will be on hand to talk through our range of full and part-time courses, plus higher education programmes, and apprenticeships.
And one of the highlights is bound to be a chance to explore our brand new virtual and augmented reality suite, which is taking learning to a new hi-tech level . . . whichever career route you eventually choose.
- Graham Guest is principal and chief executive of Telford College. To find out more about the open event and taster sessions, see defineyourfuture.co.uk
It doesn’t matter whether you want to be an astronaut, accountant, construction worker or computer genius – you won’t get very far without basic English and maths skills.
They are the foundation for pretty much every modern-day career, opening up the widest possible range of job opportunities, and higher-level education choices.
This is why we are so proud to have once again climbed up the national league table of top-performers on the back of our latest English and maths GCSE results for young people and adults.
Telford College now sits in fourth place for GCSE English, and fifth place for GCSE maths, in the latest national achievement rates tables for general further education colleges.
We are also the number one general FE college for both English and maths GCSE passes within a 50-mile radius of our Haybridge campus.
Currently, we have more than 2,000 students studying functional skills or GCSE English and maths – and over a quarter of these are adults.
It’s a crucial part of what we do, and is why we are holding an Adult English and maths open evening at the college on May 21, from 4pm to 6pm, to advise how more adults can achieve these important qualifications or improve existing grades.
The importance of these qualifications cannot be over-stressed. It is estimated that workers with correct English and maths grades can improve their earning potential by as much as £80,000 over the course of their careers.
Our most recent set of English and maths GCSE results comfortably out-performed the national average, with 99% of students recording passes under the new 9-1 grading system, which has replaced the A*-G ratings for all GCSEs.
There has never been more choice on offer to young people in Shropshire, but English and maths qualifications remain an essential ingredient for many of the employability skills they need for a successful career.
One of our latest innovations at Telford College is the launch of a new range of aviation engineering courses and new Shropshire ‘aviation academy’, working with various partners including the Aviation Skills Partnership, RAF Cosford, Ryanair and Marshal Aerospace.
We are currently looking to recruit 100 students for the first intake in September, and are already receiving applications from all over the West Midlands.
So if you like the sound of an engineering career which could see you jetting off around the world, working with some of our best known airlines, get in quick . . . and make sure that you have your GCSE English and maths qualifications in place!
And that’s why, here at Telford College, we have announced an exciting addition to our curriculum.
For the first time, we will be running aviation engineering courses, starting in September, training skilled operatives to work with commercial and military airlines.
It is part of an ambitious plan to create a fully-fledged Shropshire ‘aviation academy’, with students spending the majority of their study time at RAF Cosford.
They will get chance to maintain and test the performance of civil and military aircraft, using sophisticated computer tools and software.
The focus will be on improving flight safety, fuel efficiency, speed and weight of aircraft, as well as reducing system costs – our aviation engineers will be at the forefront of technological and scientific development.
Why aviation? The statistics speak for themselves. There is currently a massive demand for licenced engineers in the industry, which means there are some fantastic career opportunities out there.
Across Europe alone, it is estimated that around 132,000 new aircraft maintenance technicians will be needed by the year 2037.
We are now looking to recruit more than 100 students for our first intake in September, for levels two and three engineering courses which deliver specific aviation skills.
The intention is to build our aviation programmes right up to degree level, giving students chance to progress onto a BSc (Hons) in Professional Aviation Engineering Practice.
With a railway station right on the doorstep, the Cosford centre will be easily accessible not just to the people of Telford and Shropshire, but also the wider West Midlands area, including the Black Country and Birmingham.
Our programme is the only one of its kind in the Midlands, and is being run in partnership with the Aviation Skills Partnership, which has links with many major airlines, including Ryanair.
The organisation was established in 2013, with a mission to continuously improve education and training opportunities within the aviation sector, ensuring that the right people have the right skills, to get the right jobs.
In other parts of the country with similar academies, 100% of the most recent cohort have gained real employment in the aviation industry.
We’re ready for take-off – so now is the perfect time for a fresh generation of aviation engineers to check in, fasten their seatbelts, and prepare take their careers to new heights…
To find out more about the new aviation engineering courses, see www.telfordcollege.ac.uk, or call our course hotline on 01952 642237.