David Alexander: why I #loveourcolleges

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Last week I was in Hall 2 at Sage Gateshead; an iconic, world class music venue on the banks of the Tyne. It attracts the best of performers from across the globe, and here I was watching our first year students, just 5 weeks into their course, showcasing incredible talent and potential. My colleague and I turned to each other and said “how lucky are we to work in a college”.

Further education, our colleges, my college here in Gateshead, are special places full of special people helping individuals achieve special things. I’m now over a year into the job and, even through the busiest periods, I never take for granted the work we do and the contribution we make to support our communities and it’s great that Love Our Colleges week shines a light on this.

This year we’ve been hard at work developing our new Strategic Plan and a lot of time has been spent in conversation with our colleagues, our partners and most importantly our learners, to really get to the heart of what people want and need from us. This not only demonstrated how important our role is in helping our community and those who live and work in it thrive, but has provided us with a clear direction and focus on our future priorities.

The world is an uncertain place at the moment and this is impacting on people and organisations in many ways, with some in our community facing incredibly difficult challenges. Through this colleges like ours will remain focused on the job in hand, trying to do the best we can with the resources available to us and always thinking of what else we might be able to do to help. Having high aspirations for all our learners, making sure that we enable them to get the qualifications and skills they need to get jobs and careers that will secure their futures and being mindful of the impact on our people too; as we can’t achieve anything without them – they are the beating heart of our college and every college.

Colleges are inclusive and diverse. In the last two weeks I’ve not only seen music performances but I’ve had the luxury of eating in our very busy student restaurant Enfields. I’ve cheered on the netballers from our Academy for Sport, tried my hand at bricklaying and stripping a wire (under the guidance of our first year students) heard from one of our partners at Women in Construction about how a project we’re working on is helping women move into careers in an industry where they are under-represented, and I’ve celebrated with colleagues who won Edge awards for the brilliant contribution they are making to help learners succeed. In two weeks. Just normal weeks in a college (nothing normal about it!).

As we look back on Love our Colleges Week I’d just like to give my thanks to all those at Gateshead College and everyone in this wonderful sector for everything they do; thank you #Love our Colleges.

Wed Feb 28 2024