Describing opening Bede Sixth Form College’s new £2.4m development as the proudest day of his life is a bold statement from Mark White CBE DL.
After a career littered with accolades, it shows the level of affection Mark has for the college in Billingham, where he started what would be a 27-year commitment to further education in the Tees Valley.
Bede has now recognised his contribution to the college with the official launch of its all-new Mark White Annexe at the college site on Marsh House Avenue.
“This feels like an extraordinary honour,” said Mark, former chair of governors at the Education Training Collective (Etc.). “It means the world to me.”
Funded, in part, by the Department for Education’s Post-16 Capacity Fund, the annexe has been created in response to an expected demographic increase in 16 to 19-year-olds, making room for an additional 200 students at Bede.
Those joining the college now have access to the all-new facility with nine new classrooms, specialist suites and breakout spaces.
The self-contained three-storey facility includes a dedicated learning area for those students with a particular interest in the science and pharmaceutical sectors, a health and social care wing and bespoke media suite.
Bede’s principal Patrick Jordan said: “We are incredibly proud and excited to see work on the development complete and to now be welcoming returning students and new starters to learn in fantastic state-of-the-art facilities.
“This welcome investment in our facilities enables us to accommodate more students and also offered the exciting opportunity to create new and innovative learning environments, designed to meet key-sector skill demands.”
Of naming the annexe after Mark White, he added: “Mark has long been a part of Bede’s blood and so it seemed only fitting that we dedicate this space to him.”
Attending the annexe launch, Councillor Bob Cook, Leader of Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council, said: “It’s so important that we help children and young people reach their potential from early years through to further education, and that we do all we can to provide them with high quality learning environments fit for a modern education.
“We want them all to be educated in modern buildings like this wonderful new facility, and the sixth form’s increased capacity will bring more opportunities for them to learn new skills in a purpose-built, inspirational space.”
Mark White stepped back from his role as chair of the Etc. governing board last summer, after 27 years in governing roles across the college group which includes Bede Sixth Form College, NETA Training, Redcar and Cleveland College, Stockton Riverside College and The Skills Academy (Billingham).
A keen volunteer, working with multiple organisations across the Tees Valley and nationwide, Mark was named in the King’s Birthday Honours List to receive a CBE early this year for his services to further education. He is also a Deputy Lieutenant of County Durham.