Silver standard recognises Etc. colleges’ drive to go green

Whether it’s cutting down on electricity use, car sharing, or swap shops, thinking green is fast becoming part of the ethos at the Education Training Collective (Etc.).

Now the group of Teesside colleges has seen its efforts recognised with a silver award from the Investors in the Environment (iiE) and recertification from Carbon Neutral Britain for the second year running.

“As a college group working with thousands of people every year, we made a decision to lead by example when it comes to reducing our environmental impact,” said director of marketing and sustainability lead, Erika Marshall.

“What started out as small steps such as reducing the number of plastic bottles in our fridges and swapping single-use plastic cutlery for more sustainable options has grown to a whole group approach.”

For the Etc., which comprises Bede Sixth Form College, NETA Training, Redcar and Cleveland College, Stockton Riverside College and The Skills Academy, greener thinking led to the creation of a Green Initiatives Group, made up of more than 30 volunteers from across the college sites.

“By working together and sharing ideas the initiatives have just become bigger and more ambitious,” said Erika.

Efforts to reduce the group’s collective carbon footprint have included increasing recycling, reduced general waste and energy consumption, along with clothing, book and gift swaps and the introduction of a car share scheme.

Now with the iiE Green Award in their sights, the colleges are increasingly turning their attention to ways students and staff can reduce their carbon emissions both in the classroom and at home.

Erika said: “By spreading the word and making more sustainable choices a part of college life we hope to spread the word, through friends and family, to our wider communities.

“Making more sustainable choices is not just good for the environment but also can be beneficial to households facing the challenges of the cost of living and fuel crises.”

Jo Holmes, managing director of environmental sustainability consultancy, Genee Consulting Ltd, said: “During their iiE membership over the past year, Etc. have made some really positive strides when tackling the impact of transport on their overall sustainability, as well as commendable work towards managing their waste.

“Through their excellent communications and campaigns, they have been able to integrate sustainability into the day-to-day of the organisation and we’ve loved seeing their progress. We’re positive that 2023 will see Etc. reach green iiE accreditation.”

NAW2023: Stockton Riverside College Assistant Principal, Rebecca Cadden, talks apprenticeships

Apprenticeships have always, rightly, been celebrated for the on-the-job training they provide, but also for their unique potential for equipping apprentices with ‘Skills for Life’.

Stockton Riverside College Assistant Principal, Rebecca Cadden

At the Education Training Collective (Etc.) our colleges are situated in Teesside, where trades such as welding, manufacturing and engineering did literally provide skills for life – that was their basis. The apprentice would start on a pathway and continue on that route, either in the same role or progressing through levels – often until they reached retirement.

Since those days, other sectors, job roles and industries have recognised the benefits, using those same methodologies to create new apprenticeships – in industries such as creative, digital and media – this has resulted in a variety of on-the-job training that is richer than ever before, not just for our youngsters but for adults too.

In the last decade, apprenticeships have experienced something of a roller-coaster, spiking in terms of popularity, going from being the ‘in’ careers pathway, falling out of favour and then back again – often with overt alignment with other programmes, such as traineeships, and ‘return to work’ schemes. And that’s not to mention the jolt that pandemic lockdowns have served up.

As reported in FE Week (January 2023), according to provisional in-year Department for Education data apprenticeship starts in England dropped by six percent in the first quarter of 2022/23 and are three percent down on the same period in 2019, pre-pandemic.

But, as National Apprenticeship Week draws to a close, should this be reason for despondency, on a journey that we have already likened to a rollercoaster? I would like to think not. The same data shows that take up of higher apprenticeships has continued to grow, at our colleges we have witnessed students moving on to higher apprenticeship programmes that they could never have imagined a few years ago.

Today, T Levels are the new skills ‘kid on the block’ but far from working in competition with an apprenticeship, the reality could be that they work alongside, offering the employer a more holistic approach to skills for the future, and the learner a broader scope of post-secondary choice than ever before.

As is always the case when a new learning route is introduced, there is a lot to unpick and understand, but with T Levels having been on the roll-out across the UK since 2020, they are now becoming more embedded, and a solid part of the curriculum offer.

For employers, T Levels should not be a distraction from an apprenticeship, rather they are complementary. Each offers their own benefits to both the learner and employer – right learner, right employer, right course.

At Stockton Riverside College – part of the Etc. – we believe in apprenticeships and we champion our employers and communities to recognise the role that an apprentice plays in society and the workplace; it is this recognition and understanding that is the fundamental difference between a student leaving education with just the bare essentials and one who flourishes, completing their apprenticeship ready to be part of the workforce of the future. I can think of so many examples where the learner has thrived and as a result, the employer has seen their business positively impacted.

When we think about ‘Skills for Life’, we’re not just considering those learnt in the classroom, but those honed in the workplace – traditional practical skills in a chosen trade or discipline and a real understanding of what it means to be in the world of work. Surely these, combined, either as part of a T Level, a mixture of classroom-based learning with work experience or an apprenticeship, are what make up the perfect blend when it comes to building skills for life!

It’s a great result for students at Bede Sixth Form

There’s been plenty to celebrate at Billingham’s Bede Sixth Form College this results day.

All the hard work paid off as Bede students achieved a 99% A level pass rate, with 100% success in 16 subjects, and more students achieving the highest grades.

Bede Sixth Form College

“It is incredible to see our learners doing so well and getting the results they deserve, particularly following the challenges they have faced in recent years,” said Bede’s acting principal Patrick Jordan.

“This is the first time these students have undertaken the formal national examination process, and they have shown massive resilience and produced a strong set of results here at Bede that they should be massively proud of.”

Results day success included high grades of A* to B up almost 5% at the college compared to pre-covid results, and 7% of Bede students this summer achieved an A*, the highest possible grade.

All of this comes just weeks after Bede, a part of the Education Training Collective, achieved a ‘Good’ Ofsted result with ‘Outstanding’ features, including leadership and management, behaviour and attitudes, personal development, and education programmes for young people.

The sixth form also recently announced a £2.4m construction project to expand its facilities, increasing capacity for an additional 200 students, with nine new classrooms and breakout spaces.

Bede currently delivers a wider range of A level and A level equivalent subjects, along with full-time study options in sport and public services, to more than 700 students.

For the class of 2022 many will now head off to their first-choice universities, apprenticeships, and future goals.

Patrick, a former Bede student himself, said: “Against a backdrop of disruption and uncertainty for all young people over the last few years, this is a really solid set of results that will now set our students up for their future choices. We look forward to seeing all that they now go on to achieve.”

Education Training Collective rated Ofsted ‘Good’ with ‘Outstanding’ features

High praise from Ofsted is another great result for the colleges, students and staff, that make up the Education Training Collective (Etc.).

In its first full inspection since the merger of Stockton Riverside College and Redcar and Cleveland College, the group, which also includes Bede Sixth Form College, NETA Training and The Skills Academy (Billingham), has been rated ‘Good’ with ‘Outstanding’ features.

Ofsted principals 2022

The report, published today, describes a college group where students are “very proud to study” and they benefit from “a strong culture of positive respect”.

Group principal and chief executive, Phil Cook, said: “As a group our aim, above all else, is to provide high quality local colleges for local people. Gaining outstanding for leadership and management is a fantastic accolade for the group, but also and importantly for those stakeholders we work with; you do not achieve outstanding without excellent partnerships that have a direct impact on our students learning.”

The college group was also rated ‘Outstanding’ for behaviour and attitudes, personal development, and education programmes for young people, and rated ‘Good’ in all other areas. Phil added: “It is reasonable for parents, stakeholders and our communities to assume our provision for young people is now outstanding, as that’s what Ofsted has said and that is brilliant news. For other aspects of our provision such as our apprenticeships and our work with adults and high needs students, Ofsted has commended us and again our communities can be assured that such services are judged as being really really good.”

It also marks a milestone for Redcar and Cleveland College. The college had previously received an inadequate rating before merger, but in the view of Ofsted has been “transformed” and is now considered “the college of first choice” for many young people living in the borough.

Preparing to hand over the reins later this year, after nine years leading the college group, Phil said: “To deliver the service our communities deserve takes hard work and determination, from our staff, leaders, governing body and, of course, our amazing students, not least as we faced the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic.

“That’s why it is fantastic to now see our incredible teams, across the group, and our partners, receive external recognition.”

Inspectors also recognised the support that learners, of all ages and abilities, receive and the enrichment programme that “helps them to develop their wider employability skills, confidence, and resilience.”

There was further praise for the curriculum, which is shaped to meet local economy and skill demands while, working with specialist providers, the group is able to offer a “niche provision” giving people access to local jobs that would normally be out of reach.

The report said: “Students and apprentices benefit from useful and relevant training in their local communities which meets the needs of employers and the priorities of the local enterprise partnership.”

This has resulted in exciting projects in the pipeline, further supporting their local communities, such as the addition of Redcar’s Clean Energy Education Hub, plans to extend facilities at NETA Training and developments at Bede.

Chairman of the Etc. governing board, Mark White OBE DL, said: “As a board of governors we welcome this Ofsted result which is testament to the commitment of all our teams and the work they do to deliver for our communities.”

Retiring in the summer after 27 years on the boards of the colleges that make up the Etc., culminating in his current role as chair, Mark added: “I am extremely proud to have been a part of this incredible group of colleges, of everything it has achieved and everything it will go on to achieve in the future.”

Education Training Collective announces new Chair of the Board

The Education Training Collective (Etc.) today announced that Stuart Blackett will be taking the reins as the college group’s Chairman of the Board.

The chief financial officer at Railpen will be joined by Dot Smith, as the newly appointed Vice Chair.

Together the pair are looking forward to the opportunities ahead and leading the group to further success. Stuart said: “It is an exciting time to be a part of the college group, and to be here in the Tees Valley where there is so much potential.”

A financial and strategic leader with a passion for the area and a strong belief in the value of education, dad-of-two Stuart is looking forward to the job ahead.

Surrounded by what he describes as “a really great board of governors”, and following in the footsteps of current chairman, Mark White OBE DL, Stuart said: “Etc. is an important organisation with a great responsibility. We are building on a strong foundation and that’s a great time to do anything.”

With its roots in Teesside, the Education Training Collective is made up of Bede Sixth Form College, NETA Training, Redcar and Cleveland College, Stockton Riverside College, The Skills Academy and Tees Valley Catering.

Inspired from the moment he first walked through the door, Stuart said: “To have the opportunity to learn in a college like ours must be fantastic. When I look back to my own school days and those draughty prefab classrooms, it is like a different world, and I am proud to now be a part of it.”

A dad of two boys, 13 and 11, Stuart said his focus in recent years has increasingly sharpened on education and the opportunities available to young people. As a part of the college group’s governing board, that has rapidly become a priority.

He said: “It’s not only about the 16 to 21-year-olds. There are people with so many diverse skills and backgrounds, of all ages, from different walks of life. We need to provide opportunities for as many of those people as we can, and we have an incredible platform here to achieve that.”

Working with Railpen for 21 years, a governor at Red House School, and former vice chairman of the Railway Housing Association in Darlington, Stuart said: “Every organisation I have worked for or with has a strong purpose. Here at the Etc. we are providing people with opportunities, perhaps the most important being a chance to change their life.”

And he believes there’s much more to look forward to.

He said: “New developments across the college group reflect the changing landscape of our economy and position us well for exciting opportunities ahead. We are seeing a generation with a different skills demand and the college group is well placed to facilitate that.”

Joining the Etc. as a governor, alongside a host of other commitments, as well as the demands of a young family, Stuart explained: “The ethos of the organisation, the staff, and what we are here to do, really resonates with me.”

Looking to his fellow board members and colleagues across the group, he said: “Being surrounded by fantastic people has made my role as governor, and now the transition to chairman, so much easier.

“I didn’t set out to become chair of the board, but what an honour!”

Work starts on £3.2m Clean Energy Education Hub

Construction of Redcar and Cleveland College’s Clean Energy Education Hub is underway in a move to help prepare people for future green jobs coming to the Tees Valley.

First spades in the ground on the site on Corporation Road mark the development of the £3.2m facility which will deliver the skills needed by employers in the clean energy and renewable sector, and also drive the ambitions of young people across the borough.

CEEH June 22

Redcar and Cleveland College principal, Jason Faulkner, said: “We have been bowled over by the level of support this initiative has generated, both across the region and nationally.”

Primarily funded by the Town Deal Fund, the hub will provide a practical learning environment that simulates real workspaces to service domestic and industrial markets.

The college is working with the Redcar Town Deal Board, Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, the combined authority and industry leaders to ensure the hub is positioned to support the area’s emerging green economy.

Jason said: “Teesside and the Tees Valley is lining itself up to be a green cluster for global businesses leading the way in greener, cleaner ways of living and working. By working with leaders in the clean and renewable energy industry we will be able to ensure a training provision that responds to the real demands of the sector, not just in the short term but also in five, 10, 15 years’ time.”

Contractor Britcon has been appointed to deliver the project, a 1000 square metre new build which will link to the college’s existing building with its own access route. Doors are due to open to its first learners in January 2023.

With additional investment from the Education Training Collective and the Skills Development Fund, the hub will deliver training to school leavers and adult learners, as well as offering higher education, commercial, professional, and bespoke employer-led programmes.

The project has been further boosted by the commitment of a donation from bp to bring community engagement and further development to the hub, with a focus on raising awareness of the opportunities within the clean energy sector among local school children. The company has announced plans for three projects in the region: HyGreen Teesside, which will utilise green hydrogen, H2Teesside, which will produce blue hydrogen, and first-of-a-kind gas-fired power and carbon capture project NZT Power.

Masudur Rahman, bp’s social performance manager in the UK, said: “It’s great to see work starting on the Clean Energy Education Hub at Redcar and Cleveland College. We’re proud to support their efforts to inspire young people in science, technology, engineering and mathematics and help equip them with the skills to pursue careers in the low carbon industry. Supporting the next generation energy innovators is an important part of our wider backing of Teesside helping to create a net zero future and nurturing the talent we will need to help get us there.”

Darren Winter is chair of the Redcar Town Deal Board, he said: “The Town Deal aims to make a positive difference to the lives of people in Redcar and the surrounding area. The hub is great news for all young people in the borough which is specially designed to equip them with the relevant skills needed in jobs now and in the future, especially in sectors in emerging technologies.”

Mary Lanigan, leader of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, added: “The hub will provide a fantastic opportunity for residents to gain the skills which will lead to a well-paid and successful career in the industries of the future. Our borough will be at the heart of a green energy revolution, and we want all our residents to benefit from this.”

Describing Teesside as being “at the epicentre of the UK’s clean industrial future”, Jacob Young, Conservative MP for Redcar, said: “With everything from new hydrogen technology to the manufacturing of wind farm blades coming to Teesside, renewable energy is perhaps the most crucial link in that chain.

“What is more crucial still is that it is Teessiders who benefit from the high-quality, well-paid jobs being created in this exciting new sector. And so, I not only welcome, but applaud the creation of Redcar and Cleveland College’s £3.2m Clean Energy Education Hub.

“By providing Teessiders with the training programmes our new industry needs, we’re ensuring local people will become the primary beneficiaries of the UK’s green industrial revolution.”

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “I’m delighted to see spades in the ground on this exciting project. Schemes like these are helping to give current and future generations the best possible chance to take advantage of the opportunities we’re creating within the safer, cleaner and healthier industries of tomorrow.

“With the government and major global companies such as bp investing in Teesside, this centre will help support the sectors of the future that are central to my plan for jobs, a plan that is already creating good-quality, well-paid jobs for local workers.

“This is the latest in a long list of initiatives boosting our region’s clean energy credentials, building on our work to become the UK’s premier location for offshore wind and supporting projects like Net Zero Teesside which is developing the UK’s first decarbonised industrial cluster. Together these will supercharge plans for Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool to become a national powerhouse for clean energy.”

Nick Shepherd, managing director of Britcon, added: “We are delighted to be working in collaboration with Redcar and Cleveland College and all stakeholders to deliver this exciting green energy training building.

“We have a strong delivery pedigree within the North-east and our strategy is always to maximise the use of local suppliers and support employment and training opportunities. This project provides another fantastic opportunity to leave a real local legacy whilst supporting the important development of the clean energy sector.”

New Chief Executive to take the helm of thriving Teesside college group

There are so many reasons why Grant Glendinning is looking forward to taking the lead at the Education Training Collective (Etc.).

An established leader in the sector, he has watched with interest not only the growth and achievement of the college group, which comprises Bede Sixth Form College, NETA Training Group, Redcar and Cleveland College, Stockton Riverside College and the Skills Academy, but also the transformation of the Tees Valley’s industrial landscape.

Now appointed to be chief executive and group principal, Grant said: “This is a high performing college group situated in an area with so much future potential. I can’t wait to get started.”

Etc. Grant Glendinning

Grant, who is the current executive principal for NCG North, will join Etc. after the summer, taking the reins from Phil Cook who has led the college group since 2013.

Since his arrival, Phil has overseen the transformation of the college, initially Stockton Riverside College and Bede Sixth Form College, then NETA and more recently Redcar and Cleveland College.

Phil said of his time at Etc.: “I believe passionately in high quality local colleges for local people and I think that’s what we’ve delivered. I’ve been fortunate to have worked with so many amazing people, who are totally committed to their students and their local communities, and it’s been a privilege to do so, and something that I will cherish. However, it’s now time for me to move on, to new challenges, and I do so with the assurance that we have a committed and incredibly able set of governors, who I believe have made an excellent appointment in Grant. I know that Etc.’s journey is far from over and that there is much more to come.”

Looking forward to continuing that journey, Grant, who is originally from Hartlepool, said the transformational nature of the area was part of the role’s appeal.

Plus, having left the area as a teen for university and going on to a career in teaching, leadership and management working in Eastern Europe, London and the North-west, he said, for him, this feels like a return home.

Still with family in Billingham and Hartlepool, he said: “Growing up in Teesside, it was a very different place, it felt like industry had had its day and that continued for decades. To see the repurposing of the Tees Valley with strong economic and political leadership is fantastic. It is a really transformative story.”

While Grant describes his return to Teesside as “a happy coincidence”, he said the thought of now being able to work in the area and add value and impact was a real draw.

Driven by a passion for further education and helping get young people and adults into meaningful jobs, he said: “It is an incredibly exciting time for the Tees Valley, not only when you think about Teesworks and the cradle of clean energy the area might become, but also the future vision for town centres in Stockton, Redcar, Middlesbrough, Darlington and Hartlepool, the opportunities for global inward investment that the freeport is going to bring.

“We could be looking at something akin to a boomtown for Teesside. What a fantastic time to join Etc. and be a part of all that.”

Mark White OBE DL, Chair at Etc., said: “As you would expect, recruiting a new chief executive and group principal for our group was always going to be a robust and rigorous process. Phil Cook has had such significant impact – for which the board is incredibly grateful – and his leadership has transformed this group to such an extent that we needed someone with the skillset and background to be able to pick up the baton and run with it.

“I am delighted that Grant has been appointed to the role and I know that the board is very much looking forward to working with him when he joins.”