November 2015


The Activate Learning Staff Bulletin is designed to keep team members informed of news and developments from across the group.

To suggest an item for the bulletin, please contact Group PR and Communications Manager, Jonathan Goode.

First employer-led project launched at Blackbird Leys

The first employer-led project has been launched at the Blackbird Leys campus of City of Oxford College.

The 12-week project, which will see students on programmes in construction and the built environment develop a major road interchange, is being delivered by Skanska.

It marks the first of a series of employer-led projects to be run at Blackbird Leys as the campus undergoes an £8m development to create the Oxfordshire Centre for Technology, Innovation and Skills.

John Murray, Strategic Manager at Skanska, said: “Skanska are delighted to be a lead partner with City of Oxford College. Working in Oxfordshire and with the local community is very important to us and we are excited to help shape the future of the industry by supporting the students at the college.”

Other partners involved in delivering the curriculum at the Oxfordshire Centre for Technology, Innovation and Skills include: Land Securities and The Crown Estate, Peter Brett Associates, Laing O’Rourke and Beard Construction.

The centre is due to open in September 2016.

Green light for second phase of technology centre

In October, the second phase of the Oxfordshire Centre for Technology, Innovation and Skills at Blackbird Leys was granted planning permission.

Building work on the first phase, a new L-shaped building, began in June. With full planning permission now granted, work on the second phase, involving a new single-storey building and the refurbishment of an existing building, is also underway.

This phase will include a new entrance and landscaping to the front of the campus to improve the main approach.

The redeveloped campus will provide learning zones, workshops and modern design and fabrication spaces to support the creation of 60 new apprenticeships and 60 new full-time places in engineering and new technologies. It will also increase the level of part-time professional courses in the local area, to help meet the skills needs of existing employees and employers.

World land speed record team zooms into Banbury

A UK project to break the world land speed record came to Banbury in November to inspire local young people.

BLOODHOUND SSC is a high-technology project to design and build a jet-powered car that will break the 1,000mph barrier and become the fastest car in the world.

From 3-5 November, the BLOODHOUND education roadshow visited Banbury and Bicester College to give local school pupils the chance to meet the team, watch demonstrations and take part in hands-on experiments linked to science, technology and engineering.

Around 400 pupils from 14 schools, as well as our own students, took part across the three days. Members of the public also took the chance to discover more at the college’s Open Event on 4 November, while a business networking event attracted around 80 people.

The visit was organised by Banbury and Bicester College and supported by local organisations, including: Cherwell District Council, Lucy Electric, Norbar, O2i and SEMLEP.

It was the second time the college has hosted the team, having run a similar roadshow at the Bicester campus in the summer.

Apprentices network their way onto career ladder

A trio of UTC Reading’s first alumni have launched their careers with one of the school’s industry partners.

James Walsh, Israr Hassan and Anwar Whight have joined a three-year apprenticeship programme with Reading-based Cisco Systems Ltd, having completed their sixth form studies in the summer.

The three students were among the first cohort to join UTC Reading, which is sponsored by Activate Learning, when it opened in September 2013.

James, aged 19 from Tilehurst, said: “It is a dream come true to be working at Cisco. I completed their work experience programme during my time at UTC Reading, which was one of the most exciting things I had ever done through school. I knew immediately it was where I wanted to start my career.

“Having made that clear to my teachers, they gave me every opportunity to build links and contacts with the company. The application process was extremely tough, but because of the preparation I had been given by UTC Reading I was able to demonstrate that I had the skills and qualifications Cisco needed.”

Event celebrates Oxford’s first Myanmar graduates

The first students in Myanmar to achieve a qualification accredited by City of Oxford College have graduated at a special ceremony.

City of Oxford College accredits programmes in English, business management and teaching and assessing young learners at the iAcademic Institute in Yangon, Myanmar.

On Sunday (Nov 1) Francis Lawson, Head of Learning at Activate Learning, delivered the keynote speech at iAcademic’s first graduation ceremony for the three courses.

Speaking at the event, he said: “I first visited Yangon one year ago and met with teachers, managers and students of iAcademic. Immediately, I was struck by two things. One was the tremendous determination and passion felt by everyone about the power of education. The other was a feeling of welcome and positive emotion that made me feel part of a family during the few days I spent in the city. It is for these reasons that City of Oxford College is very proud to be linked with iAcademic.”

Catering students serve up two successful awards nights

Catering students from City of Oxford College and Reading College have been busy impressing guests at two leading awards events.

In October, students from City of Oxford College sharpened their culinary skills to prepare and serve a three course meal to more than 300 guests at the Oxfordshire Restaurant Awards.

They were supported by events management and public services students, who transformed Oxford Town Hall for the occasion. The awards themselves were made by a furniture student at the Rycotewood Furniture Centre.

Last week it was the turn of Reading College students, who created, prepared and served a menu for guests at the Pride of Reading Awards.

The students were tasked with devising a menu which reflected Reading landmarks and local ingredients. It included Reading royal tart, a chicken dish arranged to reflect the town’s skyline and chocolate mousse with Reading biscuits. Around 300 guests attended including the awards host, TV presenter Chris Tarrant.

Celebrating 60 years of Reading College

A VIP event has celebrated 60 years since HRH the Queen Mother opened Reading’s technical college at Kings Road.

On Friday 23 October 2015 invited guests marked the anniversary with guided tours of Reading College, an exhibition created for the occasion and a lunch prepared and served by students.

Visitors included Rob Wilson, MP for Reading East; Alok Sharma, MP for Reading West; Cllr Sarah Hacker, the Mayor of Reading; Cllr Parvinder Batth, the Mayor of Wokingham and Chris Dodson, Deputy to HM Lord-Lieutenant of the Royal County of Berkshire.

The 60th anniversary exhibition displayed in the foyer showed images from the 1950s, work by graphics and fashion students and photography by Tanya Ahmed, who studied at the college in the 1980s and is now based in New York.

Find out more about the anniversary and watch a film of the Queen Mother’s visit to Reading on the Reading College website.

Your career starts now, Lord Baker tells students

Lord Baker congratulated students at UTC Oxfordshire for taking the first brave step on their future career as he visited the school on 22 October.
The former education secretary is joint founder and chairman of the Baker Dearing Trust, the organisation behind the University Technical College concept.

He visited UTC Oxfordshire as the school approached the end of its first half term, to meet students and staff and tour the new facility.

Speaking to all 140 students in the main hall, Lord Baker said: “You have made a courageous decision to leave your school and join this new UTC. In doing so, you have made an important start on building your future career.

“Your school represents a different form of education, one that is very related to the world of work. As such, it will prepare and equip you with the skills needed in the modern workplace.

“The rapid growth in computing and robotics means that unskilled jobs are disappearing almost daily. The nature of work is changing fundamentally from your grandparents’ and even your parents’ generation.

“We must equip you with skills that make you adaptable. By studying here, you will not only get the technical skills you need but skills such as teamwork, which you will need throughout your life.

“Employers often say that young people leaving school don’t have the right attitude and cannot work together to solve problems. By studying here, you will have those skills and be well placed to make choices about your future career.”

Lord Baker joined students for lunch in the school’s Elements Café, before going on a tour of the building.

This included a preview of the second phase – now open – which features cryogenics and microscopy laboratories, a laser room and electrical and mechanical engineering workshops for robotics and rapid prototyping.