JUNE 2015


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

News shared via the bulletin aims to demonstrate how we are living our four guiding principles - Enterprise, Empowerment, Connectedness and Transformation.

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MP visits county’s first UTC

Ed Vaizey MP enjoyed a guided tour of UTC Oxfordshire ahead of its opening in September.

The MP for Didcot and Wantage joined UTC Oxfordshire Principal Owain Johns at the site of the new school at Didcot’s Great Western Park on Friday (22 May).

The school, which is sponsored by Activate Learning, will provide 14-19 year olds with a curriculum specialising in life sciences and engineering. Employer partners including MINI Plant Oxford, RM Education and UK Atomic Energy Authority will help to shape the curriculum and provide pupils with coaching and mentoring, access to live projects and solving work based challenges.

Mr Vaizey said: “The UTC will be a fantastic partnership between the science and technology based employers in science vale in my constituency and a really innovative approach to education.

“I have been very impressed by the energy with which those setting it all up have approached their task, particularly the progress made with the new building which is shaping up very well indeed.”

The UTC will initially offer 140 places for Year 10 and 12 students, eventually growing to 600 places.

Consultation begins into Bicester school

Plans for a new Bicester school which will train young people in the latest construction technologies have gone on show at a public event.

Activate Learning is developing proposals for Bicester Technology Studio, a 300-place school designed to support the town’s growing employment needs.

The school will provide students aged 14-19 with a curriculum specialising in sustainable construction and building services, to support the delivery of Bicester’s eco-town vision.

Students will also get the opportunity to study business logistics, with a focus on supply chain management and the efficient movement of goods through the use of technology and sustainable methods.

The school building, which will incorporate eco-features with a view to achieving zero carbon status, is proposed to be built alongside Bicester Community College at Queens Avenue.

The plans went on show at Bicester Community College on Wednesday 13 May, ahead of the planning application being made to the local authority.

Public consultation on the proposals for the school has also now opened. Local people have until 3 July to give their views. Feedback will be used to seek the final funding agreement from the Department for Education.

Work to start on STEM centre development

Work is about to start to create a new £8m centre for training in science, technology, engineering and maths.

The STEM centre, which will be known as the Oxfordshire Centre for Technology, Innovation and Skills, is being developed by Activate Learning at the Blackbird Leys campus of City of Oxford College.

The development is being backed by grant funding from the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership and responds to priorities for regional growth.

Oxfordshire’s Strategic Economic Plan indicates that up to 75,000 new jobs could be created between 2015 and 2031, with forecast growth in construction and manufacturing.

The centre will provide a new, state-of-the art facility aimed at developing high-level technical skills and expertise in science, technology, engineering and maths.

Work will begin by the end of May with a view to completing the development by spring 2016.

The scheme will create new buildings and refurbish existing facilities at the Blackbird Leys campus in Cuddesdon Way. It will provide an engineering centre complete with learning zones, workshops and modern design and fabrication spaces.


Agreement to build skills of Malaysian teachers

Activate Learning is to develop the skills of teachers in Malaysia under a new agreement.

The group, working together with The Sheffield College, has forged a partnership with the University College Sabah Foundation to provide teacher training programmes.

The agreement, signed at the Malaysian Embassy in London, also covers support to develop new courses in hospitality, tourism, film, media and furniture.

The University College Sabah Foundation, which launched last autumn, provides further and higher education programmes with an emphasis on environmental sustainability.

Under the agreement, teachers skilled in teacher training from Activate Learning’s three further education colleges – Banbury and Bicester College, City of Oxford College and Reading College - will develop a programme of professional training and development. The programme will be delivered in Malaysia and in the UK, with teachers from Malaysia spending time at the Activate Learning colleges to observe teaching and learning.

Students inspire community to get in shape

A community project led by sports students from City of Oxford College is inspiring local residents to get fit and active.

The students have recently delivered a five-week community-based leisure course at Cutteslowe Community Association.

The 'Get fit, keep healthy' community project involved group and individual fitness sessions, lifestyle advice and tuition on use of outdoor gym facilities.

The course received positive feedback with a number of participants expressing an interest in working with students again in the future.

Stuart Leonard, Programme Co-ordinator in Sport at City of Oxford College said: “This has been a fantastic event for the community and our students and their confidence has grown hugely from working with such a diverse range of people. We've already signed up for next year and this is the start of many more community projects for the sports students”.

Designs on a career in fashion

Fashion students from Reading College have been helping children explore careers in clothing design.

Pupils from Year 5 and 6 at Manor Primary School took part in a fashion workshop run by students and staff.

Teacher Kimberley Lowe said: "It is great to be collaborating with students from the college as it helps to raise the children's aspirations for the future. After SATs exams it is good for the children to have the chance to draw and be creative for a whole morning. We are just about to start a project to design a fashion collection for a band going on tour, linking to songs, so this is a great way to start."

During the first session, the children used wooden models to learn about drawing human figures. Reading College fashion student Eloise Hart said: “I have loved it at Manor Primary today. They have so much creativity at this age.”


We’re Here Now returns for second year

A month-long arts showcase organised by creative arts staff and students from Banbury and Bicester College has returned for a second year.

We’re Here Now brings together the work of students on further and higher education creative arts programmes to create a series of pop-up exhibitions, events and workshops.

The team has taken over two empty retail units in the town’s shopping centre to help bring student work into the heart of the local community.

Visitors are being invited to enjoy the exhibitions, buy artworks and take part in a range of free workshops including ceramics, origami and roller printing.

The initiative, which engaged with more than 2,000 people last year, runs until 20 June when the show will transfer to the college’s creative arts and media centres.

Banbury town team co-ordinator, Neil Wild, said: “As a town team we are very keen to see arts and crafts playing a much bigger part in the mix of businesses in our town centre.

“It’s very encouraging to see how much energy college students and staff have put into securing this opportunity as a showcase for their creativity.”

Public services students triumphant at national competition

Public services students from City of Oxford College have proved they are among the best in the country, with three wins at a national competition.

The team of eight students competed against 10 further education colleges in the Public Services National Competition.

They were the champions in three categories – fire and rescue challenge, disaster and emergency challenge and leadership low ropes.

The competition was held at Brooklands College in Weybridge, Surry on Saturday 9 May.

Student design sets the tone for village festival

A young designer has created a new identity for a village festival.

Twelve students from Banbury and Bicester College were invited to submit designs for a new logo for Deddington Village Festival.

The winner was 18-year-old Gemma Riley, whose logo will now form the centrepiece of the village’s celebration of culture and arts.

Emma Noon, chair of the committee said: “We were really impressed with the quality of work that was produced by the students. It was hard to select just one winning entry, but we all agreed that Gemma’s design had the edge with a clean design and bright colours. It was a great opportunity for us to collaborate with a local college and involve the next generation of designers in a local cultural event.”

The 13th annual Deddington Festival will take place between Friday 12 June and Saturday 20 June, with acts and events celebrating 2015 as the UNESCO Year of Light. Bringing a variety of arts and culture experiences to the community, this year’s festival offers a range of music, comedy, performing and visual arts events in Deddington and the surrounding villages.


Education events to help parents

A series of free events are to help parents with teenagers facing decisions about their education and future career.

Activate Learning is holding the ‘What next after GCSEs?’ events at Reading College, City of Oxford College and Banbury and Bicester College in June.

The events will bring together experts in further and higher education, careers advisors and employers who can help parents understand the options after GCSEs and routes into employment. They will include sessions led by representatives from Oxford Brookes University, Adviza and the UK Commission for Employment and Skills.

The events are part of a new approach to working with parents, to help to plug the gap left by limited careers advice in schools.

They take place at City of Oxford College on Wednesday 10 June; Reading College on Monday 15 June and Banbury and Bicester College on Wednesday 24 June. Each event runs from 6-8pm.

Spaces are limited and must be booked in advance by visiting