College proves a shining beacon

Hartlepool College of Further Education principal Michael Bretherick (fourth from right) welcomes guests to the presentation awards event
Hartlepool College of Further Education principal Michael Bretherick (fourth from right) welcomes guests to the presentation awards event

HARTLEPOOL College of Further Education has been honoured as a shining example of community partnership working.

The college has been given a prestigious Association of Colleges (AoC) Beacon Award for a pioneering project that helps adult students with learning disabilities or those facing emotional or physical challenges to gain education and training.

A celebration day was held yesterday as part of National Apprentices Week,, at the town centre campus to showcase the efforts of everyone involved.

College principal Michael Bretherick, who is today being presented with the award by John Hayes, Minister of State for Further Education, at a presentation ceremony in Westminster, said: “It is a wonderful testament to our committed staff who have helped hundreds of adult learners in the health and community initiatives during the year.

”It’s a different way of addressing this type of curriculum and a perfect example of partners working together to create greater opportunities.

“I am extremely proud of the achievements of all partners involved in this scheme. The benefits to everyone are immense.”

Thousands of schemes are thought to have been put forward from around 400 colleges nationwide with just 30 honours given out.

Hartlepool College of Further Education won the Jardine Lloyd Thompson Benefit Solutions Award for Health and Community Care.

John Pascoe, consultant with Jardine Lloyd Thompson, was at Hartlepool College of Further Education yesterday to meet those involved in the scheme.

He said: “The college has shown how it can get out into the real world and make a huge difference in the wider community.

“This is a very prestigious award and Hartlepool College of Further Education is a truly deserving recipient.”

The award recognises outstanding schemes that provide good practice in health and community care provision and innovative initiatives that support high levels of achievement.

The college won the award for its work helping with the social integration and training of students with learning disabilities and difficulties, drug and alcohol dependency, and inmates preparing for release.

The scheme is run in collaboration with key partners including Hartlepool Borough Council, HMP Kirklevington Grange and other agencies.

Students are assessed against an agreed individual learning programme where academic, social and other goals are identified and monitored.

As part of the scheme, service users at Hartlepool’s Havelock Centre, worked with the college and partner agencies to help them look towards employment.

It developed to take in prisoners from Kirklevington Grange Prison.

Margaret Owen, the college’s former education, health and care head of department was instrumental in developing the project said it had started as a pilot two years ago and self-developed into a successful model.

She said: “It is an excellent example of working together to provide opportunities in the community that were never there before.

“It self-developed as time passed and is now a successful community venture.

“It gave people ownership every step of the way and we allowed it to grow.

“It is brilliant that it has now been recognised at the highest level.

“It shows how well people can work together and is testament to the partnership between the college and its partners.”

National Apprenticeship Week is running at colleges across the country and numerous events are being lined up to showcase the work of students and employers.

Hartlepool College of Further Education has almost 500 apprentices from around 300 companies learning their trade at the town centre campus.

The college has been the largest provider of apprentices in the Tees Valley area for a number of years and helps recruit apprentices as well as providing on-going training and education throughout the apprenticeship duration.

Anyone interested in starting an apprenticeship programme or any employer who wishes to be part of the successful programme should contact student services on (01429) 295111 or email