Stratford-upon-Avon College Business students, with the cheques they will deliver to their chosen charities.

Students Put The ‘Fun’ Into Fundraising

Business students from Stratford-upon-Avon College have been making good use of their knowledge and expertise to raise money for charity. Working in small teams, the students ran various fundraising events throughout Warwickshire and raised the magnificent sum of £1637.67.

These activities, which will be treated as part of the students’ Level 3 BTEC Business course, were designed to develop their team-working and event management skills. Each team was responsible for selecting a particular charity – with the four chosen being: Young Epilepsy UK, Cancer Research UK, M.I.N.D. and Rays of Sunshine – and they then worked tirelessly to plan, advertise and run their event.

Charlie Glynn, 20, from Warwick, raised £630 for Cancer Research UK. “To know that we raised the money for a charity that’s so close to us all is amazing, and to be able to do it as part of our College work is absolutely fantastic. Because the cause is personal to us, we felt everyone would have more invested in our event and so we’d work that much harder.

“We hosted a charity ball with live music at The View in Stratford. We had 130 guests turn up on the night. We arranged the live music ourselves and The View offered the use of their premises free of charge which was very good of them.”

Charlie explained the challenges faced by the students throughout the project. “When organising the event, we had to form a strong, cohesive group. We had to use our negotiation skills and convince organisations of the benefits of working with us, since we had no budget to spend! All the groups worked largely independently, so we learnt a huge amount as we progressed with the project, while at the same time helping our favourite charities.”

Stratford-upon-Avon College Business students, with the cheques they will deliver to their chosen charities.

Stratford-upon-Avon College Business students, with the cheques they will deliver to their chosen charities.

Olympic pole vaulter Holly Bradshaw

Olympic Athlete Inspires Local Students

An Olympic pole-vaulter has been offering an insight into the life of an elite athlete by passing on her training and performance expertise to students at Stratford-upon-Avon College.

Holly Bradshaw, who competed at the Rio Olympics in 2016 finishing in fifth place, joined the College as a guest lecturer on Thursday 2 February to discuss her training and conditioning with Sport students.

Holly’s husband Paul, a former 800-metre runner who has represented both England and Great Britain, now works as Sport lecturer at the College. Aware of a gap in Holly’s training schedule, Paul took advantage of the opportunity to organise the visit.

Holly spent the day covering nutrition and analysing performance with the students. She explained: “Pole vaulting incorporates quite a lot of complex movements so I’ve been showing them how I go about studying my own technique.”

Working with young people provides Holly with a great sense of fulfilment. “This is a great way that I can give back. I love inspiring people to get involved in sport. If I can help in any way with their education and to get them motivated then that would be ideal.

“I’ve been lucky enough to acquire so much knowledge from the people I’ve worked with. If I can share that with others then I want to take advantage of the opportunity.”

Holly is temporarily recovering from surgery following a recurring injury in her Achilles tendon. Not wanting it to impact her further and cause additional issues, Holly chose to have the corrective operation early in the year, ahead of upcoming events. “This year, the most important thing to me is the World Championships in August, which will be held in the UK. When a major competition is held in my home country, the crowd is insane. It’s great to have so much home support and there’s the opportunity to get a lot of coverage, so it’s that much more important to me.”

Thankfully, the surgery was a complete success and Holly will be back to peak fitness in six weeks.

Paul Bradshaw was thrilled to offer his students the chance to learn from an Olympian. “It’s a fantastic opportunity for them to find out more about what it’s like to be an elite athlete and what it takes to compete at an international level. They are always ravenous to soak up new information and were determined to make the most of this experience, asking questions about motivation and the team that supports Holly. The insight they gained will certainly inform their own practice and have a positive impact on their own career ambitions.”

Uniformed Public Services lecturer Oli Wilkins with former students Sam Millard, Jake Smith and Dan Ward

Servicemen Return to College Roots

Three military servicemen revisited their induction to service life when they returned to Stratford-upon-Avon College to catch up with their former lecturer and share stories of their experiences.

Royal Marine Sam Millard, Army infantryman Dan Ward, and Jake Smith, currently training with the Army Royal Fusiliers Reservists, graduated from the College in 2014. Having grown up and attended primary school together in Hampton Magna in Warwickshire, all three are living out their life-long ambitions to serve in the forces.

They chose to study at Stratford-upon-Avon College as they felt it was the best provider of a specialised Uniformed Public Services course – a career path they have always wanted to pursue. They spent the afternoon back at College on Friday 27 January to meet with their lecturer Oli Wilkins, a former Royal Marine himself.

Jake is taking an apprenticeship with the engineering firm Matrix, based in Coventry, as he completes his reservist training. The intense preparation he received from Oli was particularly inspiring. “It was great to be taught by a lecturer who has served and who knows the reality of service life first hand. The physical training really helped to prepare me.” Jake is now seriously considering full-time service once he has finished his apprenticeship.

Sam is currently stationed in Scotland, having been awarded the Royal Marines’ green beret in January, and is now planning to specialise in weapons training. He too is glad to have had the opportunity to benefit from a vigorous fitness regime prepared by Oli as part of the course. “I feel lucky to have got through my training to be honest. It was the toughest thing I’ve ever done, mentally and physically.”

Dan passed out as an infantryman in February 2016. He initially joined the Army Reserves and immediately took the opportunity to go on tour before transitioning into full-time service. He is now on a peace-keeping mission with the UN, controlling the border in Cyprus. Currently on two weeks leave, he was pleased to find it coincided with Sam’s and Jake’s leave, allowing them all to catch up.

Eager to help current students, all three are now planning to return again as soon as possible to lead workshops and talks, providing an informative insight into life in the military.

Oli Wilkins, lecturer of Uniformed Public Services, was delighted that his former students had chosen to visit the College again. “I’m very pleased that Dan, Jake and Sam felt they had gained so much from the course and its physical training programmes, and I am proud of them for each becoming so successful in their chosen careers. It was a great pleasure hearing about their military experiences first-hand, and our current students will, I’m sure, benefit enormously from future visits.”

Sam Millard, Dan Ward and Jake Smith alongside Uniformed Public Services lecturer Oli Wilkins.

Sam Millard, Dan Ward and Jake Smith alongside Uniformed Public Services lecturer Oli Wilkins.


College Receives National Recognition

Following December’s ‘New League Tables Highlight College Students’ Employment Success article Principal Nicola Mannock and Chair of Governors Lord Digby Jones talk to C&W in Business about the College’s recent success.


College receives national recognition

C&W in Business January 2017 (Page 13)

Image of magazine article.


Student Voice Shaping College Future

The unique perspectives of local students will be brought to the fore at an up-coming event designed to help advance the learner experience at Stratford-upon-Avon College.

The Learner Conference, to be held on Friday 20 January, gives all students the opportunity to comment on student life at the College.

Hosted by the College’s Student Services team, attendees will include the newly-appointed student members of the Student Executive Committee such as the Student President and Vice President, Marketing, Fundraising & Events Officer, and Equality & Diversity Officer, all of whom are dedicated to shaping the College experience to meet all learners’ needs and expectations.

In addition, a series of guest speakers will be providing insightful, inspirational talks for all attendees. The speakers will include two motivational youth speakers – YouTube star and entrepreneur Kamal Hyman, and actor and Prince’s Trust Young Ambassador Hezron Brown – as well as modelling agency Managing Director Charlotte Griffiths, who will provide the learners with an invaluable insight into the mind set of successful, driven individuals.

Director of Student Services and Marketing at the College, Mark Lewis, is excited about the outcomes of the conference. “The event supports the College’s commitment to valuing student voice. We carefully consider all feedback from our learners to ensure we continually evolve campus life, providing an optimum and progressive educational experience for all.”

The learners’ viewpoints will be invaluable as the College continues to implement strategies to progress the positive development of student life.

Former Performing Arts Student Leo Bill Stars Alongside Tom Hardy in BBC’s Taboo

Former Stratford-upon-Avon College performing arts student Leo Bill appeared in the first episode of new BBC drama Taboo on Saturday night (07 January 2017).

Leo Bill studied A Level Drama Package at the College between 1996 and 1998 and stars alongside top Hollywood talent Tom Hardy (The Revenant, Peaky Blinders, Mad Max: Fury Road) and Jonathan Pryce (Game of Thrones, Wolf Hall, Pirates of the Caribbean) in the new series set in the early 1800s.

Leo has previously appeared in a number of acclaimed films and television series such as Alice in Wonderland, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Borgias, The White Queen, Alice Through the Looking Glass and A Long Way Down.

After studying at the College Leo went on to train at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) graduating in 2001 before being awarded the Austin Texas Film Festival Best Actor Award in 2006.

Taboo is broadcast on BBC One on Saturdays at 9:15PM.

Head Chef Nick Deverell-Smith and Commis Chef Matthew Young

Award Winning Restaurateur Gives Aspiring Chefs a Career Boost

An award-winning Warwickshire chef and restaurateur is determined to provide greater employment opportunities for young people in rural communities, and has recently rewarded one of his own former apprentices with a much-sought-after full-time post.

Nick Deverell-Smith, Head Chef and proprietor of boutique Cotswold pub The Churchill Arms in the village of Paxford, decided to hire a Professional Cookery Apprentice through Stratford-upon-Avon College in October last year. Wanting to offer greater opportunity to aspiring chefs in rural communities, Nick explained, “I was an apprentice myself. I had the opportunity to train at Simpsons in Kenilworth, in my opinion the best restaurant in the area, under some fantastic chefs such as Glynn Purnell. I think there’s no better way than learning on the job.

“I always wanted to own my own restaurant. When I left school I wasn’t very confident at all but here I am now. To be able to give that opportunity to other young people is hugely rewarding.”

Nick, who won Junior Chef of the Year in 2000 and has worked under both Gordon Ramsay and Marco Pierre White, turned to the College’s Work-Based Learning Team to arrange and advertise the apprenticeship. “When I opened The Churchill Arms, I got in touch with Stratford-upon-Avon College to perform some catering demonstrations for the students, and I was very impressed with the standard of chefs they were producing. So they were the obvious choice when it came to choosing an apprenticeship training provider.”

The apprenticeship was eagerly snapped up by 17-year-old Matthew Young. Under the expert guidance of Nick and his team, Matthew’s skill and confidence grow by the day and he has developed into a first-class commis chef. Reflecting on his training, Matthew said, “I definitely feel I learnt faster than I would have on a full-time course. I also got to practice my skills a lot more often. I was able to send my work to a customer and get their feedback instantly which was very helpful.”

The experience of developing an apprentice with the College has proved highly beneficial to Nick. “An apprentice needs time and patience but Matthew runs a whole section for me now. I can actually take a day off work now which wasn’t possible before!”

“I’m looking to recruit at least one other apprentice which will reinforce my team even further. Now Matthew will be the gold standard for any new apprentices I have. He’s evidence of how much you can achieve if you really put the hours in.”

Apprenticeship Team Leader Bryan Anderson is very impressed by Matthew’s achievements. “For any young chef confidence is key. I’ve seen Matthew grow and adapt and now you can see he feels much more self-assured. Matthew’s in charge of all cold starters and desserts and already has ambitions to progress further under Nick’s expert guidance.”

The Churchill Arms brings a contemporary feel to a 17th Century pub, with a ‘Best of British’ theme, and makes extensive use of local produce, sourced daily from the surrounding countryside. For more information, please visit the website

Lauren Preece, Apprentice of the Month

Apprentice of the Month – December 2016

Congratulations to Level 2 Business Administration Apprentice Lauren Preece — December 2016’s Apprentice of the Month.

Lauren’s manager at Venture House (Stratford-upon-Avon), Nancy Singleton, commented:

Lauren joined the Venture House Team on 12th September and has got off to a flying start. Her enthusiasm and can do approach towards her work shines through. We look forward to working with her to help her develop further in the role. Lauren is very much a worthy recipient of the accolade of Apprentice of the Month.

Stratford-upon-Avon College Business Development Manager Miv Wright commented:

I am very pleased that Lauren has been awarded Apprentice of the month. Lauren has made a fantastic contribution at Venture House. During each assessment visit Lauren has demonstrated excellent team player skills and has received praise from her Manager, Nancy. Lauren completes all assessment tasks set to a high quality and ensures that she provides additional work each month. Lauren has also supported the college at an Open Event, where she discussed her experience with potential students and also supported the WBL learning team. Again Lauren went above and beyond during the Open Event and was extremely helpful to all members of staff.


Are you aged 16+? Do you wish to combine working and earning while learning a professional skill? Would you like to gain nationally recognised qualifications?


Business and Education Have Come Together To Secure Funds To Boost Local Tourism Industry

Stratford-upon-Avon College, in collaboration with Henley-in-Arden School, Proactive Education, QHotels and Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, has been successful in its bid to secure funding for a new youth engagement project soon to be delivered in Warwickshire.

22 businesses and education providers submitted proposals for the Warwickshire County Council Skills for Employment Major Grant. The College’s proposal focused on raising awareness of Hospitality and Travel and Tourism as a viable career pathway, to address a skills shortage in both sectors and to support an industry that is crucial to Stratford-upon-Avon’s local economy. This bid brought together parties with which the College has a proven track record, cementing the its commitment to the surrounding community and helping to make a major positive difference to the employability of young people in the county.

Engaging with students from Year 7 upwards, the project will offer them access to all aspects of the hospitality and tourism sectors – everything from the usual customer relations and catering, to areas such as event management and business administration; teaching them transferable life skills – communication, computer skills, team work – skills that are required in various degrees in every job; and help them make informed choices.

The College is delighted to be working with four local organisations – Henley-in-Arden School, Proactive Education, QHotels and Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. By benefiting from the combined expertise of a school, a further education college, an employer engagement specialist and local employers, the College will be in a position to improve the transition of young people from education into employment. One example of this enhanced partnership between education provider and employer is that all students on the programme will work closely with mentors from QHotels and Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, giving students a real insight into the world of work and prepare them for an interview at the end of Year 11 for apprenticeship opportunities.

Commenting on the working relationship between the five partners, Stevie Edmund-Jones, the College’s Head of Employer Engagement, said: “We are delighted that Warwickshire County Council has approved our bid. We all believe that with the knowledge and expertise all parties possess, we have the making of an excellent model that can be replicated in other areas.”

Although the project is designed to run from the beginning of next year until the end of July, the College aims to get to the point where the programme is sustainable; when the funding period ends, they hope to have established a network of training mentors capable of supporting new businesses and addressing the skills shortages in the county. Once proven results are seen, they believe their project will become a model for the formation of new partnerships between business and education across other high priority sectors.

Nicola Mannock

New League Tables Highlight College Students’ Employment Success

Newly published government league tables designed to assess the effectiveness of Further Education Colleges throughout the UK have shone light onto the excellent achievements made by Stratford-upon-Avon College.

The tables ranked the College fifth in the country in the ‘College Learners into Employment’ category (‘Benefit Learners’ and their ‘Sustained Employment Rate’), which evaluates success in progressing unemployed learners into work.

All 213 colleges in the country were awarded a score to determine their performance using a points system devised by Nick Linford, Editor of national Further Education magazine FE Week and former Director of Performance at Lewisham College in London.

Stratford-upon-Avon College’s capacity for propelling its students into successful careers recently received a further boost following its partnership with employer liaison specialists Proactive Education.

Members of the Proactive team are based in the College Job Pod three days a week to secure rewarding work experience placements for all full-time students and collaborate with employers to source apprenticeship opportunities. They also offer future skills and employment advice to all learners and teach the vital work-readiness skills sought after by businesses.

Nicola Mannock, Principal and CEO, is confident the College will now go from strength to strength. “Our success is down to our focus on individual students’ career strengths and expertise, putting the learner at the centre of everything we do,” she said. “We also recognise the value in developing key partnerships with employers, as evidenced by our work with Proactive Education. Along with our outstanding lecturers’ industry-focused teaching, I see no reason why we won’t find ourselves placed even higher in the League Table next year.”