Stratford-upon-Avon College

College Looks to Future Partnership

Stratford-upon-Avon College is forging ahead with its plans to secure a merger with a suitable partner.

A favourable collaboration will ensure that the College continues to provide the best possible Further Education opportunities for the local community, and the three-stage process to secure the ideal partnership is now formally under way.

Following valuable input from its staff, students and external stakeholders, the College has drawn up a vision document which will form a key part of the assessment criteria for the merger proposals. It stresses the College’s commitment to maintaining its current identity and its role within the community by continuing to provide a broad Further Education curriculum on the site.

As always, the College’s main priorities are the interests of the students, staff and the wider local community. To ensure these interests are met, potential partners are asked as part of the process to demonstrate how they will develop their understanding of Stratford’s unique character and to commit to supporting local businesses and communities.

Principal Andrew Cropley

Stratford-upon-Avon College Principal & Chief Executive Andrew Cropley

College Principal and Chief Executive Andrew Cropley is very optimistic about the future: “I am delighted that the College has been approached by a number of organisations keen to collaborate with us. Each potential partner would not only bring unique strengths to the merger, but has also already identified several benefits that a partnership would bring. We hope to be in a position to name our chosen partner before the end of May and I see a bright future ahead for a re-invigorated College.”

Meanwhile, the College’s message is that it’s business as usual; it is currently recruiting students and apprentices as normal, onto its full range of courses, ready to start a new academic year of teaching in September.

Motor Vehicle students

College to Rev Up Excitement at Motoring Show

Visitors to the Stratford Festival of Motoring will be able to get hands-on, thanks to a series of interactive demonstrations by Stratford-upon-Avon College’s Motor Vehicle department.

The 2017 Stratford Festival of Motoring, organised by Stratforward BID, takes place on Sunday, April 30th and Monday, May 1st and is sure to attract car enthusiasts from across the country.

Stratford-upon-Avon College has teamed up with festival sponsor Listers to run the demonstrations including changing a wheel and basic car maintenance techniques, giving people of all ages the chance to get their hands dirty and have a bit of fun, while learning about cars.

Sponsor Listers will be showcasing cars from five dealerships on Waterside and Bridge Street as well as providing the car for the Stratford-upon-Avon College demonstrations, which will be run by staff, students and apprentices.

The weekend will also include organised ‘runs’ out into the Warwickshire and Gloucestershire countryside on the Sunday and Monday morning, followed by the spectacular sight of 300 cars parked in the town centre streets, showcasing some of the world’s finest motor heritage.

Ian Watson, Motor Vehicle lecturer at the College, said: “Joining forces with Listers at the Festival is a wonderful opportunity for our Motor Vehicle department and for the College as a whole. The students and apprentices will have the chance to share their skills with members of the public and demonstrate the successful practical training that epitomises the College’s vocational courses.”

Stratford-upon-Avon College will have a stand at the festival in the family area in Rother Market. As well as interactive demonstrations, staff and students will be on hand to discuss course options and College life with visitors. The College offers apprenticeships, full-time diplomas and part-time leisure learning, all provided by a highly experienced, knowledgeable team in an industry-standard workshop.

Young Chef Club

College Gets Behind Healthy Eating With Young Chef Club

Calling all future Masterchef and Bake-off champions!

Thanks to a £35,000 grant from the Forte and Savoy hotel chains, Stratford-upon-Avon College is to run a series of courses promoting cooking skills and healthy eating to Warwickshire’s young people.

In keeping with its commitment to teaching essential life skills, the College is introducing a Young Chef Club aimed at students aged 13 to 17 who are keen to learn about cookery and develop their culinary talent.

The first Club, to run for 6 weeks on Saturday mornings, will launch on 6 May, with following terms, as well as a Young Bakers Club, planned for the remainder of 2017. The generous sponsorship enables the College to offer the full 6-week course for only £60, which will include the cost of all equipment and ingredients, so the students have nothing further to pay.

Each week will see the budding chefs produce a different dish, with firm favourites including burgers, pasta and sticky toffee pudding on the menu. The emphasis is on healthy eating and cost efficiency, with everything prepared from scratch, using fresh ingredients.

The final class will be followed by a Graduation Ceremony, co-hosted by Mark Lee, Senior Operations Manager at Lovely Pubs Group, who is eager to meet the next generation of chefs. Parents and guardians will be invited to attend too, and will get to sample canapés produced by the students themselves.

Shelley McGonigle, Assistant Head of Catering at the College, is delighted to add “Young Chef Club teacher” to her job description. “I feel passionately that all teenagers should be taught vital life skills such as cooking healthy, nutritious food on a budget. Our aim is to show our young chefs that cooking fresh meals doesn’t just promote healthy eating – it can be great fun as well!”

So whether you are thinking of progressing to one of the College’s full-time Catering programmes or taking up one of the many fantastic Professional Cookery Apprenticeship placements available – or simply want to learn how to cook tasty, healthy meals without spending a fortune – come and join our Young Chef Club!

Young Chef Club

  • Start date: 06/05/2017
  • End date: 09/06/2017
  • Time: 10am-1pm
  • Duration: 6 weeks
  • Audience: 14-18 year olds
  • Cost: £60 per person

Please contact us on 01789 417 414 or email for more information.


Ellipsis by Liz Hughes

Media Students’ Short Films 2016/2017

Second year media students were recently challenged to showcase their talent by independently producing a short film. Students were given free rein to choose whatever theme, story and genre they felt appropriate with the only guidance stipulating that the films should be representative of them as filmmakers and the skills they have developed during their course.

Three of the films (Ellipsis, Bloom and Incubus) were subsequently accepted as entrants into the Royal Television Society Young People’s Media Festival 2017.

Musical Theatre students rehearse for their upcoming performance of Chaircago

Students Raise Disability Awareness with Unique Musical Adaptation

Stratford is about to host a unique theatrical performance, when Musical Theatre students from Stratford-upon-Avon College put their own take on the musical Chicago.

Inspired by one of their colleagues, Kieron Hoult, 17 from Redditch, who is a wheelchair user, the students felt passionately about the need to raise awareness of wheelchair users in the arts and decided to perform excerpts from the musical with all performers in wheelchairs – and so Chaircago was born!

The British Red Cross is kindly sponsoring the event by lending the College 22 wheelchairs for use in the performance. Nadia Jambawai, Mobility Aid Coordinator at the Red Cross commented: “We’re delighted to lend our support to this very worthwhile project and to be able to provide practical help. Until people experience an injury that affects their mobility, they just don’t realise how challenging it can be. The students should be applauded for their wish to raise awareness in such a positive way.”

Everyone involved is excited by the thought of performing Chaircago in front of a live audience. First year Musical Theatre student Kieran will be performing in the show and has served as Movement Director, helping the students to learn to operate the wheelchairs. He explained: “This is by far the best performance I’ve been involved with at the College. We designed the show to illustrate to people that disability is no barrier to being involved in a production.

“A few years ago, I was told that I was unable to study GCSE Drama when I was at school, so it’s really important to me to prove that this can be done and show that there is a key role for people with disabilities in the arts.

“The rehearsal period has been more challenging than our previous productions. We’ve had a few on-stage collisions as the other performers have been getting used to moving in wheelchairs!

“The audience won’t have seen anything like it; this is a once in a lifetime experience and a true first for the College.”

Musical Theatre students rehearse for their upcoming performance of Chaircago

Musical Theatre students rehearse for their upcoming performance of Chaircago

Musical theatre students preparing to go onstage at the NAMSS Conference

College Performing Arts Students Wow the Audience at National Conference

Musical Theatre students from Stratford-upon-Avon College attended a prestigious educational event where they were invited to perform show-stopping extracts from one of their recent productions.

The students travelled to the NAMSS (National Association for Managers in Student Services) Annual Conference in Liverpool where they opened the event’s 30th anniversary gala dinner at the Hilton Hotel on Monday evening.

The students took to the stage to perform a selection of songs, monologues and dances from the play ‘Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens’. The audience, comprising representatives from over 100 colleges across the UK, were delighted by the quality and passion of the College performance, and the Musical Theatre learners were thrilled to receive a standing ovation.

Mark Lewis, Director of Student Services and Marketing at the College, was very proud of the students. “They put on a superb, highly professional performance and proved to be worthy ambassadors for the College. We are grateful to NAMSS for giving them the chance to perform in front of such a prestigious audience; opportunities like this are vital for students to experience a real-life theatrical setting and further develop their performance skills.”

The students were also able to take advantage of the trip to spend the afternoon at the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts. Participating in a series of acting, dance and music workshops, they took advantage of this great opportunity to enhance their learning and gain a taste of the rigorous training that awaits them as they progress to drama school.

Level 3 Musical Theatre student Paige Donaldson, 17 from Solihull, is currently auditioning for drama schools and found the visit invaluable. “We got to experience first-hand how students at LIPA are taught. I found out a lot about what they expect from the students who come to audition with them.”

Level 3 Musical Theatre student Bryony Harrison, also 17 from Solihull, has just been accepted to the second round of auditions at the Guildford School of Acting in Surrey. “It really gave me a feel for the different pathways available to me while studying at a drama school.”

Bryony certainly believes that the combination of the LIPA workshop and her training at the College has set her up perfectly for the future. “My course at Stratford-upon-Avon College definitely prepared me for progressing to the next stage of my training. My confidence has increased a lot and I absolutely believe if I wasn’t studying Musical Theatre here I would not have been able to get through any of my auditions.”

Professional Cookery Apprentice Ellena Maher at the Rose & Crown restaurant

Cooking Up My Future at The Rose & Crown

By Ellena Maher, Professional Cookery Apprentice

For someone who’s as passionate about cooking as me, there is really only one choice of career, isn’t there? So, as a first step towards my goal, I was thrilled to get a Professional Cookery Apprenticeship at The Rose & Crown restaurant in Warwick.

Once a month, my tutor from Stratford-upon-Avon College, Jim, visits the restaurant to see me cook and prepare dishes.

I remember I was so nervous the first couple of times Jim came to visit me, as I felt I was being assessed and might be criticised. I shouldn’t have worried though. He instantly put me at ease and made it clear he is there to help and support my development. We discuss the month before which meals I will be preparing next, to give me time for practice and preparation.

I had already completed a full-time Catering course at Stratford-upon-Avon College, but my apprenticeship has driven me even further towards my goal of becoming a fully-trained chef. I have learnt so much and had great fun at the same time! The bonus of doing an apprenticeship is that I am earning my own money while I’m learning. I’m also guaranteed a job after the course has finished. What more could you ask for?

I get so much support from my Head Chef, Leon Higham, as well as the whole team at The Rose & Crown. Jim makes sure that I understand the tasks that I’m given and teaches me new skills that I can put straight into practice in the kitchen. I even enjoy my assessments – it doesn’t even feel like I’m being assessed, just having a lesson because it’s great fun!

An apprenticeship course is a fantastic opportunity to carry on studying whilst gaining valuable work experience with a regular salary. I would highly recommend choosing one!

Rebbecca Johnson, Laura-Marie Slatem, Scott Bransby

College Apprenticeship Team Go Back To The Floor

Members of Stratford-upon-Avon College’s Work Based Learning Team have been sent “back to the floor” to experience daily life as an apprentice.

To mark National Apprenticeship Week, College Apprenticeship Assessors rolled up their sleeves and worked alongside the trainee professionals they usually teach to gain an insight into the operational practices of local employers and to better understand the viewpoint of an apprentice.

On Tuesday, Apprentice Assessor Rebecca Johnson spent the afternoon working in the bar of QHotel’s Stratford Manor, receiving training in the preparation of food and drinks, in taking payments and in customer service from Food and Beverage Apprentice Scott Bransby and Hospitality Apprentice Laura-Marie Slatem.

Hannah Benjamin, Human Resource Officer at Stratford Manor praised the quality of apprentices they have received for the College. “Our relationship with Stratford-upon-Avon College has not only enriched our business, it has created the foundations of students’ futures through the support of the dedicated Apprenticeship Team. We have shining students in both kitchen and general hospitality roles, where they have gone on to win group-level chef competitions, become apprenticeship ambassadors and represented us at local events for both the College and QHotels. The College are very understanding of the skillset we look for and the personality to match our business style, and we look forward to welcoming new apprentices for our July and September intake.”

Wednesday saw newly-appointed Assessor Alison Dean working in several departments in the College itself, alongside three apprentices employed there full time. After enjoying a spell on the reception desk taking calls and meeting visitors with Business Administration apprentice Leigh-Ann Penman, Alison joined Kirsty Fox in Student Services, before teaming up with Kate Parker in Marketing to help look after the College’s social media channels.

Throughout Thursday morning, Work Based Learning Team Leader Bryan Anderson reported for his shift at Fourteas Café on Sheep Street in Stratford-upon-Avon. He assisted Hospitality Apprentice Elliott Wallis as part of the front-of-house team serving customers, including regular patron Margret Callaghan. Margret praised the friendly atmosphere of the café. “We really enjoy coming here as it’s run so well with lovely staff. No matter the size of your group or how long you stay, they always make you feel welcome and accommodate you. They have a great team here and it’s the perfect place to learn the excellent customer service skills you would need to work in catering.”

Having spent the day helping Bryan learn the ropes, Elliot praised his trainer’s work ethic. “Bryan is doing wonderfully well – although he does have a little bit more experience than most new starters. I would definitely hire him!”

Finishing his shift, Bryan said “I really enjoyed my time at Fourteas today and it gave me a real insight into the challenges my apprentices face every day at work. I never knew that different blends of tea require different brewing times and how useful an egg timer is to get the perfect cuppa!”

Business Administration Apprentice Martin Dunsby

The Road to a Successful Career: My Apprenticeship Journey

By Martin Dunsby, former Business Administration Apprentice

Getting started. It’s got to be the biggest hurdle to career success: how to get your foot in the door when every job advert states ‘applicants must have experience’.

Having completed an IT course at university in 2008, I found myself in this very situation. It felt like every position I wanted to apply for required me to have already worked in the industry!

Which was when, looking through the local paper, I spotted an advert for Business and Administration apprenticeship positions at Stratford-upon-Avon College.

After a successful interview, which was itself a valuable experience, I started working in the College’s own MIS (Management Information Services) department as an apprentice. I gained invaluable experience working within an office environment, and also acquired many new skills and furthered my expertise from the training provided by the College’s Work Based Learning team.

I had a fantastic time throughout the training programme. But my good luck didn’t end there! Once I had completed the apprenticeship, I was thrilled to discover the opportunity to stay on at the College on a permanent basis, in the same role as a MIS Administrator. I later progressed to another job within the MIS department as a MIS Data Analyst, where I was able to use the knowledge and skills acquired as an apprentice to perform the tasks that were needed for my new role.

After working in this position for two years, I saw a Service Desk position had become available in the IT department of the College; a great opportunity for me to put my university education into practice. Another successful interview followed and I am currently working as an IT Service Desk Technician – a position I love.

Having attended full-time education, I firmly believe taking an apprenticeship provided me with the skills, knowledge and experience to help me to progress to where I am now. I would highly recommend apprenticeships to anyone passionate about making their mark in a new career. So go for it – you’ve nothing to lose and everything to gain!

Professional Cookery Apprentice Akela Nevelli (left) with No 9 Church Street Chef/Proprietor Wayne Thomson

International Student Follows His Dreams to Stratford

An aspiring chef has spread his wings and sought to master his culinary skills outside his native Italy. With the whole of Europe and a choice of countries with impressive histories of fine food to hand, he chose Stratford-upon-Avon, after his grandmother, who lives in the Warwickshire town, recommended the superb catering training provided by the local College.

Passionate about becoming a successful chef, Akela Nevelli, aged 21, approached the Work Based Learning team at the College, who helped him secure an advanced apprenticeship in Professional Cookery at the restaurant No 9 Church Street, under the mentoring of Chef/Proprietor Wayne Thomson. Wayne himself started his catering career by training for three years at Stratford-upon-Avon College, before moving to London to work at some of the most prestigious establishments in the capital: The Savoy, Claridge’s, Monte’s of Sloane Street and L’Odeon, working under culinary luminaries such as John Williams, Alain Ducasse, Bruno Loubet and Anthony Demetre.

Akela counts himself extremely fortunate to have Wayne as his mentor – a National Finalist of both the National Chef of the Year competition and The Roux Scholarship, and a recipient of The Academy of Culinary Arts’ Annual Award of Excellence. In addition to passing on his expertise, Wayne has given Akela the opportunity to learn all areas of the kitchen as well as taking him to see suppliers and markets to choose the best ingredients.

Commenting on Akela’s apprenticeship, Wayne said, “I’m passionate about offering opportunities to young chefs like Akela because it offers him the chance to develop Commis Chefs skills from scratch. Also, having apprentices working in the restaurant showcases to my other staff the amazing opportunities for career development that are available to them.”

Akela himself is convinced he made the right decision in choosing to become an apprentice in Stratford: “I have really benefited from my Apprenticeship as it has allowed me to develop the practical skills to work as a chef and, as the course is so closely linked to my work with Wayne, I feel that my skills and understanding have developed far faster than if I had just taken a full- or part-time course.”