A bright and lively atmosphere greets you at Chichester College. The buzz of student chat mingles with music in the reception area, a large sign welcomes all comers in a multitude of languages and a banner proudly declares that A Level passes are at 99%. Painting and textiles work catches the eye and it’s clear this is a vibrant and energising environment for learning.
Well known as a successful college offering huge variety in vocational courses and apprenticeships, its academic side is not to be overlooked. Around 600 students are currently studying AS and A Levels with a strong support network guiding them into the best universities. These qualifications can also be linked to vocational courses, allowing students to tailor their courses as required.
Chichester College is in the top 10% in the country for its overall qualification results, and these continue to improve year on year. With 15,000 full and part-time students, it’s constantly evolving to offer the best facilities. £10 million investment has just seen a new Construction Trade Centre open in Chichester in Autumn 2013, housing everything from brick-work, electrical and plumbing courses, furniture making and painting and decorating. A further £3 million has been spent on a new block at Brinsbury campus, housing animal care, dog grooming parlour and floristry shop.
Courses cover everything you can think of – finance, fashion and farriery to health and safety, horticulture and history. Sports courses are popular including coaching, massage or personal training. Large multi-sports halls also feature a large climbing wall and fitness suite and there are a range of outdoor pitches and courts. Catering and hospitality students get first-hand experience in the college restaurant; travel and tourism students in the travel agency and hair and beauty trainees in the salons. Childcare courses also work with the on-site nursery and a creche and after-school club are provided to help parents returning to study.
“Being a big college, we’re able to offer a lot of opportunities but the campus is zoned so students have their own environment with their own community of learners. They make friends quickly and are soon comfortable in their own area,” said spokesman Helen Ward.
Campus locations make access easy for all students. Chichester College is five minutes walk from the train and bus stations and enjoys its position in the popular city with excellent links in the local business community.
Brinsbury campus, close to Pulborough, is a Rural Centre of Excellence set in 570 acres of beautiful Sussex countryside. Buses run past the college entrance and the Brinsbury minibus also picks up and drops off at Pulborough station. It has a working farm, excellent equine facilities and is also a Centre of Excellence for Regional Food and Drink.
Whatever the type of course, entrepreneurship will be built in, honing employment skills and encouraging student companies. This personal development helps ensure students can comfortably progress from the classrooms and workshops, into the workplace.
Principal Shelagh Legrave said: “We are extremely happy about our excellent success rates and of being the only college in the area and one of only seven in the whole country to have been awarded an overall `Outstanding’ grade by Ofsted, following our 2014 inspection.
“At Chichester College we are proud of the inclusive nature of the College, which means we welcome any young person who wants to develop themselves. Our aim is to do the best for all of our students and to nurture and encourage them to achieve the best they can, whilst developing into well qualified, well grounded members of the workforce and the local community. This means we focus on developing more than just getting a qualification, we also focus on developing personal and employability skills, on giving students the opportunities to develop enterprise skills and to help them get into their chosen university or job. We are proud that our success results show we that we are achieving this and helping all members of our community achieve their full potential.”
Student support is prominent in college life. Desks of advisors are always on hand to discuss career options, training options when returning to work, financial concerns or help find accommodation. Two halls of residence are based on-site at Chichester, providing accommodation for overseas students, those with families in the Forces as well as many people who travel from further afield to study a short specialist course which is unavailable to them closer to home. All students also have a personal tutor who is not a member of teaching staff but is dedicated to their pastoral care. Formal one-to-ones happen every three weeks or so, but the open door policy means this form of support is available whenever and however often individuals require.
When not hard at work in lessons or studying in the many learning resource rooms, there’s plenty of space to relax on the fields, in the cafes or in the Student Union area.
All this goes to ensure students have a rich, rewarding and outstanding experience at Chichester College.