Laying the foundations – Chichester MP visits construction students

November 2, 2018

Chichester MP Gillian Keegan tried her hand at bricklaying at Chichester College on Friday (19 October).

She was visiting the campus during Colleges Week, part of the ‘Love Our Colleges’ national campaign that celebrates the positive impact of colleges on their local communities.

Gillian took a look around the dedicated construction unit, meeting bricklaying students and even having a go herself, as she helped to build a pier training model after some guidance from lecturer Neil Redman and second year student Jake Hinkins.

Neil said: “Bricklaying is a real skill and is a vital part of the construction trade industry. We recommend trainee bricklayers would spend two years at college, studying at level 1 and 2 to learn the trade, before moving into an apprenticeship programme.

“It’s not every day that an MP comes into the workshop and asks to have a go, but Gillian did alright – she placed the brick well but I think she found it trickier than she thought it would be, especially controlling the mortar. With a bit of training, she was also able to practice the technique of levelling.”

And Gillian was impressed by what she had seen at Chichester College. She added: “It has been wonderful to come and spend time at Chichester College. I went to a further education (FE) college myself, from 16-18, and it was a life changing experience for me.

“It is great to see the work that is taking place here in Chichester, along with the high standards of facilities and teaching. It is a bit different to when I was at college!

“Colleges offer essential educational opportunities to many people, from all walks of life – giving an alternative route through education and into employment. I certainly couldn’t have done what I have without my college education.”

The ‘Love Our Colleges’ campaign is a partnership between Association of Colleges (AoC), National Union of Students (NUS), Association of College and School Leavers (ASCL), University and Colleges Union (UCU), Unison, GMB, TUC and National Education Union (NEU).

It highlights the vital role of colleges, as well as the need for proper investment in the further education (FE) sector, along with fairer funding for colleges.

Chichester College is one of 266 colleges in England, who together educate and train around 2.2 million people every year – including more than 700,000 16-18 year olds.

However, over the last ten years colleges have faced an average funding cut of 30% at a time when costs have increased.

Shelagh Legrave, Chief Executive of the Chichester College Group, added: “We were delighted to welcome our local MP, Gillian Keegan, to the college on Friday.

“Speaking to her, I know she was really impressed by the standards we are achieving here at Chichester.

“It is important that we celebrate the work we – as FE colleges – are doing every day. We have remarkable staff who are providing education and training to students of all ages, from all backgrounds.

“FE colleges up and down the country are working under increasingly difficult financial conditions, but we are still doing some incredible work and changing lives through learning.”