September 8, 2011

Here we go again!

A new academic year and more full-time students than ever before – over 380 new full-time students will be joining us next week.  And it looks like we have a high number of apprentices starting as well.

As well as increasing demand from apprentices and full-time students, there are other demands on the College:  the Policy Council has completed its training needs analysis and is commisioning both customer care and management training for hundreds of its staff; the Skills Strategy has identified several ‘work streams’ most of which will have an impact on the College, and the GTA and the College are working more closely together, again resulting in more work for the College.

This is, of course, all good news for the College.  However, there are serious concerns about funding and staffing these courses and we are going to need to be very creative in our approach to timetabling and income generation over the coming months!

March 24, 2011

Swan Lake

Marianela Nunez in Swan Lake

There was a good-sized crowd at the screening of Swan Lake last night.  Several of them told me that they had never seen a ballet before but that they had been inspired to come along after watching the film, ‘Black Swan’.  I haven’t seen it but I’ve been told it’s a bit of a horror film so I hope they weren’t too disappointed to see the Royal Ballet version!
Marianela Nunez danced Odette/Odile and she was amazing – elegant, fluid and very bendy!  The chorus of swans, twenty-four of them, glided around the stage beautifully and the whole thing was spectacular.  Almost as good as being in the Opera House
Many of the audience, as they were leaving,  said how much they had enjoyed the show and several of them commented on what a superb facility the Centre is, offering the opportunity to see world-class performances in the comfort of our own island!  I hope they tell all their friends!
March 18, 2011

Out of hibernation!

Spring is springing and the sap is rising. New green buds are appearing everywhere so I feel I should shake off my winter sloth and start writing this blog again.

Actually, at a recent staff meeting it was suggested that we should start up the newsletter again but put it on-line. Rather than do that I thought it might be better to resurrect the blog and try to attract a few more readers (normally only two people ever bother to read it!)

Lots has happened since my last post and over the next few days I will refer to some of the events of the past few months.

But I will start with yesterday, when the Coutanchez building was officially 35 years old. It was opened on 17 March, 1976 by the then Bailiff, Sir John Loveridge.

The first Principal of the College, Charles Hunt, and the then Director of Education, Mike Hutchings, were both at the opening ceremony.

So yesterday, to mark the occasion, I invited them, along with Ann, Mike’s wife, to lunch in the College Restaurant. Whilst enjoying the excellent food, they reminisced about the good old days, when curriculum initiatives came along every few years rather than every month. They asked lots of questions about the developments in the College and were very interested in the way the College had grown over the past ten years.

Charles asked after many of the staff he remembers from his time as Principal and was extremely delighted to meet some of them who popped in to see him whilst he was in the restaurant.

Both Charles and Mike thoroughly enjoyed themselves and it was great to see them both.  Who knows – in a few years time, when I am retired, I might get to be invited to the opening of the new College.  Then again, it may be to the 50th birthday of the Coutanchez building!

October 21, 2010

A busy year

I have spent the last few days, on and off, writing the College Self Evaluation Report (SER).  This is the replacement for what used to be called the Self Assessment Report (SAR).  That, in turn, was a replacement for a document which used to be called the College Review and Action Plan (work that one out for yourself!)

The review has to contain all the data and statistics from the last academic year and it is always an interesting exercise looking back at what we have been up to. 

There were over 3300 vocational students and over 2000 adult education students with a choice of 460 courses.  Our youngest students are 14 years old, our oldest is in his nineties.  We have adult students learning to read, others doing degrees and high level professional qualifications, and everything in between!

The success rates averaged out at 93% which is a lot higher than the UK average.

Our students got involved in a wide range of activities; there was the Sure Apprentice, the Collas Day Moot, the Youngs Seafood Competition, Skills Weld, football, rugby, various charity events and the Commonwealth Youth Summit.  We also had the end-of-year shows from Media, Art & Design and Performing Arts.

There were lots of presentation evenings where we celebrated student success.  We hosted a very successful conference featuring Sue Palmer, the author of Toxic Childhood and we had a very amusing day with David Thomas, the International Grand Master of Memory.

We organised over 30 staff training events and developed our lesson observation scheme.

We worked with many other States Departments on a range of initiatives; we helped with the training of the tribunal members for the new children law, we provided dyslexia awareness training for the Institute of Health and we worked with Social Security to provide courses for islanders wishing to gain skills to be able to return to work.

We showed fifteen screenings at the Performing Arts Centre from the National Theatre, the Globe Theatre and Covent Garden.  We hosted and attended hundreds of meetings and, in amongst all this, our staff taught thousands of lessons!

So – what shall we do this year?

October 15, 2010


We went to the Theatre Royal in Plymouth last night, (via the magic of NTLive), to see A Disappearing Number.  Once again, NTLive provided the oppportunity to see world-class theatre without it costing an arm and a leg.  It was a fascinating production, full of creative ideas, which worked on a series of levels and it was great to see so many younger people there.  I especially enjoyed the maths – I had forgotten my fascination with convergent series!

For a long time I have been a great fan of Sir Ken Robinson, the creativity guru.  I am also a great fan of the RSA.  So, when the RSA decided to use one of Sir Ken’s presentations as the opportunity to create an RSA Animate, perfect!  If you have a few minutes to spare, have a look for yourselves:

October 11, 2010

Here we go again!

 Another new academic year, lots of new students and building that are not quite ready!  Normal!!  It’s been a very busy, not to mention chaotic, start to the year.  We seem to have more students than ever and we have had to make lots of adjustments to the timetables to be able to fit everyone into classes.

The new catering kitchens are now open and looking extremely impressive.  They have got to be possibly the best kitchens in the Channel Islands!  The students are certainly very happy now that they have started using the new equipment.

The restaurant is also taking shape and is going to be a very elegant, as well as functional, space.  I can’t wait to try it out!

The installation of the wheelchair lift at the Russell Building hit problems when the contractors unexpectedly found asbestos and this has caused a fairly lengthy delay.  It doesn’t look like we will have the lift in place until half term.  However, the building itself is in reasonable shape.

There have been lots of events at the PRC over the past few weeks.  Stephen Fry broadcast live from the Royal Festival Hall, Charles Dickens’ great, great, great grandson performing an Audience with Charles Dickens, another Guernsey Variety Show and a fabulous version of Giselle from the Wales Ballet.  There was also a very interesting lecture organised by the Channel Islands Group of Professional Engineers who brought over a sports scientist from Sheffield University.   He delivered a very entertaining and informative presentation about the science behind some aspects of the World Cup.  I found his explanation of why the new World Cup football behaves in such an unusual manner, absolutely fascinating.

Coming up this week is the lecture from our current artist-in-residence, Marc Woodhead.  He is giving his talk, ‘Paintings Within Paintings’, on Wednesday evening at the PRC.  Then, on Thursday, we have the first in this season’s broadcasts from NTLive who, for the first time,  are broadcasting a play from a different theatre.   This will be ‘A Disappearing Number’ from the Theatre Royal in Plymouth.  These live broadcasts are always exciting and it will be interesting to see a play from another theatre.

July 7, 2010

Enlightenment and Toxic Children!!!

Hello!  I’ve been quiet for the past few days.  No excuse other than I have been a bit busy.  It’s amazing how hectic everything gets as we approach the year-end.   No matter how carefully we try to plan for the for the end-of-year, the God of Chaos always seems to find a way of messing up the plans!

However, in amongst the meetings and report writing we have been treated to two very special presentations.

The first was when Matthew Taylor gave a lecture in the PAC.  Matthew is the Chief Executive of the RSA and he presented a slightly abridged version of his annual speech, the subject of which was ‘Twentieth Century Enlightenment’.   This was followed by a panel discussion and a lively question and answer session with the audience.  Matthew’s speech was wide-ranging and discussed what he described as a ‘new consciousness’ and the need to allow citizens the autonomy to create fulfilling lives.  It certainly provided food for thought.

We were able to meet with Matthew again the following morning when there was a meeting of local Fellows.  This again generated a lot of ideas and it was agreed to form a local group of the RSA with the support of the London office.

Then last week we hosted a conference featuring Sue Palmer, the author of ‘Toxic Childhood’.  Her presentation was fascinating and brought our attention to the problems facing young people today.  Her main points were that children need love and discipline and the opportunity to play with other children.  It all seems so obvious, but she was able to give lots of examples of how some children don’t get those basics, especially play.  We have become such a risk averse society that parents are frightened of allowing their children out to play.  Sue is on a mission to free up attitudes to play and to encourage more play areas where children can just ‘get on with it’.  She finished by encouraging us to ‘get back to real’, an interesting challenge.

June 23, 2010

Apprentice of the Year

Another wonderful event yesterday when we had the Apprentice of the Year Awards up at Les Cotils.

This was the tenth anniversary of the event and there were thirty apprentices who had been nominated by their employers for the award.  Seven of those had been shortlisted and interviewed by the judging panel, made up of employers and education staff.

The eventual winner was Sam Wells, an engineer in the fifth year of his apprenticeship who works for Bougourd and Harry.  However, as you would expect, it was a difficult job for the judges in selecting a winner since everyone they interviewed was so strong.  

The awards were presented by His Excellency, Sir Fabian Malbon, who has been a great supporter of the Apprenticeship Scheme.  Since this is Sir Fabian’s last year as Governor, we presented him with his own special award as a thank you for his support. 

Sam Wells with his award (the Guernsey Copper Can)

June 21, 2010

Another fantastic show!

It was the opening of the Media Show on Saturday.  There is no end to the creativity of our students!  Another fabulous example of creative thinking teamed up with superb technical ability. 

This is the first time the Media students have held their show in this format; previously they have shown their films in the theatre.  This format is definitely a winner, providing lots of opportunities for the students to show off the full range of their abilities.  The ingenuity that had gone into  the installations was outstanding and the amount of different ideas on show was mind-boggling! 

The students tell me that this show was a bit of an experiment in that they weren’t really sure whether it would work in the space they had available.  It most definitely did work and I can’t wait for next year!

June 18, 2010

Thank you to my reader(s)

I have been writing this blog since April and I’ve not been sure whether it’s worth it!  One of the clever things the software does is to tell me how many people read each posting.  Up until yesterday the highest number of views was 18 but generally the posts have been getting three or four views.  Not exactly mass communication!

However, imagine my surprise when I checked the statistics for yesterday and discovered that  there were 65 views!  Amazing!  Perhaps it was the photographs – I only just worked out yesterday how to attach them!  Or maybe people have realised what an erudite, informative blog this is (I think not!)

Whatever the reason, you have made an old man very happy!  I hope you continue to read the rubbish that I churn out two or three times a week!!