"on the coast" celebrates first anniversary

"on the coast" celebrates first anniversary

“Rurally isolated places like Leiston desperately needs something like this. This place is a godsend.”

That is the view of Jake Martin from an organisation called Inspire Suffolk who was talking about an educational facility called Suffolk New College on the coast.

The vocational centre and community hub based in Leiston has just celebrated their first anniversary after opening their doors in September 2018.

Deputy Director of the facility, Julie Patel is delighted with how the year has gone.

She said, “Our aim was to open a campus for people living in the area to give them some options and help them progress.

“Last year, 35 students joined us and 91pc stayed with us and completed their course. Everyone who finished the year with us achieved.

“A year on, we have almost tripled our numbers. We now have 90 students who are studying on courses in business, construction, health and social care, public services and sport.”

During a recent college survey, travel time for students to get to college averaged at ten minutes. And whilst having a college on the doorstep for Leiston residents and gaining qualifications is one of the main concerns, giving students life skills outside of the classroom is also high on the agenda.

Mrs Patel continued, “Study trips last year saw business students travel to the Bank of England in London. Some had never been to the city before. Others had never left Suffolk. We have also been working closely with local employers like BT, EDF, Sizewell and Inspire Suffolk to give young people careers advice and new skills. Construction students went on a team building exercise and students were involved in charitable activities that raised money for local and national charities. We also offered self-defence classes to all students as part of a knife crime awareness campaign.”

Whilst the majority of courses and learners are aged between 16 to 18, new leisure learning options in photography and printmaking will be starting soon for people of all ages.

And, uptake for maths and English courses (that are free to over 19’s who have lived in the local area for three years), have more than quadrupled in 12 months. The oldest person on a maths courses this year is 77.

Mrs Patel, said, “We want to bring people of all ages and the community together. We are family friendly and we are delighted to see an increase in our mature learner numbers.

In addition to our maths 77-year-old student who is studying he wants to keep his brain active, we have two students who are taking maths to enable them to go to university to become primary school teachers. We want to open doors for as many people as we can and help them develop.”

In terms of the development of Suffolk New College on the coast, campuses in Halesworth and Otley are set to open next year and new courses at the Leiston campus for September 2020 will include forensics, childcare, higher education and information technology.

Mrs Patel concluded by saying, “In 2020, we hope to be teaching around 180 to 200 students in Leiston. We will have new campuses in Halesworth and Otley who will all be working together with our headquarters in Ipswich, to help provide the same progressive opportunities for people of all ages who are living in rural and urban areas.

“In terms of Suffolk New College on the coast, we would like to thank all of the local community for welcoming us, the many businesses who continually work with us and the students, parents and guardians who have helped ensure that our first year has been such a success,” she added.

18 year old construction student, Callum Goodwin from Leiston, said, “It (the college) has been great for my confidence. It’s brought out skills I didn’t know I had.”

18 year old Poppy Stone from Leiston, said, “Everyone is very caring to one another and it’s a nice place to be. They do everything they possibly can to create the best experience.”

16 year old Kai Talbot-Hurn from Great Glemham, said, “I just want to be happy and coming here makes me happy. People treat me like an adult and let me be myself.”