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The Windsor Forest Colleges Group is celebrating its second birthday. Staff and students gathered last week to mark the merger between Strode’s College and East Berkshire College to form the Group which is now ranked 7th in the UK national league tables*.

Since the merger in 2017, the three colleges in the Group - Langley, Strode’s and Windsor have all seen a huge shift in the quality of both teaching provision and student outcomes. Strode’s College celebrated record-breaking A Level results in 2018, both Strode’s and Windsor achieved 100% pass rate for all BTEC courses and 41% of Langley College Level 3 students now progress to university.

Kate Webb, Group Principal and CEO said: “Two years ago, two wonderful colleges came together – East Berkshire College and Strode’s College. Today we have three incredible campuses. Windsor and Strode’s deliver a fantastic sixth form education and Langley delivers a progressive technical education. Together we are better and stronger and over the last two years thousands of students have benefitted from the new college group.”

By bringing the extensive vocational and technical expertise together with Strode’s sixth form experience the College’s Group has strengthened all aspects of its provision. During the last two years there has been significant curriculum development, improved student results, improving Ofsted reports and recent Matrix re-accreditation in recognition of the Colleges high standards of advice and support service.

Ms Webb concluded: “We’ve come a long way in two years and as a committed team we’ve delivered some incredible achievements. Our sum of expertise is definitely greater than our individual parts and I am excited to see what the next two years bring.”

Windsor College Performing Arts students took their incredible play Chaos to the bright lights of London as part of Connections, the National Theatre’s nationwide youth theatre festival. Their performance at the historic Albany theatre in Deptford follows sell out shows at Windsor’s Old Court of the play written by Laura Lomas, one of ten commissioned by the National Theatre for the festival.

Commenting on the opportunity of taking part in a national festival Natalie Jones Performing Arts Lecturer at Windsor College said: “While the Chaos set was loaded, our students took part in a drama workshop run by one of the youth directors from the theatre before performing in the beautiful 250 seater Albany auditorium. The students were brilliant, absolute professionals throughout this process, bringing so many creative ideas to the project and giving a fantastic performance on the night. The National Theatre directors who attended their show in both Windsor and at the Albany, were really impressed by their performances and professionalism.”

Playwright Laura Lomas wrote Chaos to embrace and celebrate the unpredictable energy, trouble and beauty of chaos. She commented: “I didn’t want it to always make sense, but I did want it to feel very alive – all the ways I remember feeling as a teenager”. The play is a symphony of dislocated and interconnected scenes. A series of characters searching for meaning in a complicated and unstable world. Bouncing through physics, the cosmos, love and violence, they find order in the disorder of each other.

This performance is just one of a number of outstanding shows presented by the students this year – including the hilarious and somewhat controversial, Avenue Q, which was performed at the College’s home theatre – the Old Court in Windsor.

The college offers a range of performing arts courses from Level 2 right up the HND and is one of the only colleges in the area to offer performing arts to professional standards. Shows are publicised on social media - Facebook @WindorForestColleges Twitter @WindsorForestCG instangram @windsorforestcg and @p.arts_windsorcollege.

For more information about studying performing arts or to apply for a course for September visit windsor-forest.ac.uk

Enjoy reading about the latest successes and developments at our three colleges - Langley College, Strode's College and Windsor College.
 
Find out what’s new, what our students have been up to and how we deliver a rich sixth form and college experience.

With exam preparation in full flow, Langley College is making sure Year 11 students who are still undecided about their next steps, can talk to expert careers advisers at its last Open Day of the academic year on Thursday 9 May 2019. The College’s team of careers advice and guidance specialists and expert tutors will be on hand to help students navigate their way through career pathways as well as signposting them to subject tutors to find out more about the wide range of course options on offer.

Rowan Cookson, Principal explains further: “With our outstanding facilities and the latest industry-specific equipment, Langley College is a centre of expertise for technical and vocational training. We offer programmes from Apprenticeships through to Higher Education and our student success rate is in the top 25% of all UK colleges. We recognise, with exams looming, that this can be a confusing time for Year 11 students and our message is ‘it’s not too late.’ We would encourage anyone who is either undecided or unhappy about their college choice to join us for our Open Day. We can offer expert careers advice and guidance and help get students on the right course.”

Alongside industry recognised qualifications, Langley College is renowned for outstanding industry-standard facilities, hands-on training, embedded work experience and unrivalled employer links. This holistic model ensures students leave the College work-qualified, work-experienced and work-ready.

Langley College isn’t just for school leavers. It also has a hugely successful Higher Education provision with results which outperform the national average. For those who didn’t get the relevant qualifications they need to go to university, the College offers a one year Access to Higher Education course. These intensive courses update skills and provide the qualifications required to gain a place on a degree programme at university.

If a degree is the goal but not the expense or inconvenience of travelling further afield, Langley College also offers a range of Higher Education courses in partnership with a number of leading universities. The advantage of studying at this level at Langley are the smaller class sizes, close relationships with tutors and industry relevant qualifications.

To find out more please come along to the Open Day on Thursday 9th May, 4.30-7,30pm. Pre-register at www.windsor-forest.ac.uk for fast track entry on the day.

Location: Strode's College, High Street, Egham, TW20 9DR
Date: 25th April 2019
Time: 5pm - 7pm

 

For those still deciding about their university options Strode’s College is hosting over 65 universities at their Higher Education Fair 2019. The event is open to students, parents/carers and members of the public interesting in understanding university life, entry requirements, courses and all the all-important funding.

Naomi Bailey, Head of Learner Services and Libraries, explains why the Fair will help visitors identify potential career and study pathways, saying: “Higher education has changed dramatically over the years and there is lots for people to understand in order to determine if it’s right for them. It is no longer the preserve of just universities; the Windsor Forest Colleges Group offers a diverse Higher Education provision which is ideal for those who want to study further but stay closer to home. It’s exciting and varied from Aeronautical Engineering through to Visual Merchandising. We have lots of universities and experts on hand to provide advice and guidance to help our visitors determine what is best for them.”

Alongside all the universities in attendance Strode’s College Careers and Employability Team will be shedding light on progression planning and there will be expert talks such as ‘Top tips for succeeding at applications to competitive universities’ by the University of Leeds and ‘All you need to know about applying to Higher Education and Student Finance England.’

Universities confirmed to attend include the University of Bristol, University of Southampton, University of Leeds, Arts University Bournemouth, University of Lincoln, University of Winchester, University of Roehampton London, Royal Holloway University of London, University of Kent, University of Reading, University of Portsmouth, Bournemouth University, Bath Spa University, Coventry University, University of Chichester and Brunel University of London.

To find out more about the courses offered at the Windsor Forest Colleges Group of Langley College, Strode’s College and Windsor College please go to www.windsor-forest.ac.uk

Students from both Strode’s College and Windsor College are celebrating the news that they are on course for Oxbridge with offers to study Law, Psychology and Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Cambridge. Strode’s also has three first year students who have dramatically improved their chances of studying at the University of Oxford having been accepted onto the University’s UNIQ Summer School.

Each year over 6000 first year A level students apply to attend UNIQ. Only 1350 are offered places for the five-day residential which is designed to give an insight into university life, enable students to meet like-minded people and gain an understanding of a subject which interests them. Nathan Gage will attend the Engineering programme, Carmina Mudura has been accepted on to the Oncology programme and Roxana Knop, the Biology programme.

John Marrill, the tutor for Strode’s gifted and talented A*spire programme and the Oxbridge coordinator said: “Being accepted onto the UNIQ programme does not guarantee an Oxford offer but it certainly helps! There is a good correlation (34%) between students attending UNIQ and receiving offers so it is certainly worth students investing their energies into getting on the programme. We’re very proud of Nathan, Carmina, Roxana and our Cambridge offer students and their desire and determination to take advantage of the different enrichment opportunities which are pivotal to the Aspire programme.”

A*spire is Strode’s programme for its most academically able students. It is designed to expand horizons, be challenging intellectually and provide support to assist students to become competitive candidates for the most prestigious courses and universities.

A key aspect of A*spire is the encouragement for students to embrace super curricular endeavour. From complementing and expanding their learning with public lecturers, wider reading, academic podcasts, accessing academic radio and TV programmes, to completing MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and attending museums and exhibitions.

Commenting on being accepted onto the UNIQ programme Roxana said: “The A*spire programme has encouraged me to challenge myself and apply for enrichment opportunities of this nature." Nathan added: “The residential will provide valuable experience and lessons regarding life on a university campus," and Carmina said: “I feel honoured to have been given this opportunity.”

Along with celebrating his Oxford UNIQ offer, Nathan Gage has also been successful in winning a place on The Sutton Trust US Programme which gives bright, state school students a taste of life at a leading American university. The all-expenses paid programme includes a one week visit to the US to get a taste of US higher education and culture. Commenting on how A*spire has made a difference he said: “A*spire has allowed me to see international opportunities of this nature as a reality, rather than a dream."

The vast majority of A*spire students have gone on to study at Russell Group universities on highly competitive courses such as Computer Science at ICL.  In the past two years four students on the programme have successfully gained places to study Biochemistry, History, PPE and Engineering at the University of Oxford.

Strode’s College celebrated record-breaking A Level results in the summer with a 99% pass rate, and both colleges achieved a flawless 100% pass rate for 16 April 2019their BTEC courses.

To find out more about A Levels, BTECs and the A*spire programme please go to www.windsor-forest.ac.uk

Langley College HND Business students were given an international insight at the recent Department of International Trade’s ‘Latin American and the Caribbean Roadshow.’ 

Course lecturer, Karen Cripps says “This trade show was perfectly timed as these business students are currently working on an assessed research project into the risks and benefits of international trade. It's great to see our awarding bodies select assessment projects which are really relevant in terms of current UK business priorities. Alongside project management skills, this module focuses on learning all about the opportunities for UK businesses to work with businesses across the world. This is really helpful in developing up to date commercial awareness.”

The students listened to panel discussions with international trade experts from Jamaica representing the Caribbean, Panama representing Central American economies, through to Latin America countries from the biggest such as Argentina and Brazil through to Peru and Chile. Although they had booked one-to-one sessions with country representatives, students found that they had pre-prepared their questions so well, they were all answered during the panel discussions. 

Tutor Karen Cripps continues: "This industry-informed research will be really useful when students write up their own research findings with local businesses, as they will be able to draw on what they have learned about doing business in the Caribbean and Latin America. We're also very grateful to the Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce who arranged for students to interview representatives from China and Japan.  It is so rewarding to be able to provide students with opportunities to apply classroom-based learning with industry experts, on a topic which is so interesting and relevant. Not only this but they are learning invaluable research, networking and communication skills”.   

HND Business student Arabella Truman commented: “I found the trip to be very beneficial and it really helped me to understand the risks and benefits of international trade. The people on the panel represented different countries in Latin America, and I found the amount of knowledge they have about these countries to be really interesting and useful. I had a list of questions that I wanted to be answered, and I’m pleased to say they all were. Now I know that this kind of networking events is a good platform to help your business”.  Varinder Bharaj and Maximillain Pettipher agreed that the event was really applicable to coursework, and provided first-hand experience of how businesses look to exporting abroad which is something they can feedback to their own friends and family.   

For further information on studying the HND Business Studies at Langley College please click here

Strode’s College students were given a powerful reminder regarding the importance of democracy and tolerance with a visit from John Dobai, a Holocaust survivor. John shared his story with over 100 students of living in Nazi-occupied Hungary and the loss of many family members in Auschwitz.

John likened his experience to the hatred of today and the need for everyone to be aware of the slow ways in which hatred can creep in, even in a most civilised and cultured country. Generously taking questions to enable students to better understand the nature of the Holocaust and to explore its lessons in more depth his advice was: “Even in very small ways we need to stand up to racism and challenge all comments and actions which sow discord in society today.”

His message certainly hit home with second year A Level student Fredrick White saying: “Talks like this are really important so we are not ignorant of what humans are capable of. They also help to prevent instances of genocide in the future.”

Commenting on the importance of hearing first-hand what happened in the Holocaust, Bernadette Joslin (Assistant Principal – Student Services), said: “It is a privilege for us to welcome John Dobai to our college and his testimony will remain a powerful reminder of the horrors so many experienced. We are grateful to the Holocaust Educational Trust for co-ordinating the visit and we hope that by hearing John’s testimony, it will encourage our students to learn from the lessons of the Holocaust and make a positive difference in their own lives.”

The Holocaust Educational Trust aims is to educate young people from every background about the Holocaust and the important lessons to be learned for today. The Trust works in schools, universities and in the community to raise awareness and understanding of the Holocaust, providing teacher training, an outreach programme for schools, teaching aids and resource material.

Strode’s College Performing Arts students danced their way to raising £510.12 for Cancer Research UK at the recent March Dance Showcase. Putting their course, creativity, versatility and individuality centre stage the sell-out performance incorporated a number of genres including Contemporary, Jazz, Lyrical, Street Dance, Samba and Modern. 

The BTEC Performing Arts (Dance) students only had one term to prepare for the Showcase. Working as a professional dance company, students choreographed a number of the dances which illustrated the breadth of their skills and learning. From a piece based on animal behaviour and movement of flamingos, a professional repertory of Bob Fosse’s Jazz Dance to Akram Khan's contemporary repertory based on women in World War 1 and pieces based on African American History.

Commenting on the success of the Showcase Eleanor Turner, Course Leader for Dance at the College said: "I am so proud of our Strode's Dance family! They show term after term how committed, talented and passionate they are about the Dance industry. They seize every opportunity to develop and I am proud to show off their hard work and success."

Every year, for the March Dance Showcase, the students use their democratic voice to vote and decide which charity the event will fundraise for. This year, the dancers voted for Cancer Research UK. Eleanor Turner explains how the £510.12 raised will support the charity: “Just £5 will kit out one research lab with essential chemicals, £15 will cover the cost of a visitor to a mobile awareness unit, £300 covers the cost for men to take part in a prostate cancer clinical trial for the day and £550 buys one next-generation DNA sequencing equipment.”

Commenting on the donation, Anna Banbula, Central Fundraising Executive for Cancer Research UK said: "You are amazing. Once again thank you so much for all your amazing fundraising and choosing to support us. Very well done to you all."

Students studying the Performing Arts (Dance) BTEC Level 3 learn to be well-rounded and versatile dancers in a vocational and academic context. Students progress to a number of leading universities and specialist Conservatories to study Dance.

For more information please go to www.windsor-forest.ac.uk or call Central Admissions on 01753 793000.

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