Lighting the way: Meet the new ETC campus principals

Etc. is the new Tees Valley college group that incorporates Stockton Riverside College, Redcar and Cleveland College, Bede Sixth Form, NETA Training and The Skills Academy.

The name has been introduced to more accurately reflect the diversity of the college campuses and it marks the culmination of an exciting first year since the decision was taken to merge Stockton Riverside College and Redcar and Cleveland College last summer.

Just like the personalities and backgrounds of their campus principals, each college making up the Education Training Collective – or Etc. – offers a unique learning experience.

But all bringing something different to the table, it is the college collective that, without question, results in something extra special – meeting the needs of students, businesses and the wider community.

Jason Faulkner, campus principal, Redcar and Cleveland College (pictured above, bottom right)

When it comes to inspiring others, there are few better placed than Redcar and Cleveland College’s campus principal Jason Faulkner.

A true advocate of changing lives, raising aspirations and the value of further education, he has his sights set on a brighter future for the borough.

Describing himself as a typical Teesside lad who came away from school with just a handful of qualifications, he says: “Look at me. I never dreamed I would be principal of a college but here I am.”

He’s good at it too, already helping turn the tide, with increased student attendance, retention and higher aspirations. And there’s more to come.

Jason explains: “Redcar and Cleveland has faced some turbulent times but the green shoots are already showing.”

He believes the college can help.

“We want to provide programmes that develop real skills for real jobs, working with employers to ensure we provide an offer that meets their needs. We will continue to invest in our facilities and resources to ensure we maintain pace with industry.”

The college has invested in chemical and advanced manufacturing technologies, its foundation skills and sports facilities. Jason is most proud of the progress the college has made to ensure its place at the heart of the communities it serves.

He adds: “We as a college must provide an educational experience that enables our students to be the best they can be.”

Ben Robinson, campus principal, Bede Sixth Form College (above, top left)

There’s good reason why Ben Robinson is passionate about raising young people’s aspirations in Billingham and the wider Tees Valley.

Born and bred in the town, he wants to help provide others with the best chances, raise aspirations and realise that with the right attitude they can achieve their ambitions.

He knows to succeed in today’s competitive jobs market it takes more than just qualifications.

“People also need the attitude, experience and all-round employability skills that makes them stand out from the crowd,” he says.

As campus principal, that’s what he aims to deliver at Bede Sixth Form College – it’s about offering opportunities for academic or vocational attainment along with additional skills valued by employers.

The priority, he says, “Is to provide an outstanding learning environment that inspires students to develop the resilience, knowledge, skills and attitudes to be highly competitive, realise their aspirations and excel.”

At Bede, as with the wider Etc., partnership work is the cornerstone when it comes to giving students the skills they need to shine, resulting in programmes such as the Women’s Football Academy with Durham Women FC and skills and employability programmes with North Tees and Hartlepool Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Tees Active.

The college has also now launched its Institute of Sport and Education, enabling young athletes to increase academic attainment while developing their sporting performance.

“Sometimes in this area there can be a tendency for young people to not set their aspirations high enough,” reflects Ben. “We want to inspire everyone to aim higher. A growth mindset is how we inspire the young people who put their trust in us.”

Phil Blewitt, managing director, NETA Training (above, top right)

Phil Blewitt is no stranger to the demands of working in heavy industry. It is where he has spent most of his career, travelling the world and honing his expertise.

Now, having returned to his Teesside roots, he feels it’s his turn to give something back. As managing director at NETA Training, he can do that by sharing his knowledge with the next generation of up and coming young engineers.

The priority is to turn out quality. He believes we owe that to the young people, to industry, employers and to the wider economy.

He says: “That means delivering safe, high quality and practical engineering training and education for young people, adults, businesses and the diverse communities we serve.”

The unique beauty of NETA is this is something it has been doing for more than four decades, turning out new engineers and refreshing the skills of the existing workforce.

A North Ormesby lad himself and having served his time as an electrical maintenance apprentice at the former ICI Wilton, Phil is passionate about the area and its industrial infrastructure. He believes NETA has its part to play in delivering the engineering, construction and maintenance skills needed moving forward.

He explains: “NETA has been delivering engineering training on Teesside for more than 44 years. I’m proud we are continuing that tradition for local businesses and very proud of the opportunities we offer young people that will ultimately lead them on to meaningful and exciting careers.”

Lesley Graham, campus principal, Stockton Riverside College (above, bottom left)

When it comes to making your mark, there can be little more daunting than stepping into a high achieving college and not just maintaining those high standards but also building on that success.

That was the task faced by campus principal Lesley Graham when she joined the team at Stockton Riverside College.

With the college already graded Good by Ofsted and well recognised for its quality provision and transformational partnerships, Lesley says: “I’m delighted I have managed to further grow recruitment and improve achievement across all ages and provision types.

“This was no mean feat, as Stockton’s achievement was already significantly above national rates. So further improving on that was a real accomplishment.”

Having built her career through a return to education after ten years as a stay-at-home mum, Lesley is a true advocate of further education, both professionally and personally.

And new to the area, she is rapidly becoming a voice for Stockton and the wider Tees Valley too.

With a string of exciting plans in the pipeline, including a new Academy of Performing and Technical Arts and seeing the college become a Centre of Excellence for English and Maths, she adds: “I am excited by the college. I feel we are on the cusp of something really special here.”

To find out more about Etc. visit:


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