Minister praises “inspirational” College for focus on employment

 
Fri 07 Mar 2014

Shadow Education Secretary, Tristram Hunt, has heaped praise on Milton Keynes College for the work it is doing to forge strong links with business.

Mr Hunt was on a visit to the College’s Bletchley Campus where he was treated to what he described as a “fantastic spread” of sandwiches and cakes prepared and served by catering students, while at the same time being lightly grilled himself by their colleagues who are studying journalism.

He was given a tour of the College’s state-of-the-art hair and beauty facilities including The Graduate Salon and The Whittlebury Day Spa where he said he was very impressed with the way the College integrates professional facilities in coordination with top businesses in the sector.

A historian himself, he met a class of History A-Level students and invited them to tell him what he should do if he becomes the Secretary of State for Education following next year’s election.  The students left him in no doubt that they want to see increased support for Further Education.

Isabel O’Sullivan said, “I want you to continue to invest in Colleges.  They’re a lot more relaxed here than school and everything isn’t centred just on university and UCAS forms so there are more options for students.” 

Mature student, Mark Ball, added, “Places like Milton Keynes College are so essential.  I’m twenty-six and I wasn’t ready for sixth form when I first did it and being here is a much better way to learn.  I came back to College after work and I’m trying to improve myself and this is the one place where I can do it.”

Mr Hunt was introduced to the College’s top flight basketball team and given a demonstration of the skills which have taken them to top of their league and one of the best teams in the country.  This clearly delighted the Shadow Minister who had become a fan of the sport when previously living in Chicago.  Coach, Mike New, explained that the players are in for training first thing every morning but are automatically dropped if they miss any of their academic targets.

Mr Hunt said, “Today I’ve seen a very inspiring college delivering multiple provisions from the causes of the American Civil War to beauty and spa treatment to an inspirational coach not only producing a great basketball team but making sure that his young people are in there at seven and working on their grades as well.  You put that together in a city like Milton Keynes which has always been focused on skills and education and the future and it seems to me exactly the kind of College the country needs, centred on the local labour market and giving young people the skills they need to succeed.”

College Principal, Dr Julie Mills, said, “There’s no doubt Mr Hunt was really impressed by what he saw of our staff and students but that’s no surprise to me because they impress me every day.  It was great for some of them to have the chance to meet such a senior politician but we’re also grateful to him for coming so he can see just how much of a contribution FE makes, often quite unnoticed, to the lives of young people and to the local economy.”

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