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Reflecting on a Successful Year with Principal CEO Virginia Barrett

As Principal CEO of Farnborough College of Technology, I am delighted to take a moment to reflect on the incredible achievements and milestones that our college community has experienced over the past 12 months.

It was around this time last year that we received our ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted inspection result. I am pleased to say that the time since has been a year filled with inspiring moments, outstanding individuals, and transformative projects that have shaped the future of our community.

In July of 2022, we enjoyed the remarkable recognition of excellence in teaching and learning. Our Fashion and Textiles lecturer, Sam Jones, was awarded the prestigious Hampshire Award for Teaching & Learning. This accolade not only highlights Sam’s dedication and expertise but also demonstrates the exceptional quality of education our students receive. Congratulations to Sam Jones on this well-deserved honour, and a special mention to her colleague Lareen Morris for nominating her.

Later in July we received a second award for teaching when Sean Patterson, one of our chef lecturers, won the silver Award for Further Education Lecturer of the Year. With his extensive experience in the catering industry, Sean goes above and beyond to train our students and prepare them for various competitions. His commitment and expertise truly make a difference in shaping the future of our culinary professionals.

The summer months continued to bring significant events and opportunities for our college. We had the privilege of welcoming then-Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, to formally open our newest facility, the Aerospace Research and Innovation Centre (ARIC). This state-of-the-art centre, partially funded by the EM3 Local Enterprise Partnership, serves as a hub for collaboration between employers, universities, and students in STEAM initiatives. It was an honour to showcase our outstanding college to the Prime Minister and emphasise the importance of industry partnerships in empowering our students for success.

Launched in October, the College took on the ambitious challenge of celebrating Black History Month through an in-depth project highlighting individuals from the 100 Great Black Britons book. Students researched many of the inspirational figures and created projects to present their findings. The outcome was tremendously successful, with all subject areas creating a range of displays, presentations, and artwork. In celebration of their achievements I was delighted to welcome Diane Abbott MP, one of the figures featured in the book, to the College to talk to students about their work and her journey. The students recognised for their outstanding displays were also treated to a trip to Thorpe Park!

A huge highlight of the year was the visit from Baroness Floella Benjamin in December. Her inspirational speech and personal anecdotes resonated with our students and staff, motivating everyone to strive for greatness. We were honored to host such an influential figure and witness the positive impact her visit had on our college community.

A significant achievement came in January when our board of governors approved the Salix bid, securing £10 million for a sustainability capital project. This project will pave the way for substantial decarbonisation by 2026, aligning our college with the government’s environmental goals. We are proud to contribute to a sustainable future and provide our students with an environmentally conscious learning environment.

In April, we witnessed the outstanding success of our learners in skills competitions. Sam Mackenzie and Miles James, apprentices from our Aldershot Construction College, demonstrated exceptional skills and were placed among the best in the country for their respective competitions. Their achievements reflect the dedication of our apprentices and the quality of training they receive at our college. We are immensely proud of their accomplishments and their representation of Farnborough College of Technology on a national level.

As the academic year drew to a close, we celebrated our students’ achievements through various award ceremonies and events. From festival-style barbecues and live music to art exhibitions and end-of-year shows, we ensured that each student received recognition for their hard work and accomplishments. These moments of celebration reinforce our commitment to providing a nurturing and supportive environment for all our students, regardless of their educational pathway.

Looking ahead, we are excited to embark on a new year of learning and growth. The opening of the Hart Professional College in Fleet, an extension of our college, will enable us to meet the increasing demand for specialised courses in health and counselling fields for adult learners.

As the summer unfolds, our college is already busy preparing for the upcoming academic year. We eagerly anticipate welcoming new students in September and providing them with a transformative educational experience.

I extend my heartfelt congratulations to all the individuals, staff, and students who have contributed to the incredible accomplishments of the past 12 months.

There's still time to apply for September, enrol today!
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