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08/02/13 - Strode College Brings 'Miss Saigon' to Somerset
Strode College Brings 'Miss Saigon' to Somerset

If you've enjoyed 'Les Miserables' at the cinema recently or have been lucky enough to see it performed at the theatre, it's likely that you will enjoy the musical show 'Miss Saigon', which was written by the same composer and lyricist.

Strode College students are staging this ambitious musical production at Strode Theatre from 26 February to 1 March; it is one of the first few amateur productions of the show which only became available last summer.

'Miss Saigon', produced originally by Sir Cameron Macintosh, is based on Puccini's opera Madame Butterfly. It tells the story of a doomed romance in 1970s Saigon between a Vietnamese bar girl and an American lieutenant serving in the Vietnam War.

Highlights of the show include the evacuation of the last Americans in Saigon from the embassy roof by helicopter while a crowd of abandoned Vietnamese scream in despair, the victory parade of the new communist regime, and the dream-like sequence when the Vietnamese imagine living the 'American dream' which is performed as a Hollywood style song and dance number.

Charmaine Bray, Lecturer in Performing Arts at Strode College and director of the show is anticipating an exciting and moving night's entertainment. She said: “Miss Saigon is a thought provoking and dramatic musical drama. It is a wonderful show to watch and a fantastic and challenging show to perform, particularly as there is no dialogue only song, and our student band will be performing the whole show live.

“Our annual musical is a cross college production which is open to all students as an enrichment activity. Students and staff are working really hard to deliver a quality production and there will be a lot of talent on stage, behind the scenes and in our band. Strode Theatre is a great performance space which enhances our productions enormously; we're looking forward to a wonderful show.”

Ellie Curtis, aged five, a member of Razzamataz performing arts school in Street, will be joining the Strode students on stage as the character Tam, son of Kim the Vietnamese bar girl. Ellie is taught at Razzamataz by Strode student Ollie Perry who plays John in the show. (See list of Principal characters below.)

It is widely reported that Cameron Macintosh is planning to revive 'Miss Saigon' for the London stage in 2014, and that the show will be turned into a film following the recent success of 'Les Miserables'.

Tickets for Strode's 'Miss Saigon' can be booked online at www.strodetheatre.co.uk

or call the Strode Theatre box office on: 01458 442846. Ticket cost £10, £8 full concessions and £6 for Strode staff and students.

 

Principle characters and performers in Strode’s version of 'Miss Saigon':

  • Kim - played by Hannah Press (Tues and Thurs) and Camilla Webber (Wed and Fri)
  • Chris - played by Joe Martin (of Wells)
  • John - played by Olly Perry (of Street)
  • Thuy - played by Dan Prince (of Yeovil)
  • Ellen - played by Lauren Wittleton (of Glastonbury)
  • Engineer - played by Connor Williams (of Wells), Wed and Fri and Sam Rich (of Beaminster) Tues and Thurs.

 

Photo: Strode students rehearsing for 'Miss Saigon' which opens at Strode Theatre on 26 February and runs until 1 March. Left to right: Kim played by Hannah Press, the Engineer played by Connor Williams, Thuy played by Dan Prince, John played by Matt Townsend and Chris played by Joe Martin.

07/02/13 - Ski Trip Prepares Students for Successful Careers
Ski Trip Prepares Students for Successful Careers

Forty students from Strode College’s Public Services courses enjoyed the thrills and spills of the Italian ski slopes recently, where they showed their teachers just how well prepared they are - for fun and for their future careers. 

Strode teaches three different Public Services courses, providing students with the opportunity to progress through the courses to extend their knowledge and skills to a higher level for management roles: Level 2 Diploma, Level 3 Extended Diploma, and a Foundation Degree in Managing in the Public Sector Services. Students from all courses joined the skip trip.

Maurice Holdstock, Public Services Course Manager at Strode said: “We want to make sure that our students are well placed to compete for highly sought after public services jobs and to take on the challenges of higher level study. We do this by teaching a mix of theory and practical activities to prepare students for a range of situations and careers.

“Skiing and snowboarding require excellent personal skills such as communication, leadership and team working, and high levels of fitness. Also, students need to be well prepared to deal with any situations that might arise on the slopes – skiing is an adventure sport so there are risks involved. The ski trip is a good opportunity to put those skills into practice. It was great to see how responsible our students are; they have fun but they work hard and achieve exceptional results.”

Previously Strode’s Public Service students have gone on to university to study subjects such as Law, Criminology, Speech Therapy, Politics, History, Nursing and Public Services. And they have gone directly into careers in a range of areas including the uniformed services, teaching, nursing, air traffic control, airport security, retail management and ski instructing.

The College has a strong record of high performance for its Public Services courses. Last year 88% of students achieved high grades compared to 36% nationally, and the College’s ALPS rating for improving students grades from those predicted after GCSEs, places Strode’s Public Services courses in the top 10% of schools and colleges nationally.

For more information about Strode College’s Public Services Diplomas and Foundation Degree visit the Public Services Course Page or call 01458 844400.

Photo: Strode’s Public Services teacher, Maurice Holdstock (3rd left) taking a breather with some of his students in the beautiful Italian mountains - he’s confident that his students know how to stay safe while enjoying adventurous sports like skiing and snowboarding.

07/02/13 - Oxfam Comes to Strode
Oxfam Comes to Strode

On 30 January Strode College staff cleared out some clutter by bringing their unwanted books, CDs and DVDs to work and donating them to Oxfam. 

Volunteers from Oxfam’s Wells Book and Music shop were at Strode all morning to receive bags of donations and to sign staff up for Gift Aid. At the end of the session, the volunteers transported the bags of books, CDs and DVDs back to the Wells Oxfam shop for sorting and pricing. 

Louise Deplae, from Oxfam Wells, said: “Many thanks to Strode for receiving us in the college last week. We felt very welcome and were delighted with the response from Strode College employees. We were particularly pleased when a group of children from the college nursery wheeled a trolley round with a bag of unwanted children’s books. They were the youngest donors of the day - It is never too young to start donating to Oxfam! Their bag of books could help to provide safe drinking water for more than 30 people in an emergency.

“This was our first 'Oxfam Collects at Work' day and we’re delighted with the positive response. What better and more convenient way to help poverty in poor communities around the world?”

The ‘Oxfam Collects at Work’ scheme is a way for socially reponsible organisations to enable their staff to donate from the workplace. Signing up for Gift Aid takes less than a minute and means that Oxfam can make 25% more from donations. Each person will receive a personalised report on how much their donations have made.

For more information about this scheme, please visit the Oxfam website.

01/02/13 - Strode College Welcomes Call for Improved and Impartial Careers Advice in all Schools
Strode College Welcomes Call for Improved and Impartial Careers Advice in all Schools

Strode College welcomes the report published last week (23 January) by the House of Commons Education Committee into careers guidance for young people, which strongly recommends improvements to the quality and independence of careers guidance given in schools.

Changes introduced by the coalition government last year have dismantled the independent Young People’s Careers Service, which had been responsible for making sure that young people are advised about all the education, training and careers options available to them after GCSEs. This responsibility has recently passed to schools, and the Commons Education Committee is recommending significant changes to current Government policies to improve the quality of careers provision in schools. 

Launching the report last week, Education Committee Chair, Graham Stuart MP said: “The Education Committee has found that the quality and quantity of guidance for young people is deteriorating just when it is most needed….Too many schools put their own interests ahead of that of their pupils, restrict access to other education providers and make the filling of their own sixth form places more of a priority than their statutory duty to provide independent and impartial advice and guidance to pupils.”

James Staniforth, Principal of Strode College, said: “Many head teachers complain that they have been given no money to deliver comprehensive careers advice in school. This, combined with our very real concern about the lack of independent and impartial advice given by schools which have their own sixth forms, means that young people in some schools may not be getting the information they need to make informed and considered choices about what to do after GCSEs.

“The heads of our partner schools are committed to laying out all of the options for their pupils, and we work closely with them and other 11-16 schools to provide comprehensive information, advice and guidance to their pupils and parents about what they can study at Strode. We are invited to these schools to give presentations to pupils and parents and to give out information about our college, and many schools actively promote our open events and encourage their pupils to come to our `College Experience Days`. 

“However, we do find it difficult to reach some pupils, and the Commons Education Committee’s recommendations would help ensure that all young people get the best information and advice available to help them make the right choices for their future.” 

“Strode is a specialist 16 to 18 college and we are able to teach more A Levels and vocational courses than local sixth form schools. This means we offer more choice and more opportunities for young people, and we are extremely experienced in guiding students about future study and career options. When you also take into account the outstanding results that our students achieve, as recognised in our May 2012 Ofsted inspection, it is clearly in all students’ interests that they consider Strode when making their choices for post 16 study.

01/02/13 - Strode College Students put Safety First
Strode College Students put Safety First

By age 16 you will have heard a great deal about how to keep yourself safe and well, but you will continue to experience new situations and there will be new safety issues to think about. 

With this in mind, Strode College, which specialises in education for 16 to 18 year olds, held a 'Safety Awareness Week' this week, providing students with information about personal safety issues and advice on how to avoid or deal with them. 

Strode’s student support team organised a programme of events which ran throughout the week, including self-defence lessons, first-aid demonstrations, advice about alcohol, drugs and road safety, and e-safety sessions with a particular focus on how to avoid or deal with inappropriate images or videos being posted online. Rape awareness tutorial sessions will also be taking place facilitated by the Youth Project Co-ordinator for the Avon and Somerset Police.

A cycle repair and ride scheme visited college during the week offering free cycle maintenance and repair for staff and students.

A range of organisations, including Avon and Somerset Police, Somerset Road Safety and Somerset Rural Youth Moped Scheme, visited the College to provide information and advice to students who were reminded to put their safety first.

Photo: Strode College student Ryan Ganfield of Street collects his newly repaired bike from Dereck Cutler of DC Cycle Works, who visited Strode during the College’s Safety Awareness week to provide a free bike repair service for students and staff.

29/01/13 - Strode is the South West's Best Performing College for A Levels
Strode is the South West's Best Performing College for A Levels

The government’s league tables for advanced level 16-18 education were published last week, showing that Strode College in Street is:

  • the best performing college in the South West for A Levels;
  • the second best state school or college in Somerset for all advanced level qualifications, including A Levels and BTEC Extended Diplomas;
  • the fourteenth best performing college nationally out of 343 colleges, placing it in the top 4%; and
  • Strode’s students achieve the second highest overall points score per A Level student in all Somerset state schools and colleges. (See League Tables).


James Staniforth, Principal of Strode College said: “We are thrilled with this outstanding performance, which reflects the achievements of our outstanding students and staff. What makes these achievements even more noteworthy is that, unlike many other schools and colleges, Strode is not selective.

“The combination of our best ever results for A Levels and advanced level Extended Diplomas means that, despite some potentially confusing changes to the league tables by the government this year, our excellent performance is still evident. 

“While performance tables do provide students and parents with useful information, they do not give the complete picture of a school or colleges performance, and they should not be considered on their own when deciding where the best choice and chance of success lies for a young person at 16.

“Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education, also wants to measure the percentage of students achieving AAB grades or better in a small group of A Levels that he believes are particularly useful to students – he calls these `facilitating` subjects. This measure is fairly meaningless however, because not only does it exclude A Levels that universities and employers value, like Economics and Philosophy, but elite universities like the twenty-four Russell Group members, do not share his views. Strode sent 67 students to Russell Group universities this summer and not only did less than half not have A Levels in Mr Gove’s facilitating subjects, but seven had studied BTEC Extended Diplomas.

“Therefore, while league tables form part of the picture, there are other important indicators that are more helpful to students and parents when they are considering how well a school or college will meet their needs. In particular, look at whether the quality of teaching and support at a school or college helps to improve students’ results beyond what they were predicted to achieve based on their GCSE results. Strode College is in the top 5% of 1,200 schools and colleges in the state sector for improving students’ performance in A Levels and Advanced Level Diplomas after their GCSEs (Advanced Level Performance Systems 2012).

“We know that we have a lot of excellent students at Strode. We also know that we add value to all of our students because of our exceptional staff and our approach to learning and support. I am extremely proud of what we have achieved and delighted that the league tables and the ALPS measures reflect this success.”

18/01/13 - Record Number of Year 11's Visit Strode College for Advice about Study Options after GCSEs
Record Number of Year 11's Visit Strode College for Advice about Study Options after GCSEs

Strode College welcomed a record 1900 year 11 pupils and parents to their open evenings this year, with the third event, which took place on Tuesday 15 January, proving another great success. 

Visitors came from across Somerset to find out about A Levels and vocational courses, to meet the teachers and to seek advice about study and career options.

James Staniforth, Principal of Strode College, said: "Moving on after GCSEs signals the start of an exciting time for year 11s - new opportunities, new experiences and ideas, and of course new friends. It's great to be able to tell people about these opportunities, to answer their questions and advise them on how they can achieve their ambitions, and also to help some people consider what their ambitions may be. 

"I'm delighted that so many people visited Strode this year and I hope that many of them will choose to study A Levels or vocational courses with us next year. We've had some great feedback about the college. It's good to know that people have heard how successful our students are and how well the college is doing."

Charlotte Carrol-Rossitter, who wants to study hospitality, lives in Croscombe and visited Strode with her parents. Charlotte said: "I was terrified about coming here, but now I just can't wait to start! It's been really informative and I've learnt a lot by looking around and talking to the teachers and students. I'm ready to move on from school and will definitely be applying to Strode."

Carly Small who wants to study A Levels visited with her mum. Her mum said: "I am really impressed. I visited Strode four years ago with my eldest daughter, we liked the college then but now it's even better. The teachers are so organised, they have so much useful information and the pastoral support for students sounds really good."

Grace Farey from Langport wants to study art and design. She visited Strode with her parents. Her mum said: "This is our first visit to Strode. I didn't know where to start or what options were open to Grace, but tonight has helped us find a way forward. It's been reassuring and I'm particularly pleased about how the college values the individual."

In 2012, 57 per cent of Strode's A-level students achieved high grades of A* to B with an overall pass rate of 99.4per cent. 81 per cent of BTEC Extended Diploma students achieved a Merit or higher, with 50 per cent achieving a Triple Distinction or higher, equivalent to three grade As at A-level.

Strode is in the top 5 per cent of 1200 schools and colleges nationally for 'adding value' and improving students' grades in A Levels and BTEC advanced qualifications. The term 'added value' is used to judge whether the quality of teaching and support for students makes a real difference to their results.

Strode College is currently accepting applications for A Levels and vocational qualifications starting in September 2013. For more information or to apply, call: 01458 844400 or visit: www.strode-college.ac.uk

18/01/13 - High Quality, Local, Affordable Higher Education Strode College Prospectus now Available
High Quality, Local, Affordable Higher Education Strode College Prospectus now Available

If you want to study a high quality, higher education course, while keeping your costs down and staying close to home, then you should take a look at Strode College's new prospectus for Higher Education courses starting in September 2013.

In May last year, the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) awarded Strode the highest possible rating for its higher education provision. In particular the QAA praised the individual support students received at Strode and the value of Strode's academic and pastoral support to students' performance. They also highlighted the quality of the tutors own scholarship and research which enhanced student learning, along with the value of feedback and interaction with students via Strode's virtual learning facilities. 

Strode's popular university level Foundation Degree courses are run in partnership with Plymouth University. The College offers Foundation Degrees in History, Heritage and Archaeology, E-Business Technologies and Managing in the Public Sector Services. In addition, it offers a Higher National Diploma (HND) in Performing Arts/Acting accredited by Edexcel/Pearson.

Strode also offers higher level professional qualifications in Psychotherapeutic Counselling and Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector. And, for people who want to study at a higher level in the future but have not gained the relevant qualifications, the College offers two pre-degree courses: Access to Higher Education Diploma and Art and Design Diploma in Foundation Studies. 

Although each course has specific entry requirements they are open to a range of people including young people leaving school or college with A Levels or other Level 3 qualifications such as Extended Diplomas, people with relevant life experience and mature students.

Strode's full-time Foundation Degrees and HND cost £6,500 a year depending on the length of time you take to complete the course and whether you study full or part-time. The average annual fee for a studying a full-time degree in South West Universities is £8,750.

For a copy of Strode's new prospectus for Higher Education courses call 01458 844400 or visit the college website to find out more: www.strode-college.ac.uk

18/01/13 - Somerset Chamber Recognises Strode College Support for Local Business
Somerset Chamber Recognises Strode College Support for Local Business

The Somerset Chamber of Commerce has awarded Strode College a certificate of achievement to recognise the College's commitment to developing and supporting local businesses over the last ten years. 

Strode College is one of the Chamber's longest serving members. The College's Business Development team works with businesses of any size or location to improve the performance of individual staff members and the business overall. They do this by delivering training and development to meet business requirements, including creating tailor-made training to address specific local issues. 

Graham Knight, Head of Business Development at the Strode said: "I am delighted to accept this acknowledgement of our long term commitment to the Chamber movement and the business community. A strong local and county Chamber are good for business in Somerset. I believe the strength of the Chambers will be heightened over the coming years with the strong endorsement of the movement by the last Heseltine Review which puts the Chambers at the centre of many business initiatives."

Photo: Michael Eavis presenting the Chambers Certificate of Achievements to Graham Knight, Head of Business development at Strode College

11/01/13 - Strode Maths Students go for Gold in National Competition
Strode Maths Students go for Gold in National Competition

Twelve high achieving A Level Maths students from Strode College recently won awards for their success in the UK Maths Trust Senior Maths Challenge.

The annual challenge is open to students from colleges and schools across the country. This year over 19,000 schools and colleges entered the competition with over 98,000 pupils competing. The top 10% of students received a gold certificate, the next 20% were awarded silver and the next 30% were awarded bronze.

Four Strode students were awarded gold certificates: Tom Perry (from Queens Camel, near Yeovil), Riley Dickinson (from Glastonbury), John O'Rourke (from Bruton) and Lauren Wittleton (from Glastonbury). Three students received silver: Jacob Green (from Wookey), Michael Brook (from Sherbourne) and Rebekah Botterill (from Glastonbury), and five were awarded bronze: Daisy Watkins (from Street), Megan Hart (from Street), Dan Lockey (from Sherbourne), Luke Webb (from Shepton Mallet) and Adam Murgatroyd (from Yeovil). 

Around 4000 of the top achieving students from across the UK were invited to take part in follow on competitions. Strode's Tom Perry qualified for the British Maths Olympiad Round 1 and the other gold award students qualified for the Senior Kangaroo competition - results will be announced in January. 

Strode Maths Subject Leader and Teacher, Helen Kelsey, said: "At college students study a specific syllabus to achieve their Maths A Levels, but in this competition they have to solve maths problems that are presented in a completely different way to A level and GCSE maths questions. The maths challenge poses stimulating and interesting problems that require students to use their mathematical knowledge differently and it encourages them to think laterally and logically. We help our students prepare for the maths challenge by adding optional questions to their homework. Students enjoy working on these problems and spend time discussing the solutions with each other."

Maths is one of the most popular A level subjects at Strode College and in 2012 high grades of A*, A and B were achieved by 67% of students in Maths and 69% of students in Further Maths. In 2012 Sixteen Strode students went on to study degree courses in maths, accounting, finance or engineering at universities across the country including Cambridge, Leeds and Exeter, and 29 students are now studying degrees that include some mathematical content.

Photo: Maths students from Strode College won gold, silver and bronze at the UK maths competition, where they competed with 98,000 students and solved maths problems that would challenge even the best mathematicians. Left to right back row: John O'Rourke, Michael Brooks, Daniel Lockey, Jacob Green and Riley Dickenson. Front row: Adam Murgatroyd, Rebekah Botterill, Thomas Perry, Lauren Wittleton and Megan Hart.

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