Strode News

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08/03/13 - A Picture for World Book Day
A Picture for World Book Day

Strode student Gabriel Niedojadlo enjoys a good read to celebrate 'World Book Day' in March. Gabriel’s twin brother Robin came up with the idea for the photo and their friend James Doney took the shot. The three students are studying Level 3 Extended Diploma in Broadcast Media.

07/03/13 - Apprenticeships Deliver for Local Businesses and Young People
Apprenticeships Deliver for Local Businesses and Young People

Employer: Party Packs (Westbury Sub-Mendip)

If you’ve organised a party or a special event and you’ve looked online for decorations and novelties to add some fun and colour, then you’ve probably visited the Party Packs website: 

Party Packs specialises in themed party paraphernalia including decorations, costumes and fancy dress, tableware and novelties. The company operates from a small business park in the village of Westbury-sub-Mendip, between Wells and Cheddar.

Kate Turner set up the business in 1986 using her experience of promoting events for breweries; she now employs 25 staff including three apprentices. In 2012 Kate decided she needed more staff to help grow the business, but she thought it would be unwise in the current economic climate to take on another full-time, fully-paid member of the team. She contacted Strode College to find out about apprenticeships.

In Spring 2012, Party Packs employed two 17 year old apprentices, Naomi and John, on the Advanced Business Administration scheme. Kate is so pleased with the outcomes that she’s just employed a third apprentice, Megan.

She said: “I was not too sure about the scheme to start with as I was concerned that it was just a way for employers to get cheap labour, but seeing how much both the company and the apprentices have benefitted from the scheme, I am now hugely enthusiastic about it. 

“Naomi and John have learnt a huge amount already. At work they are on a three week rolling programme working in our sales and IT team, our buying and accounts team, and our warehouse team. They also get in-house training from the full-time staff in various aspects of the business such as Photo-shop and digital printing. At Strode they gain a wide range of knowledge to help them thrive in the business world such as business communication skills, time management, health and safety, professional development and working relationships.

“Apprenticeships are a cost effective way to employ staff who are eager to learn and contribute to the business, but equally important is the great opportunity these schemes are providing for young people, who, without work experience, would find it very tough to compete against the many older and more experienced people who are also looking for jobs. They will be in a much stronger position to get a permanent fully-paid job having worked and learnt with us and Strode.”


Apprentice: Naomi Spearey (age 17 and lives in Draycott), Advanced Business Administration

Naomi Spearey did well at Kings of Wessex School in Cheddar, but she knows that she is much better suited to hands-on learning. This led her to an apprenticeship, where her skills, confidence and future prospects have grown a great deal in a short time.

“I started thinking about working in business when I was 16 because the skills and knowledge you learn in business can open so many doors and you don’t have to decide early on which type of business to go into. 

“The Party Packs job looked perfect – it covered every aspect of business and it was close to home. I love being in a real business environment and putting my knowledge into practice in the workplace. I’ve learnt so much about how business works. I get involved in many different aspects of the company including processing orders, making products, sales and customer service. I also go to Strode College every fortnight and Strode’s assessors visit us at work. The College resources such as books from the library, computers, training and the online work portfolio are really helpful.

“After my apprenticeship I’d like to find a job in a company where I can work my way into a higher level and gain more knowledge of how business works.”


Apprentice: John Moulton (lives in Coxley, Wells), Advanced Business Administration

John Moulton did well at school, but he was ready to move on from full-time education. When his friend Naomi got an apprenticeship with Party Packs he decided this might be the right path for him also. Another apprenticeship vacancy came up at Party Packs and John applied.

“After years of education I wanted to do something more active and involving and the apprenticeship scheme is a valuable way to get hands–on experience and qualifications. The practical nature of it helps to impart knowledge and skills for people with different learning styles. It’s a pleasure to work with like-minded people and to see how academic knowledge is applied in the working world. 

“I enjoy working in the different roles at Party Packs and I know this experience will give me a better chance of finding a good job in the future. I am learning new skills and how to apply them in different business situations so I am adaptable. When my apprenticeship finishes I plan to continue expanding my business skills and experience by working for another local company.

“The apprenticeship staff at Strode have been incredibly professional and helpful in guiding me through the new systems and requirements that go with starting a completely new course.” 

Apprentice: Megan Morgan (age 17, lives in Street), Advanced Business Administration

Megan enjoyed her time at Crispin School and liked learning, but increasingly she felt that it made more sense to be out doing business instead of sitting in a classroom and studying business.

She did begin a business course at college, but at the same time she was working in a bakery and found she was enjoying working more than studying. She joined a work skills course at Strode College where she got information and advice with a range of work related topics such as writing a CV, interview skills, health and safety at work, rights and responsibilities. She also got help researching job opportunities, including on the national apprenticeship website:

After a few job applications Megan successfully applied to Party Packs and became the company’s third apprentice in January this year. Megan said: “It’s really good here, I’ve learnt so much already. The apprentices are on a rolling rota of work which means that no one is doing the same thing all the time and we get to learn a lot of different tasks. Even though I know there’s no guarantee of a job at the end of my apprenticeship I think this is a great training scheme and I’m happy that other young people will get the same opportunity that I have once I move on.”

07/03/13 - Apprenticeships Deliver for Local Businesses - Options Hair & Beauty
Apprenticeships Deliver for Local Businesses - Options Hair & Beauty

One of the key assets to any business is its staff, and modern apprenticeship schemes are a cost effective way for employers to recruit and train staff who will become a real asset for the future.

Options Hair & Beauty in Yeovil is a great example of a local company that has embraced the scheme and found real benefits for the business and their apprentice.

With the help of Strode College in Street, the salon employed local girl Georgia Oliver as a trainee stylist. She recently completed her intermediate hairdressing apprenticeship and is now training for her advanced apprenticeship. The salon has a qualified, motivated and increasingly skilled stylist and Georgia has a career with excellent prospects.

Strode College in Street offers a wide range of apprenticeships and also sets up new apprenticeships to meet the needs of local businesses.

To find out how apprenticeships can benefit your business, call Strode College’s apprenticeship team on 01458 844553.

Photo: Hairdressing apprentice Georgia Oliver works at Options Hairdressing Salon in Yeovil and also trains at Strode College in Street. She won Strode’s hairdressing competition last year with this Red Carpet Hollywood look.

28/02/13 - Make the most of Your Saturday at Strode College
Make the most of Your Saturday at Strode College

If you have some free time on Saturday 16 March and you want to spend part of your day doing something interesting, fun, creative and relaxing, then have a look at the Saturday Spring Sessions running at Strode College in Street. 

There are thirteen workshops on offer: high places photo shoot at Wells Cathedral, getting more from your DSLR camera, baking Easter biscuits, hot cross buns and cupcakes, creative writing, plant propagation, pottery, willow craft, watercolours, cartoon workshop, decoupage garland, silk nuno scarves, using your iPad and using e-bay.

The courses, which are aimed at adults, will be taught in Strode’s specialist classrooms and studios and a light lunch will be provided. To find out more visit: or call 01458 844400 for a brochure.

27/02/13 - Students go Wild for Make-Up Competition
Students go Wild for Make-Up Competition

Beauty students from Strode College got the chance to show off their skills and creative flair in the College make-up competition which had the theme ‘Wild Kingdom.’

They had to create a complete look using Jane Iredale make-up, hair styling, an outfit, accessories and nails.

Beauty Therapy Teacher Marcie Mickleburgh said: “The event was a great success. It gave the students a chance to demonstrate the skills and techniques they have learnt on their beauty course at Strode, which incorporates training from a number of professionals, including Jane Iredale make-up”.


Level 2 Beauty Therapy winners

1st prize: Make-up artist Emma Daley (Somerton), modeled by Sophie Sartin (Yeovil).

2nd prize: Make-up artist Hannah Chaddock (Sherborne), modeled by Frankie Silcox (Yeovil).

3rd prize: Make-up artist Lauren Coe (Yeovil), Modelled by Daisy Andrews (Wells).


Level 3 Beauty Therapy winners

1st prize: Make-up artist Charlotte Collins (Yeovil), modeled by Celia Graziano (Henstridge) (Pictured).

2nd prize: make-up artist Charlotte Burletson (Glastonbury) modeled by Ellie White (Wells).

25/02/13 - Biology Students Broaden Knowledge at Bristol Zoo
Biology Students Broaden Knowledge at Bristol Zoo

Over 100 A Level Biology and Human Biology students from Strode College visited Bristol Zoo recently to expand their knowledge of evolution and classification ahead of their summer exams.

As well as being a leading visitor attraction, with over 450 species of animals, Bristol Zoo is also an award-winning conservation and education charity. 

While at the zoo the students had small group sessions in the education centre. Specialist staff used a range of specimens to focus on evolution and classification, including furs, bones, stuffed and live animals. The students are now completing a research project in college using information about the classification and scientific names of the many animal species at the zoo.

Damian Harris, Subject Leader for Human Biology at Strode, said: “Our annual trip to Bristol Zoo is always a highlight for students as it allows them to study topics covered on their exam syllabus in a hands-on, interactive way using the many biological specimens and resources available in the zoo's education department. The specialist knowledge of the zoo staff about the classification and evolution of the animals on display puts the study of these topics into a real-life context and builds on the work covered in lessons at college.”

Strode College’s Biology department is one of the most successful in the country with 100 per cent of students meeting or exceeding national targets in Human Biology and 98 per cent in Biology; both courses have the highest added-value rating in the country out of 1,251 schools and colleges. In 2012, 73 per cent of Strode Biology students achieved high A* to B grades compared to 47 per cent nationally, and for Human Biology 58 per cent gained A* to B grades compared to 27 per cent nationally (Advanced Level Performance Systems, 2012).

For more information about studying A Level Biology and Human Biology at Strode College visit: or call 01458 844400.

Strode College Biology students, are among the most successful in the country with 100 per cent of students meeting or exceeding national targets in Human Biology and 98 per cent in Human Biology (ALPS, 2012).

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

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.

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