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14/03/16 - With breadth & quality of Apprenticeships, start your career & progress to a higher level
With breadth & quality of Apprenticeships, start your career & progress to a higher level

It’s National Apprenticeship Week (14-18 March) and Strode College is highlighting how apprenticeships have developed so that they now offer fantastic opportunities for those starting out in a career and those wanting to progress their career to a much higher level.  

Apprenticeships available today have been developed with industry, to equip employees with the professional and technical skills they need to work at a range of levels. There are excellent apprenticeships suitable for young people leaving school after GCSEs, for those leaving college after A Levels and vocational courses, and for those who are already in work and looking to develop their career.

There are Traineeships, for those who need to further develop their Maths and English skills and get some experience before applying for an Apprenticeship or employment.  There are Intermediate Apprenticeships, equivalent to five GCSEs; Advanced Apprenticeships, equivalent to two A Levels; and Higher Apprenticeships, aimed at young people who have successfully completed A Levels or a vocational course; these are equivalent to, and often include, university-level qualifications such as HNDs and Foundation Degrees.

Strode College is currently supporting a wide range of employers to train 125 Apprentices in a range of roles. The majority are employed as Intermediate and Advanced Apprentices, but there are a growing number of young people seeking Higher Level Apprenticeships as an alternative to university when they leave college or school.

James Heappey, MP for Wells, visited Stonebridge, a family run estate agency in Shepton Mallet, this week to meet a Strode College Apprentice.  He said: ‘The growth in apprenticeships in Somerset has been extraordinary; giving incredible opportunities for training whilst in work for local young people. It is great to see that companies like Stonebridge see the benefit of apprenticeships. I hope many other businesses will see the opportunity for them as well. Our local colleges – and particularly Strode College – are leading the way in working with local business to deliver apprenticeships that work for employer and employee alike.’

Strode College is currently working with local businesses to recruit 41 new apprentices for job vacancies across a wide range of sectors including IT, Hairdressing, Hospitality, Business and Administration, Health and Social Care and Childcare.

Whether you are an employer interested in recruiting an apprentice, or a young person interested in becoming an apprentice, you can find out more from Strode College Apprenticeship team by calling 01458 844631.


Stonebridge Estate Agents, Shepton Mallet – Advanced Apprenticeship, Business Administration

Stonebridge is a family business, owned and run by father and son Keith and Ian Pagram for 15 Years.  They pride themselves on the quality of their service and the relationships they have with their clients.  

Ashley Drew, from Shepton Mallet, began work as an Advanced Apprentice with Stonebridge in November 2014. He first trained in Business Administration as an Intermediate Apprentice with Moneycare in Shepton Mallet before progressing to his role at Stonebridge. Ashley was formerly a pupil at Whitstone School.  themselves on the quality of their service and the relationships they have with their clients. 

Keith Pagram said: “We decided to employ an Apprentice rather than someone with previous experience because we wanted to train them up in how we do things.  We’re a local, family business and we take great care of our clients. We’re training Ashley in how we do things - showing him how to go the extra mile to help clients.  He’s getting experience of all aspects of the business and we’ve seen a remarkable development in his skills and confidence.  He’s about to become a Junior Lister and, when he finishes his Apprenticeship, we will make him a permanent member for the team. ”


Thales UK – “Higher Apprentices are our future leaders and technical experts.`

Thales UK researches, develops, manufactures and supplies technology and services to the worldwide Aerospace, Defence, Security and Transportation markets.  Thales in Templecombe, Somerset, works in Air Operations and Maritime Mission Systems.  Thales employs 6,500 staff in the UK and 700 in Somerset.

Strode College is currently supporting three Thales Higher Apprentices who are completing a HNC in Computing Systems and Development as part of their Higher Apprenticeship.

  • Ryan Willimas (from Langport, previously gained a Level 2 Diploma in IT and a Level 3 Extended Diploma in IT at Strode College)
  • Sam Bull (from Street, previously gained an Extended Diploma in IT at Strode College).
  • Callum Taylor (also gained Extended Diploma before joining Thales)  

Darren Shepherd, Thales’ Head of Programme Delivery, Systems & Services, said: “Thales is proud to be working closely with Strode College to offer Higher Level Apprenticeships in Computer Systems and Software Engineering and we look forwards to strengthening our relationship moving forwards. 

“Apprentices are key to the growth of Thales, with over 100 recruited across the country this year.  From a personal perspective, it is clear from the short time that our current intake has been with us, that the Apprentices of today will be our leaders and technical experts of the future. Thales Apprentices get paid

while they study and are backed up with a dedicated mentor.  Within Air Operations, Systems & Services they are working on live projects and delivering front line capability to our Armed Forces, whether it is through developing ground breaking software solutions, testing complex systems or installing them at RAF Bases around the country.”

Ryan Williams, one of the Thales Apprentices who also trains at Strode College, said: “Thales apprenticeships are amazing.  We’re working in a supportive, exciting and challenging environment.  We get knowledge in the office as well as at Strode College – there’s never a dull day.  Our minds have been expanded with software, programing languages, networking infrastructure and computer systems and we get the chance to use what we know in a real scenario.  We also get opportunities to go to one of the many sites Thales has across the UK and aboard, and we’ll undergo a week of team building in the Lake District.  It’s great networking with people in the industry who are doing what potentially you want to be doing and hearing about their experiences.“

08/03/16 - Industry Experience for Music Technology Students
Industry Experience for Music Technology Students

A group of A Level and BTEC Extended Diploma Music Technology students from Strode College visited the O2 Academy in Bristol this month for a technical tour of the venue. The sound and lighting manager Matt Royston-Bishop took the group backstage, on stage and behind the main mixing console. He explained the features of the digital desks and how the sound is sent around the venue from the stage. The students had a chance to operate the mixing console and ask questions of a highly experienced sound engineer.

The visit is one of the ways students are encouraged to build their awareness and create links in the local music industry. Strode's Music Technology teacher Adrian Smith commented: “We have now established a strong link with the O2 in Bristol and this visit is built into the live sound and technical stage management areas of the course.”

While in Bristol students also spent time in the Professional Music Technology shop trying out a large range of guitars, drums kits and synthesizers.

A number of our Music Technology students now work in live sound.  These include Sofie Hunter, from Shepton Mallet (previously at Sexeys School), who works for a local live sound company running the sound and stage for corporate events and festivals including Farm Fest in Bruton; Dave Perry from Street (previously at Crispin School), who works at the Octagen in Yeovil; Ollie Chamberlain from Shepton Mallet (previously at Wells Blue), who works for Vortex Events Ltd; and Bruce Macdonald from Street (previously at Neale-Wade Community College, Cambridgeshire), who is currently touring the UK as sound engineer for an up and coming metal band.

To find out more about our Music Department visit the Music and Music Technology sections of our website

04/03/16 - Professional Former Students Inspire the Next generation of Strode Hair and Beauty Students
Professional Former Students Inspire the Next generation of Strode Hair and Beauty Students

Professionals from across the hair and beauty sector visited Strode College for its ‘Industry Day’ recently, to share their tips and expertise with over 200 hair, beauty, nails and barbering students. A broad and diverse range of talks and demonstrations were held at Strode’s specialist salons and students had the opportunity to see different techniques and meet and ask the industry experts questions. More than half the professionals originally trained at Strode College.

Angie Cinicola, Head of Hair and Beauty at Strode College, said: “The aim today is to motivate and inspire our students, and keep them to keep up-to-date with the current industry trends, products and techniques, so that they are equipped with professional standards of skills and knowledge, ready to succeed in their careers. They benefit enormously from the business and careers advice they get from the industry experts who have come in to college today.”

Christopher ‘CJ’ Smith, from Bridgwater, is currently studying Barbering part-time at Strode College, while also working at Ashley’s Barber Shop in Taunton: “I was fitting air conditioning units but at the age of 25 decided to train to become a barber. I want to go to Australia and now I will have a trade I can take there. It’s been really interesting and I’ve picked up some really good tips from the demonstrations today.”

Jess Dycer, from Street, who previously trained as a hairdressing apprenticeship with Strode College, is now the co-owner of Tranquillity Hair Salon in Street. She delivered two colouring demonstrations for the hairdressing students: “Industry Day gives the students the opportunity to get a real insight into some of the important challenges in the salon. This is the third year I have delivered a demonstration. It’s a way of giving back, and I look forward to coming every year.”

Hair and Beauty Industry Day 16 - George Webber  Hair and Beauty Industry Day 16 - Jess Dycer

Top: 1960s hair styling with Karen McWilliams
Left: George Webber demonstrates barbering techniques
Right: Jess Dycer with inspired hairdressing students

Hair and Beauty Industry Day 16 - Sarah Davidson  Hair and Beauty Industry Day 16 - Emily Chiffers

Left: Sarah Davidson from Aqua Sana Spa, Centre Parcs, Longleat
Right: Emily Chiffers shows off her hand painting colour work

04/03/16 - Rowing to Raise Funds
Rowing to Raise Funds

Public Services and Sports students at Strode were recently inspired to raise money for charity after learning that a team of five men, calling themselves ‘Team Essence’, are rowing 3,807 miles unsupported across the Atlantic, in aid of the NSPCC.

The Strode students relay-rowed their way through a 90-minute Public Services lesson, with one group covering 15,543 metres and a second group covering 18,154m on a college rowing machine. They raised a total of £80.00 plus GiftAid for the NSPCC, by making a donation for each row.

Matt Bennett, father of one of the men in Team Essence, left a message for the students on Facebook after they made their donation: “That is awesome. Congratulations to you all. My son will be appreciative of all your efforts. You also are rowing heroes.”


Details on Team Essence can be found online at or on their Facebook page ‘Team Essence - The Rogues of Ocean Rowing’ or twitter @teamessencero

18/02/16 - Funky Gospel from Strode College's The Wiz
Funky Gospel from Strode College's The Wiz

'The Wiz' is the latest production by Strode College Performing Arts students and is showing at Strode Theatre on Wednesday 24 to Saturday 27 February, 7.30pm.

The Tony Award-winning show follows Dorothy and her friends on a magical journey as they ‘ease on down’ the yellow brick road to the Emerald City. This popular adaptation of the Wizard of Oz is set to funk, gospel and soul music and tells the classic story including the Lion, Scarecrow and Tinman – along with an injection of energy and fantasy!

Charmaine Bray, Performing Arts teacher and director of the show, said: “We have had a lot of fun working on this show. There are fun, funky, fantasy characters who appear throughout the story, and the cast have been brilliant at bringing these to life. The principals are doing a great job of making the familiar characters their own too, and we are all really buzzing about the show.

The production is part of Strode College’s enrichment programme which means that students from all courses across college can take part. Although mostly Performing Arts students, the role of Dorothy is being played by A Level student Emily Roberts, from Yeovil (previously at Westfield Academy), and students from other courses are involved both on stage and behind the scenes. The fifteen piece band which is providing the music for the show is also made up of Strode College students.

Tickets for the show, which cost £10, £8 full concessions and £6 for Strode students and staff, can be booked via the Strode Theatre Box Office: 01458 442846 or the Strode Theatre website.

17/02/16 - League Tables Show Strode College is the Best Performing Sixth Form in Somerset over Three Years
League Tables Show Strode College is the Best Performing Sixth Form in Somerset over Three Years

The recently published Government league tables show that Strode College in Street has the best and most consistent performance in Somerset over the past three years for student progress.

This is the third year in a row that the league tables have ranked Strode College as the first or second best school or college in Somerset for student progress for A Levels and advanced vocational courses*. 

Student progress is measured by 'value-added' scores in the league tables. This shows the difference between the results a student is expected to achieve based on their GCSE results, and the results they actually achieve at advanced level. Value-added scores are the best measure of the difference made to students’ results by the quality of teaching and support they receive.

James Staniforth, Principal of Strode College said: “I am delighted that the league tables show, once again, that the quality of our teaching and support makes such a positive difference to our students' results and, consequently, to their future success. Whether students study A Levels or a vocational qualification with us, they will perform much better than they might have expected. No other school or college in the county can demonstrate such an outstanding track record for student progress and this is great news for our students.”

The value-added rating has been included in the league tables for the past three years and Ofsted now use student progress as a key measure of quality when inspecting schools and colleges. On the strength of its performance, Strode College has been invited to work with Ofsted to deliver a conference on improving student progress at advanced level.

Strode College is the only Ofsted 'Outstanding' sixth form in Mendip and South Somerset and the only sixth form college to achieve this highest rating in the last two years.

*Based on 2015 league tables – student progress measured by value-added scores, including final data to be published in March 2016.

View league tables

17/02/16 - Strode Students Win Places at Oxford and Cambridge
Strode Students Win Places at Oxford and Cambridge

Two Strode College A Level students are delighted to have won places to study at Oxford and Cambridge universities next year. Ben Jones from Shapwick (previously at Crispin School) has an offer to study Maths at Cambridge University and Albert Gifford from Shepton Mallet (previously at Whitstone School), has a place to study Medicine at Oxford University.

James Staniforth, Principal of Strode College said: “It’s great news that Ben and Albert have achieved their goal of gaining a place at the country’s top universities. We want all of our students to achieve their potential and we provide outstanding teaching and support to help them do so. While all of our students receive support with their university applications, those aiming to join a competitive university such as Oxford and Cambridge, get additional support to make sure that they are fully prepared to compete at the highest level.

“Ben and Albert are following in the footsteps of many other Strode students who have progressed to top universities. Our students are 16% more likely to get a place at university than the national average - we have an 89% success rate compared to 73% nationally. One in three of our students gain places at top Russell Group universities; while many others progress to specialist courses, employment and Apprenticeships.“

Albert Gifford said: “Chris Harvey, the Careers Advisor at Strode, has been fantastic in finding work experiences for me and with interview preparation – both vital for me to get onto the Medicine course at Oxford. He also encouraged me to apply for the summer school at Oxford University – I got a place and it was an amazing week that gave me great experiences of what life would be like studying there.”

Ben said: “The teaching at Strode is of a very high quality and sets a great atmosphere to learn in. The teachers are very supportive and willing to dedicate time outside lessons to ensure that you get the best results possible. I was quite surprised to get a place at Cambridge University because it’s so competitive, but I got good grades in my exams and thought it was worth giving it a shot.”

Strode College is the only 'Outstanding' sixth form in Mendip and South Somerset and the only school or college sixth form in Somerset to achieve this highest rating in the last two years.

Photo: Goal achieved for Strode students Benjamin Jones, who will study at Cambridge University, and Albert Gifford, who will study at Oxford University.

11/02/16 - Strode College History Lecturer Publishes New Book
Strode College History Lecturer Publishes New Book

Dr Sean McGlynn, who teaches on Strode College’s History, Heritage and Archaeology Degree, in partnership with Plymouth University, has published a new book.  

Kill Them All: Cathars and Carnage in the Albigensian Crusade, is the first account of all the military operations carried out during this bloody crusade against the Cathar heretics of Southern France.

Dr McGlynn said: “This was one of the most brutal conflicts of the entire Middle Ages, marked by frequent massacres and atrocities on both sides. It is also a tale of dramatic sieges and battles carried out by such forceful characters as Simon de Montfort and King Louis the Lion.”  

He hopes that the book will be useful to undergraduate students studying the Medieval Heresy and Inquisition module run by Strode College, one of a number of medieval courses on the degree programme, including: King Arthur; The Wars of the Roses; Bad King John; Robin Hood; and The Medieval Apocalypse, which examines the Black Death and Hundred Years War that made the fourteenth century the most catastrophic in European history.

Conference - History in the Age of Shakespeare

Dr McGlynn has also been busy working with colleagues at Strode to organise a major history conference at Strode Theatre on Thursday 24 March, to mark the 400th anniversary of the death of Shakespeare this year.  

History in the Age of Shakespeare: From Tudors to Stuarts, sees seven experts from universities speaking on historical topics and Shakespeare’s plays. (See flyer)

Strode’s degree level History students and A Level History and English Literature students will be attending the conference.  Students from other school sixth-forms in the region have also been invited to attend to enhance and extend their learning. School interested in attending can reserve seats by contacting Strode Theatre: 014458 442846.

10/02/16 - A Brainwave for Psychology Students
A Brainwave for Psychology Students

Strode Psychology students  recently visited the Brainwave Centre in Bridgwater, with the college Psychology Society. 

The UK charity Brainwave has three centres nationally and works with children with a range of conditions, such as cerebral palsy, developmental delay, autism and Down's syndrome. They aim to enrich the lives of these children by providing bespoke therapy plans which can be delivered at home by their families.

Our students toured the facilities, including the 'Bee-hive', a sensory room filled with lights and toys; the hydrotherapy pool; the gym and the physiotherapy suites. The physiotherapy team showed them some of the practical exercises they use when working with the children, using balance beams and gym balls, and the visit ended with a talk from one of the centre’s Educational Therapists.

The students thoroughly enjoyed the visit and found it valuable to consider how their studies apply to a real-life setting.

For more information about Brainwave, visit:

09/02/16 - Bouncing to the Top
Bouncing to the Top

Strode College trampolinists performed brilliantly at the Southern Zonal Schools Regional Finals in Kent recently with two students bouncing their way in to the National Schools Final, which is to be held in Wigan in March.

Josh Pimm, from Westonzoyland (previously at Huish Episcopi), competed in the Under 19 Men’s Elite category. His impressive routine, including three double somersaults, earnt him third place in what was a really tough group. In the Under 19 Men’s Novice category, Tom Coburn, from Shepton Mallet, came first and Will Hayne, from Chilton Polden (previously at Crispin School), came fourth and just missed out on qualifying for the National Schools Finals.

The Strode College Trampolining Squad have a track record of success having done fantastically well recently in a number of tough competitions recenlty. Strode Trampolining team 2016At the Somerset Colleges Competition, the Strode Men's team came first overall; Josh Pimm gained second place, Will Hayne came fourth and Tom Coburn came sixth in the Elite men's category. 

At the South West Schools Competition in Taunton, the Men's team stormed through the Novice section gaining all three podium places: Will Hayne first, Tom Coburn second and Will Delaittre-Smith, from Shepton Mallet (previously at The Blue School), third, before going on to take the gold team place. Josh Pimm also competed in the Elite Men's category and was placed second. The Ladies Novice team of Marie Lush, from Burtle (previously at Crispin School), Beth Howe, from Catcott (previously at Crispin School) Poppy Fryer, from Edington (previously at Crispin School), and Grace Light, from Ilchester (previously at Stanchester Academy), also performed really well in a tough group to gain the silver team position. 

Finally, in the South West Colleges Competition, Josh Pimm gained second place and Tom Coburn fifth, taking them through to represent the South West in the Association of Colleges National Finals competition in April.

Tom Coburn trampoliningTrampolining is one of many sports offered to Strode College students as part of the college’s programme of enrichment activities.


Top: Josh Pimm from Westonzoyland (previously at Huish Episcopi)

Centre: (left to right): Marie Lush, Tom Coburn, Will Hayne, Beth Howe, Josh Pimm and Grace Light.

Bottom: Tom Coburn from Shepton Mallet.

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