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And the winner is…Cleveland College of Art and Design!

Red seats in rows in a cinema facing the curtains

Often referred to as ‘the Cinderella service’, last Sunday night one FE college got a starring role at the UK’s premier event for TV and film – even if they weren’t actually there.

Sir Ridley Scott’s passionate endorsement of his old college, West Hartlepool College of Art (now Cleveland College of Art and Design, or CCAD) brought further education centre stage at the BAFTAs.

“The college was a revelation, its weirdly dressed students expressing their individualism and passionate teachers who are genuinely interested in the students, not just tolerating, but actually engaging with them – a world apart from my schooling until then.”

For him as for many others, the FE system represented an enormous opportunity.  And the quality of teaching and learning is what makes that opportunity life-changing.

He went on to say: “It is extraordinary what an enthusiastic teacher can do; drawing the student out, igniting independence and encouraging the design of your own future rather than waiting for something to happen.

“Teaching is the most important of all professions: sort that out and social problems will get sorted out. Sounds simple, we’ve been talking about it for years, but it is absolutely vital.”

In our blog posts and case studies, we often highlight the achievements of great teachers and their learners.  And we like to celebrate those who have become role models for those still in education and training. We are proud that we have had some small part in supporting the quality of the learning environment and opening up a world of stimulating resources that inspire students.

The relationship between the creative industries and specialist FE colleges – often built on their alumni networks – are an enormous strength and one that is often under-appreciated.

Mike Boyle, Programme Leader for Film, TV and Theatre Production at CCAD says that industry links are an essential part of the college’s offer.

“Some of our former students are working with the best in the industry and forging great careers for themselves,” says Mike. “We encourage them to come back and share their experiences and expertise with current learners.” And the list of alumni is a pretty star-studded one, including not only Ridley Scott, but more recently the likes of Scott Mann, director of The Heist, starring Robert De Niro.

Film production at CCAD is taught using both digital and 16mm film techniques to ensure that students have the full range of knowledge and skills to succeed in the industry. A co-operative initiative between the college and the local council means that Hartlepool’s old bus sheds are being turned into three commercial production spaces which companies will use for filming, thus providing the college’s students with opportunities for real-life work experience.

A fairy-tale ending? It’s certainly sounds like one. But it’s also the result of a lot of hard work, commitment and the passion referred to by Sir Ridley Scott, which continues to demonstrate that teaching really is the “most important of all professions”.