News (302)

In an event that celebrated Dr Anne Murdoch’s 17-year long career at Newbury College, governors and staff, past and present, gathered with Mayors, local business leaders and members of Anne’s family to celebrate her time as Principal. The event took place in an indoor marquee in the College sports hall on Wednesday 31 January. The proceedings were led by Geoff Knappett, Corporation Chair, and hosted by Communications Officer, Shaun Daubney, who highlighted Anne’s many achievements and successes in a ‘this is your life’-style presentation.

Contributing to the tributes that were made on the day were speakers Tony Allen, former Corporation Chair, Councillor Ellen Mary Crumly, Mayor of Thatcham, Pamela Lumsden, CEO, AOSEC and Roly Wise, an Engineering Assessor who has worked at the College for over 40 years. Those that could not attend, sent their well wishes via video – these included Richard Benyon MP for Newbury, Campbell Christie, Principal, Bracknell and Wokingham College, Jacinta O’Shea, Managing Director of Keystone Projects Ltd and Anne’s grandson, James Murdoch.

“It’s been a wonderful 17 years at the College,” reflects Dr Anne Murdoch, Principal and CEO. “I joined just before the College moved from its old site on the Oxford Road to its new campus on Monks Lane. In the time I’ve been Principal, I’ve been through five Ofsted inspections that have seen the College improve from unsatisfactory in 2004 to Good in 2009, 2015 and 2017, seen approximately 70-80,000 students take our courses, and developed the campus by adding a sports hall, training restaurant, construction centre, animal care unit, hair salon, and, most recently, an engineering solutions lab.

“I’ve had the pleasure of working with many great staff and governors over the years and received a huge amount of support from the wider stakeholders, such as employers, the Thames Valley Berkshire LEP and local authorities. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them all. I look forward to working alongside my successor Iain Wolloff for a short time before I leave and I wish him every success in his new role.”

Anne’s last day at the College is Friday 09 February, after which she takes up a position with the Principal’s Professional Council. She will also assist in helping the College open a brand new primary school on its site in 2019. 

As part of its wide vocational and academic offering, The Academy at Newbury College offers young people in year 10 and 11 (14-16 year olds) the opportunity to study GCSEs alongside a vocational programme. The students, some of whom have opted to leave mainstream school or have up to this point been educated at home, take up to five GCSEs or equivalent in subjects including Maths, English and Science. The two-year programme offers students the opportunity to study their key stage 4 education in a different environment with a focus on vocational skills, it also offers post-16 progression to Level 2 (GCSE equivalent) and 3 (A-level equivalent) vocational courses and apprenticeships.

In response to the publication of the government’s new Progress 8 data last week, where some schools and colleges were listed as ‘below and well below average', the Further Education sector has highlighted the importance of the role it plays in the education of young people and how a direct comparison does not do the sector justice.

“Progress 8 data is based on school models where students have taken eight GCSEs. The module excludes vocational subjects and functional skills programmes,” explains Dr Anne Murdoch, Principal and CEO of Newbury College. “Our biggest challenge is that the Progress 8 accountability measures reflect a broad curriculum and a diverse cohort. Our students, a much smaller cohort (only 33 were involved in the year used for the recently published statistics) spend two years on this direct-entry programme and take a variety of vocational, GCSE and functional skills qualifications, and plenty of them do very well, going on to study A levels/BTECs and then progress to university or into meaningful employment.

“To this end, we (and the wider FE sector) are disappointed that the measures compare direct-entry FE provisions with the mainstream offering. The AOC has asked the Government to reconsider this strategy, as we, like many other FE colleges, provide an important service to students who may have experienced an alternative education, or have had a disruption to their education of some kind or have barriers to learning. The ethos of what we offer to students in the Progress 8 measure is a programme to help them stay in education – the value of which should not be underestimated."

Bryony Petersen and Gabriel Stirling both attended Newbury College’s pre-16 programme. Bryony is now studying at Northampton University for her paramedic degree and Gabriel is at Queen Mary's College in Basingstoke studying towards a career in politics. Read their case studies here. In May 2017, Newbury College was graded a ‘good’ college.

Further reading:

Newbury College, in collaboration with Hogan Music & Academy, is pleased to offer a series music workshops. The first, taking place at Newbury College on Saturday 10 February, features legendary drummer Steve White. Steve has played with stars such as Paul Weller, Ian Dury, and, at seventeen, was the youngest performer on stage at the Live Aid concert in 1985 when he played with The Who.

The workshop, taking place between 3-6pm, promises to be inspiring, educational and fun. Steve will talk through his lengthy career and play some of the songs he performed with Paul Weller and The Style Council. He will demonstrate tips and exercises to help drummers improve their playing and answer question from the floor. Steve is also offering a few one-to-one sessions earlier in the day, these will run from 10am to 2pm. 

Matt Foster, Music Technology course leader at Newbury College said: “Newbury has a thriving music community and a wealth of talent. Together with Hogan Music and Academy, we are hoping to promote more of these fantastic educational opportunities for musicians to attend. To have someone of Steve’s calibre playing at Newbury College is an absolute honour; it promises to be a fantastic afternoon.”

“The aim of the collaboration and the workshops is to promote the joy of music to a wider audience and make it accessible to all,” said Mike Barbour, General Manager at Hogan Music. “As a charity, Hogan Academy offers free music lessons to young, disadvantaged people. We’d like to encourage anyone interesting in learning to play the drums to come along to the workshop. With an inspiration like Steve – who knows where it could lead!"

Newbury College offers Music Technology courses at Level 2 and 3. Hogan Music and Academy offers one-to-one tuition at its music centre on Bartholomew Street.

Tickets can be purchased from Hogan Music at a cost of £10 per person for the workshop and £50 for the one-to-one sessions.

With the news recently that Waitrose has banned the sale of high-caffeine drinks to under 16s, our Student Services team demonstrated today just how much sugar and caffeine these drinks contain.

In a display that forms part of ‘New Year, New You’ week, students could visibly see the sugar content for a range of popular drinks. Information about the caffeine content was also included.

Commenting on the display, Sports Maker, Louise Neil, said: “It’s good for people to understand exactly what they are drinking. You wouldn’t consciously add that much sugar to your tea or coffee, so why should a cold drink be any different? That much sugar and caffeine is not good for anyone’s health, and certainly not conducive for students trying to concentrate on their studies.”

Other activities this week include information and awareness sessions about sexual health, alcohol and smoking, as well as looking at the benefits of exercise.

Working with local businesses has long been upheld as a value at Newbury College. Some of the relationships it has with organisations in the Newbury area span many decades.

Once such relationship is with Hungerford-based Kerridge Commercial Systems (KCS). KCS sponsors one of the College IT rooms and has worked for many years supporting students on work placements, attending careers events and offering employment to those seeking a career in IT. For example, ex-student Polly Theobald now works at KCS as a Trainee Software Engineer.

To celebrate their long-term partnership, Ian Bendelow, CEO, and other employees from KCS, including Polly, joined the College Principal and CEO, Anne Murdoch and other members of College staff for lunch last Friday in the newly-decorated room.

Talking about the importance of building links with the community, Anne said: “We fully appreciate the support that local businesses give us. It helps us to offer a more engaging curriculum and aids student progression. In turn, employers gain access to a pool of talent and can work with us in other areas such as apprenticeships and management training.”

Not working with Newbury College? Our business team would like to hear from you. Give us a call on 01635 845229 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to find out how we can support each other.

Staff and students have been busy constructing exhibitions for the annual Newbury College Christmas Display with "Santa got stuck up the chimney" by the Information Services Team announced as this year's winner.

"The 12 Days of Christmas Tree" by MIS came in second place followed by "Sock Snowmen" by the Foundation Learning students.

Other notible exhibitions were a snowman made of books from the LRC and a Wild-West take on the traditional nativity scene.

More photos can be found on our Facebook page.

Newbury College has announced the replacement for outgoing Principal, Anne Murdoch, who is retiring in February 2018 after 17 years in post. Currently the Deputy Principal at Farnborough College of Technology, Iain Wolloff will join the College on 1st February and take over as Principal on 10th February when Anne officially retires.

Commenting on the appointment, Corporation Chair, Geoff Knappett, said: “Governors, staff and students were all involved in the selection process, and we were fortunate enough to have a high number of strong applicants to choose from – a testimony to the excellent reputation Newbury College has in further education circles. Anne will be a tough act to follow, but we are confident that Iain has the experience and skills necessary to continue the College’s upward path to outstanding.”

Farnborough College of Technology is an outstanding institution and has been in the top 10% of all colleges nationally for the last seven years. In his role as Deputy, Iain has been instrumental in all aspects of quality improvement and established the University Centre at the College, which offers 43 foundation and honour degrees in a range of subject areas.

Newbury College, which was confirmed as a ‘Good College’ by Ofsted in May this year, plans to open a new primary school – Highwood Copse – in 2019.

“I am delighted to be joining Newbury College at such an exciting time,” said Iain. “After the recent inspection confirmed the high quality of the College’s work, I look forward to working alongside the fantastic students, staff and governors to continue the success story.”

Iain holds a first degree in social science and postgraduate degrees in Politics, Teaching and Management. He began his career in child protection and has taught at Havering College in East London and worked as a curriculum manager at Bromley College in South London. He joins Newbury College having gained extensive experience as Deputy Principal at Farnborough College. Once an enthusiastic rugby and hockey player, Iain now keeps fit by running.

We are delighted to announce that the student governor for the 17-18 academic year is Hazel Cassel.

The role of the student governor is to ensure that the students have a voice on the corporation board and also to chair the student council. 

Hazel is on the first year of her Level 3 Child Care course and attends College three days a week (Tue, Wed and Fri) and a work placement in Thatcham for the other two. Hazel previously attended Newbury College as a Public Service student a few years ago and has returned to retrain so that she can go on to university and become a family support worker.

Already a student ambassador with responsibility for anti-bullying, Hazel is keen and enthusiastic about her new role. Her particular passion is student mental health and well-being, and she hopes that she can help promote awareness of these matters at board level.

Students can contact Hazel on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Teachers Sandrine Martinelli, of the Lycée Le Gué á Tresmes near Paris, and Florian Von Helden, from the Julius-Wegeler-Schule in Koblenz, were visiting Newbury College as part of an International Study Programme to find out about British education.

During her visit Sandrine mentioned that one of her former Catering and Hospitality students was now working at the locally renowned restaurant and cookery school, The Woodspeen. Today, we invited André Marchand to join Sandrine and Florian for lunch in our very own training restaurant. 

When asked about his visit, André said that the food was very good and that he was impressed with the setup of the training kitchen. The Catering and Hospitality team at Newbury College are now hoping to extend their international relations by exploring the possibility of exchange visits for students.



If you are thinking about your options after year 11, why not attend our Open Event on Tuesday 07 November between 4-8pm? Newbury College is opening its doors and inviting prospective students and their parents to come and explore; speak to staff members, take part in activities, tour the facilities and submit an application for next September. Pick up a copy of our new prospectus.

Current students will be on hand, as will the impartial information, advice and guidance team to offer help to those who are unsure about what to do next.

Test your reaction skills on a Batak, solve a crime in our science lab, see the potter’s wheel in action or have your nails painted and hair put up.

Adults looking for development opportunities can come and discuss the professional and community learning courses available during the year.

Entry could not be easier, simply register your place here.