Staff and students from Chichester College Group (CCG) attended a glittering ceremony as they received a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Education.
The Queen’s Anniversary Prizes recognise outstanding work by UK colleges and universities that shows quality and innovation, delivering real benefits to the wider world through education training. The Prizes are the highest national honour awarded in UK further and higher education, granted by The Queen every two years.
CCG, which is comprised of Brinsbury College, Chichester College, Crawley College, Haywards Heath College and Worthing College, has been recognised for its internationally renowned work in furniture and upholstery training.
Representatives of the college group, including past and present furniture students, attended the ceremony which was presided over by HRH The Prince of Wales with HRH The Princess Royal.
Andrew Green, Chief Executive Officer at CCG, said: “This is a truly great moment for Chichester College Group. To receive this prestigious national honour is a privilege and one which really affirms the significance of the work our talented team does.
“Through our investment in furniture and upholstery making, we are breathing new life into this important sector and are helping to drive our regional skills agenda.
“Our furniture provision across the group is, we believe, among the best in the world. We are part of WorldSkills UK’s Centre of Excellence and are the only college in the world with two WorldSkills International Chief Experts (for furniture making and joinery).
“This award is a mark of the progress that the group has made over the years, reflecting our commitment to skills development in this industry and recognises the work of our students, who contribute so positively to the regional and national economy though their work.”
“This award is a huge testament to the team, to our staff and students – past and present.”
Among those attending the ceremony at St James’s Palace on Thursday (17 February) and a special prize-winners dinner at Guildhall a night earlier were former students and WorldSkills Gold medallists George Callow and Edward Harringman and current apprentice Anna Bargery. Anna said: “Studying at Brinsbury College has opened up so many opportunities for me as I study my apprenticeship in furniture making – and this is one that I’ll definitely never forget.
“Meeting HRH The Prince of Wales was an honour and he was really interested to hear about my studies at college alongside my work with my employer. This whole experience has also widened my network and ambitions for when I complete my apprenticeship and my future career path.”
This year, 114 entries were received for the Queen’s Anniversary Prizes and CCG was selected as one of only five FE college winners. To date there have only been 54 FE college recipients of the 296 prizes awarded since the inception of the programme in 1994.
This is the second Queen’s Anniversary Prize for CCG, which – as Chichester College – was recognised for its international provision in 2005.
This time around, it is the group’s furniture and upholstery provision which is being celebrated.
Working with businesses, trade bodies and other training providers, the group plays a central role in supporting innovation and growth, investing in skills and progression pathways which directly nurtures and develops talent.
More than 90% of furniture and upholstery students at Chichester College Group secure employment by the end of their final year, and many go on to start their own successful businesses with the group supporting almost 100 start-up companies.
In the last 15 years, the group has seen a 500% growth in student numbers for this sector, achieving success rates consistently above the national average and achieved world class success with its students winning national and international skills competitions – such as WorldSkills.
Christian Notley MBE, Deputy Head of Learning at Chichester College, is the WorldSkills UK Training Manager for Cabinet Making and serves as the Chief Expert at WorldSkills. He added: “This is a moment for us all savour – for all of our students, employers and parents who come to us, and for the staff who work so hard to deliver exceptional training.
“We have put a lot of time into ensuring we’re not just delivering training in a highly specialised field, but we’re delivering the very best training possible. And that is reflected by our performance in competitions and by our students’ successes in gaining employment or running their own thriving businesses in this field.
“I am incredibly proud and this is a day we’ll always remember.”
Ben Blackledge, Deputy CEO of WorldSkills UK, added: “What a tremendous accolade for CCG, part of our amazing Centre of Excellence. This recognition goes to show how effective it is to work in partnership, cascading approaches and techniques for developing world-class skills, gleaned from decades at elite international competition, to young people across the country.
“To have two Gold Medallists, alongside Christian, a Training Manager and WorldSkills Chief Expert at the ceremony makes the moment complete.”