From education to employment

Meet the musician taking the lead as the new front man of Bede Sixth Form College

Bede Sixth Form College principal Patrick Jordan

From a bright career in music production to being the guitarist in a former North-east indie band, it’s fair to say Patrick Jordan has got a few strings to his bow.

Now he is hoping to hit all the right notes after being appointed principal of Bede Sixth Form in Billingham.

Taking the helm of the college where he was once a student himself, the 41-year-old said: “I do feel really proud.”

The college is currently celebrating its 50th anniversary and undergoing a massive £2.4m development to make room for a further 200 students.

“It is an exciting time to be leading the college,” said Patrick who, having grown up in the town is now raising his own three children there.  In fact, his eldest son Alfie, 17, is a current student at the college.  It all feeds into Patrick’s commitment to Bede, the area, and all its young people.

He said: “The college’s role in the community is a massive focus for me. The building is one of the biggest and most prominent in Billingham. I want people to feel it is part of the town, to know and understand what goes on here, and to be proud.”

As a former student that is something he felt long before becoming a teacher at the college himself.

“Bede has always been a special place and students have always felt that ownership of it,” he said.

As a young musician of 17 he loved his time at Bede, but admits, in those days, a career in teaching never crossed his mind.

For him, the bright lights of Manchester and London beckoned, where he went on to fulfil his ambitions working as a recording engineer at Sarm West Studios with Trevor Horn.

But when it came to settling down with his wife Shelley, also a former Bede student, it was Teesside that they chose.

He said: “One of the benefits of living in Manchester and London, and from travelling the UK with the band, is it made me fully appreciate just how amazing my hometown of Billingham really is.  It has a really good community, the people are friendly and the location is great.”

He found the opportunities in music didn’t stop with a return to the North-east either, it was while already working as a teacher, Patrick and pal, Matt Chipchase, helped form Young Rebel Set, an indie rock band later signed by Sony and Ignition Records.

Having launched the music technology course at Bede by then, as the band’s producer, guitarist, keyboard player and co-songwriter, Patrick said: “There were times I would be teaching during the day, gigging in London on the night and be back in the classroom the next morning.

“The team at Bede were so supportive and it was great experience for the students as it meant they had a practising artist teaching the course.”

Today Patrick’s passion for music continues, while he stepped out of the band in 2011, he still produces, working with bands nationally and internationally.  His latest projects include work with a folk-rock duo from Nashville and an Icelandic singer.

Occasionally playing drums in a metal band, as well as performing solo, he said: “Music is my way to relax, some people exercise, this is what I do.”

So, what’s next on the hit list for Patrick? “Increasing Bede’s reach into the community is a priority,” he said. “Through our sports centre and Institute of Sport and Education (ISE) we are already doing that, working with local clubs and schools.  We have also increased our adult provision with professional courses in law, management and leadership, and we hope to continue to build on that with community classes. “And I want to keep raising all of our young people’s aspirations.  It is an exciting time here in the Tees Valley.  Big businesses are investing in the area, and by working with those companies we want to prepare our students for the amazing opportunities on their doorstep.”

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