Tributes have been paid to the exceptional young people who have just completed courses at Southport College and KGV College in Southport.
Students and staff at both sites are now enjoying their well-deserved summer holidays, as they look forward to exam results being revealed this August.
Principal and CEO Michelle Brabner is full of praise for what they achieved this year, especially in light of all they have been through.
She said: “It’s easy to forget what all the students and all the staff have been through this year.
“When August started, we were half in, and half working from home.
“Then, as we got into December, the new Omicron Covid wave saw figures rise rapidly.
“None of us knew whether we would be able to be back in class in January.
“The students and the staff have been through a lot this past academic year, and it’s easy to forget that.
“They have all come through it extremely well and they should be very proud of their achievements this year.
“I am looking forward to seeing all the exam results this year, although colleges across the country are expecting a slight fall this year after last year’s ‘expected grades’ temporarily inflated results.”
Work is already underway to welcome new and existing students in September, not least in ensuring that courses are tailor-made to what pupils and local employers want.
Southport College has forged a fine reputation as a leading provider of vocational courses for school leavers and adult learners, as well as offering expert Apprenticeship training and a wide range of Higher Education courses.
KGV Sixth Form College meanwhile has earned an excellent national reputation for achievement. The majority of its subjects regularly achieve pass rates of 100% and it has a track record of over 50% of these passes being at the highest levels, from A* in Advanced Levels to Distinctions in BTEC Diplomas.
Michelle Brabner said: “You can enjoy high quality education provision in your own area with both Southport College and KGV Sixth Form College. There are not many towns in the UK that can enjoy that level of provision.
“We are trying to ensure that both college sites are very much a part of the local community, and working well with local schools.
“We are doing some incredible work in developing our existing courses, and in creating new courses where there is demand, such as with our new Animal Management Course at KGV.
“It will allow students to go on to take on further study at university in areas such as zoology, conservation, and others.
“Our Public Services courses are very popular, we are working closely with local employers to ensure we are teaching people the right skills they need for careers like the police, the National Health Service, the Armed Services and others.
“In the past two years the country has seen a real boom in the construction industry too, so we are welcoming lots of students onto courses such as construction, joinery, multi-skills, plastering.
“We are constantly striving to meet the needs of local employers, we are constantly looking to have those conversations about what our employers of the future are going to need?”
Of crucial importance after two and a half years of the Covid pandemic is the welfare of pupils and staff.
The steady series of lockdowns, isolation, working from home, learning under pressure, and the absence of friends and the usual support groups have taken their toll.
Michelle Brabner said: “We are providing more mental health support than ever to ensure that Southport College and KGV Sixth Form College are really healthy environments for people to be.
“If you are happy, if you feel fulfilled in your college life, then you are much more likely to succeed in your studies. We are investing very heavily in that.”
It has been a tough time for young people to grow up. Teenagers have missed out on being around close friends, and people their own age.
Michalle Brabner said: “You can catch up on your learning. But the pandemic has been an emotional drain on people, that has created an intangible impact.
“Next year we are really working on the emotional wellbeing for staff and students.
“Over the past three years, 14, 15 year olds have been living through lockdowns, and have missed out on emotional learning, they have missed out on being in social situations with other people, and learning from that. They have experienced some slippage in how to behave within groups.
“They have missed out on experiencing exam situations too. We have just seen students who have sat in exams for the first time since their SATs as 11 years old.
“We have seen a steep increase in students suffering from anxiety, who were just not used to exam situations.
“We will have some more Wellbeing Coordinators in place next year and will be providing as much support as we can.”
Everyone at both Southport College and KGV Sixth Form College at least managed to end the 2021/22 school year on a high.
Students got fully involved with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June. That was soon followed by the end of year farewells, with a staff BBQ thanking all the staff across both sites for their incredible work over these challenging past few months.
Everyone is excitedly looking forward to the GCSE, A-Level, BTEC and other exam results being revealed this August.
The important message for students, whatever grades they earn, is that experts at both sites are on hand to provide expert advice, guidance and support to ensure that they are able to take the best next steps for them.
Michelle Brabner said: “We are here to ensure that they can come and take the next step in their education with us.
“Come and talk to us. We are here. Our doors are always open.
“Come and see what we can do to offer you our support.”
- For more details about Southport College and KGV Sixth Form College please visit: www.southport.ac.uk or www.kgv.ac.uk