Crawley MP Henry Smith was impressed by students and staff at Crawley College, following a visit on Thursday (21 October).
He enjoyed a tour of the campus as part of ‘Colleges Week’, a national campaign which puts the work of further education (FE) colleges in the spotlight.
During his visit, Henry met the college’s student president Chloe Harrison along with members of the student executive, who reflected on their experiences of living and studying in Crawley during the Covid-10 pandemic.
They also raised issues that impact on them and other young people, such as the limited mental health provision outside of college, environmental and sustainable issues and the education funding gap for young people aged between 19-24.
Chloe said: “Being provided with the opportunity to voice our opinions about things that are affecting us, both in education and in the wider community, was extremely rewarding.
“FE is crucial to many people who want to progress and learn essential skills that will help them to fulfil their chosen career, therefore this was a beneficial and fulfilling chance to voice our views.”
Henry also dropped into lessons with motor vehicle students and spent time with Emergency Care Support Worker and Associate Ambulance Practitioner apprentices, who were taking part in a trauma scenario day.
Henry said: ““As always I was very impressed with the students I spoke to, their enthusiasm for learning in the supportive environment that Crawley College provides was inspiring.
“The last 18 months of pandemic conditions have been very challenging for students and staff alike but I was impressed at the positive attitude and sense of opportunity, along with the college’s wider engagement with our town as we recover.”
Vicki Illingworth, Crawley College Principal, added: “We were delighted and grateful to welcome our local MP, Henry Smith, to the college on Thursday.
“It was great to see our students engaging with him, talking about their experiences and their hopes and dreams for the future. It’s so important for our young people to have opportunities like this, and for us to be able celebrate the fantastic work that we do, every day across all areas of the campus.
“Colleges are absolutely vital for the rebuilding of our economy, and we’re pleased to be able to show Henry what we do at Crawley and demonstrate just why Ofsted awarded the Chichester College Group our Outstanding rating last year.
“By meeting our students and visiting our workshops, Henry was able to see this first-hand.”
Colleges Week (18-22 October) highlights the important work colleges do and explains why long-term investment is crucial if the government is to ‘level up’ all areas of the country.
David Hughes, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges, said: “Colleges Week showcases exactly why further education holds the answers to some of the biggest issues facing all of us. Now more than ever we need highly skilled and well-educated workforces to deliver the economic recovery this government aspires to.
“Colleges Week this year is about celebrating the amazing work colleges do, educating 2.2 million people every year, including more than 600,000 16 to 18-year-olds. They hold the key to reducing skills gaps, combatting inequality, and providing better opportunities to disadvantaged communities. This week is about making our voices heard and campaigning with partners to make sure colleges continue to be a serious political, economic and social priority.”