Pioneering education initiative Career College North East (CCNE), which operates from South Tyneside College, has appointed a new head to drive forward its unique programme of academic and vocational learning.
Paul Given, 47, aims to increase its influence on region-wide skills development by growing student numbers while embracing already exceptional partnerships with some of the region’s best-known employers.
These include Nissan and Accenture, who provide students aged 14-to-16 with three-weeks of high-quality work experience that opens doors to career-advancing opportunities during their two-year course.
Founded in 2015, 30 students in Years 10 and 11 are enrolled across CCNE’s two concurrently running programmes, in engineering, advanced manufacturing and ICT.
CCNE also delivers six core GCSEs at Ofsted ‘outstanding’ St Wilfrid’s RC College in South Shields, enhanced by expert delivery of vocational courses in engineering and ICT at South Tyneside College.
Successful candidates are able to join the prestigious and over-subscribed pre-cadetship in marine engineering at world-leading South Shields Marine School.
The CCNE programme delivers clear progression routes into higher and further education, apprenticeships and employment.
Mr Given comes armed with 24 years’ experience in education, the last 13 at St Wilfrid’s, where he rose to assistant head of teaching and learning and from where he has been seconded to his new role.
He said: “Being born and bred in South Shields, and with many years in education behind me, I’m truly thrilled to be given this opportunity.
“CCNE gives students great advantage to get ahead at an early age through skills that allow them to excel in an increasingly competitive jobs market.
“This Career College has a unique structure in the way it blends vocational learning with academic education and targets it at 14-year-olds.
“By mixing academic and practical skills, it is instantly putting its students on the front foot with the region’s employers.
“There are skills gaps which need to be tackled, and CCNE is helping to bridge those in an innovative, progressive and targeted way.”
Mr Given added: “A standout feature is that we work extremely closely with many of the region’s employers who can tell us the attributes they expect of the young people we instruct.
“We are able to build these elements into the curriculum, developing the students along skills’ lines exactly the way employers and businesses want them.
“CCNE is also exceptional in the quality of the destinations of its learners when they leave here, they have a range of opportunities not available to other young people.
“This has been forged in part through the wide range of work experience they are able to undertake while at CCNE with companies such as Accenture and Nissan.
“CCNE also benefits greatly from the high-quality team that works with students to boost their learning.”
Mr Given’s educational strengths include an ability to put into practice improvements in learning he identifies from observing classroom and workshop scenarios.
He believes being able to sharpen and develop CCNE’s learning programme further will widen its appeal to students from the furthest reaches of the North East.
The majority of its learners currently come from South Tyneside, but it operates with a brief to make its skills programme more broadly accessible.
Alison Maynard, Deputy Chief Executive of Tyne Coast College, which operates South Tyneside College, said: “Paul is a very welcome addition to CCNE.
“He has a long, varied and impressive career in education and will bring sound guidance and inspired leadership to our Career College.
“CCNE is firmly established in this region’s education landscape, and I’ve every confidence that under Paul’s direction it will enjoy continued success.”
CCNE was launched by Lord Kenneth Baker, a former Conservative education secretary and founder of the national network of career colleges.
It is based on the government’s new national education policy that allows Further Education colleges to recruit students at the age of 14 with the aim of increasing choice, opportunity and prospects.
Teaching advanced manufacturing, engineering and IT makes CCNE unique in the national chain of Career Colleges.
In September 2017, maritime studies was added through CCNE’s link to South Shields Marine School.
Learners who complete the maritime course are guaranteed a place on the marine school’s pre-cadetship programme, with defined and dedicated nautical and engineering career advancement.