Writtle College held its annual presentation day for Further Education students today.
The annual awards ceremony was the first for Dr Stephen Waite, Principal at the College since April. He congratulated students on their successes in this landmark year as the College celebrates 120 years of academic excellence.
He said: “The fact that the Main Hall is full for each of the three ceremonies at the Presentation Day is a good indicator of the popularity and range of programmes at Writtle College.
“As the new Principal, I have been impressed by the quality of our FE students, their attitude, character and ethos. They are articulate, engaged, helpful and polite. They are always willing to talk about themselves, the College and their aspirations. Their commitment is reflected in their successes, which have increased yet again.
“More students than ever are successfully completing their programmes at Writtle College. We are in the top 25% nationally for all subjects and in the top 10% for many. Nearly 90% of FE students progress successfully into employment or further study, many at Writtle College.”
It has been a busy and great year for FE students. They have:
• Won silver in the Ideal Young Gardeners of the Year competition at the Ideal Home Show 2013.
• Walked, run, rode, paddled, groomed dogs and baked cakes for charity, including Canine Partners, which received a cheque for £220 in today’s ceremony, and Remus Horse Sanctuary, which was presented with nearly £2,000.
• Planted around 2,000 trees for a new woodland as part of work with the Wilderness Foundation.
• Held a stunning art and photography exhibition in the Writtle College greenhouses.
Essex farmer Dr Guy Smith presented the awards during the ceremony in the Writtle College Main Hall.
Guy, who farms at Wigboro Wick Farm, St Osyth, is an honorary graduate of the College and chairman of the Essex Agricultural Society’s steering group which organises the popular Essex Schools Food and Farming Day at Writtle College. FE students volunteered at this year’s event, which saw 3,000 schoolchildren learn about the journey of food from field to fork.
After confessing that he enjoyed wearing the robe for the ceremony as he had always wanted to dress up as Harry Potter, Guy said: “I remember only too well when I was 18 years old at Clacton County High School and I was listening to some old boy on stage telling me that I would look back at my teens as some of the best years of my life. I thought ‘the object of my affections has just told me she would rather stick pins in her eyes than go out with me, Ipswich Town have been relegated and the latest David Bowie album is rubbish compared to Ziggy Stardust. And these are meant to be the best years of my life and its downhill from now on?!’
“Do not think that these are the best times of your life as all decades have their good days, bad days and ordinary days. You have to make the most of the days that come along. Make the most of the opportunities in front of you.”
The award ceremony marks the success of students completing full-time FE courses at Writtle College including Equine, Animal Studies, Veterinary Nursing, Floristry, Agriculture, Countryside, Art and Design, Sport and Horticulture courses.
Writtle College’s Head of Further Education Andy Sparks also presented a number of staff awards as part of the ceremony.