Principal goals for a Brighton college

Posted On 03 Oct 2012 at 11:23 pm

It’s hard not to feel a modicum of sympathy for Lynn Thackway who has taken over from Phil Frier as principal of City College Brighton and Hove.

He won hearts and minds inside the college and in the business world and the wider community while also raising standards.

This culminated in a report by the independent watchdog Ofsted last year which rated the college good with outstanding features.

But Mrs Thackway, 53, doesn’t need sympathy. She paid tribute to her predecessor, who retired in August, saying: “Phil’s done an amazing job and really built the reputation of the college.

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“All that has been put in place and it’s a privilege to pick that up. But the college is ambitious and it’s got the potential to go to the next level.”

Lynn Thackway

Lynn Thackway

Given her track record, there are grounds for sharing her hope that City College will become an outstanding institution.

She came to her new job from Luton where she was vice-principal of the Barnfield Federation.

The federation includes a big further education (FE) college, several academy schools and free schools and a studio school.

Studio schools are small secondary schools catering for those who do less well in a traditional classroom.

Mrs Thackway joined the innovative college five years ago as campus director of its main site and won rapid promotion.

She said: “Barnfield was the first FE college to sponsor two underperforming schools in Luton. They were in special measures and they became academies.

“They turned them into high-performing highly successful schools – one outstanding and one good with outstanding features.”

Given the government’s desire to convert Whitehawk Primary School in Brighton into an academy after criticisms made by Ofsted, Mrs Thackway brings some valuable experience to her new job.

The reason is that City College has been discussing sponsoring the proposed academy in Whitehawk.

Brighton University, which has one of the most respected teacher training courses in the country, has been suggested as a co-sponsor.

Mrs Thackway said: “We are looking at the options but no decision has been made.

“Once the research has been done, the corporation (the governors) will have to consider whether the sponsorship is the right thing for the college, the school and the community.”

The subject is likely to come up when the corporation meets next week although they may want more information and more time before reaching a verdict.

Phil Frier

Phil Frier

As a former maths teacher, it’s little surprise to hear her say: “There’s a satisfaction working through a problem and getting to an answer.”

But this applies equally to the increasingly senior roles she has held which have involved managing people and numbers.

And the numbers are quite big in relation to another critical decision – to spend almost £45 million overhauling the buildings in the centre of Brighton and in Whitehawk.

She said: “The money has been secured so we will be investing in the buildings. We will be making a significant investment in this campus (Pelham Street and Cheapside) and City College East.”

Most of the money – £35 million – will fund a new building on the car park in Pelham Street, replacing the ageing tower block. And student flats are part of the equation.

Mrs Thackway said: “We hope that this site will be welcoming new students in September 2015.”

The £9.6 million being spent on the site of the old Stanley Deason School is expected to result in better facilities within two years.

The first planning application is expected to be submitted by the end of the year.

While Mrs Thackway will take a close interest in the big money projects, her focus is on improving performance.

She said: “Where I’m coming from is about raising standards, improving life chances and opening up new opportunities to people who may not have had these opportunities in the past. That’s really what matters.”


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