As part of our 50th celebrations this year we have been catching up with staff and students, past and present, to share their recollections of the college.
Kate Nicholson was a careers co-ordinator at Bede for 18 years, from 1997 to 2015. Here she shares her reflections.
In 1997, I applied for the position of careers co-ordinator at Bede Sixth Form and was lucky enough to be successful. I had qualified as a careers adviser in 1987 and after specialising in post-16 work with local authority careers services, knew that I wanted to work in the sector full time. I had no idea just how much it would become my dream job for the next 18 years!
My experience of Bede was that it was an incredibly supportive environment for both students and staff. As principal, Miriam Stanton allowed me to develop careers education and guidance over the years to include an extensive programme of support for higher education applications; a day off timetable for Year 12 (Progression Day) with invited speakers covering many aspects of HE, employment, training and gap years (our biggest event was for 300 students with 48 presentations delivered by over 30 invited speakers, and we were even visited by local radio broadcasting live from the event one year!); visits to and from universities and much more.
A lot of students went out on work experience at various points and I have to say that arranging placements wasn’t my favourite part of my job!
I could not have done my job effectively without the support of the college management teams across the years, the support of the many staff who helped with events and, of course, the willingness of students to engage. We also had fantastic support from all the local universities as well as employers and training programmes in the area.
That’s the formal stuff! The fun stuff was also memorable. Charity days were fantastic, with lots of staff and students joining in with events and fancy dress. Our liaison days for schools were exhausting but amazing; some staff threw themselves into things wholeheartedly, decorating their classrooms and dressing up in line with the theme each year.
I joined a trip to Paris for French and Business students which was great, although I do remember that while the staff were delighted to see the mass roller skate through the city one evening, the students were perplexed and just turned round and said, “why are they doing that?”. A lot more living to be done to help appreciate the little things maybe!
I joined the staff student choir, and under the leadership of Mark Harrison, was part of the performance of Fauré’s Requiem; my first experience of singing an entire work. We went carol singing in the town centre each year and sung at student concerts. Being part of something that put students and staff on an equal footing was very rewarding.
One year when we had some project funding, Harindar Uppal and I ran a student trip to London which went well. When we started thinking about the following year, we decided to go up a level and pitched the idea of a trip to New York to Miriam. Amazingly, she said yes, so off we went! We wanted it to be as inclusive as possible and used some of the project funding to subsidise students who wouldn’t have been able to go otherwise.
Over the years we organised five trips; I went on three and they were fantastic experiences. The students were brilliant, and I hope we created some lasting memories for them as I know the trips did for me. Every year their parents would say we should organise a trip for them. Fifty 17 years olds in New York I can cope with, a bunch of excited grown ups – not a chance!
I left Bede in June 2015 and have so many fond memories that it’s impossible to include everything and credit all the people who deserve my thanks. I saw many changes over those 18 years, mostly for good, and it will always be my dream job in a place and with people that I count myself very lucky to have known.