Sussex Downs celebrates the launch of new A Level Centre

Launch of new A Level Centre at Sussex Downs College SUS-150210-161607001
Launch of new A Level Centre at Sussex Downs College SUS-150210-161607001

Sussex Downs College has officially opened its A Level Centre at the Park College site.

The event was attended by education professionals and local dignitaries.

The college, which has campuses in Eastbourne, Newhaven and Lewes, also has a new principal. Mike Hopkins joined the college at the beginning of September.

The 57-year-old has come from a college in Middlesborough and says he is looking forward to the challenge at Sussex Downs.

He said, “There is lots of work to be done and with it being multiple site, it makes it more of a challenge.

“The Middlesborough college was moving on and I wanted to move on too.

“I am a restless man, but this is my last gig and I want to put any energy I have left and any commitment I have left into making a great change here at Sussex Downs College for both the students and the staff.“

Mr Hopkins has moved to the area and says he loves the town.

He said, “I think it has got a really nice atmosphere. I have got a little boat too and I have sailed that down to Sovereign Harbour.

“I am really looking forward to living and working here.”

Mr Hopkins spoke at the launch of the A Level Centre and explained he was ‘driven and inspired by students’.

He told the crowd, “This college has a history of 100 years in some of the communities is serves – it has a fantastic past and a fantastic future.”

David Williamson, faculty director for academic studies, was one of the many to give a speech at the opening ceremony.

He said, “ Our new A Level Centre gives us an opportunity to re-state our unwavering, unfaltering cast iron commitment to providing our students with an experience that will provide challenge, inspiration, motivation and fun.”

The new centre, described by the college as ‘a bespoke education centre’ aims to support students through the more rigorous A Level assessment at the end of the second year.

The new centre will also strengthen its partnerships with the town’s secondary schools to provide a more seamless transition in to further education for 16-year-old in Eastbourne.

This coincides with 2015 being the first year in which young people must go on to further education after secondary school.

Nearly all the head teachers from the town’s secondary schools attended the event on Friday (October 2).

Students and lecturers also spoke about why they love the college.

Lecturer Jon Underwood said, “I love this college because there is a real drive amongst the staff to become outstanding.

“I also love that my students demonstrate a real sense of curiosity and thirst for knowledge.

“It’s a privilege to challenge them to reach their full potential.”

And a student called Claudia added, “I love this college because I now feel a sense of community in all subjects and a stronger passion for achievement.”

Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell also gave a speech at the opening event.

As a former teacher, Mrs Ansell said she was fully behind the college in its bid to bring quality further education to young people in Eastbourne.

Sussex Downs College is the second biggest employer in East Sussex, with more than 900 members of staff. It comes second to the hospital.

As well as A levels, Sussex Downs College runs a range of courses for young people and adults. It also provides an apprenticeships scheme.

The college has relationships with more than 1,000 local employers, other educational providers and a range of voluntary and community partners.

It has also won awards including Artsmark Gold for its creative and performance arts education, by Arts Council England.

It also holds the Matrix Standard for the high quality of its information, advice and guidance.

Open events are taking place this month. People can find out more about the college and the courses on offer by visiting the Eastbourne campus on October 16 between 4.30pm and 7.30pm or October 17 from 10am to 1pm.

Mr Hopkins will be writing a monthly column about Sussex Downs College and his new role as principal in the Gazette. It will start next month.