Solihull College & University Centre is bringing a world-class skills boost to the West Midlands as five innovative educators receive elite training as part of a WorldSkills UK programme titled ‘The Centre of Excellence’.
The College is one of 12 leading institutions selected by WorldSkills UK nationally. The Centre of Excellence aims to enhance lecturers’ skills by introducing new methods that will take their expertise above and beyond. Partnered and funded by educational charity and awarding body NCFE, the programme will see more than 40,000 young students and apprentices, from all socio-economic groups across the UK, armed with world-class skills.
The five chosen lecturers have years of expertise in a variety of disciplines across the College’s Blossomfield and Woodlands campuses. They are now receiving intensive continual professional development from high-performance skills coaches as part of the exclusive programme.
Meet Mike Gooch
Media Lecturer Mike Gooch is an enthusiastic and dedicated educator who entered the field of teaching 12 years ago after experiencing the rewarding impact he had had on a group of young students as part of his work with his own media company. A diligent lecturer who mentors student teachers, Mike is also a Pearson Standards Verifier and Pearson Examiner. He comments: “I always want to do more and bring more out of my students. I focus on promoting my students’ creativity and pushing them to reach the best of their abilities and then beyond.”
Mike first set up his own Media company whilst in his second year at university and is currently Director of a Video Production Company, he shares: “I’m often asked why I’m not working in Media full time and for me nothing beats the fulfilment I gain when I see the journey my students go through from their first day at the College to the end. The standard of work they produce amazes me and fills me with pride and satisfaction and that is why I do what I do.”
He speaks about his involvement in ‘The Centre of Excellence’ programme: “I am always open and willing to grow and gain more and see this as an excellent opportunity to do that. The most enjoyable aspect is learning from my colleagues and the WorldSkills UK coaches but also the chance to offer something from my experience too.”
Meet Katie Miller
Make Up Lecturer, Katie Miller, studied Beauty Therapy at Solihull College & University Centre in the late 90s after which she started her career with companies such as Lancôme and Chanel.
She decided to give back to the College and returned as a Lecturer in 2004. She has since overlooked the opening of the College’s purpose-built Make Up studio which was officially opened by professional Special Effects Make Up Artist Stuart Bray.
Katie, formerly a national trainer for Shiseido - a Japanese multinational cosmetic company, is delighted to be a part of the exclusive training programme: “This initiative has given us the opportunity to collaborate and learn from each other’s best practice. It’s inspiring and I feel encouraged to challenge myself and take my students to a whole new level.”
Meet Anesu Muyambi
Motor Vehicle Lecturer Anesu Muyambi has taught for over three decades, first in his native country Zimbabwe where he lectured at a university for over a decade, after which he then came to the UK and taught in the FE sector.
He joined Solihull College & University Centre in 2007 where he has been proud to see his students achieve distinctions and merits and has found pride in their achievements. He comments: “I love to see my students achieve their desired goals and gain great results, excellent employment and go onto fulfilling careers.”
Anesu first developed an interest in Motor Vehicle as a child in Zimbabwe: “My father had a car which would break down all the time. Being the eldest son, I took on the responsibility to maintain the car, service it and out of an ongoing problem for my family I became a solution.”
Apart from lecturing, Anesu is also an internal verifier for IQA and sits as a governor on the Diocesan Board of Education. Involved in various charities, from volunteering at the local hospital to giving back to communities in Zimbabwe, Anesu explains: “I am a passionate teacher and see myself as a conduit between tech and my students but when I’m not teaching, I’m out in my community giving.”
Anesu reflects on his participation in ‘The Centre of Excellence’: “It’s an outstanding programme that will allow us to make our students not only competent but excellent. I want my students to focus on excellency in every aspect of their occupation and develop a mindset of efficiency. I am constantly looking at ways to enhance my skills so I can in turn enhance their skills.”
Meet Joy Pickett
Joy Pickett, Hair, Barbering, Beauty & Make Up Coordinator, first came to Solihull College & University Centre over 20 years ago as a student. She then went out into industry, worked in spas and started her own salon. She returned to the College as a lecturer 16 years ago.
Joy comments: “It’s a busy and varied role but one I find extremely enjoyable and rewarding. I work with a great team of lecturers, and we all share the same values of putting our students at the centre of everything we do here.”
Excited to be involved in this new opportunity with WorldSkills UK, Joy explains: “We have an excellent Beauty Therapy & Make Up department here at the College and have received awards celebrating this – our most recent achievement was retaining the prestigious title of ‘College of Excellence’ by award-winning spa, Ragdale Hall. I feel the WorldSkills training will only mean greater things for us all and allow us to expand upon that excellence.”
Meet Beth Tite
Head of Personal Progress & Development, Animal Welfare & Veterinary Nursing Lecturer and Teaching & Learning Coach, Beth Tite has been teaching at the College for over two decades.
After graduating from Harper Adams University in Animal Science & Business Management, Beth joined the College where she lay the foundation for the first local Animal Care provision in a college environment alongside colleague Nigel Smith.
“I was hired because someone at the College had a vision to start offering Animal Welfare courses. There were no animals when I started, and Nigel and I began rescuing animals and building enclosures.”
The College now has external barns and paddocks housing large animals such as goats and pigs, and an Animal Welfare Centre which encompasses specialist rooms to accommodate a large range of exotics and aquatics including lizards, snakes, tortoises and fish.
Beth is finding the WorldSkills programme inspirational, she says: “It’s not just developing us as lecturers but as individuals too, providing us with an array of skills and teaching us new ways to explore our teaching methods. I feel I’m more resilient, confident, and motivated as a result of the training I’ve received so far. We’re learning to build our students minds and confidence and guiding them to a standard of excellence they need to thrive in industry.”
Vice Principal of Quality & Curriculum at the College, Rebecca Gater, comments: “We have already seen the tremendous impact ‘The Centre of Excellence’ is having on our five educators and have started looking into the cascading stage of this programme to disseminate their learning throughout the College. The transformation we are seeing in the educators’ approach & strategy as a result of this training is evidence of its success.”