Weston College

Weston College
Weston College Logo
Motto "Creating brighter futures"
Established 1845
Principal Dr Paul Phillips
Founder Henry Law
Students 30,000 (approx.)[1]
Undergraduates 862[2][1]
Location Weston-Super-Mare, North Somerset, United Kingdom
51°21′03″N 2°58′53″W / 51.350896°N 2.981486°W / 51.350896; -2.981486Coordinates: 51°21′03″N 2°58′53″W / 51.350896°N 2.981486°W / 51.350896; -2.981486
Website weston.ac.uk
Knightstone Campus
Weston College Conference Centre

Weston College of Further and Higher Education is a general college of further and higher education in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, England.[3] It provides education and vocational training from age 14 to adult to learners based across the country. In 2015, the college provided education to approximately 30,000 learners.[1] It is regarded as one of the top FE colleges in the UK.[4][5]

In an Ofsted inspection in January 2014 it received an overall grade of "outstanding".[6] On 27 February 2015, the college was named "College of the Year" and "Overall FE Provider of the Year" at the Times Educational Supplement Further Education awards.[7] It is a major employer in Weston-super-Mare.[8] On 25 November 2015, the college announced that it was to become a university centre in partnership with the University of the West of England.[1]


The first educational building to be built on the college site was the National School, constructed at the corner of Knightstone Road and Lower Church Road.[9] Its construction was funded by Archdeacon Henry Law, Weston-super-Mare’s rector from 1834 to 1838 and also 1840 to 1862.[10] Archdeacon Law donated approximately £15,000 towards the cost of churches, schools and other public buildings in the Weston area. The National School opened to 320 students on 22 September 1845 - the day George Henry Law (Bishop of Bath and Wells), the archdeacon’s father, died.

In 1897, the boys’ department moved to the newly built Board School in Walliscote Road and the National School became a girls’ school. The school changed its name to St John’s Church School and was closed in 1964 before being demolished in May 1966 to make way for the development of Weston Technical College, a building that is now used as the college's Knightstone Campus.[9]

Following the mid-century reforms of Henry Cole and others, which promoted the creation of schools to develop a pool of skilled technicians and designers necessary to maintain the country’s industrial dominance, the Hans Price-designed School of Science and Art, now known as the Weston College Conference Centre, was built in 1892 and opened the following year.[11][12] The building was Grade 2 listed on 19 May 1983 and was completely refurbished from a derelict state in 2012.[13] In August 2013, the college's redevelopment of the building was nominated for an English Heritage Angel Award to "recognise the time, effort and determination" of the college for the rescue of the building.[14]

Plans to build Weston Technical College were granted approval in June 1965.[15] The £550,000 college was opened on 9 September 1970 and has been an autonomous public body since the 1st April 1993.[16]

In 2014, North Somerset Council approached the college's leadership team with the idea of handing the Winter Gardens Pavilion over to the college in order to establish a new base for the college's expanding higher education provision and its proposed law and professional services academy.[17] The building had previously been reported as running at a loss of around £30,000 per month.[18] Plans to refurbish and redevelop the building were approved in October 2015,and the building was formally transferred to the college in April 2016.[19][20]

On 25 November 2015, the college announced that it had been granted university centre status in partnership with the University of the West of England.[1] Part of the college's new higher education provision will be based in the Winter Gardens, when it reopens in 2017.

On 11 January 2016, the college announced that it had purchased the Arosfa Hotel in Weston-super-Mare in order to redevelop it as a Law and Professional Services Academy.[21] It was reopened for teaching after extensive renovation in September 2016.[22]


The college offers A level courses, vocational courses, apprenticeships, traineeships, courses for the unemployed and work-related courses in nine subject areas: administration, business management, foundation English, hair and beauty, independent living and leisure, public services, science, sport, and vehicle engineering.[23] It also provides training for work in the building,[24] catering and plumbing trades.[23] It has facilities for learners with difficulties and/or disabilities (LDD). It also offers some associate degree courses; its degrees are validated by Bath Spa University and by the University of the West of England.[24]

The number of students enrolled in the college's higher education provision has grown considerably over the last decade.[2] In 2009/2010 there were 450 undergraduate students on degree courses.[25] In September 2015, the number of students enroled in the college's higher education provision had almost doubled to 862.[2]

In 2012, Weston College won a £10 million contract to provide education to inmates of 13 prisons in the South West of England.[26]

In 2015, Weston College invested £1.5 million into creating a "Future Technology Centre" at the South West Skills Campus, enabling the college to teach a full engineering curriculum.[27] In September 2015, Weston College announced that it had won a contract to train apprentices for GKN Aerospace.[27][28]


Weston College has three main campuses: Knightstone Campus, which used to be Weston-super-Mare Technical College; University Campus, on the site of Broadoak Sixth Form Centre on Loxton Road; and South West Skills Campus.[29] Care and management of horses and other animals are taught at Badgworth Equestrian and Animal Centre.[30]

Knightstone Campus

The Knightstone Campus is the college's main site, located near Weston-super-Mare's town centre, and where its leadership team and support staff are primarily based. The Knightstone Campus is the tallest building in Weston at nine stories in height.[31]

Along with classrooms and office space, the campus contains a library, a canteen, hair and beauty salons, a gym including a sports hall on the 7th floor, a training kitchen and restaurant, and specialist facilities for people with learning difficulties and disabilities. The building also has a university centre on its sixth floor, and a wing of performing arts and musical theatre studios in a single story extension at the rear of the building.

In 1998, the college renovated the Knightstone Campus in order to soften and modernise its reception's appearance.[32] The college's entrance was originally located on the first floor, accessible by a flight of stairs located on the college's southern, Knightstone Road facing elevation. The renovation moved the entrance to the ground floor and relocated it on the college's east elevation, facing Lower Church Road.[32]

University Campus

University Campus

In 1998, North Somerset Council handed over the ailing Broadoak Sixth Form College on Loxton Road to Weston College, which launched the facility as Weston College's Sixth Form Centre the following year.[33] In 2007 the building underwent substantial redevelopment and was renamed the Jill Dando Centre in commemoration of murdered local television presenter and journalist Jill Dando, who went to college on the site.[34]

In 2006, construction began on the plot adjacent to the sixth form centre to create Weston College's University Campus.[35] The £15 million university campus was opened by Anne, Princess Royal on 23 June 2008.[35][36]

The campus contains a series of suites and studios from which the college teaches its creative arts courses and some of its degree level education.[31]

The facilities include performance spaces, creative arts workshops, graphic design studios, recording and rehearsal suites, a library and a canteen. The building also has its own sports pitch.

South West Skills Campus

The South West Skills Campus on Loxton Road comprises the college's 'Construction and Engineering Centre of Excellence', its automotive training centre, its business enterprise centre, its eco-house and its 'Future Technology Centre', which includes its engineering centre.[31]

In August 2015, the campus was nominated for the Best Educational Building and Best Change of Use of an Existing Building categories at the Local Authority Building Control Building Excellence Awards.[37]

Satellite Centres

In 2012 the 10-bedroom Weston Bay Hotel was refurbished as residential accommodation for learners with special educational needs, with a focus on learners on the autism spectrum.[38] The facility promotes independent living and social skills, and assist its learners by increasing their access to Higher Education and career opportunities.[39]

In January 2015, North Somerset Council agreed to sell Weston-super-Mare's Winter Gardens Pavilion to the college for the nominal fee of £1.[40] The sale is part of the council's plan to regenerate Weston-super-Mare's town centre and the college intend to turn the building into a Law and Professional Services Academy.[41]


The college was assessed by OFSTED in December 2013, and was classified in Grade 1, "outstanding", for overall effectiveness, for its results, for teaching quality, and for management effectiveness. It was the first general further education college in the West of England to receive this grade under the new OFSTED framework.[42][43] It was assessed as Grade 1 in five of its nine subject areas, and Grade 2, "good", in the remaining four.[23]

The college's 2016 A Level results indicated that 99% of its students passed, with 74% achieving above a 'C', and 46% achieving 'B' to 'A*'.[44]

In 2014, more than 20 per cent of the college's Bachelor of Arts graduates achieved a first class honours degree, beating the national average of 16 per cent.[45] In September 2015, this number of graduates achieving first class honours rose to 21.3%.[2]

In 2016, higher education teaching at Weston College was assessed by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education. It reported that the college met expectations and that the quality of student learning opportunities was 'commended', which is the highest grade the organisation can give.[46]

Weston College Group

University Centre Weston

In 2016, Weston College re-branded its higher education provision to reflect its university centre status with UWE Bristol. The University Centre Weston brand was debuted on the hoarding surrounding the seafront section of the Winter Gardens Pavilion in August 2016.[47]

Inspirational Futures Trust

In 2012, Weston College founded the Inspirational Futures Trust; a multi-academy sponsoring charity. In 2014 the college assisted in the creation of the North Somerset Enterprise and Technology College, an academy that specialises in the STEM fields, and assisted in the planning and developing of its campus, Weston College Academy.[48] In 2015, Herons' Moor Academy joined the trust, and St Katherine's in Pill, Somerset intends to join the organisation in 2016.[49][50]

In 2016 the trust plans to open the Bristol Futures Academy, a 14-16 alternative provision free school for learners with behavioural issues.[51] It is expected to be open for referrals in mid-2016.

Offender Learning Services Limited

In August 2012, Weston College won the south west offender learning provision contract from Strode College, and has since delivered offender learning to 13 prisons in the south west of England.[52][53] Following prison closures across the country, the college now delivers to the following nine prisons: HM Prison Erlestoke, HM Prison The Verne, HM Prison Bristol, HM Prison Channings Wood, HM Prison Dartmoor, HM Prison Eastwood Park, HM Prison Exeter, HM Prison Leyhill and HM Prison Portland.[54]

Brighter Futures Recruitment

In October 2015 the college launched its own apprenticeship training agency, Brighter Futures Recruitment.[55][56] The agency acts as an employer in order to minimise the 'red tape' that could discourage potential employers from hiring an apprentice.[56][55]


Award Awarding body Year
Higher Education Quality Mark[46] Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education 2016
Matrix Standard accreditation for advice and support services [57] Assessment Services Ltd 2015
Beacon Award for Careers Education and Guidance[58][59] The Association of Colleges 2015
Beacon Award the Effective Integration of Libraries/Learning Resources Centres in Curriculum Delivery[60][61] The Association of Colleges 2015
College of the Year[62][63] Times Educational Supplement 2015
Overall FE Provider of the Year[63][62] Times Educational Supplement 2015
Gold Award for staff development[64][65] Investors in People 2013
Sword of Honour British Safety Council 2012
Building of the Year[66] Somerset Trust 2012
Beacon Award for Inclusive Practice[67] The Association of Colleges 2012
Champion status for staff development[64][65] Investors in People 2010
Crème de la Crème Business Award Awards Intelligence 2010

Notable alumni


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