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The Corporation

Posted: 07/10/15

Television’s star head teacher backs educational network

A former headteacher who shot to fame on Channel 4’s BAFTA award-winning Educating Yorkshire was special guest at the launch of an educational network yesterday held at West Nottinghamshire College.

  • Jonny agreed that the launch event had been positively received
  • Jonny with (lr) West Notts College student HE advocates Jordan Adams, James Vickers and Oliver Ashton

Jonny Mitchell, who was head teacher at Thornhill Community Academy, a secondary school in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, was keynote speaker at the inaugural North East Midlands Collaborative Outreach Network (NEMCON) on Tuesday 6 October.

West Nottinghamshire College played host to the network led by The University of Derby, which is a collaboration of four universities and eight further education colleges offering higher education provision.

It’s all part of a new £22 million National Networks for Collaborative Outreach (NNCO) scheme involving more than 200 higher education institutions, reaching 4,300 secondary schools and colleges, and will be managed by Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

The University of Derby is leading one of 35 local Networks that will cover the whole of England, and has been allocated £120,000 per year by the HEFCE for the academic years 2014-15 and 2015-16 to set up and co-ordinate the infrastructure of the Network on behalf of partners.

The event was attended by local teachers and advisers who will use the network to find out about higher education outreach activity in their area and provide general guidance about progression into colleges and universities.

Jonny said: “The launch event has been a very positive experience indeed. It’s good to see like-minded people in the same room working together to try to inspire people into further and higher education.

“NEMCON is a real trailblazer, with many key players all working together towards the same results. If this model encourages other areas of education to get involved, then today’s proven a really positive start.

“Some of the key reasons that young people find it hard to engage with further and higher education is often down to a lack of aspiration or challenge or even worrying about future costs. They may even think they’re not suitable for such levels of study. As a network, we need to make sure we are engaging with these people directly – and getting face to face contact with them and find out their true needs.

Krisha Bainham, Head of Outreach and Widening Participation at the University of Derby, said: “We were thrilled with the turnout for the NEMCON launch last night, and it was fantastic to have Jonny Mitchell there to give a humorous and inspiring key note speech. The launch marked the start of the next step for us to establish the Network with staff in our schools and colleges, which we are all very excited about.”