Saturday, 28 November 2009

College Campaign Gathers Support

I have spent the morning out in support of the Save Ashford Further Education campaign, which is demonstrating today outside the college site. The amount of tooting from the passing motorists was a clear indication of the support of local people. I was introduced to Freddie and Stephen, two of the students currently both doing IT courses at the college. Talking to them was a real insight into what the college provides for these young people. Freddie told me that he had been ill during his GCSE's and had not got the grades he was looking for. Rather than give up, he got himself onto a foundation course at the college, and having completed that he is now working to get a National Diploma, and has ambitions to go on and get a degree. Stephen told me that he had not enjoyed school, as he felt he was being forced to work on subjects he didn't enjoy. As a result he didn't get any GCSE's. He joined his friend on the foundation course, and found that he could really get stuck into something he really enjoys, and is loving his time at the college. Both of them are clear that this has given them opportunities they would otherwise have missed, and both are optimistic and ambitious for the future. To take this opportunity away from teenagers like them would be disastrous for them and the wider community. It's not just young people that are doing A levels and vocational work at the college. There is a lot of adult education going on too at the site. I had one story from a shop owner on the high street about her mum, who is 79, who attends a course there, and it is her opportunity each week to socialise. I was in the shop as I was asked by Tina, who started the campaign, to take sheets of petitions to the local shops all along the high street and surrounds. Colin Strong, our group leader on the council, and I went to florists, banks, estate agents, a sweet shop, and many many more to ask if they would put the petition out for customers. Every one we went to took leaflets or petitions. No-one said no. Everyone seemed to have a story about the college, staff and customers alike, and they were overwhelmingly positive about the impact the college has on the town. This is a vital part of the community. All of us need to do what we can to save it!
(sign the petition at )

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