Ian Pryce CBE Principal and CEO of national award-winning Bedford College
As a lover of all sports the Olympics is the equivalent of a perfect all-you-can-eat buffet. For someone born in London the chance to see The Games live in my home city makes it all the more special. The fact that Team GB is looking good for a record post-war medal haul makes it more special still.
Bedford College is already involved in the Olympic programme through the accolade of being made part of the national Get Set for 2012 network. We are really excited that the torch will travel past our Bedford campus on its long journey to London. Very few Colleges are that lucky, partly because so many have deserted their town centres for cheaper out-of-town campuses.
The College has tried hard to live up to the Olympic motto "Citius, Altius, Fortius" or "Swifter, Higher, Stronger". It is pleasing to learn that the motto was borrowed by Baron de Coubertin from the Principal of a Paris College! We have been swift to take advantage of new opportunities from changes in government policy to grow our work with students below 16, apprenticeships, and those who want local higher education. Our student satisfaction levels move ever higher, and our balance sheet gets ever stronger even while we continue to invest millions each year in our campuses.
Others in Bedford though have also caught the Olympic spirit. News that Bedford was one of only 12 out of 370 towns to win the Mary Portas pilot bid shows what happens when our “Big Society” works together. The Portas bid was a team effort and BedfordBID, We are Bedford and Castle Quarter definitely struck Gold for our town.
I was touched that the Portas team used our students to create their bid film. We believe further education is a vital service for the community and education should be at the heart of the community. That is why we are proud to now have two major campuses in the town - our Cauldwell Street site on the river and the former Bedford High School site; as well as two specialist centres on our historic High Street, something unique among UK FE colleges.
This month Bedford College picks up its first global award. We are being presented with the International Diamond Prize for Customer Satisfaction.
To win a global medal for Bedford makes us proud. Let's hope there are many more golden moments to make us proud this summer.