KEVI College Visit - April 30th 2018
(Click any image to enlarge. Photo credit for main image - Stewart Keiller)
On Monday, 30th April 2018 we were very kindly invited by the College to visit the premises and also learn about the current status of the College and its plans for the future. 18 members from SOEC attended.
We were immediately made welcome by Stewart Keiller (Commercial Director) who met us at the new Reception and directed us to the boardroom (the previous A1 as most of us would remember it). College Principal Remley Mann was waiting for us there, and offered us most welcome refreshments.
Our gratitude is extended to both Remley and Stewart for staying with us for the entire visit (some 2 hours) to both show and tell us things - which in total was a big "eye-opener" for all of us.
Remley and Stewart began with a comprehensive insight into the status of the College and its direction for the future.
It was a real education to learn about how the College must react to remain in its current top sector rankings of 6th Form Colleges in a sustainable way into the future.
Some of the key points outlined were:
The College currently has some 2100 students across two A-Level study years. Compare this with the mere 600 pupils across 7 study years that were at the previous KEVI Grammar School that most of us attended 40 - 60 years ago and the problems of scale, staffing and facilities and management within the same geographical footprint are obvious.
In the face of considerably reduced Government funding generally, innovative and urgent means of raising finance and developing the product offer must be sought to maintain the College as an independent institution with its ongoing excellent reputation.
To address the funding issues, an important component is the proportion of foreign students (i.e. those currently living abroad) since the College received approximately £10K more per annum per overseas student as compared with UK students. To attract them, the following factors (especially those coming from the Far East) are significant as an offer:
The fact that the College / previous Grammar School has existed for nearly 500 years has great weight with those who like the security, status and record of such an institution.
The excellent and consistent academic performance and breadth and depth of courses.
The fact that the College has now started a mini "Halls of Residence" for overseas students adjacent to the College in Dr. Johnson House
Stewart Keiller undertakes outgoing trips to all countries of interest to further recruitment.
Further revenue raising initiatives are on-going such as:
The announcement that the College is to operate Stourbridge Town Hall profitably.
The opportunities afforded by the College's property assets.
Quite apart from the growth, academic and financial issues the College "campus" has to be seen to be believed:
The previous "playground" area now looks like a College campus with state of art seating, modern layout and signage.
The totally modern and refreshing look to most of the buildings both inside and out.
Additional buildings for Reception, Maths, and wonderfully modern Sports Hall.
Buildings have now been renamed - e.g the previous "B" Block is now the Daisy Druller (who most of us remember) Building.
The extent of available technology - with computer screens everywhere.
Some things never change - how many of these formulae can you remember?
Blackboards have long been replaced by modern whiteboard technology.
So have the composition of courses - with Psychology now being the most popular, followed by Maths and Sciences with surprisingly less interest in Languages.
Most of us remember the R.L. Chambers era - but the route from his old study to early morning assembly in the main hall has now long been sealed off by modern building works. In fact, with 2100 students, the hall simply does not have capacity for all of them.
But see what they have done to the Library. We recall RLC scowling in front of the stained glass windows to tell us our fate in the exams. Now look at it - masses of computer terminals in addition to books, a mezzanine for quieter computer assisted study ... and a portrait of Daisy Druller as a link to the past..
After the tour, we returned to the conference room which still contains some of the original school artefacts - desks and even the wooden panels on the wall where some of us tried (in vain) to find what had happened to Samuel Johnson's carved initials .
In conclusion, President Roger Hadley expressed considerable gratitude to both Principal Remley Mann and to Stewart Keiller for their welcome.
We had a most informative session which was an eye opener for all who attended.
One of our visiting members claimed he left the Grammar School 75 years ago and the changes and progress were clearly apparent!