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L-R Andrew Van Buren, Mayor Sandra Hambleton and Fred Van Buren

Left to right: Andrew Van Buren, Mayor Sandra Hambleton and Fred Van Buren

A statue unveiling of Philip Astley took place at Newcastle-under-Lyme College’s (NULC) Performing Arts Centre yesterday.

Born in Newcastle-under-Lyme in 1742, Philip Astley’s creation of the circus began whilst performing his equestrian shows. He realised it was best performed in a circular ring of a 42ft diameter and by combining other performers into the shows, the ‘circus’ was born and he was then known as ‘the Father of the Modern Circus’.

The statue was unveiled by Councillor Sandra Hambleton and the event was delivered in partnership with the Phillip Astley Heritage Steering Group. Members comprise of local residents and organisations from both the public and private sector with skills or interests in education, history, conservation, arts, entertainment and community development.

Andrew Van Buren, Philip Astley Heritage Steering Group member and World Travelled Professional Performer, said: “Yesterday was a fantastic day and was the first event scheduled over the coming years to develop this heritage story for the benefit of local people. Not many people locally know of the pioneer and innovator, Phillip Astley, who from humble beginnings in Newcastle-under–Lyme went on to become the creator of the modern circus as we know it today.”

Guests invited comprised of key stakeholders of the committee, which included representatives from Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, staff and students from NULC and a number of prestigious circus-related performers.

The statue will be situated in Newcastle-under-Lyme College’s Performing Arts Centre on Knutton Road, Newcastle-under Lyme until Spring 2016 and members of the public are invited to view the statue from Wednesday 4th November.

Tina McDonald, NULC’s Performing Arts Centre Manager, said: “We’re proud that the College is involved in this initial celebration of the life and achievements of the local pioneer, Philip Astley.  It is inspiring for our performing arts, music and dance students studying at the College to learn that the modern day circus was created right here in Newcastle-under-Lyme.”

NULC opened its doors to their new £5.5 million Performing Arts Centre in early 2015. Facilitates include a 200 seat theatre, air conditioned dance studios, an outdoor amphitheatre, live recording studio and a state-of-the-art rehearsal suite.

For more information contact Joe Hambleton, Marketing & PR Officer on 01782 254265.  Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Construction students from Newcastle-under-Lyme College (NULC) have undertaken the refurbishment of the Harriet Higgins Community Centre on Rotterdam Road in Newcastle-under-Lyme as part of the ‘Signal Radio DIY SOS’ project.

The Level 1 Painting and Decorating and the Level 3 Joinery students from NULC got involved in the project when they heard that Signal Radio were calling for college’s and education providers, tradesman and members of the public to step forward to help refurbish a number of care homes and community centre’s across Staffordshire and Cheshire.

The students have dedicated four days of their time, from Monday 19 to Thursday 22 October and a range of materials to help regenerate the building to provide a place where the community could meet for social, recreational and educational purposes.

Ivan Ward, Curriculum Leader in Construction at NULC said: “The students have thoroughly enjoyed their time working on this project and they have fully engaged with the community spirt to bring this building back to life. It’s also been great to give the students an understanding of what it’s like in a real working environment, which includes following Health and Safety procedures whilst on-site and meeting tight deadlines to get the job done.”

NULC offers full-time and part-time courses and apprenticeships in a range of subjects including Painting and Decorating, Carpentry and Joinery and Bricklaying. The College’s £6 million Skills and Technology Centre at the Knutton Lane campus incorporates specialist, state-of-the-art open plan workshops for all Construction, Engineering and Electrical Installation students to study in.

For more information call 01782 254254, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit


Monday, 21 September 2015 12:21

NULC Lecturer is “World Class”

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ANDY LEGONewcastle-under-Lyme College (NULC) Mathematics Lecturer and Assistant Head of Sixth Form Andy Snape has been named the featured ‘Teacher of the Month’ for September by LEGO for his work with LEGO Education.

The College has recently invested £60,000 in to a brand new state-of-the-art LEGO Innovation Studio which aims to inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers and computer programmers.

Andy was nominated and featured as part of The LEGO Education Communities monthly recognition of teachers worldwide who are aiming to inspire pupils through the use of teaching with LEGO Education products.

Andy said: We are using the resources on a wide range of courses at NULC from entry level and Level 1 courses through to Level 3 Extended Diplomas along with AS and A Levels too. Our main focus is targeting the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) and Literacy based courses but we have found lots of new ideas to incorporate our different kits into lots of other subject areas also. In addition we are targeting students to develop their 'soft-skills' of teamwork and communication, developing them to be more employable when they progress on from the college”.

Sessions are available to primary and secondary school students every Wednesday in the Lego Innovation Studio and as well as these sessions, corporate clients can utilise the studio for activities such as team building workshops.

Andy continued: “The resources available in the studio cover a wide range of abilities and curriculum areas. We wanted to enrich our curriculum and enhance our lesson delivery using exciting and innovative methods and we found that LEGO Education offers the products and support to do just that, plus you get to work with LEGO what student wouldn't want to get involved?”

Lucy Hancock, Schools Relationship Manager at NULC said: “To be recognised and featured on such a international platform shows how highly LEGO Education view Andy Snape’s achievement and contribution in setting up the LEGO Innovation Studio at NULC and how effective he has been at utilising the resources with students from Primary to Post Graduate level. We are proud to have Andy managing this innovative facility which offers a unique approach to learning for both students at Newcastle-under-Lyme College and to our local schools.”

If you’d like to learn more about the LEGO Innovation Studio at NULC please click here or to book a Wednesday session email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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DSC 0011Local adults who are thinking of returning to education are being invited to an advice and enrolment event at Newcastle-under-Lyme College.

Prospective students are being advised to visit the College's main campus on Knutton Lane on Thursday 3rd September between 2pm and 8pm to talk to expert careers staff and tutors about the options available.

The College is offering a wide range of courses from September and offers a variety of financial support to prospective students including a 24+ loan to provide financial help for those who are considering returning to study a Level 3 or above course.

The loans are not subject to household income and applicants are not credit checked. Applicants only start to make repayments on the loan if they earn £21,000 per year after gaining employment once the course has been completed.

Carol Thomas, Director of Curriculum and Performance, said: "Returning to education for many adults can seem like a daunting thing to do, especially if they have not enjoyed education the first time around.

"We want to give adults the opportunity to come and experience the College and talk to tutors directly to get more information about courses they are interested in and also so that they can see how welcoming we are.

"The state-of-the-art campus has a wide range of facilities especially designed for adults including a dedicated University Centre and areas to relax in including a Starbucks coffee shop and Transform Hair and Beauty Salon.

"Regardless of your academic level, there is a course for you here at the College and the open event will hopefully help people see that education is for everyone."

Courses are available in areas such as accounting, art and design, hairdressing, beauty and holistic therapies, computing, teaching, first aid, construction, sport and fitness, electrical installation, languages, music, maths, English and management plus many more.

Adults who are already in employment who may want to gain qualifications in their chosen careers can also consider our apprenticeship schemes including subjects such as business, retail, health and social care and warehousing.

The College runs a highly successful Access to Higher Education course which provides a pathway for adults who wish to study a university-level qualification but don't
have the necessary entry requirements.

Anyone who applies for a 24+ loan to cover the cost of an Access to Higher Education course and continues onto a degree programme and completes it, will not be
required to repay the loan.

To pre-register for the enrolment and advice event visit

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Newcastle-under-Lyme College (NULC) is celebrating its best A level results ever today as the overall pass rate hit 99.2 per cent.

Not only are NULC results even better than previous years, once again students have out-performed the national pass rate of 97.4%.

Around 400 students sat A Levels in 37 subject areas with 31 subjects reporting a 100% pass rate. Last year 24 subjects achieved 100% pass rates. 

A total of 173 A* and A grades have been awarded to NULC students across a range of subjects with 348 B grades and 383 C grades also given out. This means 76.2% of students received A*-C grades – a 9% increase on last year. 

Exceptional success was achieved in languages where 75% of students achieved A*-B in Spanish, 58% in French and 50% in German. Spanish was one of NULC’s top performing subject in terms of high grade achievement, along with film studies, media, product design and further maths.

Maths and Further Maths results were also strong with 62% of students achieving A*-B grades.

100 per cent pass rates were achieved in accounting, art and design, art textiles, biology, business studies, chemistry, computing, dance, economics, English language, English literature, further maths, film studies, French, graphic design, geography, German, government and politics, human biology,  ITC, media studies, music, music technology, product design, photography, P.E, religious education, sociology, Spanish and theatre studies. 

Commenting on this year’s achievements, Karen Dobson, NULC Principal and Chief Executive said: “These record-breaking results are a testament to students and staff alike. So congratulations to all the students and thank you to staff who have worked so hard to provide the high standard of teaching, learning and support that helps our students achieve such high levels of success year after year.”

The A Level success mirrors the high levels of achievement on the College’s vocational courses, where 99% pass rates in 2015 place the College amongst the best further education colleges in the country. 

Continued Karen Dobson: “Our strong results mean that annually around 95% of all NULC students progress on to either university, apprenticeships or employment. Last year more than 800 NULC students went on to university after A levels or Extended Diplomas. I think that students picking up their GCSEs next week will want to enrol at NULC and share in our success story.”  

The College will be publishing a selection of student success stories and photographs from A Level results day on its website from 1pm on Thursday 13 August.Page-7-Photography-NULC-60

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Page-7-Photography-NULC-60As thousands of students across Staffordshire brace themselves for their A-level results on Thursday, the county’s top performing college is reassuring students and their families.

Liz Wyman, Head of Learning Resources & Guidance at Newcastle-under-Lyme College (NULC), is urging students to stay calm and get advice if things don't go to plan. 

She said: "We know students can get pretty nervous in the run up to results day even though the vast majority get into university, an apprenticeship or employment without a hitch. These results represent two years of hard work and there's often a lot riding on the outcome. Even if they haven’t quite got the grades needed they could still get into their chosen university or find an alternative through clearing, re-sitting some subjects or taking other qualifications.

“As a caring college, we want to ensure that students have the best support available whether they have out-performed expectations, undershot or are just having doubts around the choices they have made. So on the day we will have advisors available from NULC and local universities, we will be giving apprenticeship advice at our on-site job shop which will be open all day and we will have independent careers advice from Entrust in the afternoon. 

"It’s important that students, including those from outside our college, are reassured that no matter what the result may be, there is help available." 

NULC celebrated record results last year with an overall pass rate of 98 per cent and a 100 per cent pass rate achieved in 24 subjects. Over 800 students went on to universities across the country. 

Some students opted not to move away and to take a foundation degree at NULC in subjects like music and audio production, contemporary art practice or graphics and digital design. Other students progressed to apprenticeships. Currently there are around 70 local apprentice vacancies available through The Workshop, NULC’s job shop. 

Laura Tune, 18, from Maybank, Newcastle, took A levels in law, psychology and sociology at NULC and was offered a place at university to study law. However she decided to take a higher apprenticeship in Business and Administration with Optima Plus Recruitment Ltd. 

Said Laura: “I wanted to get into the world of work and gain some practical experience and skills and the apprenticeship offered me this. Additionally, it's enabling me to gain recognised qualifications in business and administration and ultimately a degree. It allows me to decide if this career path is right for me within a year instead of committing to a degree for three years.  I am really enjoying working on the apprenticeship, learning every day, and I won’t have debt when I finish."

Sue Husband, Director of the National Apprenticeship Service, said: “This is an exciting time of year as young people up and down the country receive those all-important exam results. For many, a university place will be calling but for an increasing number of young people, an apprenticeship will be their first choice.

“Apprenticeships offer ambitious young people unrivalled career prospects and personal development opportunities. Apprentices can gain the skills and knowledge they need to succeed up to degree level, while working and earning.”

For apprenticeships advice please visit:

For careers advice please contact The National Careers Service on 0800 100 900 or at

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Tuesday 14th July 2015 10:00 – 12:00

Newcastle Library, 47 Ironmarket, Newcastle-under-Lyme, ST5 1AT.

If you are a parent or carer of a child/young person with disabilities and/or additional needs Staffordshire County Council wants to hear from you.

They would like to invite parents and carers to attend workshops on designing the Short Breaks offer in Staffordshire.

The purpose of each workshop is to:

  • Let you know about the findings and initial principles/recommendations from the 'Shaping the Future Programme' and what this means for the future;
  • Work with parents and carers to shape Staffordshire's future community Short Breaks Offer (Aiming High), through understanding what children/young people and their families want and need from a community based Short Break, and how this can be best achieved.

As there are limited places at each workshop pre-booking is recommend.

In addition to the workshops they will be visiting a number of Aiming High activities over the summer months to talk to children/young people and their parents/carers.

They will also be publishing surveys shortly to gain views and opinions.

Should you wish to book a place or have any further questions or queries, please contact either Amy or Emma at Aiming High via phone on 01785 278072

or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015 13:33

Seventy apprenticeships up for grabs

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Newcastle-under-Lyme College (NULC) has more than 70 apprenticeships on offer.

The college, which recruits on behalf of local employers, is looking to fill positions ranging from business administration to customer service, early years to engineering and hair and beauty to IT and retail.

Successful applicants will earn around £120 a week while gaining valuable work experience and nationally recognised qualifications. Typically they would work with their employer for four days a week and go to college for one day. NULC boasts a high success rate among apprentices with its 16-18 apprenticeship results 10% higher than the national average.

Among the top employers looking to hire are Amanda for Blinds, Michelin, The Trentham Estate, Meaford Day Nursery and Robertas Bridal.

Said NULC's head of employer engagement and training Carl Riding: "It's unusual to have so many openings at this time of year. I think good employers are really switched on to apprenticeships now as a cost-effective way of training new and existing staff and filling skills gaps with loyal employees. Apprentices have the opportunity to gain real experience while earning and learning.

"With exam results just around the corner, it's a great time for young people to secure an apprenticeship. We have some really interesting opportunities including a web developer, sign-writer, electrical/mechanical engineer, a CNC machinist and Wade Ceramics are looking for a modeller and 3D designer. These are the sort of roles that will provide terrific prospects for bright new recruits."

Apprenticeships are one of the few training routes where funding is still available although it is mainly dependent on the age of the apprentice.

Newcastle-under-Lyme College offers apprenticeships alongside A-levels, degrees and vocational qualifications and works with employers facing a talent shortage in sectors such as engineering, accountancy, health and social care, early years or hair and beauty.

NULC's apprenticeship vacancies are listed here.

Employers wishing to hire apprentices, should contact Carl Riding on 01782 254351.Apprenticeship vacancies

Monday, 20 July 2015 16:35

Gradbach facelift earns a plaque

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Newcastle-under-Lyme College (NULC) is celebrating completion of major building work at its new outdoor education and activity centre at Gradbach in the Peak District.

The college bought the former youth hostel in early 2014 and has since then renovated the buildings to a standard that is sympathetic both to the site's heritage and stunning countryside setting.

Gradbach was built in 1730 and has operated as a mill for flax, silk and wood and as a dairy farm. For the last 35 years it was a 90 bed youth hostel but was sold when the Youth Hostel Association decided not to invest further in its upkeep.

Set in a 16-acre site by the River Dane, the centre comprises a converted mill building, a separate farmhouse and staff accommodation. The buildings required significant internal and external repair and updating so, by the end of this year, the Gradbach centre will provide accommodation for 46 people in its mill and farmhouse buildings. It will offer students, community groups, corporate and private guests the opportunity to experience a wide range of educational or outdoor pursuits.

Activities will include archery, abseiling, canoeing, caving, climbing and orienteering while training and development can include leadership and management training, team building and experiential learning. The farmhouse, which sleeps 16, can also be hired privately.

NULC was keen to recognise the efforts of local craftsmen and women who worked on the project and so has erected a plaque to commemorate the milestone. The plaque was unveiled by Principal Karen Dobson and Chair of the NULC Corporation George Stonier. George joined the college's governing body in 1993 and has overseen the college through difficult times in the early years to becoming one of the top colleges in the country now.

Contractors involved in the renovation included M R Bradley Building and Groundwork of Leek; John Worth Ltd Plumbing and Heating Engineers of Macclesfield; SEI Electrical Contractors of Tunstall; Peake & Son Ltd of Stoke, who carried out all the internal and external painting; and Moorlands Walling and Landscape Contractors
of Ipstones, who rebuilt many of the centre's dry stone walls.

The farmhouse was stripped back to bare walls and had new floors and en-suite bathrooms added, as well as an oak conservatory to create a light and airy sitting room. The mill building was repointed, remodeled and redecorated to provide en-suite accommodation for 30 people.

Karen Dobson, Principal and Chief Executive, said: "We believe it's important to invest in facilities that give our students wider experience whether that's in work placements or outdoor pursuits. In terms of sound financial planning it is also sensible for us to diversify our income streams and I am pleased to say that other educational establishments and commercial organisations are already showing interest in hiring Gradbach."

The College also recently opened a state-of-the-art £5.5 million Performing Arts Centre and a new £60,000 LEGO® Innovation Suite, which provides an exciting and inclusive learning environment where students can experience a 'hands-on' and 'minds-on' learning approach to help inspire tomorrow's scientists, engineers and computer programmers.

NULC is the largest provider of 16-18 education in Staffordshire and offers every type of post-16 course, including AS/A Levels, vocational courses and apprenticeships. Gradbach is a wholly owned subsidiary of the college and will shortly be incorporated as Gradbach Ltd.

To find out more about Gradbach, please visit

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LH 6Newcastle-under-Lyme College (NULC) Art and Design students Tammy McCutcheon and Danielle Sharratt will be displaying and selling their art work at the Traditional Summer Fair and Fun Dog Show on Saturday 11 July.

The family event is being put on by Clayton Hall Business and Language College and will feature a dog show in conjunction with Greyhound Gap, a charity which helps to rehome dogs. Alongside the dog show there will be a range of traditional crafts, games and amusements.

The NULC students are ex-Clayton pupils and will be selling dog and animal related art work to support the event.

After leaving Clayton Tammy went onto complete A levels and Danielle studied for a BTEC Extended Diploma in Art and Design at NULC. Now they are both studying a Foundation Degree in Contemporary Art Practice at NULC.

Organiser Helen Drummond, Community and Marketing Coordinator for the South Newcastle Federation, said, “We are really pleased the girls are taking part in this event. The close partnership between our two schools and the college means we can support each other and develop great relationships. It’s good for our current pupils to see how they can progress once they leave and go to college.”

Said NULC’s Schools Liaison Manager Lucy Hancock: “The event is open to the local community and is running from 10:00 to 2:00pm at Clayton Hall Business and Language College. Please support the event by attending with your family pet and have a fun filled day.”

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