New College Principal Graham Taylor has been given a rousing send-off by colleagues and students after announcing his retirement after 21 years.
“I have to admit, I am feeling a little tearful after such a lovely event. We had poems, quizzes and some lovely words.”
Under Mr Taylor’s watch, the college has grown from a modest institution with an income of £3m and 1,200 students to a highly successful establishment with an income of £23m with 10,000 learners on their books.
“It’s the people I will miss the most. I’ve been lucky to work with a wide range of fantastic colleagues.
“As a leader, you want to help all staff to help make a difference to the lives of students coming through. It’s been great to see how the college has developed - I’m very proud of that.”
Graham took up the post at New College in 1996, having held teaching posts at colleges in Gloucestershire, Ealing, and Hampshire.
Under his leadership, the college has developed from offering A-levels and Sixth Form courses to 16-18 year-olds to also include apprenticeships, pre-16 courses, Higher Education and Adult Education courses as well as business and professional training.
The facilities have also expanded to now include a new sports centre, dance studio and future plans for the Great Western Academy school.
Graham added: “Any Principal is only as good as the staff around them and I pay tribute to those I have worked with over the years for helping to make New College a wonderful place to work in. I am proud that in an era of increased competition and funding cuts we have survived and prospered.
“We have also been extremely fortunate to attract, educate and train so many great learners who have gone on to achieve great things. It has been a privilege and a pleasure to serve them. Education changes lives and I am so delighted to have been able to play a part in this.”
Graham admits that he will not be able to retire from education entirely, with plans to share his expertise as a consultant, working with other further education establishments.