Hartlepool College of Further Education are shaping a generation with more than just qualifications.
Education is a huge part of our lives. Moving from primary school and playground games to further and higher education; caps and gowns and certificates as scrolls. Many of us are privileged to have had access to different levels of study and what that means for each individual is different. But Principal of Hartlepool College of Further Education (HCFE); Darren Hankey spoke to us via Zoom to discuss their learners and the college’s reaction to the Covid 19 pandemic.
It is with a small smile that Darren said that it was a “heroic team effort” that allowed the college to pivot almost overnight to the lockdown restrictions from Government in March. He talks about his team responding so quickly to use of their Virtual Learning Environment, to get learners working remotely, with a genuine pride that is touching. It is clear that he cares deeply about the team, the students; but also the community that it represents.
“Once the students were working as best they could from home, there were other things we were doing – our kitchens are open to a community group in order to provide meals for vulnerable people and a member of staff took home our 3D printer to make visors for the NHS”. Given the recent focus on diversification in different businesses, this is a great example of working together for one community, “and it’s just that, ‘community’. We’re right in the centre of town, it’s like a big village mentality – all supporting each other, and that’s the attitude we try to instil in our learners”.
HCFE has roots dating back to 1849, making it arguably one of the longest serving colleges in the region (if not the country…!) but it’s Darren’s team principal of ‘HARTS’ that will lead the way in continuing the legacy of further education in the town and beyond. HARTS is a progamme of Hard Work, Ambition, Resilience, Thankfulness and Self Awareness that the HCFE team embed into all their work and teaching. “It’s not just about getting qualifications, it’s about ‘education’ as a whole; about building character as well” said Darren.
In a world that is changing day-by-day it is reassuring to hear what the HCFE and Darren are doing to ensure the future of their college, safeguarding their current learners needs as well as helping to produce generations of learners with more than a paper scroll and a passing grade. These learners travel from all over the region to experience the college, its enviable facilities, its outstanding reputation and relationships with the giants of industry – but more than that – they travel to Hartlepool for its heart.
Talking of themselves only as the ‘current custodians’ of the college Darren’s team are working hard and making exciting plans for their future – and with a team in place that have reacted so effectively and considerately to one of the greatest challenges of our time; we are excited to see what the NEXT 170 year brings for this amazing establishment in our region.