Melton college hailed by Education Minister as 'remarkable place'

The man in charge of education in this country was clearly impressed when he visited the Brooksby college campus site.

By Nick Rennie
Monday, 9th May 2022, 10:36 am
Updated Monday, 9th May 2022, 11:19 am
Education Minister, Nadhim Zahawi MP, pictured on his visit to Brooksby College with Melton MP Alicia Kearns and SMB College Group principal, Dawn Whitemore, and other college representatives

Nadhim Zahawi MP spoke to students and toured facilities for land-based engineering, equine, agriculture and horticulture courses at Brooksby Melton College.

The visit came a year after the Department for Education announced it was investing in enhancing facilities at the 850-acre rural campus site – one of only 16 colleges in the UK to get a share of the £1.5billion FE Capital Transformation Fund.

As he walked around the attractive sprawling college grounds, which boast a working farm, gardens and a lake, Mr Zahawi told the Melton Times: “This is a remarkable place – students should feel privileged to be able to learn in such a wonderful college.

Education Minister, Nadhim Zahawi MP chats with student during his visit to Brooksby College

"I only wish I could turn the clock back to have the opportunity to study in surroundings like this.”

The minister was accompanied by Melton MP, Alicia Kearns, and Dawn Whitemore, principal and chief executive of SMB College Group, which was formed from the merger of Brooksby Melton College and Coalville-based Stephenson College.

He interacted with students involved in studies around agricultural engineering, including the building of tractors, courses involving the care of horses, farming skills such as sheep shearing and livestock care, plus the study of ornamental gardening.

Mr Zahawi said: “The students have been telling me that they did their research on different colleges and this is the one they really wanted to go to.

Education Minister, Nadhim Zahawi chats to SMB College Group principal, Dawn Whitemore

“It clearly has an inspiring leadership and an excellent teaching team.”

He added: “The Department of Education has made a major investment in the facilities here and I was keen to see for myself how the money is being spent.

“As a government we want to have a focus on investing in further education and vocational learning.

“This builds an ecosystem of learning which feeds into so many different industries, as we can see with everything going on here at Brooksby.”

Education Minister, Nadhim Zahawi MP, pictured on his visit to Brooksby College

The minister praised the way young people have dealt with the pandemic and how it has had such a huge impact on their education.

He added: “Everywhere I go I see that students have been incredibly resilient despite the disruption they had to deal with through the whole Covid situation.”

Mrs Whitemore was delighted to welcome the Education Minister to the college, commenting: “He wanted to see what we are doing here as a result of the funding we received from the Department of Education and he seems really impressed.”

It is now three years since Brooksby merged with Stephenson and she said the move had been a gamechanger.

“The merger has been massive - it was a lifesaver for both colleges,” Mrs Whitemore said.

“We were asset rich and they were cash rich so it has worked really well.

“Together we now have this fantastic proposition which safeguards the future of both colleges.

“We have been going from strength to strength since the merger.”

Mrs Kearns said: “This is the first agricultural college Mr Zahawi has visited since becoming Education Minister so it is a real coup for Brooksby to have him here.”