Golden anniversary for Boston College

It is quite a feather in Boston College’s cap that last year they came third in the whole country in the National Student Survey for student satisfaction for Higher Education, as they were preparing to celebrate their 50th year.
One of the clues to their success lies in the founding ethos of the college: that there would be plenty of subjects offered with lots of different starting points for many different types of learners.

Working closely with local businesses, Boston College has been committed to offering vocational, academic and apprenticeship courses which help all learners live up to their potential and local employers fill their vacancies. This progressive approach has never wavered and the campus has expanded continually over the past five decades.

In 2011 Boston College opened in the Red Lion Quarter in Spalding, and having taken over the whole building in 2012 the campus now offers a wide range of courses for the local community of South Holland.

The number of students enrolled with Boston College is now over 7,000 and each is able to draw upon not only excellent teaching, but also the wide ranging Learner Support Services which the college offers, including careers and financial advice.

Students find many post-GCSE options open to them. Some opt for an academic route of A-levels before applying for a university place or an apprenticeship. Others take a vocational route, acquiring skills on courses suitable for employment in the construction, motor vehicle, teaching, hairdressing or beauty therapy industries, to name just a few. Apprenticeships are a more direct route into the workplace which allocates time between a college course and practical, on-the-job training with an employer.

The first international students enrolled at the college thirty years ago and today around 100 international students each year choose to study at Boston College. They study with Boston College for twelve months to improve their English and to achieve access to higher education within the UK. The college’s excellent facilities include a 125-bed Halls of Residence, while others may prefer a homestay option with a local family.

Many of the college’s students are adult learners coming to acquire a new skill, improve their workplace skills or to boost their confidence to re-enter the workplace. Bite-size and career courses are offered in everything from IT and Art and Design to Sport or Health and Social Care. Many people choose to study these around existing employment hours.

Access courses are also available at Boston College for those adults wanting to get a degree and improve their employment opportunities. There is the opportunity for these students to seek advice on meeting costs from the Funding Department.

The Ingelow Centre is a purpose built property designed to support students with learning difficulties and/or associated disabilities who have mobility and additional support needs. The provisions include a shop, flat, cafe, sensory room and devoted classrooms so that students can learn life skills in a safe environment.

One of the many accolades which Boston College attracts is that it is a one-stop shop for education. This is testament to the wide variety of courses on offer, over 250 courses across 36 course areas, but also to the diverse facilities available for students to enjoy. The Sam Newsom Music Centre, alongside the Haven in the town centre, is a converted wharf warehouse which provides professional music facilities and performance areas.

The Peter Paine Performance Centre is the building for sports and performing arts students, while the main Rochford campus accommodates the University Centre, The Enterprise Zone, Halls of Residence and Boston College: Sixth.

Many tutors at the college have experience of working in industry and can help students make that vital transition to a commercial environment. The college have their very own working kitchen, Lime restaurant, and were also one of the first places to set up a working hairdressing and beauty therapy salon, Style Academy (previously Salon Ecole before rebranding in 2013). These commercial entities give students in each course area the opportunity to develop skills in all aspects of their chosen careers, giving them valuable and real life experience.

As GCSEs are looming for Year 11 students, this is the time for pupils and parents to consider the next move. For adults, enrolling on a course with Boston College could enable you to build on existing skills and could lead to an exciting new career.

There are still many parallels today with the first courses offered in 1964 which included English as a Foreign Language, Adult Education and Vocational courses. Cooking on a Budget, Cake Decorating and Foreign Languages have a direct similarity to some of the adult learning courses offered today.

Janet has worked for Boston College for almost thirty-three years now! Her connection with the college began back in 1971, when she studied here for one year, on a part-time Public Administration course. She went on to work as an administration assistant for Sam Newsom, who was county education officer for Holland County Council. Janet tells us that Sam had always wanted a further education institution in Boston and it is therefore nice to see that his legacy lives on through the music centre.

When Janet first started at Boston College, Rowley Road was the main entrance and the site ended where the accommodation begins today, A-levels were the biggest provision, owls were kept in science and were fed by mice on strings being swung around, and students paid for their courses in cash (so regular trips to the bank were necessary!). These are just a handful of the things that highlight how much the college has changed over time.

As you may have realised, the time that Janet has spent working for the college means that she has worked with every principal. She talks very fondly of working with each principal and when asked who her favourite has been she said, “I can’t pick a favourite, they have all been so different, so it’s a very difficult question to answer. Although, one similarity that all have had is their need to change the colour scheme!”

Janet has many memories of working alongside each principal, some of which are very entertaining. When reminiscing about Alan Moon, principal from 1964 to 1986, Janet laughs about trips to meetings in his Volkswagen Campervan that he drove; the wooden benches in the back meant that you slid along with every turn in the road. Alan’s time as principal saw the development of the Trent block in the Seventies and the back section of Rochford in the Eighties.

Following Alan, David Pursell took over as principal in 1986. Janet remembers him turning up on his first day in a plaster cast! Whilst David was principal, the college bought the land that is now home to the accommodation, the Goodliffe Centre, and the BCUC. When being taken to look at the land with John Howlett, vice principal at the time, Janet says: “I distinctly remember climbing the gate to go and look at what was a field full of nettles! I told John, ‘You know how to show a girl a good time’!” This is a massive difference to the site visit that Janet went on to see the Red Lion Quarter in Spalding just a couple of years ago, where hard hats and other PPE were mandatory!

David Pomfret took over as principal in 2001, and he followed in David Pursell’s footsteps by also turning up in a plaster cast on his first day!

Sue Daley was principal following David Pomfret, from 2005 to 2011. Janet remembers her passion for footwear and remembers a constant interest in what her footwear would be each day. Amanda has led the College in achieving its recent ‘Good’ Ofsted grading and has seen quite a few building developments, including the recently refurbished Peter Paine Performance Centre and the brand new Enterprise Centre, Reception and Library Suite.

When asked about the changes she has seen take place, Janet said: “The biggest change that I have seen is the physical size of the college, it was nothing like this big when I first started. The place is also a lot busier in both staff and student numbers, both having more than doubled over the years.”

Her long service here is due to a number of things, including the people she has worked with and the fact that her job role has always been “a combination of all experiences”. She added: “I have always needed to have my wellies on me and to be prepared for anything. You never know what you’ll be asked to do next with this job, and you just have to get on with it!”

After earning a successful career for himself working in some of the best restaurants in the world, former Boston College Catering student Stefan Howells has been spending time right back where he started – in the Bakery at Boston College.

Stefan has always been passionate about sharing his advice and experiences with current students, as it was Boston College which first gave him the taste for the worldwide success he has since achieved.

After completing his Catering qualifications at Boston College, Stefan undertook six weeks of unpaid work experience at Le Manoir, Raymond Blanc’s famous restaurant in Oxford. They were so impressed that they offered him a job straight away.

Stefan started at the bottom but worked his way up, and at just twenty-one had become head pastry chef. In addition, he was offered the opportunity to enter the World Skills Competition, a prestigious global skills challenge. Knowing that winning the World Skills Competition could provide Stefan with tremendous career opportunities, his mentors flew him to France, Switzerland and Belgium to undertake training with the world’s top chocolatiers, bakers and sugar craftsmen in preparation.

“It cost me a year’s worth of holidays and after working fifteen-hour shifts it was a big commitment but I was never going to turn down the opportunity to work with the best chefs in the world.”

His dedication paid off and Stefan was named ‘Pastry Chef of the Year’, an accolade that opened many doors for him and led to a position with Marcus Wareing at The Berkley Hotel in London, the sister hotel of The Savoy.

Stefan worked at Le Trois Rois Cheval Blanc, another two-Michelin-Star hotel and restaurant in Basel, Switzerland, where he was required to learn fluent German in six months to be able to work in the non-English speaking kitchen.

He’s now embraced his new life and returned to the College whilst on holiday to share what he’s learnt, the opportunities he took, and most importantly the experiences he has had. Stefan Howells has recently secured a job as Pastry Chef working for Richard Branson’s Private Necker Island.


“Boston College gave me a sense of freedom and the confidence to do things differently. I had two very happy years there and left with the relevant qualifications to lead to a BSc(Econ) Hons degree from Nottingham University. My fondest memories are the kindliness and commitment of the staff who taught me under the genial direction of Boston College’s first Principal, Alan Moon.

“I went on to lead a varied life – first teaching in London then moving to live and work in Vienna, Austria (working for UNIDO and UNRWA). I travelled in Africa and the Middle East and lived in the Mani, Greece before going back to England to work at Oxfam and then to university again (an MSc from Bath and a PhD from the Open University, studying the Indian textiles and garments industries). For the last twenty-five years I have been permanently resident in Australia, working in the Political Economy Department at Sydney University and I have two beautiful sons. I have visited Boston on and off over the last seven years and am now researching Boston’s Hanseatic heritage.

“I wish all at Boston College well during this year celebrating 50 years.”

Pamela studied four A-levels and completed a Business Studies course before going on to university. She is now a permanent resident in Australia, working in the Political Economy Department at Sydney University.

The college are hosting a festival, BC Park Fest, on Saturday 27th June 2015. Look out for more information on this at or contact the Information Line on 01205 313218.

For more information on courses or open days at Boston College, visit: Boston College, Skirbeck Road, Boston PE21 6JF, Tel: 01205 313218,

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