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Behind the scenes at Glasgow Clyde College

Eric Brownlie

With summer quickly becoming a distant memory, we caught up with Eric Brownlie, Assistant Principal for Quality and Performance at the College, to chat about what goes on behind the scenes while students are on summer break.  

Does the College close over summer?

No! While our students and teaching staff have a six-week summer holiday, management and support staff work all year round, and take annual leave like any job. The College is open throughout the summer, and often projects such as infrastructure and estates work, creating new classrooms and upgrading IT systems are carried out so that we are ready for students starting in August. 

What are the top priorities for the College in preparation for the new term?
Alongside the operational preparation, we spend a lot of time developing our induction programme. We have a real focus on “belonging”, and the importance of making students feel welcome at the College. We develop a range of programmes and ice breakers, and team building exercises to make sure the settling in period is easy for everyone.

Many of our learners have taken a big step to come to college. They may have had poor experiences at school, they may not be used to academic success, or many of our students may be adult returners who’ve not been in education for a long time. It’s important to make everyone feel as relaxed, welcome and prepared as they can be for further studies. 

What takes the longest to organise?
Timetables! We offer hundreds of different courses across three large campuses. It’s a complex exercise to have the final, accurate information ready for the time students return. 

What would students be surprised to hear that happens over the summer?
I think a lot of staff, not just students, would be surprised by the level of work that goes into improving the College’s resources; from IT infrastructure to estates work through the summer. The President and Vice President of the Student Association are also elected before the summer, and so they are in the college preparing their plans for the year ahead. They put together a clear strategy for engaging with students in the coming year. 

What’s the last thing you do every year in the run-up to term starting?
On the Friday before all the students walk in, we want to make sure that timetables are available and staff are ready to welcome students, to ensure it’s a positive first experience and no one is wandering the corridors, unsure where to go.

What have the first few weeks back been like?
It’s been very busy and exciting; it’s been great to have the corridors bustling again. We’re also still making sure that everyone is on the right course. For example, in areas like ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages), we’ve got hundreds of migrant workers, asylum seekers and refugees in Glasgow who may look to join our courses. They can come in at any time, there’s not a fixed starting date, so it’s important to offer flexibility to a lot of learners, especially those who are more vulnerable to help get them into the College and on the right course.