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First students excited to start studying at Haywards Heath College

14 January 2021

The new Haywards Heath College has opened its doors to students for the first time this week.

The first intake of students arrived on Monday 7 September, ready to start their induction sessions ahead of a return to learning next week.

The college welcomed more than 140 students to the campus for the first day of induction, which sees students introduced to their new surroundings, lecturers and classmates as well as the support and services available to them. More sessions are taking place throughout the week.

Lily, who is studying psychology, criminology and deciding between law or health and social studies, said: “I’m a bit nervous but I’m looking forward to starting college. “I came to the open day and it looks a lot different now. I chose Haywards Heath because it’s a new college and I think it’s going to be really good.”

The college is the newest member of the Chichester College Group (CCG), who were rated Outstanding by Ofsted in their most recent report (published in May 2020) and is one of three CCG colleges to be offering A-levels – alongside Chichester and Worthing Colleges, who both recently achieved 100% pass rates for A-levels.

It’s that pedigree that has attracted some students to choose Haywards Heath College, including Clara, who is studying psychology, sociology and drama. She said: “I heard the group has a really good reputation and that it was Outstanding, so I think it’s a going to be a good place to study. “I’m excited to be starting college – definitely a bit nervous, especially as we finished so much earlier, but it’s exciting to be studying again.”

For students arriving on site, it is the first time they have been in a classroom since March – when the country went into lockdown. Abbey, studying photography, graphic design and business A-levels, said: “It feels a bit strange – a bit like I’m starting school again, but it is really nice. “I wanted a fresh start at a new college, and it has really good facilities for the subjects I’ve chosen so I’m looking forward to starting.”

Paul Riley, Principal at Haywards Heath College, said: “It has been a fantastic first day and it’s great to see so many students coming in for the first time. “We are delighted to see the doors of the college open, giving young people in the Mid Sussex area the college they deserve to have.

“We also recognise these unusual times that we are currently working in, and it’s important we take the time to recognise the nerves that some students will have in returning to a classroom after an extended and enforced break.

“We have put numerous measures in place to ensure they feel confident in attending class and feel safe at the college. But we are over the moon to be open and to see students on campus, ready to embrace and enjoy learning again.”

Over the past 18 months, CCG has been working closely with Mid Sussex District Council, West Sussex County Council and other regional stakeholders including Sir Nicholas Soames, to ensure the new college meets local needs.

Councillor Jonathan Ash-Edwards, Leader of Mid Sussex District Council, said: “We are proud to have played an integral part in reopening the college in Haywards Heath. “This is a positive and significant step in providing the opportunities young people in Mid Sussex deserve, right on their doorstep. “Across our district we are determined to offer all the support we can for businesses in these uncertain times and producing a skilled young and local workforce is part of that plan.

We wish both the new intake of students and the college itself all the very best and remain ready to continue to support them.”

Shelagh Legrave OBE, Chief Executive of the Chichester College Group, added: “It is brilliant to see the campus coming to life with students and staff. “It is testament to the work of the team across the group and the support we have received from Sir Nicholas Soames, the local authorities, MPs, Coast to Capital and so many other people and we look forward to a successful first year.”