Leicester Vaughan College is five! We celebrated our anniversary on Friday 3rd February. The occasion was marked by a special event for members and supporters with short inspirational talks followed by a buffet and a special birthday cake with the LVC logo.
Professor Sir Alan Tuckett compered the evening
The evening programme was expertly compered by one of our Patrons, Professor Sir Alan Tuckett. He opened he evening by expressing his anger at the closure of the original Vaughan College (1862-2013). He said that he was delighted to see that LVC was keeping up the spirit of the old college.
Former Vaughan students talk about their learning journeys
A highlight of the evening was the contribution from three former Vaughan students. From personal experience they explained how important their part-time evening degrees had been to them. All three were graduates of the BA in Humanities and Arts who had gone on to do PGCEs after they graduated.
‘Magical, really something special’
Sally Birch spoke of the problems she had faced getting a decent job without a degree. She felt that the degree gave her ‘the confidence and self-worth’ because those at Vaughan believed in her. She described Vaughan as ‘magical, something really special.’
‘An amazing journey’
Hitesh Barot, now a Religious Studies teacher, explained that for him being a student at Vaughan ‘was not just getting a degree’. It was fun and had been an ‘amazing journey’. He talked especially of how he had been inspired by his fellow students during the degree and following it. He is now doing a part-time MA following in the footsteps of other students in his cohort who went on to do further degrees. Hitesh explained how Vaughan was a doorway to things he didn’t know existed: ‘Vaughan almost gives you a shield or tools to understand the world better when you are travelling or meeting new people.’
‘An intimate and lovely way to learn’
Tasnim Musa, now an English teacher, described how Vaughan gave her a community of support which she couldn’t find in mainstream university courses. She had began her degree studies with the Open University but was attracted to Vaughan by the ‘the human element and being able to sit in a room and speak to people.’ She found it easier to motivate herself when she was attending in-person teaching. Like Hitesh she appreciated learning from students and tutors: ‘That’s what I value more than anything: the community. It’s an intimate and lovely way to learn.’
The long history of Vaughan and the power of cooperation
Other speakers included former Vaughan student and tutor, Cynthia Brown, who took up the challenge of covering 150 years of Vaughan College (1862-2013) in just 15 minutes! She highlighted some of the key events in the life of the College and demonstrated the importance of cooperation between staff and students throughout its history. This theme linked directly to Dorothy Francis’s speech about the importance of LVC’s status as a cooperative. She explained how education is one of the seven principles of cooperation and reminded everyone that the Cooperative supermarket had started out selling just four items to 28 members. She also talked about her own experiences of lifelong learning and how access to this provision had helped her to develop and change career direction several times during her working life.
Educators needed for Leicester and Leicestershire
Miriam Gill, LVC Secretary, gave a short talk reflecting on Leicester’s census results. This has indicated that educational attainment levels among the population of Leicester had dropped over the last ten years, with many current residents lacking level 2 (GSCE level) qualifications. She also explained that there was a shortage of teachers to deliver this level of education. While LVC aims to offer degree level education, as the testimonies from the Hitesh, Sally and Tasnim demonstrated, it could educate potential teachers to help meet this shortfall.
Reviewing five years of LVC and looking forward
Chris Williams, LVC member, presented some of the highlights and achievements of LVC’s first five years. He explained that the goal LVC had set itself was incredibly hard to do and the Society should be justly proud of what it has achieved so far. Lucy Faire, LVC Chair, outlined some of the key aims for the future which included finding national and local partners, learning more about the educational needs of the various local communities of Leicester, Leicestershire and beyond, and raising the profile of LVC.
Blase Lambert, LVC Treasurer, the final speaker, warmly encouraged members to set up small standing orders to help cover running costs and enable LVC to progress towards meeting its objects. Donations are incredibly important for LVC in this stage of its development as it does not receive any statutory funding.
Birthday cake and buffet
The formal part of the evening ended with Dorothy Francis, MBE, one LVC’s patrons, cutting the LVC birthday cake. The buffet, donated by members, provided a relaxed way to catch up with former students, staff and members of the Society.
The LVC team would like to thank everyone who came to the event and who helped to make it a great evening.
Photo credits: Charli Smith and Amy Faire