College's next principal targets adult learning and green skills

Jerry White has been appointed principal at City College Norwich

Jerry White has been appointed principal at City College Norwich - Credit: CCN

For the first time in a decade, Norfolk's largest college will have a new principal next term. Jerry White told reporter DAVID HANNANT about City College Norwich's plans to focus on adult learning, green skills and embracing the city's growth in student numbers

When Jerry White first joined City College Norwich (CCN) in 2009 it was off the back of a spell as deputy for head of adult services at Norfolk County Council.

During this time he championed adult learning, one of the cornerstones of CCN's offering, with some 1,500 mature students learning at the site in Norwich.

More than a decade later, the former Hewett School pupil is stepping into the top role at the college, succeeding long-serving principal Corrienne Peasgood, who retires at the end of the academic year.

And he hopes his background in adult learning will help the college usher in an influx of mature students, as it looks to encourage more people to return to education and hone new skills.

Corrienne Peasgood, chairman of New Anglia LEP’s agri-food sector council

Corrienne Peasgood, chairman of New Anglia LEP’s agri-food sector council - Credit: New Anglia LEP

On adult learners

Mr White said: "As industries evolve and change, so too do the skills workers need to do their jobs. We're keen to work with as many local businesses as we can and help develop these higher level skills.

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"A great example of the benefits of adult learning is a mother who came to us to do her maths GCSE, after finding she was struggling to help her children with their homework.

"She came away with a qualification to add to her CV that wasn't previously there, ended up getting a new job and at the same time became even more of a role model to her children."

Future growth 

While Mr White said he did not envisage further colleges joining Paston and Easton, he did outline some other areas of growth the college can expect.

Following on from a new £9m digi-tech hub, by September CCN will have updated its engineering facilities in a £3.1m project to help train mechanics in electric vehicles. And it is this type of development he is aiming for.

He said: "I think the college needs to continue to evolve and we have to think about more green skills, the way the industries in Norfolk are evolving and how we can best serve them."

Rise of a student city

In recent years, both the University of East Anglia and Norwich University of Arts have grown - and continue to do so - bringing more and more students into the city.

But while CCN itself has grown through mergers with Easton College and Paston College in North Walsham, the real core of its student base is local - something he anticipates staying that way.

Mr White said: "We are not going anywhere and do not have any specific targets for growth - although we do anticipate having more students in our 16 to 18 group in years to come (currently it has around 5,500).

"But at the same time, we're not about to build a big hall of residence in our city - our focus remains on how we can best serve people in Norwich and wider Norfolk."

Jerry White, who has been appointed principal of City College Norwich

Jerry White, who has been appointed principal of City College Norwich - Credit: City College Norwich

Relationship with UEA and NUA

While NUA in particular has seen its footprint in the city get larger and larger, Mr White does not see the university as competition.

He said: "We've always worked very closely with NUA and with the UEA and both of them growing is a very positive thing for us.

"We do not provide higher education courses in creative arts, so NUA's growth helps provide more pathways for our students to follow."

His new role

Mr White concluded: "I see my role as a custodian of a long legacy of education excellence across our three colleges.

"Around a third of all the young people of college age in the county are attending one of our three sites, so that is a huge responsibility we have and I have in my new role."