Share your memories of Sheffield College

Forty years ago I started working at Granville College of Further Education in Sheffield as a Trade Union Studies Tutor.

Wednesday, 18th September 2019, 11:53 am
Stannington College Young Enterprise Competition entrants Ian Lowe, left, and Richard Eustace, pictured in February 1986

After stints in Sheffield as a number-plate printer at Jepsons, electrician’s mate at Atkinsons, and as a part-time tutor in Manchester, Sheffield, Cleethorpes and Scunthorpe, this was my first “proper job”.

I moved up the ladder a bit. I switched to online learning from trade union studies. I was very involved in the FE trade union, NATFHE. I met thousands of capable and committed students, and many brilliant colleagues.

In 2002 I got a job outside FE. By that time Granville College had become Castle College (in 1988) and then part of The Sheffield College (in 1992). But I remained infected by the FE bug.

Beauty Consultants at Castle College, Sheffield, October 1990

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In 2005 or 2006 I replied to an advertisement in the Sheffield Star for volunteers to serve on The Sheffield College’s governing body. The first time round I was rejected.

In 2008, at my second attempt, I was appointed as a governor. Last year, in a period of rapid change at the College, my fellow governors appointed me chair of the board.

Over the last 18 months, led by our Chief Executive and Principal Angela Foulkes and her team, the college is changing fast, and for the better. This is signalled clearly by:

*the improvements in the numbers of students who are succesfully completing programmes with us;

Students at Sheffield College engineering centre with the Peugeot 406 which they turned into a replica Ferrari

*our strong relationships with employers and other partner-organisations across the City;

*the decision by Mayor Dan Jarvis’s Combined Authority to invest more than £3.5m in the development of skills training capacity at our Olive Grove engineering training centre, the Liberty Speciality Steel engineering training centre, and the CTL workplace training facility.

We now run from four main campuses: Peaks, Olive Grove, City, and Hillsborough; and three smaller ones: Stocksbridge Engineering Steels, Fir Vale, Eyre Street.

Our 1,500 staff work with around 16,000 students and apprentices every year, with courses running from Entry Level to Degree Level.

Students Stacey Wood, left, and Kelly Platton and bakery tutor Chris North with an Ashes plaque and cricket balls made from bread, in September 2005

We’ve been cut to the bone by central government over the last decade.

Working with other colleges across the country, with MPs from all parties, and with the support of the media, including The Star and Sheffield Telegraph, and organisations like the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce and Industry, we are campaigning hard for improved funding.

But funding is half the story. We know that FE can really change lives. So we want to involve past students of The Sheffield College.

We want you to tell us your stories. We want to connect with you. We want your memories. We are keen to know where you’ve finished up.

TV chef Brian Turner with student Maria Duty at Granville College

We’d love to get pictures from your time at college, so that we can build up a permanent archive. But how do you know if you or your relatives studied with us?

After all, we are a youngish institution. We were formed less than 30 years ago, and for much of this time we operated as a federation of differently named-colleges or centres.

Changing college names include Richmond, Stradbroke, Stocksbridge, Loxley, Stannington, Granville, Castle, Shirecliffe, Parkwood, Norton, Parson Cross, Adult Education Service, Hospital Education Service, Provision for Deaf and Cross Colleges, Partially Sighted Students.

What we’d like you to do.

To connect with us, complete the short web-form here: We’ll not bombard you. We’ll not send you begging letters. We will send you occasional updates about what is happening in the college.

We are running a competition which will be won by the 10 people sending in the most interesting memories. The winners, assuming they live in easy reach of Sheffield, will get a dinner for two at the college’s award-winning Silver Plate Restaurant, hosted by Chief Executive and Principal Angela Foulkes, and Star editor Nancy Fielder.

A Sheffield College women’s carpentry and furniture production course

We are also going to commission some of our talented Art & Design students to develop an exhibition that showcases the memories and photographs that people send in. This conveys the impact that further education has had on the city and its people’s lives.

Finally, if you want to talk to me personally, feel free to contact me using the “Ask the Chair of the Governing Body” form on the college’s website at

Please spread the word. If your mum or dad or grandparents were at college, encourage them to connect with us. If you’ve a son or daughter who was at college, likewise.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Students model recycled fashions at a Veolia Environmental Services fashion show at the Winter Gardens to mark World Environmental Day.