Vicky Edwards Meets – Gerry Griffith

Chichester College's Gerry Griffiths 14LAJUL22 a-1
Chichester College's Gerry Griffiths 14LAJUL22 a-1

Chichester College has recently been declared ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted and Gerry Griffith knows exactly why.

Chichester College has recently been declared ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted and Gerry Griffith knows exactly why.

“Great leadership, great teamwork, clear and effective communication, rigorous analysis and constant monitoring,” said the 56-year-old, reeling off the values he and his team use as a touchstone.

“We are passionate about providing an educational setting we would be happy to send our own children to, which is why we constantly look for and create schemes to encourage innovation.

“Just recently, for example, we had some hugely inspirational speakers come and talk to the staff. The entire management team also undertook a coaching course, which helped people to improve their performance and was really interesting, too.”

Listed as one of the top ten colleges in the country and boasting a 92 per cent success rate, it’s no wonder Gerry is chuffed. But he admits he hasn’t always enjoyed such great results – his A-level grades weren’t as spectacular as they might have been!

“I came to Chichester College to retake a couple and then went on to university,” he grins, agreeing that while he didn’t see a silver lining at the time, he can now reassure students who come into college feeling demoralised by exam results from a position of experience.

But it’s not just youngsters who attend Chichester College.

“We have 5,000 full-time students and many more on our vast range of adult education and community learning courses,” said Gerry with pride.

“Learning helps to re-engage people and can enhance lives in ways you wouldn’t expect. People don’t always come because they want to gain a qualification. For some it’s simply to keep their mind active, a social activity or a chance to learn something they never had time to before.”

Originally a history teacher, Gerry’s experience encompasses many subjects and he was appointed as Chichester College’s head of creative and performing arts 14 years ago. Now, while still rooted in facts, his role is more about statistics.

“I might be a historian, but statistics tell their own stories,” he said, explaining his work includes a mind-boggling array of overseeing, analysing, initiating action plans to improve performance in, say, students from disadvantaged backgrounds, continuous reviewing of courses and curriculum, self-assessment reports, liaising with partner universities and the Higher Education Funding Council and ongoing teaching observations.

And that’s just off the top of his head!

But even so Gerry, along with wife Anne and colleagues and students from Chichester College, spent his holiday last year helping to build a classroom in a school in Kenya.

“It was a very humbling experience. We saw grinding poverty and terrible illness.

“People lived on the town rubbish dump. Life is so precarious there, yet the people have great humour and warmth and the children were some of the happiest I have ever met.”

It sounds like an experience that perfectly embodies the college’s strapline of changing lives through learning, but would he do it again?

His reply comes without hesitation: “Absolutely. It was an incredibly life-affirming thing to do.”