When excellent exam results are not enough

9th December 2005 at 00:00

Stephen Pegg is proud of his college's academic results, a 99 per cent A-level pass rate and more than half of students gaining A and B grades.

But grades, he says, tell only half the story. The principal of Cardinal Newman in Preston, Lancashire, one of the country's outstanding sixth-form colleges, believes in preparing students for life. "We want to educate the whole person," said Mr Pegg, who has been principal for two-and-a-half years.

"We're not just here to get outstanding results, we want to offer an enriching experience and help students prepare for life outside college. I think students, parents and Ofsted appreciate that."

Culture and sport thrive at the Catholic college. One student is an England international basketball player; others are members of the national college football, netball and hockey squads. Cardinal Newman also provides students with memorable experiences, said Mr Pegg. Students have been on field trips and work placements to locations across the globe.

"This year, 10 environmental science students travelled to Kenya," he said.

"As well as doing work for their course they helped to rebuild a school.

They came back and said it had been a life-changing experience." Earlier this year inspectors praised a "culture of tolerance and mutual respect", which Mr Pegg emphasised the students take outside the college into the local community, and is a vindication of the hard work of teachers, students and staff.

"About half the college is Catholic but there is a significant proportion of Muslim and Hindu students, around 15 to 20 per cent, and other faith groups," he said. "We have a lovely chapel but also a prayer room for all faiths. We have built strong links with the local mosque and Hindu temple, and with community groups.

"We are completely inclusive and this helps to create an ethos of tolerance not just in the college but in the wider community as well."

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