A vocational path in broad strokes

Former trainee painter who went back to college to teach hangs up his brushes after 40 years

Former trainee painter who went back to college to teach hangs up his brushes after 40 years

Gordon Budd began an apprenticeship at his local college half a century ago. Now he has just retired after 40 years spent working there.

He finished his career at South Devon College as schools liaison manager, introducing a new generation of under-16s to vocational education, just as the college had introduced it to him in the 1950s.

Mr Budd began as a part-time lecturer in painting and decorating in 1968 after working in the trade for about seven years, and went into teaching full-time three years later.

"I wanted to aspire to something different," he said. "It happened by accident, but it was something I was particularly interested in. It was the chance to make a bigger impression on getting things right.

"At that time, there were a lot of people who entered trades through the back door, without the training. I really wanted to make a contribution to the people who wanted to do it right. Young people really relished the chance to do it properly."

The 65-year-old, who is married with one daughter and two grandchildren, was never tempted to change colleges. "It's the relationships you build up with people, the students, the staff," he said. "Some staff are people I've worked with not for 40 years, but a long time. When people left school and got a job when I did, they went into what they expected to be a job for life."

His loyalty was rewarded in 2004, when he was highly commended in the Star Awards, the Government's annual ceremony for recognising excellent lecturers.

For Mr Budd, the biggest change at colleges has been the introduction of under-16s into institutions that were known for their adult ethos.

In the last few years of his career, he has seen the growth of the increased flexibility programme, which allows schoolchildren to spend a few days a week in college pursuing vocational courses. South Devon College now caters for 300 pupils under this programme.

"Schools are seeing the tremendous difference it's made to those pupils," he said. "It's given them the possibility of a start in life. They start to blend in with the other students. They're more responsible and have a very different attitude."

He contrasted this experience with his own at a secondary modern school, where he had no opportunity to gain qualifications until he left and took an apprenticeship.

But he sees some of his younger self in the students he has worked with. "Often they're not particularly academic," he said. "But I do exit interviews with the students and ask about their future plans, and some are saying they want to go into teaching. So it does feel like they're the next generation."

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