Sue Middlehurst, like many principals, is eagerly awaiting the challenges of the new academic year. Here, she examines the past year.

Since I joined the Grimsby Institute Group in January 2011, it has been pleasure to see the introduction of many innovative teaching and learning practices coupled with inspiring approaches to teaching.

Every day the staff seem to come up with yet another idea, or achieve beyond expectations, giving me more reasons to be proud I am the principal of one of the largest providers of further and higher education in the North East.

This past year alone has seen our TV channel, Channel 7, which is operated by the group and staffed with a crew of tutors and students, announced as one of only 20 local TV stations nationwide that have been awarded a licence to broadcast digitally.

We will be the first local TV channel to begin broadcasting when the channel officially launches at the end of November, under the name Estuary TV — on Freeview Channel 8.

Our vision is to be inspiring, innovative and outstanding”

Our beauty training facility, The Graduate Salon, was recently named as the Confederation of International Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology (Cibtac) centre of the year 2013.

This is an international award recognising the outstanding work that our beauty staff have been undertaking to ensure that, even though we are a traditional FE college, we provide training that is equal to, and often surpasses, that of specialist training providers.

Cibtac offers international qualifications that our students achieve alongside their traditional beauty qualifications.

Another initiative we are introducing this month is the achievement coach scheme. We have employed a team of local people — mostly graduates — who will be working closely with our most gifted and talented level two and three students to support them in maximizing their potential.

One thing we do very well is growing the potential of our staff and students. This was highlighted again recently when one of our students, Rebecca Oxborough, qualified at the Association of Accounting Technicians and then returned to run our course while studying Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector. Rebecca has proven so popular she is now looking at gaining an assessor’s qualification before embarking on a postgraduate certificate in education.

But our successes aren’t just restricted to our FE provision. We were recently announced as the first predominantly FE provider in the UK to achieve higher education academy status for our continued professional development programme at our University Centre Grimsby.

Our costume design degree course at Yorkshire Coast College (YCC) has seen great success.

Past alumni have gone on to work with on films such as Sherlock Holmes and Mad Max — Fury Road. Students have won the BBC apprentice scheme and worked on TV programmes such as Luther and Whitechapel. Others have secured work at Glynbourne within the men’s cutting department, toured with major West End productions such as We Will Rock You and Les Miserables.

Over the summer, students from YCC’s Music Department supported headline acts including Leona Lewis, Olly Murs and Katherine Jenkins at the Scarborough Open Air Theatre.

Hospitality students at YCC even got the chance to cook for the stars when they took over the catering at the theatre, offering everything from dressing room requests to crew breakfasts.

And last month we invited our first cohort of business professors to a special event in their honour. We launched business professors at the start of the year as a way of bridging the gap between education and employment and a number of high profile names have already signed on for the scheme we will be rolling out during 2013/14.

Finally, I am thrilled that I am finally able to announce that we have received confirmation that we he have been granted Foundation Degree Awarding Powers (FDAP) from the Privy Council.

Our vision is to be inspiring, innovative and outstanding. I am privileged to be leading an organisation that lives up to the expectations of students, staff and stakeholders in our community.

Sue Middlehurst, principal, Grimsby Institute of Further and Higher Education