Reading’s mayor, Councillor Rose Williams, opened the refurbished New Directions adult education centre in Whitley on Saturday 16 September, and joined in with one of the ceramics workshops.
The New Directions South Reading centre is off Northumberland Avenue, next door to the John Madejski Academy, and has had £260,000 of refurbishments over summer, including a new café and a specialist pottery and art space.
New Directions is a community college that offers courses in English (including ‘ESOL’ courses for speakers of other languages), maths, IT, child care, ceramics, sewing, upholstery, painting, cookery and other crafts.
“It might sound a bit corny, but we do change lives here,” said New Directions principal Barry Wren at the opening ceremony.
“We pride ourself on not turning people away,” said operations manager Vanessa Hart, and citing New Directions’ good OFSTED report, she added “we believe our achievements are impressive considering that two thirds of our learners come from the most deprived parts of town.”
Mayor Rose Williams joined one of the ceramics workshops with tutor Zillah Puri. “The last time I did anything like this was about 1960,” said Rose Williams. “I went to Westwood Girls’ school, which is now Prospect School, before they built the Meadway precinct. There was just a clay pit there, so when we had pottery classes we were asked to go and collect our own!”