As part of their project on the history of the college, Connor Mather and Jake Burton, who are students on our Ready2 course, interviewed City College Norwich principal Corrienne Peasgood about her story.
Police dogs and a Princess: The move from Southwell Road to the Norfolk Building
Corrienne first joined City College Norwich 20 years ago, as a plumbing lecturer. At the time our plumbing and gas workshops, along with motor vehicle, were based a short walk from the main Ipswich Road campus on Southwell Road. So this was where Corrienne spent most of her early days with CCN. Corrienne recalls:
“I was here when we moved all of the plumbing, electrical and construction workshops from Southwell Road into the new Norfolk Building. I remember Princess Anne coming to open the Norfolk Building and she spoke to me and my students when we were in there. But the most exciting thing that students found about the day wasn’t actually when Princess Anne came in – it was about an hour before when the Alsatians came around with the police handlers doing the bomb checking and all of the rest of it. The students thought that was absolutely amazing and they loved that bit. Following the move to Ipswich Road my office used to be in one of the areas where the StartUp Lounge is now, I used to look down over the quadrangle and had the most beautiful view of the cherry tree that is there.”
Best job in the college?
During her career at City College Norwich, Corrienne has taken on a range of different roles. Thomas and Connor where keen to find out which had been the best job Corrienne has experienced. Corrienne had no hesitation in replying, “This is the best I’ve ever had here”, before going on to say:
“At the time of each job, every job was the best job. When I was teaching that was the best job because I had a group of students who I could look after and I knew what they were doing and I loved planning their lessons and planning where they were going to go next, making sure they passed their exams. So that was my best job at that time. Then, when I became a manager of teachers who were delivering to lots of groups of students, that was the best job because it meant I could support the teachers to enable more students have a good experience.
“I then managed some cross-college areas, student services and things like that. That then became the best job I’d had because I could apply what I’d learned working as a teacher and manager of learning to make sure all students were getting those kinds of experiences. Then, when I went on to manage all of the curriculum areas, that was the best job because I could look at how we offered programmes and what courses we offered; so we could start to look at courses that we didn’t do before and start to run them.
“Now, doing the job of principal, this is definitely the best job, because I can look at thousands of students and how well they are all doing and the hundreds of great staff who support them to do all of that. It’s great to be able to look at all of the building improvements we’ve done on the campus, to see all of our new buildings that weren’t there 5 years ago, and to know that you’ve helped to get them there and see our students using them and getting the most from these great new facilities.”
What is the best thing about working at CCN?
“The best thing about working here is definitely the people, the students and the staff. The worst time of year to work here is right in the middle of summer when the buildings are for the most part empty, because the college just isn’t the same without the students here.
“Then, on the first Monday in September when everyone comes back for the start of the new college year and you drive into work and suddenly you see hundreds of students coming up to college from the city centre, you think: Oh my goodness, what a responsibility. Are they all going to find their classroom? Are they going to enjoy their courses? Are they going to have a great time here? Have we done the right thing putting on the courses we’ve put on? And that always makes you take a deep breath and go, yes, let’s get on with it.”
The “drugs bust” that wasn’t what it seemed
Asked to recall a funny incident from her time at the college, Corrienne says that there have been a few that come to mind. One which stands out was an incident in the Southwell Lodge student accommodation block which initially seemed quite serious:
“A few years ago we had some students from India staying in Southwell Lodge and one of the cleaners found what appeared to be a bag of cocaine in one of the rooms. Obviously this was awful, so we had the police in, the liaison person for these students came in, they spoke to the parents back in India and we did all that we should do. This bag had been discovered under somebody’s bed. What we eventually found out, when the police came back 2 weeks later, was that it was actually dried chicken soup powder!! It turned out that the students had had a row. One of the students involved absolutely loved chicken soup and made it from powder every night, and so this other student had pinched it and hidden it under her bed. It was so embarrassing!”
“You’re not going to work dressed like that are you?!”
In common with many City College Norwich people, Corrienne’s connection with the college is a family affair. Her youngest daughter, Rose, studied with us, taking a degree in Psychology and Sociology from which she graduated 3 years ago. One morning, whilst Rose was still at school, she was due to come into the college for some taster sessions.
“I came downstairs in the morning and Rose said “You’re not going to work like that are you?”, and I said “Why?”, and she said, “Why don’t you put that other dress on?”. So I got changed and I said “Why…?” and she said, “Well I’m coming to college today and I don’t want to bump into you looking like that!”.
Interests outside college
It is always good to discover that your teachers have a life and interests outside the world of education, and our principal is no different…
“When I started working at the college, I was often to be found in the middle of a field with horses when I wasn’t at work because both of my daughters rode to quite a high standard. Every weekend we were putting the horses in the horse box and carting them round to whatever event they were at. The daily routine involved getting up early and making sure the horses were watered and fed and mucked out before I came to work. At the end of the college day, when I got home, it was a case of doing all of that again in the evenings too. I still enjoy horses now, but we don’t have any. Now I am more into my gardening. We recently moved to a new house with a nice-sized garden, so there is plenty to keep me busy.”
Just do it!
With all of her experiences from her different roles within the college, Thomas and Connor were interested to find out from Corrienne what’s the best piece of advice she has been given. Corrienne said:
“Just get on and do things – don’t think too much – because you can plan something to do the nth degree and by the time you’ve done all of that you’ve missed when it was you were supposed to do it. If you’re thinking of doing something, if you’re ready to do it, just ask yourself: If I carry on and do this, what’s the worst thing that could happen? Provided your prepared to accept whatever it is that is the worst thing that could happen, just do it! Because actually by doing it you’ll learn something that you didn’t know before – even if it doesn’t work, you’ve still learnt something, so that can’t be bad. Just get on and do it.”