Activate Learning Oxford

New business and education partnership will help to close the Oxfordshire technical skills gap

Over 3,000 creative and digital sector businesses are based in Oxfordshire, generating a total of £1.4billion to the UK economy each year. With such an important and rapidly evolving sector, it is vital for business and education to work together to drive progress and innovation.

A major new technology centre is being established to develop the skills Oxfordshire businesses need to grow. Based at the world-famous Bletchley Park and with hubs in Oxford and Reading, the South Central Institute of Technology (IoT) will deliver higher technical educational programmes with a focus on digital and computing to a thousand students a year.

Activate Learning, which runs colleges in Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Surrey, is working with Milton Keynes College and prestigious partners including Microsoft, KPMG, McAfee, Evidence Talks, VWFS and Cranfield University on the £28million project.

IoT hubs will be created at Activate Learning’s City of Oxford and Reading campuses to offer technical qualifications, higher apprenticeships and training to plug the growing gap between demand and supply for key technical and digital roles, including cyber security. The new facilities will enhance our business-focussed learning programmes that already provide employers with a skilled workforce and students with a clear route to technical employment.

Our award-winning Learning Philosophy has driven new models of applied learning, which develop motivated and emotionally strong learners. Every year our philosophy helps thousands of people to unlock their potential and switch on to the power of learning. We do this by developing independent learning skills, teaching active listening, building life skills, and through identifying technical and soft skills required for the workplace.

Last year we created over 300,000 hours of work experience and provided our partners with priority access to new talent that they helped to shape through joint curriculum design and delivery.

These partnerships are important because they drive up student performance, motivate young people to pursue careers in which they will thrive, and tackle the skills gap so that we can contribute to the continued success of our local economy.

The new IoT hubs will add to our commitment to providing the most up-to-date teaching methods, facilities and real-life work experience opportunities for all our students.

Jon Adams is Activate Learning’s Group Executive Director for Technology and explains why the South Central Institute of Technology will be good for Oxfordshire business.

He said: “At Activate Learning we’ve been working hard with tech employers and fostering good industry relationships for years to try and ensure that the talent is there for their businesses to thrive in the future.

“The creation of the new South-Central Institute of Technology will allow for an even higher calibre of training, with industry partners lending their expertise – both in terms of curriculum content and hands-on classroom time – to teach and train the next generation of digital pioneers.

“We know from all the work we do engaging with companies across the technology sector that their main worry is a lack of people in the market with the right skills to help their businesses grow.

“The new IoT based within the grounds of the historic Bletchley Park and the respective hubs in Oxford and Reading, will provide businesses across the region access to exactly the talent they need.

“Over the coming months we will be reaching out to businesses across the sector that we feel would benefit from a relationship with the IoT and we want to form long-lasting, meaningful collaborations.

“Because it’s not just about the talent that isn’t there yet, it’s also about the talent within businesses already. People who, with the right training, could contribute enormously to their business. There’s so much potential.”

So, as work progresses there is a lot for the technology sector across the region to be positive about and fortune will favour those who are bold enough to help drive engagement and support innovation.

The future starts here.

About Activate Learning

With colleges across Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Surrey, Activate Learning delivers education at both further and higher levels, as well as apprenticeships and a growing international offer.

We recognise that in order for our learners to be successful, we need to teach them the things that industry really needs. This is why we work with more than 2,000 companies across all sectors nationwide in order to address the challenges they face. And because of the scale with which we operate and our different provisions, we can offer support to businesses at every level and help their staff transform their lives through learning

0800 612 6008

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Oxford Direct Services completes work for Persimmon Homes

Direct experience of working with the Highways Authority speeds process for the developer

Oxford Direct Services (ODS) has assisted Persimmon Homes, one of the UK’s most successful housebuilders, with Section 38 and 278 highway works at its development site on Cumnor Hill over the past 3 months. The experience of ODS’s Highways team as contractors for the Oxfordshire County Council Highways Authority helps the developer bring the roads and footpaths of its new estates up to standard quickly, speeding the adoption process.

ODS has carried out works for Persimmon Homes at sites including Medhurst Way, Littlemore Priory Park Marcham and Cumnor Hill and assisted at Tilbury Fields.

Sophie Hearn, Head of Infrastructure at ODS, said: “Our team has more than 20 years’ experience working for the local Highways Authority looking after roads and footpaths in and around Oxford. That in-depth knowledge of the standards required for Highways Adoption and our experience of working with the Highways Authority enables us to carry out the work efficiently and effectively for developers.

Tom Freeman, Adoptions Engineer in the Technical Department at Persimmon Homes North London, said: “We continue to use ODS for our remedial works for Highways Adoption at our developments in Oxfordshire because they are easy to deal with and understand exactly what is required to meet the local authority’s standards. The process is smooth, efficient and makes commercial sense.”

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Blenheim Estate Homes Unveils LongTerm Legacy Principals for Developments

Blenheim Estate Homes has unveiled a groundbreaking set of commitments which set new standards in landowner legacy development.

The commitments, which were inspired by the Prince’s Foundation Landowner Legacy principals, are based on the belief that local landowners have a social, economic and moral responsibility to deliver developments of which both long term landowners and local communities can be proud.

Their new developments, beginning with Park View, Woodstock where first completions are due in October and reservations are now being taken, will adhere to a strict set of guidelines aimed at producing sympathetic, community-based living spaces.

“These principles of legacy are at the heart of everything we do; ensuring we create lasting developments of which both we, and the surrounding communities, can be genuinely proud,” said Blenheim Estate Homes’ Property Director Roger File.

All new developments will endeavour to make use of high-quality local materials, achieve the highest practicable energy efficiency targets, minimise water demand and light pollution and be built according to traditional construction methods.

Each development will also focus on creating a sense of community and wellbeing with ‘exceptional’ open spaces and public areas, footpaths and cycleways linking it to the existing communities and helping the two to blend seamlessly together.

“We believe that by adhering to these challenging goals we will be setting new standards for landowners and providing a template for other estates and stakeholders to adopt,” said Roger.

As part of the legacy commitment Blenheim Estate Homes will work to ensure that their developments have a positive impact on the environment and ecology.

The developments will incorporate hedgehog highways, bee bricks, swift boxes and other wildlife initiatives will help establish new resilient habitats.

Blenheim Estate Homes will also retain control or ownership of all public spaces within the developments to ensure they continue to serve their communities for the long term.

“Blenheim has a deeprooted relationship with the surrounding towns and villages which dates back more than 300 years,” said Roger.

“We want to plan and build patiently, so that new homes become part of the existing fabric, whilst ensuring developments are future-proofed and bring in new residents who can add to the vibrancy of the local area.

“Our aim is not just to build beautiful homes – it is to create thriving, prosperous communities,” he added.

Kidlington-based Pye Homes are working in partnership with Blenheim Estate Homes to create Park View and deliver its commitment to Landowner Legacy.

Property is an integral part of Blenheim’s 10-year development programme that includes tripling the Estate’s contribution to the local economy and creating a £45m endowment fund to ensure the long-term future of the World Heritage Site.

Over the last financial year Blenheim Estate Homes has invested £6.9m in residential and commercial projects, an increase of 73% on the previous year.

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Blenheim’s Economic Impact Passes £100m Milestone

A newlyreleased report undertaken by Oxford Brookes Business School on behalf of Blenheim has revealed that Blenheim is contributing more than £100m annually to the economy.

The figure is a major milestone for the Oxfordshire UNESCO World Heritage Site and represents a 15% increase compared to the previous year.

According to the report Blenheim’s total GVA (Gross Value Added) economic impact was £100.5m. The estate also supported 2,159 jobs, a 12% annual rise.

Commenting on the new report Blenheim CEO Dominic Hare said: “I am delighted our GVA total economic impact did indeed surge in year two by 15% to £100.5 million, with jobs supported rising by 12% to 2,159. This is an outstanding achievement, given that we have only recently embarked on this journey.”

In total, the impact of visitors’ spending outside of Blenheim rose to over £47m, up 14% in the year and over 22% from the start position.

People directly employed by Blenheim also rose 17% to 391 and its direct economic contribution to the local community was £13.8m an increase of 5% on 2017/18.

The estate is now sourcing 44% of all its supplies from within a 20mile radius and is looking at ways to further increase this figure in the coming months and years.

This is the third report undertaken by Oxford Brookes Business School as part of a 10year plan of action by Blenheim to achieve 10 ambitious targets.

These include tripling the Estate’s contribution to the local economy, housing 300 families in high quality affordable housing, completing a £40m restoration programme and becoming a net generator of green energy within a decade.

The plan also includes the training of 100 apprentices, returning key historical artefacts which have been lost from the old collection over generations and a doubling of Blenheim’s total charitable contribution the local community – a goal which has already been achieved just three years in.

“I’m delighted to report that our charitable contributions have not just hit their target of £2.2million, but indeed hit £3.5million in the year,” said Dominic.

“This was in part due to a one-off donation for the Starlight Foundation following Lord Blandford’s heroic charity row across the Atlantic but, even without this, we hit our intended target and plan to set out a more challenging goal in future,” he added.

Property development is a key element to Blenheim’s 10-year plan. Together with its partners, Blenheim invested just over £9m (+75%) in building new houses in several local developments during 2018/19.

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maurizio cattelan photo pierpaolo ferrari

Maurizio Cattelan at Blenheim Palace

This autumn, Blenheim Palace is welcoming iconic artworks by famed Italian Conceptual artist Maurizio Cattelan (12th September – 27th October).

Blenheim Palace is offering an exclusive corporate entertainment opportunity for guests to preview works from Cattelan’s first solo exhibition in the UK in 20 years, accompanied by drinks receptions in the Palace State Rooms.

The works will be on display throughout the Oxfordshire UNESCO World Heritage Site’s palatial interiors, engaging with the site’s recent history and unique setting. This exhibition will feature new works displayed to the public for the first time.

There’s also the truly unique opportunity to experience a private moment with ‘America’ a solid 18-carat gold toilet which is one of contemporary art’s most famous works.

Over 100,000 people famously queued up at New York’s Guggenheim Museum in 2016 to see this piece.

Home to the 12th Duke of Marlborough and his family and the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, Blenheim Palace boasts a long and diverse history.

Blenheim Palace was built as a gift to John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, from Queen Anne and a grateful nation in thanks for his victory at the Battle of Blenheim on 13th August 1704.

Today, the Palace is home to one of the most important and extensive collections in Europe, which includes portraits, furniture, sculpture and tapestries.

This corporate and private entertainment opportunity takes place from 6.30pm until 8pm* on selected dates during the exhibition.

maurizio cattelan america 2016 photo jacopo zotti

· For Corporate and Private bookings and more information do not hesitate to contact or call 01993 813874.
· *Terms and Conditions apply. Minimum numbers 50 guests. Prices start from £105 per person.

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Oxfordshire Digital Infrastructure Strategy and Delivery Plan

Executive Summary from Craig Bower, Programme Director, Communities Directorate

This document is formed from the Oxfordshire Local Broadband Plan which was put in place at the start of the Better Broadband for Oxfordshire programme in 2014. This programme has delivered a step-change in digital connectivity for the citizens and business in Oxfordshire, taking availability of superfast broadband to 97% from 69%. However, the volume of global internet traffic is expected to increase to 95 times that of 2005, by 2020, and is doubling every two years. In the mobile data domain traffic increases by 42% each year. With this in mind, the focus of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, & Sport (DCMS) has increasingly moved from superfast broadband to Full Fibre connectivity and 5G mobile data. The only way this rapid growth in bandwidth requirements can be accommodated is with the full fibre broadband which offers speeds of 1Gb/s.

There are few areas in the UK where the importance of world class digital infrastructure is as pronounced as in Oxfordshire. The county itself, and the Oxford to Cambridge Arc is the home to an economic growth engine for the UK, and this growth is predominantly founded on high value, high Gross Value Added businesses in aerospace, advanced motor engineering, biosciences, space technologies, electronics & sensors, and Life Sciences. We also have a work force with above average skills, and of course excellence in academia. It is reasonable to compare this environment with the likes of Silicon Vally, Beijing, Los Angeles, Tel Aviv, and other world centres introducing revolutionary technical change. These are the locations Oxfordshire businesses compete with, and every one of these top tech hubs depend on world class digital connectivity.

In Oxfordshire approximately 8% of premises currently have access to full fibre broadband infrastructure, meaning that to achieve ubiquitous access to this futureproof digital infrastructure will require deployment at a scale not seen before if we are to realise our growth ambitions. Equally, the next generation of mobile connectivity, 5G, depends on extensive availability of fibre to deliver the low latency and very high capacity demanded by this wireless technology. This creates a requirement for the OCC programme to change emphasis too, with the forming of a Digital Infrastructure Programme underpinned by a Digital Infrastructure Partnership comprising the county council, OxLep, city, and district councils. This document provides the terms of reference for this programme.

By definition the public sector is not a digital infrastructure provider, and although this document sets out specific workstreams aimed at contracting digital infrastructure improvements, the key responsibility of the Digital Infrastructure Partnership is to provide strategic leadership, providing a coordinated facilitation role in ensuring private sector investment in digital infrastructure is maximised in Oxfordshire, for example by;

• Enabling network operator access to public sector assets such as ducts, street furniture, & rooftops

• Taking a strategic approach to use of public sector assets to achieve maximum benefit rather than short term financial benefits

• Mapping potential public sector assets and make available to fixed/mobile network operators

• Ensuring Local Plans (as a multi-tier authority) are aligned with the latest (Feb 2019) NPPF guidance in respect of full fibre provision in all new housing developments

• Ensuring that a summary of this Digital Infrastructure Strategy and Delivery Plan is contained in all other relevant strategic documents such as the Local Industrial Strategy, Local Transport and Connectivity Plan, & Oxfordshire 2050

• Align OCC Highways with the DCMS Streetworks Toolkit where possible

• Appointment a Digital Infrastructure Champion by each partnership member to coordinate and lead on cross-public sector alignment and market engagement

• Creating a Digital Infrastructure Partnership with Oxford city council and all Oxfordshire district councils

• Setting targets for availability or superfast broadband, full fibre, and 5G This approach is critical in achieving the goal of significant private sector investment in our county, as well as being the agent applying for central government funding, and managing delivery of any resultant intervention programmes aimed at improving availability of full fibre and 5G mobile. We must provide a path of least resistance to fixed and mobile network operators, supplying them with all appropriate information equally and consistently (for example the locations of planned housing development as part of the Oxfordshire Housing & Growth Deal), and remove barriers to digital infrastructure delivery wherever this is practically possible. The structure chart below sets out at a high level approach;

The diagram below sets out the structure of the Digital Infrastructure programme and its component project areas.

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mark charter - Carter jonas

Carter Jonas Reacts to the Prime Minister’s Visit to Wales

Carter Jonas, the national property consultancy, has reacted to the Prime Minister’s visit to Wales today to meet with rural communities and discuss the impact of Brexit on agriculture. The company’s rural division advises farmers and landowners across England and Wales.

Mark Charter, partner, Carter Jonas, said: “It is significant that Boris Johnson has made early visits to both Wales and Scotland, as he is tackling the two most contentious areas facing him from an agricultural context head on. A no deal Brexit will have far reaching consequences for the farming industry, but certain sectors will be more affected than others.

“The lamb industry, which is predominantly located in Wales, will be greatly impacted and he needs to outline a substantial plan that will provide essential support to farmers immediately. Trade deals will be essential to overcome tariffs, but we need to have robust alternative plans in place if Brexit thwarts the lamb industry. It may all work itself out in five years, but that is a long time and there could be a catastrophic impact in the short term to these rural communities.

“With Boris Johnson taking an active interest in rural affairs, we would now like to see a cohesive strategy for these communities which will in turn provide a welcome economic boost. Initiatives on rural broadband, road and transport links, affordable housing, diversification and tourism need to be unified. We work across both England and Wales, and can see the variation between different farming areas. For example, landowners in the homes counties have more opportunities currently than a farmer of a small sheep farm in the Welsh valleys so we need to make sure support is universal.”

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Sutton Courtenay residential development site

Carter Jonas Sells Oxfordshire Residential Development Opportunity

Carter Jonas, the national property consultancy, has sold a freehold residential development opportunity with vacant possession in Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire, on behalf of The Granite Partnership to Linden Homes.

Located off Appleford Road, the 7.28-acre (2.95 hectare) brownfield site was a plant and machinery hire depot and now has outline planning permission from the Vale of White Horse District Council for 91 residential units. It forms the second phase of a larger development scheme, for which Carter Jonas secured outline planning permission in April 2013 for a total of 195 dwellings.

Carter Jonas acted for The Granite Partnership in the sale of the initial phase to Persimmon Homes in 2015 and subsequently submitted a revised outline planning application for the remainder of the site. This included establishing new access off Appleford Road and negotiating revised planning obligations.

Chris Wilmshurst, Development Consultant, Carter Jonas, said: “The sale represents another milestone in Carter Jonas’ long-term involvement in the site and is an excellent demonstration of the work undertaken by our planning and development team, working closely together with our landowning clients from the inception of planning all the way through to a successful disposal.

“This has been a complex project and required careful consideration of a full range of factors, including service connections, linkages and legal obligations to ensure that the revised planning permission could be successfully implemented. The redevelopment will breathe new life into an otherwise redundant property and provide much needed new homes to the undersupplied Oxfordshire market.”

Sutton Courtenay is situated on the River Thames in central Oxfordshire and includes a Church of England Primary School, village shop and three public houses. The site is approximately two miles south of Abingdon-on-Thames, which provides a full range of retail and leisure amenities. Culham train station (two miles) and Didcot Parkway (five miles) are nearby ensuring the site is well-located for London commuters.

Carter Jonas

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shakespeare rose theatre blenheim palace

The Play’s the Thing – Shakespeare to Bring £5M Boost to Local Economy

Blenheim Palace CEO Dominic Hare believes this summer’s Shakespeare festival could boost the local economy by up to £5m.
Europe’s first ever pop-up Shakespearean theatre will be taking centre stage in the grounds of the Oxfordshire UNESCO World Heritage Site for a summer season featuring four of the Bard’s most popular plays.
Running from 8th July to 7th September, the ambitious production involves the construction of a full-size replica of Shakespeare’s 13-sided Rose Theatre, set within a vibrant Elizabethan village.
Audiences will be able to see Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Richard III and Romeo & Juliet all performed in the intimate atmosphere of an Elizabethan playhouse.
There will be three tiers of covered seating for 560 and an open courtyard for 340 standing ‘groundlings’.
“According to our financial projections the economic contribution to the area of the Shakespeare Rose Theatre programme could be as much as £5m,” said Dominic.
“Up to 1/3 of the audience are expected to come in from outside of our area, with many of them staying on and exploring the local area of additional days. We are determined to grow the local economy, prioritise local businesses and jobs and promote the region’s tourist attractions. Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre has the potential to become a very powerful driver for the local economy”
“As well as the economic boost we are also able to offer up to 500 free tickets for local schoolchildren as well as deeply discounted prices for many thousands more,”
he added.
The original Rose Theatre was built in 1587 on the south bank of the River Thames in London. It was a slightly irregular 14-sided structure made of timber, with plaster exterior and a thatched roof, open in the centre to the elements.
Its success paved the way for other theatres to be built in the area, including The Swan in 1595, The Globe Theatre in 1599 and The Fortune in 1600.

For tickets, please see:

blenheim palace ceo dominic hare

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Nature-Inspired Jeweller Wins Blenheim’s FAB Startup Business Award

A jeweller whose work is inspired by the natural world was announced the winner of this year’s FAB Startup Business Award at Blenheim Palace this week.
Shipston on Stour based Wild & Fine was among eight shortlisted businesses who pitched their Start Ups to a panel of Blenheim’s senior management and the FAB Accelerator team.
The winning applicant, who describes their brand as jewellery with stories to tell, was also awarded a contract to supply their work to the Oxfordshire Estate’s retail outlets.
In addition to the contract, Jessica Hickman-Woolcott, silversmith, jeweller and owner of Wild & Fine, and colleague Hannah Rogan will also receive ongoing tips and advice from members of the Blenheim management team.
“Being involved in the Blenheim Start-ups Competition 2019 has been a really inspiring experience for us,” said Jessica.
“It was a privilege to meet the other seven finalists and hear them speak with such passion about their brands. Wherever life takes them from here, we are confident they will all do very well and we hope to keep in touch with them in future.
“Both Hannah and I are very nervous public speakers and we entered the competition to challenge ourselves to get up in front of everyone and introduce the brand.
“We never expected to win. We were therefore extremely surprised to hear that Wild & Fine had been selected by the judges.
“We are so grateful for the opportunity to work with Blenheim and are especially excited about the prospect of developing bespoke designs inspired by the Palace and grounds,” she added.
Working in partnership with the FAB Accelerator team, the Oxfordshire estate put together its own programme designed to support locally-based firms and is now in its second year.
The opportunity was open to any business which is less than two years old or has fewer than five employees, is based within 20 miles of Blenheim, and can provide something which could be stocked in their shops.
The competition attracted more than 39 entrants of which eight went through to the final pitching process.
“Our decision to select Wild & Fine as our 2019 startup winner was based not only on their range of delicate jewellery, but also their passion and values, as well as the development potential of their collection to reflect the Palace’s beautiful gardens and parkland,” said Roger File, Property Director and Chief Operating Officer, Blenheim.
“We believe we can really make a difference to this new business, by providing support, advice and a year-long retail contract and we look forward to seeing them go from strength to strength,” he added.
The brainchild of Fabulous Bakin’ Boys’ founder Gary Frank, FAB was Oxford’s first accelerator programme for ambitious entrepreneurs and startups.
The Blenheim pitching event is a great opportunity for local Startups to show off their products. The quality of the applicants was incredibly high and testament to the thriving entrepreneurial culture in Oxfordshire. Said Gary Frank.
The other seven finalists were BREATHE360, A Blackbird Sang, Lou Lou Creates, Rootyfruit, Hazell & Gray, The Conscious Company and Miana Ltd creating everything from personalised canape boards to wellness products.

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