DIVERSITY, in terms of students, subjects and environment, is what sets Minehead’s West Somerset Community College apart.

More than 1,300 youngsters aged between 13 and 19 travel from all over the district to be educated in areas as varied as languages, art, hospitality and motor vehicle maintenance.

By offering traditional academic subjects alongside vocational courses, the college is able to cater for its range of students.

Gaynor Comber, who became principal in September and teaches maths and science herself, said: “The diversity of the college attracted me, including the fact that students come from such different social and economic backgrounds, which is linked to the diversity of our curriculum.

“There is so much going on and it’s such an exciting place to be.

“Personalised learning is at the centre of the college’s aims. Each student is as important as the next one – from the girl who has won a scholarship to study at Cambridge University to the boy going on to work at the garage next door.”

The college prides itself on its close links with the community, through which it aims to help students develop to become fully-rounded individuals.

Mrs Comber added: “We have very good links with local businesses, other education providers in the area and abroad. I wanted to develop national and international links so the students find out what’s happening in other parts of the world.

“I feel a real responsibility towards the local community and we try to include people, through such things as adult learning courses – giving people the opportunity to access our education and facilities.

“For our students, it’s about educating the whole person and giving them all the possible life skills and opportunities they need. We want to make sure each one achieves their potential, both academically and personally.

“One of the things we are working on is developing independent learning – encouraging students to take more responsibility for their learning and giving them the skills to continue that in whatever they go on to do after college.”

A re-brand, which has been in the pipeline for a couple of years, will come into effect in September, in an effort to ensure students stand up against their competitors both in the area, and across the country.

A change of name to West Somerset College, the introduction of uniform including a blazer and tie, a new emblem and a more user-friendly website with more information and a student learning platform, will comprise the re-brand.

Mrs Gaynor explained: “The modernising of the college continues our ‘learn to live’ ethos, but shows we are educating for the the 21st Century. We want the future to be a motivator for our students.

“This is the age when they are making choices for the rest of their lives, so we teach them life skills to help them thrive beyond college.”