Our history | Weston College

Our history

Weston College of Further and Higher Education's roots can be traced back over 150 years, with the first documented educational building being built on the Knightstone Campus site by Archdeacon Henry Law in 1845.

This building, the National School (later called St John's Church School), went though several changes before being closed in 1964 and demolished in 1966.

The nearby Hans Price designed School of Science and Art was opened in 1893 as a response to government educational reforms led by Sir Henry Cole which promoted the teaching of qualifications that would lead to the creation of skilled technicians and designers in order to maintain Great Britain's industrial dominance. The School of Science and Art was Grade 2 listed 100 years after its opening, and was refurbished and redeveloped by the College from a derelict state in 2012. It is now used as the College's conference centre.

Weston College's current Knightstone Campus cost around £550,000 to build (nearly £6 million in today's money), and was opened in September 1970. The College's original design placed its front door on the first floor, accessible by an external staircase. The Knightstone Campus has undergone many changes, including an extension completed in 1998 which moved the College's main entrance from Knightstone Road to the adjacent Lower Church Road and brought it down to the ground floor to create an impressive, multi-story reception area.

In 1999, the College opened its sixth form centre on the site of the former Broadoak Sixth Form College on Loxton Road. In 2008, the College developed the land next to the sixth form centre to create the College's second site - the Loxton Campus. This redevelopment included extensive renovation of the sixth form centre to provide a state-of-the-art space for the College's A Level students. The £15 million Loxton Campus was opened by Anne, Princess Royal on 23 June 2008.

In August 2012, Weston College won the OLASS 4 contract to deliver education in prisons across the South West of England.

Work began on the College's third site, the South West Skills Campus, in 2013. This award winning, £14 million project is continuously evolving - with its most recent additions being the Lord Baker Innovation Centre and the Future Technology Centre, where the College's engineering provision is based.

In 2014, the College was rated 'outstanding' by Ofsted,and in February 2015 the College was judged to be both the 'College of the Year' and 'Overall Further Education Provider of the Year' at the Times Educational Supplement Further Education Awards 2015.

In November 2015, the College became a university centre with the University of the West of England, on top of its pre-existing university centre status with Bath Spa University.

In 2017, the College invested £18 million into creating a Law and Professional Services Academy based in a former hotel and part of the Winter Gardens Pavilion, Weston-super-Mare. Half of the Winter Gardens Pavilion is dedicated to community use and is available to hire.

In June 2017, the College's Principal and Chief Executive Dr Paul Phillips was awarded a CBE for his dedication to education and the community. A few months later, the College was awarded Beacon Awards for offender learning and students with learning difficulties and disabilities.

The College was awarded the prestigious Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace in February 2018.

Apply or find out more