Laraine Smith OBE – whose leadership at Uxbridge College and more recently of the merged college grouping HCUC (a merger of Uxbridge College and Harrow College) – is retiring after nearly 16 years at Uxbridge. Laraine has overseen top student results, millions of pounds worth of building improvements, and the successful merger of the two west London colleges from August 2017.
The Australian-born Group Principal and CEO of HCUC said:
“I feel extremely privileged not only to have had the opportunity to play my part in the education and training of young people and adults in west London, particularly over the last 16 years based at Uxbridge, but also to have worked alongside so many great people along the way.
“It has been a profoundly rewarding experience to see so many students and apprentices from so many different backgrounds achieve and grow through what we have been able to offer here, and I feel extremely proud of having been part of an organisation that has made this not only possible but a regular cause for celebration and success.
“From our staff in teaching and support roles, to our governors and stakeholder and scrutiny panel members, to our community and employer partners, I would like to acknowledge the dedication of everyone who makes HCUC the dynamic and dedicated place to study and train that it is and say what a pleasure it has been to work with them all!
“I know that I will miss the place and the people tremendously, but after a 35-year career in education in this country, including most recently seeing the HCUC merger through its first two years, I am ready to shift down a few gears and hand the baton to Darrell DeSouza. I leave with absolute confidence that there is every reason to believe that HCUC will move forward to bigger, better things in his extremely capable hands.”
The current Vice-Principal of HCUC Dr Darrell DeSouza officially takes up the Group Principal & CEO post from August 22, 2019.
Achievements and developments during Laraine’s time at Uxbridge College and HCUC include:
- No. 1 college in London for 16-18 year olds for a number of years and most recently for HCUC in 2017/18 – QAR (Qualification Achievement Rate) in DfE National Achievement Rate Tables
- Outstanding award from Ofsted for Uxbridge College in 2008 which was maintained thereafter
- HCUC was chosen as one of 12 colleges and university providers nationally to operate an Institute of Technology with key partners including Brunel University, Heathrow, Fujitsu and West London Business
- Other employer and community partnerships have been developed including with Hillingdon Council, local MPs, intu Uxbridge shopping centre, SEGRO and Barratt London, Hillingdon Chamber of Commerce, Hayes Town Partnership, Chelsea FC Foundation Trust, Uxbridge Cricket Club and Thames Valley Cavaliers basketball club
- Improvements at Uxbridge College’s Uxbridge Campus including: £6m new build accommodation housing creative studies and health and social care in 2015, £6.2m modernisation and expansion of the refectory, new plumbing and gas workshops, and additional classrooms and offices in 2013; £5m IT and Media Block opened by HRH The Countess of Wessex in 2011; £6m sports development including national standard basketball courts and outdoor Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA) in 2010.
- £5m improvements at Uxbridge College’s Hayes campus to create a contemporary frontage, and redeveloped theatre, rehearsal studios and social areas, completed in 2015
- Current improvements at Harrow College including an £8 million refurbishment and redevelopment at the Harrow-on-the-Hill campus and £5m of work at the Harrow Weald site
Creation of West Met Skills recruitment and training provider for west London Employers in 2017
- Hosting student recognition awards with guest stars including: adventurer and author Anna McNuff; international hurdler Julz Adeniran; BBC Radio 1 DJ Scott Mills, and MOBO Awards founder Kanya King
- Laraine was awarded an OBE for services to Further Education in 2010’s New Year Honours List
Laraine joined Uxbridge College as Vice-Principal in 2003, moving up to the lead role at Uxbridge in August 2007, and a decade later was selected as Principal of HCUC following the merger of the two colleges to become a single legal entity.
Post-merger Laraine also continued to lead Uxbridge College, whilst Pat Carvalho, Deputy CEO of HCUC, has remained at the helm at Harrow College.