19 April 2022

A journey from USP College student to USP College senior leadership

New Vice-Principal of Quality and Curriculum Jon Briggs’ story of growth and development within USP College

It’s a proud day when an institution can boast that one of its own past students is part of its senior leadership team. Early in 2022, Jon Briggs, a former student, was promoted into the role of Vice-Principal of Quality and Curriculum.

Becoming part of the leadership team of USP College follows a long journey with the institution for Jon, which started in 2001 when he enrolled at what was then Palmer’s College to study A-Levels in English Language, History, Media Studies and Physical Education.

After finishing in 2003, Jon came back to the College in 2006, this time as a teacher of Physical Education. Jon then spent a number of years in a very supportive and successful Sports department before earning his first promotion to Subject Area Manager of Sport in 2015.

Always keen to take on a new challenge, he held a series of subsequent management roles, including Head of Learning for Business & Sport and Faculty Director. When Seevic College and Palmer’s College merged in 2017, he moved to the Seevic Campus as the Director of Curriculum & Campus Operations before being promoted to the role of Assistant Principal - Vocational. Throughout this role, Jon oversaw the Vocational provision at both the Seevic and Palmer’s Campuses, including overseeing the implementation of the USP College’s Career-Focused Learning strategy. His work over this period played a key role in USP College receiving a grading of Good by Ofsted in November 2021.

Jon puts a lot of his success down to organisation and the use of simple to-do lists. He also stresses the importance of knowing your strengths and knowing when to ask for help. He’s sceptical about motivation, instead encouraging young people to find a balance between intrinsic and extrinsic motivations – being motivated from within and through external factors.

In his new role as Vice-Principal of Quality and Curriculum, Jon’s vision is quite simple: “I hope to work with my colleagues to ensure that we provide all students with a high-quality experience, supporting them academically, personally and in pursuit of their career goals. I would like all employers and universities to recognise when they have a “USP student” – in a good way!”.

So what’s changed from when Jon was a student to the current college environment 20 years later? Jon has a few interesting thoughts on this: “In a word – technology! Nearly all of my lessons were “old school” with textbooks, making notes and lecture-style delivery. The technology available now blows my mind, if I am honest. Immersive rooms, lessons in virtual reality and accessing online via Microsoft Teams are all amazing new developments that we are lucky to have. Smartphones and social media now provide opportunities but also challenges we need to be aware of. I never really had to deal with this that as a teenager.”

After more than 20 years since stepping into the institution for the first time, Jon is perhaps more qualified than anyone else to explain why USP College is such a great place to be, both as a student and a staff member. In his opinion, USP College is a unique college with a genuine sense of community, with staff and students looking out for each other. This creates a very welcoming and friendly environment which makes coming to work an enjoyable experience.

In terms of current students who want to follow similar trajectories to Jon’s own career, his advice is as follows: “Strike that balance between focusing on what you need to do now to be successful at college and what you can also do to prepare for the future. Though there will invariably be challenges or even a change of direction in your career journey, you should remember that every experience (good or bad) is an opportunity to learn. I have made many mistakes in my career so far, but as long as you learn from them, you will be successful. My other piece of advice is that being “successful” doesn’t just mean earning lots of money or having a fancy title. It is equally important, if not more so, to be happy and healthy.”

USP College is immensely proud of Jon’s journey, as he encapsulates the College’s attitudes towards learning and encompasses the vision we have for all our students – to apply their knowledge and skills to find fulfilment and success within industry and in life.

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