Education: A-Z of Higher Education Colleges Bretton Hall

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The Independent Online
Age: 49

History: Founded as a teacher-training college by famous educational pioneer and Yorkshireman Sir Alec Clegg, chief education officer of West Riding. Later became an affiliated college of the University of Leeds, feeding students on to degree courses.

Address: Main campus in Yorkshire countryside six miles from Wakefield.

Ambience: Lovely Bretton Hall campus, claims to be the most beautiful in England, based on a Palladian mansion built in the 18th century by Sir William Wentworth who had been inspired by a Grand Tour. Set in 500 acres of landscaped parkland with two lakes plus the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Stunning views of Henry Moore and Antony Caro sculptures from the windows. Satellite buildings in Wakefield include a converted maternity hospital, tea warehouse and factories. Former racing stables is home to Centre for Sculpture Studies. Not for those who like urban grime and the bright lights.

Vital statistics: Primarily a college for arts and education. Has 3,100 students, 70 per cent female. Degrees, validated by Leeds University (it's in merger talks with Leeds) include fashion, fine art, graphic design, sculpture, performance arts, music, education, dance and social studies.

Added value: Creative hothouse environment. Guest lecturers have included the poet Benjamin Zephaniah, dancer Wayne McGregor, sculptor Antony Caro, painter Patrick Heron and fashion designer Roland Klein. Runs one of the few degrees in pop music.

Easy to get into? You need two A-level passes for arts degrees. For teacher training you need grade C at GCSE in English, maths, science and two other subjects, plus two A-levels which must include your course specialism subject.

Glittering alumni: David Rappaport, founder of Hull Truck Company; John Godber, playwright; Colin Welland, actor/playwright/author; Ken Robinson, professor of arts and education at Warwick and the Education Secretary's cultural adviser.

Transport links: A car is very useful. Otherwise you catch a local bus to Wakefield or Barnsley. From Wakefield, train to London takes 1 hour 50 minutes.

Buzz phrase: At a barn aht? (Are you going out?)

Who's the boss? Professor Gordon H Bell, arts educationalist who collects watercolours, notably those by 19th century artist HB Carter.

Teaching: Rated 22 out of 24 by the Quality Assurance Agency for degrees in drama, dance and cinematics. Has not done so well in OFSTED reports on teacher training. Performed OK in design technology, was adequate-to- good in English, but fell down in music and had to be inspected again. Scores following a further inspection of music were even worse. It received a "poor quality" in one cell. The Teacher Training Agency will now have to decide what to do.

Research: Achieved a 3a in fine art and music (top grade is 5) in the 1996 research assessment exercise.

Financial health: In the black.

Nightlife: Two bars, one at Bretton Hall, one in Wakefield. Between them there is an event most nights - disco, karaoke, hip-hop or quiz night. Movie-goers have a 12-screen Cineworld. And for serious shoppers there is a 24-hour Asda. Leeds, centre of the western world, is 15 minutes away.

Cheap to live in? En suite accommodation in purpose-built village is pounds 52 a week. Private rents average pounds 35 a week.

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