College’s student union is looking to inspire pupils

Matthew Laidler, President of Tyne Coast College's Students' Union (left), with executive members Oliver Keogh, Ahmed Al Shamsi, Connor Wright, and Evan Thompson.
Matthew Laidler, President of Tyne Coast College's Students' Union (left), with executive members Oliver Keogh, Ahmed Al Shamsi, Connor Wright, and Evan Thompson.

A new student union president is hoping to be more influential.

Matthew Laidler has been appointed in the role at Tyne Coast College’s Students’ Union.

And the 17-year-old believes the time is right for it to play an increasingly important part in the life of the college and its thousands of students.

Matthew has been elected just the second leader of a union created last year to represent learners at all Tyne Coast College campuses – Tyne Metropolitan College (TyneMet), South Tyneside College, Queen Alexandra Sixth Form College, and South Shields Marine School.

Each previously had its own Students’ Union Executive, but they were wound into one when South Tyneside College and TyneMet merged in August 2017 to create Tyne Coast College.

In December, Matthew headed the first meeting of the union’s new six-strong Executive, which agreed to examine the possible launch of an anti-smoking campaign and the introduction of an Easter market.

Matthew, who held a different position on the inaugural Tyne Coast College Executive, said: “Last year saw the first Tyne Coast College Students’ Union, and perhaps it didn’t get as much done as could have been the case.

“There is an excellent Executive whose members have come up with some really positive ideas as to how to improve the role of the union and the life of our students.”

Matthew, who studies at South Tyneside College, is being supported by union Vice-President Oliver Keogh, 16, from North Shields, and Executive members and Tanya Barrass, 30, from Northumberland; Connor Wright, 16, from Hebburn; overseas marine student Ahmed Al Shamsi, 22, and Evan Thompson, 16.

At Queen Alexandra Sixth Form College, Oliver is studying classical civilisations, history and English language; Evan English literature, English language and classical civilisations; and Tanya a Access to Higher Education health programme,

Connor is studying plumbing at TyneMet, while Ahmed is close to completing his studies at world-leading South Shields Marine School.

Audrey Kingham, Principal of TyneMet, said: “The Executive is made up of strong characters who are rich in positive ideas about how to progress the union’s work and enhance the college experience for all our learners.

“A college’s Students’ Union should be a force for good, and I believe this will very much be the case with that voted in to represent Tyne Coast College learners this year.”

“Collectively, the Executive has made a solid start to its work, and individually, all its members have contributed to how it could develop.”