History of the college

Activate Learning was launched in 2013, but our roots go back much further than that.

We have a history providing further education opportunities in Reading that stretches back to 1955. The college has changed names and merged with other education providers as it grew and developed, offering an ever expanding range of exciting new programmes.

1946 Reading Technical College was an offshoot campus of the technical training run by Associated Electrical Industries Ltd. (AEI) and the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment (AWRE).

1950 – Before the war, there had been a plan to establish a major education institution to meet the increasing demand in Reading and the surrounding districts for technical education. An eight and a half acre site was acquired on Reading’s Kings Road and building work commence. The first Principal, John Dimmick supervised the construction of the college.

1955 – Reading Technical College was officially opened by HM the Queen’s Mother on 26 October. The College specialised in vocational education, including apprenticeships in industries such as building and printing.

“To all who work here, teachers and students, and the administrative staff who see to your day-to-day life, I give my good wishes. It is your joint endeavour which will make this college great.” From HM the Queen Mother’s opening speech.

1967 – The college was renamed Reading College of Technology.

1970s – The college was renamed Reading College of Arts and Technology, in order to recognise the introduction of art and design courses to the curriculum.

1997 – Reading College and School of Arts and Design was formed as a result of the merger between Reading College of Arts and Technology and Berkshire College of Art and Design in Maidenhead. The newly merged college inherited the courses originally offered by the Berkshire College of Art and Design, including higher education.

2001 – A new wing is built on to the main building (today this is the foyer and surrounding rooms).

2002 – College radio station Blast 1386 was founded. It celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2012.

2004 – Reading College and School of Arts and Design merged with Thames Valley University (TVU) and offered courses from entry to degree level. TVU was based on four sites: Kings Road, Crescent Road, Green Road and Hamilton Road.

2007 – The College founded the Gas and Energy Centre in Wokingham to provide specialist gas, water, energy training and assessments, all designed to update the skills of the industry.

2010 – The Kings Road campus of TVU became Reading College in a new partnership with Oxford & Cherwell Valley College and the Learning and Skills Network (LSN). Shortly after this, LSN left the partnership.

2011 – Introduction of the Get that Job initiative to help jobseekers gain new skills and qualifications to get back into work.

2011 – Newly built, The Salon and The Kitchen ensures that students can learn and train in industry standard facilities.

2012 – New higher education courses are added to the College’s offer in business, creative arts, engineering and teaching.

2012 – The site at Crescent Road has been bought and will become a University Technical College from September 2013.

2012 – Developing the College’s long history of delivering apprenticeships, Reading College currently has 300 apprentices placed with 150 local employers. The range of industries is vast compared to the 1950s, as well as the traditional apprenticeships in construction, apprenticeships are also available in IT, hair and beauty, customer service and accounting.

February 2013 - We enrolled our 500th apprentice.

June 2013 – Rocket Consultancy becomes part of Oxford & Cherwell Valley College Group.

August 2013 - Oxford & Cherwell Valley College Group is re-launched as Activate Learning.

September 2013 – UTC Reading opens its doors to students wanting to specialise in engineering and computer science.

October 2013 - Public consultation begins on UTC Oxfordshire, opening in September 2015, specialising in life sciences, physical sciences and advanced engineering.

December 2013 - The college group is rated as Good with Outstanding features by Ofsted.

July 2014 - Reading College new logo is launched.

January 2018 - Activate Learning is rated as Good with Outstanding features by Ofsted. 

We work together giving you the chance to change your life for the better. You can become a new part of our successful history.