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Brian Richardson MBE

A specialist training college dedicated to helping 14 to 19-year-olds on the Isle of Wight get fit and ready for employment is celebrating 5 years on the Island this month.

Since opening in December 2011, the Isle of Wight Military Preparation College (MPCT), based at Ryde Academy on Playstreet Lane, has helped over 100 local young people to develop their fitness, life skills and self-confidence.

Through its unique ‘active learning’ curriculum, the Isle of Wight college helps these young people get ready for careers in the Armed Forces, civilian workplaces or further education. Since launching with just 3 male students, 51% of its learners have now progressed into either full-time employment or further education, while a further 41% have enlisted into the Armed Forces.

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The college is run by Brian Richardson MBE, lead instructor and Isle of Wight manager. An experienced physical training instructor with a storied Naval career, Mr Richardson has overseen the college’s success and growth since day one. He comments:

“As soon as we launched our service on the Island, we witnessed plenty of demand and interest for our course. Over the last year we have seen on average 25 students enrolled at our college at any given time. The size of our college allows us to take the time to really get to know our learners, understand their aspirations, and then motivate them to achieve their personal goals.

What makes us different from other schools and colleges is that we help students to achieve at a pace that suits them. We have a ‘roll on, roll off’ joining policy, meaning that young people can stay with us for as long – or as little – time as they need.”

One such student that has benefited from the Isle of Wight college’s unique approach is 16-year-old Michael Gower-Crane from Freshwater, who comments:

“I first joined the college when I was in Year 10. At the time, I wasn’t very respectful of people, and I went to MPCT to learn how to treat others. I was met with respect by the instructors and other students, and while at the college I really found myself and applied myself to my studies, exceeding my expectations to gain a mix of B, C and D grades at GCSEs.

“I am now focused on becoming a pilot, and am working hard at the college to get my fitness levels up so that I’m ready to begin training with the Royal Navy. For me, the learning style really helps – unlike at school, where you sit in rows at your desk and listen, here you engage, you all sit in a circle, and everyone helps each other out.”

With 2-hour daily physical training sessions, students at the Isle of Wight college spend much of their time outside. They are also encouraged to undertake fundraising and community work, and regularly participate in practical activity days to develop their leadership and team-building skills.

Mr Richardson adds:

“Young people need mentors. We act as guiding hands, providing a realistic appraisal of where they are now and what they can achieve. Our approach is about helping our learners to recognise where to focus their efforts, and encouraging them on to the right path.”

Since its foundation in 1999, the Military Preparation College network has supported the personal development of over 10,000 young people across England and Wales. The Ofsted Outstanding organisation welcomes applications from young people on an ongoing basis.

For more information or to apply to the Isle of Wight Military Preparation College, visit or call 08442 438438.

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