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NewVIc Principal Eddie Playfair receives honorary doctorate

Mr Playfair praises UEL for its role in the east London community

The University of East London (UEL) has honoured one of east London’s leading educators with an Honorary Doctorate of Education.

Eddie Playfair, Principal of Newham Sixth Form College, also known as NewVIc, received the degree on Wednesday at a graduation ceremony for UEL’s Cass School of Education and Communities at indigo at The O2. 

He said he was “deeply honoured” to accept the doctorate.

Mr Playfair said, “It’s coming from a great east London institution. This is a university that’s deeply rooted in its community. It reflects and celebrates that community while also having a national and global reach.

“It’s a university which aims to put its human, intellectual and cultural resources at the service of the people of our wonderful, diverse and cosmopolitan city, and as a result it helps them to achieve fantastic things.”

Mr Playfair made note of the extensive partnerships and connections between UEL and NewVIc, which range from mentoring and research projects to sports and leadership. The two institutions are also part of the new East London Skills and Employment Federation, which will work with local schools, colleges, employers and local authorities to address aspiration and employment challenges in east London. 

Mr Playfair was born in London. After earning his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and immunology at Chelsea College, now part of King’s College London, he did a PGCE and took a job teaching science at a secondary school in Walthamstow. 

In 1996, he moved into further education when he became Head of Science at Tower Hamlets College. He eventually took on the directorship of the sixth form college.

In 2002, Mr Playfair moved to Leicester to become Principal of Regent Sixth Form College. He moved back to London six years later to take over NewVIc. 

As Principal of NewVIc, Mr Playfair said he hopes that he’s helped create a culture of ambition, achievement and inclusivity at the college which, with 2,500 students, is one the largest sixth form colleges in the country.

In 2017, 72 NewVic students progressed to UEL, enrolling on a wide range of programmes across the university.

Mr Playfair also has an interest in politics. He was an elected councillor in Waltham Forest from 1986-1990. He currently maintains a popular blog where he writes about education, politics and culture, and he is an active commentator on social media. 

He is also a former chair of the Sixth Form Colleges’ Association which represents England’s Sixth Form Colleges. 

He told the graduating students, “On occasions like this it’s a moment to be proud. So be proud of what you have achieved. Be proud of your culture, your family, your language, your beliefs, your educational achievements, your wider achievements. 

“Be proud of everything you’ve done, everything you’ve achieved so far. But don’t stop there. Become what you’re capable of becoming, which is so much more.”