New College Swindon Student Wins Guild of Bricklayers Regional Heat

New College Swindon played host to the Guild of Bricklayers for their annual competition in which Level 3 student, Ethan Lee, won the senior category.  Level 2 Student Austin Baily-Tobin also took part and said of the competition, “Although it was challenging and quite stressful working under pressure, I enjoyed the competition. It was a great opportunity to showcase the skills I have learned so far whilst studying at the college.” 

The competition celebrates the rich heritage of bricklaying and sets an important stage for emerging talents to display their skills and vie for the coveted title of UK’s top junior bricklayer. 

When asked about his win, Ethan said, “This is the first competition I have been part of which was exciting. It was a chance for me to showcase the skills I have learned, and it was good experience. I’m very pleased with myself for winning and making it to the National Final in London.” 

Bill Bowman, President of the Guild of Bricklayers said, “competitions are a long-standing tradition within the Guild of Bricklayers, dating back over 40 years. The craft, skills, and knowledge are clearly demonstrated at these events.”  He continues, “Our thanks go to all the college staff involved for all their effort in making this competition possible.  The Guild of Bricklayers greatly appreciate the contribution of the college for their generous hospitality.” 

The winners of the regional competitions will go on to the grand final taking place on the 20th of June at Herts Regional College Broxbourne Campus. 

Empowering Women Through Student-Led Sports Sessions: Breaking Barriers and Building Confidence

Recently two Sports students at New College Swindon were selected to become This Girl Can Ambassadors as part of a programme created by the Association of Colleges. The purpose of the programme is to promote, inspire and support other females within their colleges to participate in sport and physical activity’ (AOC Sport, 2024)

The award has been designed to help young people to take part in sport/physical activity that they may not have the confidence or the opportunity to do. The students planned and ran sessions in volleyball, boxing, yoga and Netball, the sessions were available for any female student at the college to sign up to.

This Girl Can Ambassadors and students Jade and Dextra said “We have provided a variety of different activities based on feedback from students around the college. As sports students we understand the importance of keeping fit, not just for your physical wellbeing but also your mental health. We hope that this has had a positive impact on the students that took part views on exercise”

Sports Lecture, Lisa Benson said “It is a delight to see students taking part in new activities they may have not tired before. This is even more rewarding when the students taking part are those that do not regularly take part in physical activity. Jade and Dextra have taken their roles very seriously, they showed confidence when talking to different groups and took charge of the event ensuring everyone was involved and enjoying themselves.”

Celebrating Diversity: Photography Exhibition Showcases the Talent of New College Swindon Students

New College Swindon is proud to announce the opening of “Diversity,” an engaging photography exhibition featuring the work of 10 talented students from the Creative Practice Photography BTEC Level 3 course.  

The exhibition, located at the heart of the Swindon Designer Outlet, adjacent to Clarks, will run from May 6th to May 12th, 2024. It will provide a captivating glimpse into the diverse perspectives and creative prowess of emerging photographers. 

“Diversity” invites visitors to explore an array of captivating images that reflect the rich tapestry of human experience. From mesmerizing landscapes to thought-provoking portraits, each photograph offers a unique insight into the multifaceted nature of our world. 

“We are thrilled to showcase the remarkable talent of our students through this exhibition. Every year the work keeps getting better and better” said Clare Ashley, Photography BTEC Level 3 Program Lead at New College Swindon. She continues “Through their lens, they capture the essence of diversity in all its forms, inviting viewers to embrace the beauty of our differences.” 

The exhibition serves as a testament to the dedication and creativity of the next generation of photographers. Visitors are encouraged to immerse themselves in the artwork, engage with the students, and celebrate the power of visual storytelling. 

For more information about the “Diversity” exhibition or the Creative Practice BTEC Level 3 course at New College Swindon, please contact Clare Ashley at

From Maternity Assistant Practitioner to Successful T Level Health Programme Lead

New College Swindon T Level Health Programme Lead, Karen Beecroft began her career in health at Horton Maternity Unit in Banbury as a Maternity Support Worker, before moving to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford as a Practice Education Maternity Assistant Practitioner. After 20 years in the maternity field, Karen joined the T Level journey at New College Swindon.

In 2019, New College Swindon became one of the first providers of T Levels, which are equivalent to 3 A Levels with a focus on practical study and work placements. T Levels present students with new routes into employment, allowing them to learn practical skills inside and outside of college. Karen says “Students might think they want to be a nurse and think they understand what it involves, but the reality is different. The practical side of T Levels means students get to see what it’s like and make their decisions early.” Some of the students at New College Swindon finish their course to train as a midwife, paramedics, paediatric nurses, psychologists and more.

To stay up-to-date with an ever-evolving industry, Karen keeps in touch with her local hospital and occasionally does a few shifts. This ensures that she’s teaching the students the right things. In addition, Karen has attended various training courses, for example, Infection and Control. New College Swindon offers courses like this to local care homes to fill skill gaps.

In response to what Karen thinks of T Levels, she said “I wish T Levels had been around when I was at school because I would’ve loved it and jumped at the chance to study this practically and realistically. T Levels provide invaluable skills in a safe environment whilst you’re still young, giving students a solid foundation before heading to university or working within the health care sector.”

T Levels at New College Swindon

Local Employer Nominated for High Sheriff Awards in Recognition of Exemplary Service to the Wiltshire Community 

Michael Steel, owner of Yuzu, one of New College Swindon’s (NCS) subcontracted training providers, has been nominated for a High Sheriff Award for his exceptional efforts in enhancing the lives of residents. 

James Terry, Head of Partnerships and Bids at NCS expressed his enthusiasm for this new partnership with New College Swindon, stating. “We are delighted for Michael and the team at Yuzu on the High Sheriff award. We are working extremely hard to ensure our subcontracting activity has a positive impact locally in Swindon and surrounding areas. We are really looking forward to continuing our partnership with Yuzu and all the positive impacts we can achieve together in the future” 

Yuzu works with New College Swindon to offer support for funded short courses. These courses provide upskilling opportunities, designed to raise awareness and confidence in various subject areas. By offering individuals the chance to enhance their skills and knowledge, these courses open doors to new employment opportunities and career paths. At the end of the courses, participants will receive a Level 2 certificate, providing them with a recognised qualification to support their career advancement. 

In partnership with local employers, Yuzu Training has been delivering apprenticeships as opportunities to upskill the people of Wiltshire, enabling them to reach their full potential. Notably, they have collaborated with the Scoffs Group, the UK’s largest Costa Coffee franchise which has stores in Wiltshire, creating pathways from entry-level (Level 2) apprenticeships in Hospitality up to higher-level Management apprenticeships (Level 5), equivalent to a foundation degree or a Higher National Diploma (HND). 

Michael expressed his enthusiasm about the future initiatives, “At Yuzu Training, we believe in the transformative power of education and the importance of equipping individuals with the skills they need to thrive in today’s digital age. Our partnership with New Swindon College and the Scoffs Group represents a shared commitment to building a brighter future for Wiltshire by empowering individuals to succeed in the rapidly evolving landscape today’s employees must navigate. 

We are deeply passionate about nurturing talent and fostering skill development in Wiltshire. That’s why we are excited to announce our collaboration with the college, a partnership aimed at addressing skills gaps and creating more opportunities for individuals throughout the region.” 

Staff and Students in the Hair & Beauty Department Celebrate ‘Excellence’ Nominations

Janine Webb, Associate lecturer at New College Swindon (NCS) has been nominated by the hairdressing department for the VTCT Excellence Award for Educator of the Year. Janine said “Having worked in the hair industry for 30 years, and as an educator at the college for 22 years, I am passionate about training and inspiring people to fulfil their potential. My biggest achievement is seeing many of my students running successful businesses and I love to follow their ongoing accomplishments. Being nominated for this award is an honour, as we have so many great educators. I am dedicated to my students and will continue to help them strive to be the best.”

VTCT is the UK’s market-leading specialist vocational and technical Awarding Organisation and End-Point Assessment Organisation for the personal services and well-being sector. The VTCT Awards were set up to celebrate excellence across the VTCT industries and are designed to inspire students and partners to unlock their potential and flourish in rewarding careers.

Curriculum Manager for Lifestyle, Eleanor Exley said “Janine is always positive and always goes above and beyond for her students, which is reflected in their excellent results. The department is very proud that she has been selected by VTCT for this award.”

Gemma Golding, hairdressing lecturer at NCS nominated Alicia in the Student of the Year category. Alicia works outside of her college hours to give her an advantage in competitions, such as the Colouring Competition for Concept Magazine, and World Skills; an international charity that organises world and national championships for vocational skills. Entering the competition helps improve professional and personal skills such as; time management, communication and problem solving. In the future, Alicia hopes to go to Japan to do hairdressing.

Gemma Goulding said “Alicia is consistent and has pushed herself outside of her boundaries. Doing a work placement has been a challenge for her, especially some of the hair colourings she has completed. She deserves the nomination and we are very proud of her”

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Feast for the Senses: Students Compete in Chef of the Year Competition Sponsored by the North Swindon and Thamesdown Rotary Club

Last week a group of Level 2 and 3 Professional Cookery students at New College Swindon took part in a competition sponsored by the North Swindon and Thamesdown Rotary Club. They prepared, cooked and presented 3-course meals of their choosing to a panel of four judges including Development Chef for Arthur David Food, Stephen Shore as well as president of North Swindon and Thamesdown Rotary club, Ann Debureaux-Dias and members Chris Ockwell and Kathy Hobson. Judges had their work cut out tasting and scoring over 40 different dishes!

Students were tasked with creating a vegetarian starter, a chicken main course and a sweet pastry tart for dessert. Students Created a variety of dishes, including a crispy saffron risotto arancini, chicken stuffed with spinach with asparagus, romesco, fondant carrot and chicken jus and a deconstructed lemon meringue pie.

We caught up with Hospitality Lecturer Sian Vockins after the event who said, “The competition was a great success. All of the students were really keen and excited to take part and showcase their skills.” She continues “They all worked really hard developing their dishes to meet the competition brief and the standard of food was incredible.”

Congratulations to everyone who took part! The level of skill and precision all of the students possess made it very difficult to judge this year’s competition and crown a winner. Congratulations to Ganesh and Liam who created the winning menu.

The Rotary Club of Swindon North and Thamesdown member, Kathy Hobson said, “The Rotary Club of Swindon North and Thamesdown look forward to the Student Chef competition every year. The judges are always impressed with the high standard of the food presented. It’s good to know that the food industry in Swindon has a great future.”

Thought about a future in catering or becoming a chef? Your future starts here at New College Swindon!

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New College Swindon University Centre Early Years Degree-Level Students Embark on Overseas Trip

A group of Early Years Foundation Degree students from New College Swindon University Centre and their Programme Lead, Dawn Evans, recently embarked on a study visit to Bologna, Italy. Organised by partner university, Oxford Brookes, both Oxford Brookes tutors and peers joined New College Swindon students.

The party travelled to Reggio Romanga to visit a Montessori preschool, A Montessori Primary School, and the Reggio Loris Malaguzzi International Centre. Montessori, originally developed in Italy, is an independent learning method for children who are encouraged to think independently, be tactile and engage in sensory adventures.

During the visit, students explored the Ateliers Art Studios, learned of more resources and learning environments and received a lecture and Q&A session with Pedagogistas (teaching professionals) from the Reggio Emilia pre-schools.

Early Years Foundation Degree Second Year Student, Jackie Freegard said “I enjoyed exploring both pre-school approaches and seeing one of them in action within a setting as well as meeting other students from different campuses and sharing our experiences of the course. The Loris Malaguzzi Museum was so inspiring and I was fascinated by the seminar.” She added, “We even got to explore the local town in the evenings as a group tasting Italian cuisine.”

Early Years Foundation Degree Programme Lead, Dawn Evans said “The trip was a wonderful experience for students and tutors alike. Aside from visiting the beautiful towns of Northern Italy, we had the experience of seeing the Montessori Method in practice, spending time with children and staff at the pre-school and primary.” Reflecting on the trip Dawn continues, “We were all inspired from visiting the Loris Malaguzzi Centre and seeing why it is an inspiration for provoking children’s curiosity and creativity. We are thankful to Louise Stafford and Jane Alexander at Oxford Brookes for organising the trip for ACP college students.”

New College Swindon University Centre students have access to several trips that enhance their learning. Not only do these trips enhance student knowledge, but also encourage independence and offer the opportunity to explore different cultures.

Browse Early Years Degree-Level Courses

New College Swindon Media Student Documentaries Chosen Out Of 300+ Applicants

Three New College Swindon (NCS) Media Students have gained a place at the prestigious BFI Academy in London’s intensive course in documentary filmmaking. Of the hundreds that apply across the UK, only 40 get a place on the course. The BFI Academy in London’s intensive course in documentary filmmaking, offers the chance to collaborate with other like-minded young filmmakers to produce a documentary, use specialist equipment, get an understanding of career routes and learn tricks from industry professionals.

To get a place on the course, students completed an application form detailing their experience, why they want to get involved and pitch their idea for the documentary. The successful NCS Media students Ryan Walters, Chris Salata and Zach Coates found the application fairly easy, considering they feel so passionately about the course. Whilst making their documentaries, the students attended Zoom master classes and met lots of different characters to help inspire their choices.

Ryan Walters focused his documentary on the over-population of honeybees in London. This was inspired by one of his friends who found a hive on their building.

Chris Salata, who wrote the documentary about kaffiyeh said “My documentary is very on-topic. I want to spread awareness and clear up any stigma. I hope that this gets used in the future to help educate in schools.”

Zach Coates said “Love and religion shouldn’t conflict. My documentary is about a gay vicar in London who is in a civil partnership.” When asked about their documentaries, the students said it was difficult to find the right people to be involved, however, every “failure” led them to something good. For example, meeting a taxi driver who imparted some fantastic knowledge for one of the documentaries. Zach is hoping to go to the Boom Satsuma University in Bristol to study Film Making & Production.

Media courses

Back to School! Mature A Level Art Student Joins 16-18 Year Olds At New College Swindon To Qualify Her Hobby

Returning to education as an adult can be daunting. Employment, new hobbies, and the desire to grow their circle can be motivators for mature students to take the plunge to do an A Level or equivalent. You could argue that those who get back into education after a break are more dedicated to their studies as they have a clear focus on their outcomes.

Family and work commitments can be a barrier to those who want to fill gaps in education, however, the online and flexible learning options at New College Swindon combat this. Sioux Baker-Hughes, who studies A Level Art alongside 16-18-year-olds during the day said “I am an adult learner, but because of my family commitments, evening courses weren’t an option for me.” She continues “I was a little nervous to come back, but I’ve had a great experience and have found the teachers to be so encouraging and accommodating.”

New College Swindon offers a wide variety of courses for adults, from cake decorating to courses for carers at varying levels. You could study with New College Swindon from the age of 16, right to degree level and pursue a hobby in the evening. Matthew Butcher, Vice Principal of Commercial, Skills and Partnerships says “Studying gives you a sense of purpose and something to work toward. Whether you’re keen to advance in your career or have a desire for personal growth, many new life skills can be uncovered from the variety of courses we offer at New College Swindon.”

Since the pandemic, rates of involvement in neighbourhood and local community support networks have decreased. Many of our students find a sense of belonging at the New College Swindon adult courses. Kirsty Barron, who is a regular at New College Swindon’s Pottery classes says “It gets me out of the house for an evening a week and I really enjoy the interaction with new people. We all have a common interest and are willing to help each other, be creative and have fun. I have always had an interest in ceramics, so I’m thankful I can now explore it.” Kirsty continues “The lecturer pushes me to experiment and I now have some lovely pieces I have made.”

With so many funding and study options available, it’s never been easier to start your journey to success at New College Swindon.

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