Finance-Related Sessions To Prepare Students For The Future

Level 2 and 3 Finance students participated in workshops by Debbie Harvey from My Bnk for two days in January. The workshops were very interactive and focussed on the key things young people need to know, not only for their careers but for day-to-day life. Time was spent exploring budgeting, income, borrowing, and the risks of making certain financial decisions. Compounding interest was also part of some of the discussions and how certain borrowing products, if not managed well, could negatively impact an individual’s credit score.

Debbie who delivered the workshops said: “It has been such a pleasure working with the learners at New College Swindon. I was impressed with their attitudes towards money and their awareness of the current financial climate. It’s great to see such value placed on financial education – an essential life skill.”

My Bnk works with young people aged 5-25 to build their money knowledge, skills, mindsets and habits. In one of their recent evaluations, My Bnk found that “money lessons” aren’t compulsory in UK primary schools, with only 52% of 7–16-year-olds recalling learning about money and pensions.

Lancia Marques, Level 3 Finance Student, said: “I found the session very useful, especially when I learned about credit scores, way to budget and the importance of budgeting.”

New College Swindon offers a variety of Finance courses, from Level 1 to 3. These courses teach students about decision-making, business and general life skills.

Ritangle Competition Success for A Level Maths Students

In December, a team of A Level Maths students from New College Swindon successfully completed the final stage of the national Ritangle Mathematics competition, led by Mathematics Education Innovation (MEI). The team spent 10 hard weeks answering questions and problem-solving. When registration for the Ritangle competition opened in October 2023, five teams of A Level Maths students from New College Swindon entered, going up against 1,200 other teams, with one team making it all the way to the final.

The New College Swindon team, captained by Tom Kowalik, submitted correct answers to all the questions in the competition, leading them to their success in the final. Their solution to the challenging final question, on Jamboree Pairings, earned them a Commendable Team title and a mention on the competition website.

A Level Maths Programme Lead, Cristina Pontet said: “This was a great opportunity for our A Level Maths students to showcase their passion for the subject, demonstrate excellent problem-solving skills as well as an ability to communicate effectively and to maintain focus under pressure.  We are thrilled with the news and very proud of their achievement!”

Link to Ritangle champions page:

Apply for A Level Maths

Launching! The Mindful Apprentice Podcast 

The Swindon and Wiltshire Institute of Technology (SAWIOT) in partnership with Nationwide have launched a series of podcasts aimed at supporting the mental health and wellbeing of students. 

The Mindful Apprentice Podcast was adopted by Darran Marks, Managing Director of SAWIOT, after securing funding from Nationwide’s Early Technical Careers team. It was decided that a series of short, informative, and supportive podcasts would be made accessible to all students. 

Darran Marks says, “The staff across the Institute of Technology are already a trusted source of support for our students. We wanted to ensure that there is that continued support in many forms.  A student that may not feel confident enough to speak up can turn to these podcasts as a source of support and guidance.” 

Stream episodes now

Currently available via Sound Cloud, the full series will be making its debut on Spotify, Audible, and Apple Music over the coming weeks after its launch at New College Swindon’s Apprenticeship Fair, Appren-T-fest on the 6th of February 2024. 

Darran continues, “We all see the increasing impact mental health is having on students and we want to demonstrate the support that is on offer whether that be us at SAWIOT, the fantastic support provided by mental health charities such as  MIND, or simply the kind, listening ear of a friend or colleague.  The Podcast series is designed to support this in an interesting and engaging way.” 

The podcast series will be shared with all partner Institute of Technology’s across the county to encourage awareness of the support available across the network. 

The Sound Doctor

Producer of the 20-episode series, Rosie Runciman from The Sound Doctor, highlights that the idea was developed after the success of the mental health in farming podcast, Keeping on Track by Adam Henson. The focus is on topics such as Preparing for your Apprenticeship, Managing the Workload, and Spotting the Signs of Poor Mental Health.  It also includes several case studies focussing on students talking about their own experiences.  

Rosie found it great to work with Darran and the team to create the podcast series.  She says “During the production we met many amazing people, who do amazing things. The apprentices themselves were inspirational. What a fantastic bunch of people!” 

“At SAWIOT the team are obviously deeply committed to getting the best possible results for their students, as were the organisations we spoke to for the series.”

– Rosie, The Sound Doctor

A variety of guest speakers, including key individuals from New College Swindon and SAWIOT were involved ensuring the episodes were engaging and informative. The series was designed with Apprenticeship students in mind, but it really is a valuable tool for all students and employers alike.  The theme is the same; supporting each other’s mental health and wellbeing is vital for us all. 

Stream all episodes on Sound Cloud here

Cookery Students Get A Taste Of The Working World

Wadworth Brewery’s food development team recently visited Level 1 and Level 2 Professional Cookery Students. The enthusiastic students cooked Beef and Dumpling Pie with Suet Pastry and Warm Pistachio Cake, Poached Cherries, Mascarpone and Vanilla Mousse on Wadworth pub menus. They learnt skills in making suet pastry and cooking in large quantities producing 30 Beef Pies! In addition, they also learned how to present deserts.

Wadworth’s Andrew Scott said: “It was a great day spent with the catering students of North Star campus cooking a couple of our official Wadworth Brewery recipes with them and talking about all things Hospitality.  Great to see the young chefs training and the enthusiasm for their future careers”

Partnerships with employers such as Wadworth allows students to learn from the experts and gain a taste of what it would be like working in the “real world”. This works both ways, as the employers we work with leave feeling inspired by new talent.

Sian Vockins Hospitality Lecturer at the college said: “Learning goes beyond the classroom at New College Swindon, meaning our students practice their skills at many of our press events, awards ceremonies and at lunchtimes our students run the restaurant as their own, providing delicious lunches for the public”.

Level 1 Professional Cookery student, Taylor Squire said: “I enjoyed it very much it was a break from working the restaurant as it was more played back and different it was nice to have been taught differently and to make something a little bit out of my comfort zone. I have attempted to make something similar at home since.”

Level 2 Professional Cookery student, George Scott said: “I learned a lot about career paths in the industry and more about the brewery. I also learned new cooking techniques and improved my skills further.”

If you’re an employer who could offer valuable skills to our students, we welcome you! Please contact

Cookery courses

Inspirational journey: From apprentice to business owner

We love to celebrate the success of our inspirational apprentices. We caught up with Jed Stacey at JTS Auto, to discuss his journey from apprentice to business owner.

Jed completed his Level 2 and Level 3 Service & Maintenance Technician qualifications with us, and has since gone on to own his own business. He now employs his own apprentice, Jayson, who started his Level 3 Service & Maintenance Technician apprenticeship in September 2022.

Jed says, “After completing work experience at Mini BMW, I began working weekends at Bassett Garage. I really enjoyed it there so I asked if they’d take me on as an apprentice. They agreed and that’s where my career began.

“I liked the idea of an apprenticeship over an academic course because I could earn money whilst studying.

The benefit of this type of study/training is gaining experience much quicker with real-world experience.

After completing my apprenticeship, I had no intention of starting my own business. I continued working full-time at Bassett Garage as a technician and did some private work at weekends. This started to take off more than I had imagined. I then invested in a small trailer to help transport cars to do up and sell on for profit. Eventually I needed to lease a small unit and the business continued to grow!

I now employ four members of staff and have upgraded to a bigger unit on a local industrial estate in Royal Wootton Bassett.

My apprenticeship gave me the confidence and skills to start my own business. I’d encourage anyone considering a career in this industry to do an apprenticeship. I would never have imagined I would be where I am today when I first began that weekend job.”

To become and apprentice, or to employ your own apprentice, contact us here.

NCS Celebrates Teaching Excellence Framework Silver Rating

New College Swindon University Centre is delighted to announce that we have received an overall provider rating of Silver in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).

TEF is a national scheme, awarded by the Office for Students (OfS), that aims to encourage improvement and excellence in areas students care most about. These are teaching, learning, and positive outcomes from their studies. TEF, as part of the OfS approach to regulation, aims to incentivise providers to pursue and deliver excellence above the minimum quality requirements expected for all provision in the sector.

Each provider taking part in TEF is assessed against three levels, Bronze, Silver and Gold, in two aspect ratings, for ‘Student Experience’ and ‘Student Outcomes’ as well as being given an ‘Overall Provider Rating’. Gaining Silver in both aspect ratings means that the student experience and student outcomes are both typically very high quality.

Lynne Plested Interim Deputy Principal Curriculum, Quality and Higher Education, says “This a huge strategic achievement for the College. In particular our University Centre and Swindon and Wiltshire Institute of Technology (SAWIOT) provisions, the hardworking staff dedicate themselves to supporting the students to be successful. Gaining Silver in the TEF framework confirms that the local community and the surrounding Wiltshire area have access to a good range of high quality and affordable university-level education.”

New College Swindon recently appointed Leah Palmer as the new Principal and CEO and is supported by an Executive Team with a renewed determination to improve standards at the College and create an innovative learning experience for all students.

Higher Education Manager Nicola Pedley, who worked closely with students and staff to prepare the submission to the Office for Students TEF panel, comments, “Myself and the Higher Education team at the College are extremely pleased to have been awarded TEF Silver. We are really proud of our University Centre provision and the opportunities we can provide to our students. This rating is a reward for all the hard work of our University Centre staff and reflects the very high-quality student experience and student outcomes the college provides”.

Empowering Futures: Level 3 Business Administration Apprentice at Swindon Borough Council

Level 3 Business Administration apprenticeships provide individuals with a comprehensive understanding of business administration, combining practical work experience with formal education. We caught up with apprentice, Maria, who is currently employed with Swindon Borough Council to discuss what she enjoys about her course and her hopes for the future.

Maria said, “I currently work at Swindon Borough Council in the voids and letting department. My role includes preparing homes ready to let, invoicing and work orders. I deal with enquiries from tenants and multiple teams to update contractors, both internally and externally.

“I chose to complete an apprenticeship with New College Swindon as they provide many job opportunities and it’s good experience to build on my learning”

I was previously a student here and have seen the improvements to the facilities and food services. The staff and students are always positive and the College actively promotes safeguarding. My apprenticeship prepares me for dealing with people in different types of real-life situations, including the difficult ones. Getting real work experience while learning helps grow my confidence when dealing with difficult situations. My tutor is always supportive and communicates well. If I ever have any questions or queries they know the right people to help with specific topics.

When I’ve completed my apprenticeship, I hope to progress onto a Level 4 Business Administration course. In the future, I hope to secure a Business Analyst role that will lead to a CEO position.”

For more information about our business qualification, contact us here.

New Principal and CEO of New College Swindon

We are pleased to announce Leah Palmer as the new Principal and CEO of New College Swindon (NCS).

2024 brings a huge amount of change to New College Swindon. After a busy Autumn term, we have kicked off a raft of new initiatives, implemented by the new senior leadership team. As Principal and CEO Leah will ensure our college has a clear direction to provide aspirational excellence, an inclusive culture, an ambitious curriculum offer and a ‘learner first’ ethos. She is committed to achieving an offer for students that will provide a truly transformative learning experience.

With Leah now permanently at the helm, she is excited to move the college forward commenting, “At NCS our focus is on careers not courses and we will create an ambitious approach to developing all our learners with the knowledge and behaviours and wider employability skills required for successful future careers. We will do this through the excellent infrastructure of support offered through our highly qualified and dedicated staff, impressive facilities, and by working with local employers and other stakeholders on innovative initiatives such as our Careers Extra programme to help meet the needs of our local community”.

Having held senior leadership roles at Ofsted Outstanding rated colleges, Leah brings a wealth of experience to the role. Her experience and passion for further education align with the college’s commitment to delivering better lives through learning. Of her appointment, Leah says, “I’m absolutely delighted to be leading New College Swindon on our journey to excellence as the new Principal and CEO. I have worked in further education for 35 years and fully understand the powerful impact education has on the lives of those who want to develop and invest in their future. I, myself am a product of further education (FE) so I am a testament to the impact that FE and its dedicated staff has on future careers”.

The appointment takes place with immediate effect, with Leah already in position as Interim Principal and CEO since predecessor Carole Kitching announced her retirement in August 2023.

Matt Butcher, Chief Commercial Strategy Officer says, “Leah has a deep understanding of the further education sector and how we as a college need to transform to become one of the leading education providers in the South West. We feel Leah Palmers student centred approach echoes that of the new Exec team. We are excited to move forward as Swindon’s one college”.

Martin Wyn Griffith, Chair of the Board of Governors was delighted to announce Leah’s position saying, “Leah has already started to make the changes needed to improve our students’ experience and enhance the quality of what we deliver to them. The Board is keen to make sure that we improve rapidly and sustainably ensuring what we provide in terms of education and learning is of the highest standard”.

Empowering Futures: Navigating the T Level Health Care Journey

We caught up with Reuben Miles who is currently in his second year of studying T Level Health Care.

“I am currently in my second year of my T Level Health Care course where I’m studying midwifery as my occupational speciality. With the goal to apply to a Level 3 posting within the maternity  service, this pathway involves studying women and children’s health.

This course is specifically designed so that students understand the NHS, as well as the roles of health care professionals who operate within it. Lecturers from a variety of health and social care backgrounds provide a variety of practice based knowledge and first hand accounts of delivering first-class care and support to patients in need. 

I first learnt about T Levels when I attended a Science and Innovation trade show in Witchelstow, where New College Swindon were present. They introduced me to the course, explained the details of the curriculum and the next steps once qualifying with my three A Levels in health care.

“It felt like no brainer! This course offered me the best route whether applying to university or going straight into the workplace.”

When I complete this qualification, I’ll have achieved three A Levels in health care and I’ll be able to enter the workplace. I hope to join the ambulance service as an emergency care assistant. This unique opportunity will allow me to progress within my career without the burden of financial implications, or relocating to another part of the country. 

This course provides students with a unique perspective on the NHS. It’s key that each and every student puts in 100% to their education and placement that will allow them to embody the NHS’ values and ensure that they graduate with the skill set to go on and apply for their future ambitions.”

If you’re interested in applying for a T Level qualification, please contact us here.

Class of 2023 honoured at New College Swindon University Centre graduation ceremony

It was a day of celebrations, as New College Swindon hosted their annual graduation ceremonies for over 130 University Centre and Swindon and Wiltshire Institute of Technology (IoT) students at the Queens Drive Campus on Saturday 11th November 2023.

The class of 2023 and their families were delighted to have the opportunity to attend one of three ceremonies in person and have their fantastic achievements recognised. Students graduated from various degrees, foundation degrees, and HND programmes offered by the College and partner universities such as the University of Gloucestershire and Oxford Brookes University. Subjects included Education, Health and Social Care, Graphic Design, Engineering, Business, Computing, Performing Arts and Public Services. Adding to the excitement, this was the first year a cohort of IoT students has graduated since its grand opening in 2021.

Darran Marks, Managing Director of Swindon and Wiltshire Institute of Technology said: “Quite simply, Congratulations! To be the first is an accomplishment in itself, coupled with the extreme satisfaction of your achievement; Your determination, commitment and hunger for learning has wowed us to celebrate you as our first-ever, IOT graduates.”

Students who have shown great resilience, commitment and perseverance in striving to reach their goals were joined by guest speakers, Professor Donald Rigby, Associate Dean, Strategy and Development, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Oxford Brookes University, and Will Stone, Swindon Borough Councillor. Holly Farrow-Moss graduated with a BSc Health and Social Care degree and is currently employed as a SEN Teaching Assistant. She now plans to train further as an educational psychologist. She said, “The tutors were fantastic and it’s been a fantastic college for further education opportunities.”

Alex Gunter graduated with a Higher National Diploma in Computing. While still living at home, Alex has progressed onto the degree course. Hoping to stay in the field of computing, Alex said, “I could study higher education while still living at home, which has enabled me to progress onto the degree course. The college has been very supportive.”

Leah Palmer, Interim Principal and CEO of New College Swindon said: “New College Swindon University Centre has established itself as an outstanding provider of higher education. Many of our graduands have studied their higher education programme alongside the challenges of family and work commitments, which must be commended. Their achievements are due to hard work, commitment and dedication of our graduands and staff.”

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Queens Drive Campus
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