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!

Find a Catering or Hospitality course

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.

Find a course for you

New College Swindon Wins Significant Funding to Advance Degree-Level Apprenticeships

New College Swindon (NCS) has been awarded a slice of a £40 million grant designed to expand their degree-level apprenticeship provision, in partnership with the Swindon and Wiltshire Institute of Technology.

The Office for Students (OfS) announced the result of the second wave of funding and of 66 bids submitted, New College Swindon was one of only 13 successful colleges. The funding will be used to offer Level 6 apprenticeships in Digital & Technology Solutions and Manufacturing Engineering.

Matt Butcher, Vice Principal at New College Swindon says, “In the interest of reducing the skills gap across Swindon, an important strategic goal is to ensure apprenticeships are more accessible to the local community.”  Matt continues, “We have previously secured funding from the Local Skills Improvement Fund (LSIF) to support Level 3 apprenticeships and we can now expand our range of Level 6 progression routes even further.”

Not only will the funding ensure that apprentices have a clear understanding of the progression routes available to them, NCS will also be working closely with existing and new employer partners to recruit new talent, with the right skills into the workforce.  Many students choose to study at New College Swindon due to family commitments or simply because it is less expensive to study at home rather than away and offering clear progression routes to Level 6 ensures retention of students whilst addressing the skills gap and driving economic growth in the local community.

New College Swindon Response to Employment Tribunal

We are pleased to confirm that the complaints of unfair dismissal and discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief have been dismissed. 

New College Swindon has a duty of care to all its students, that we take very seriously. It is our responsibility to provide a safe and respectful learning environment for everyone, free from harassment or judgement. 

This is a sensitive issue, and individuals are entitled to their personal beliefs. However, in any situation where a member of staff repeatedly fails to exercise their duty of care, the College must take measures to safeguard all students, as it did in this case. 

A thorough investigation resulted in Mr Lister being dismissed for actions that were deemed discriminatory, causing significant upset and potential harm to a student, amounting to gross misconduct, and not simply for holding gender critical beliefs.  

We work closely with the parents of our 16–18-year-olds and a mother’s complaint regarding Mr Lister’s treatment of her child and her support for her child’s situation, refutes any claims that the College was acting without the knowledge or support of the parents. 

We are grateful for the care and professionalism our staff have shown throughout this process. In contrast, the behaviour demonstrated by Mr Lister in this case is not representative of the inclusive culture we work hard to foster at New College Swindon.

View the Press Summary from the Courts and tribunals Judiciary here.

Soaring Success! 100% Pass Rate for Level 2 Animal Management Students

New College Swindon, particularly the Animal Management lecturers, are extremely proud of their level 2 students for passing their biology exam. The exam, taken in March, contributes to their final grades for their Level 3 course. 67% achieved a Merit, 22% achieved a Pass and 6% achieved a Distinction.
Animal Management Lecturer, Corinne Turner-Hill said “I am thrilled with the exam results. The 100% pass rate shows the hard work and revision that the students put in. Those who achieved a Merit or above will be able to progress onto the Level 3 T level in Animal Management, and this will help them succeed in progressing onto an Animal Industry job.”

Level 2 Animal Management student, Mckenzie said “I am very proud of our class. It’s a big accomplishment for us all to pass. Fingers crossed for the rest of our results.”

Students who complete the Level 3 Animal Management course will be able to gain employment in areas such as kennels, catteries, veterinary surgeries, wildlife centres, and become dog trainers.

The Animal Management Centre at New College Swindon will soon be welcoming new species, such as rainbow lorikeets, prairie dogs and raccoons. These new friends will open up even more employment opportunities for our students as they will be able to practice new training techniques, enrichment, feeding and enclosure maintenance. Keep an eye out for exciting updates this year! At present, New College Swindon houses sheep, reptiles and several small mammals such as tenrecs, raccoons and insects.

If you love the idea of working with animals your future starts here at New College Swindon!

Apply for an Animal Management course

The Next Wave of The Mindful Apprentice Podcast: A Deep Dive into Mental Health Awareness

Are you feeling out of touch with your mental well-being? Struggling to pinpoint why you’re feeling the way you do? The latest episodes of The Mindful Apprentice podcast might just be the guiding light you’ve been searching for. We deep dive into recognising the signs of poor mental health, understanding the importance of seeking help, and exploring the support systems available to individuals.

Episode 9: Spotting the Signs of Poor Mental Health

It’s easy to overlook the subtle signs of deteriorating mental health until they accumulate into something overwhelming. Episode 9 sheds light on these often-ignored warning signs. Struggling to get out of bed? losing interest in activities that once brought joy? Withdrawing from social interactions? Experiencing physical symptoms like sickness, nausea, or headaches? These are all red flags. Through candid discussions our key contributors share their personal battles and aim to destigmatise acknowledging these signs within ourselves.

Episode 10: It’s OK to Ask for Help

“You have to stop and speak to somebody and get some help.”

Sam Oatey, Oatey Media

One of the most critical messages we convey is the absolute necessity of asking for help when you’re struggling. Sam Oatey of Oatey Media, explains how reaching out for support is not a sign of weakness but a step toward healing. It’s a powerful reminder that everyone deserves help and that seeking it out is the first step on the path to recovery.

Episode 11: What Help is Available? (Your Employer and Training Provider)

“Most businesses have support lines or confidential helplines. Talk to other apprentices who have been in your shoes. You’ve also got your buddies and mentors to reach out to too. “

Mark Bates, Nationwide Building Society

Navigating the maze of available support can be daunting. Episode 11 focuses on the resources that apprentices can access through their employers and training providers. Mark Bates from Nationwide Building Society emphasises the value of utilising support lines, confidential helplines, and the advice of peers who’ve faced similar challenges. The episode highlights the critical role of mentors and buddies in providing guidance and understanding, painting a picture of a supportive community ready to help.

Episode 12: What Help is Available? (Other Sources)

Expanding the conversation on available support, Episode 12 explores options beyond the workplace. Jessa Lee, a former apprentice and quantity surveyor at Stace, draws an enlightening comparison between therapy and gym workouts. Just as we maintain our physical fitness through regular exercise, our mental health requires its own form of maintenance, and therapy can be a pivotal part of that regimen. This episode demystifies therapy and encourages listeners to consider it a viable and beneficial tool in managing mental health.

Why Listen to “The Mindful Apprentice”?

This is more than just a podcast; it’s a community that understands the unique challenges faced by apprentices and young professionals navigating the complexities of both their careers and personal lives. Episodes 9 to 12 serve as a comprehensive guide to recognising, addressing, and seeking help for mental health issues. By bringing these conversations to the forefront, the podcast plays a crucial role in breaking down the barriers of stigma and encouraging a more supportive and understanding society.

Whether you’re an apprentice feeling overwhelmed by your journey, a friend or family member looking to offer support, or simply someone interested in learning more about mental health, these episodes offer valuable insights and actionable advice. Tune in, and let’s take a step toward a healthier, more mindful future together.

Stream all episodes here.


In partnership with:

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Public Services Degree-Level students take their studies to the next level at their dream universities

All six Public Service HND students at New College Swindon University Centre who applied to continue to obtain their full degree have been successful! Students cover important modules such as; mental health and wellbeing, equality, diversity and fair treatment, crime, justice, rehabilitation, law and the legal system. The diversity of this subject, taught by specialist lecturers allows students to pursue careers in the police, fire services, criminal justice system and armed forces.

Most students who have applied to the top-up course are considering Criminal Justice studies, with another planning a career in the fire service. One student, who is going to complete the degree online with the University of Gloucestershire, said “I joined the police at the same time that I started the degree-level course at New College Swindon University Centre as my job and work complement each other. It was a complete career change for me. Getting back into education can be intimidating, but after one phone call with New College Swindon University Centre I immediately felt welcomed.”

Russ Williams, Public Services lecturer says “I am incredibly proud of this year’s cohort and those who have chosen to continue to do a full degree at their preferred universities. All my students are working alongside their studies at New College Swindon University Centre, allowing them to continue earning, maintain local connections and relationships, and stay home to raise their families.” Russ continues, “Some of my students have been with me from the very start of their college life. This means they’re very comfortable with asking for support and advice. Those who decide to move away for university get to sit in a large lecturer hall, at best, if they’re not studying online and don’t get a personable experience.”

Students who stay at New College Swindon University Centre have the benefit of saving money on their fees, accommodation, and travel. One of the key benefits of the centre is that parents can balance enjoying family life and working as they are only required to attend college twice a week.

Invest in your future

Apply for the Public Services HND

Industry Stardom for New College Swindon Media Makeup Graduates

New College Swindon University Centre has run the Media Makeup BA since 2018. Students on this course develop the skills and techniques needed to work as a make-up artist in film, fashion, theatre and television. Due to the course’s success, the New College Swindon University Centre Media Makeup department welcomes students from further afield for the top-up degree-level course, from areas such as Bristol, Northampton and Somerset.


Molly McGowan, a technician for the department, has worked on various film sets since completing the Media Makeup BA at New College Swindon University Centre. Her specialism was focused on film & TV. All students complete a portfolio that is printed and given to them at the end of their degree to showcase their work to future employers. Molly says “I do lots of music videos, shot a film a couple of months ago and I just went and did a premiere for it, which was boujie. I also do weddings as well.”


The Media Makeup BA is one year long, meaning students are close to achieving their dreams. As many of 80% of New College Swindon Media Makeup BA students have gone into the industry they have decided to specialise in, despite it being a tough industry to get into. Some of their work you might recognise in TV, film and theatre, such as Aladdin, The Lion King and All About Casey.


Media Makeup Lecturer Elouisa Baskerville says The BA is an opportunity for students to specialise in an area of the industry in which they want to pursue a career. The makeup industry directly informs this course and it has been rewarding to see so many of our students pursue their ambitions.”

Applications for our degree-level Media Makeup courses are open

Apply now
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