At New College Swindon, our business education goes beyond the textbooks. Students explore diverse businesses, gaining firsthand insights into internal operations, production processes, and overall business functions. Witnessing unique production lines enhances their comprehensive understanding of the industry.
Last week, Business Management HND students visited Morgan Motors production facility, just outside Worcester. Despite the weather, students gained hands-on experience of a non-automated, entirely handmade production line. A valuable insight into meticulous craftsmanship.
Morgan Motors provide exclusive, fully customisable vehicles with a vintage charm, paired with exceptional quality and performance. Each car is meticulously handmade, tailored to customer specifications.
At the start, the engine and basic frame are assembled. The interior gets a steering wheel, wooden supports, and metal strips. The exterior is polished, wheels added, and it’s prepared for painting. Wood treatment and assembly follow. Finally, seats and embroidery are added, and it’s painted and polished. The whole process takes 6-12 months from order to completion.
Pictured: Complete car without external frame
If you’re interested in studying business qualifications with us, contact us here.
We came together with the Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust a couple of weeks ago to launch an innovative new programme that offers students a new route into careers in healthcare to ensure that the NHS locally have a strong pipeline of talent ready to join the service.
The Pathway to the Future programme was launched, starting with a pilot group of 12 students. The programme runs alongside the Health and Social Care course and is aimed towards students who are young carers, provide care for children, or come from areas of deprivation, and equips them with vital employment skills for leading a successful career in the future.
Throughout the academic year, students participating in this programme will attend sessions hosted by Great Western Hospitals, exploring various topics including work readiness, mental health awareness, cultural sensitivity, and career planning, among others. As they progress, students will earn certificates of achievement as recognition of their growth and dedication. They will also have the opportunity to progress onto an NCS/Great Western Hospitals apprenticeship programme. The Pathway programme runs alongside the student’s Health and Social Care course and is available to students who are either young carers, look after children or live in areas of Swindon which experience deprivation. Students will spend time on-site at Great Western Hospitals, learning key skills of work readiness, and mental health awareness and planning their future destinations. Sarah King, Curriculum Manager at the college said, ‘This is an exciting opportunity that we hope widens participation and allows the students to develop their passion and commitment to working in the HSC sector. We hope this programme provides opportunities for more students for future years.’
Alexia Leakey, Head of Learning and Development at Great Western Hospitals said, ‘There are a huge range of careers in the NHS and it’s exciting for us to work with New College Swindon on this programme. Two Swindon anchor institutions have come together to support the community, take students on a valuable journey and give them a plan for their future. We want to ensure students believe that if they want something enough and work hard, they can achieve whoever they are.
Sophie Drinkwater, one of the students on the programme said, ‘I’m a carer for my mother and my brother is a doctor, so I’m really inspired to work in a hospital and hopefully become a nurse. Last year the Great Western Hospitals looked after me following an operation and it felt like a family there, with everyone happy and inspired to be there’.
The programme runs throughout this academic year, with a celebration planned for July 2024, and it is hoped that it will allow students to be ready for apprenticeships in the hospital.
Anna Field, one of the Health and Social Care lecturers at the college said, ‘This is a brilliant opportunity for our students, particularly those who have potentially faced adversity to work with such a large, important employer.’
New College Swindon celebrated T Levels week alongside 70 other providers nationwide. The College, which currently offers seven T Levels across health, education, digital, science, accounting and management, recently celebrated its first cohort to finish the course, with an impressive 100% pass rate for students on the T Level Health. As part of the week-long celebrations, three T Level Health students, Jessica, Lillia and Lucy attended a national event alongside T Level Health Programme Lead, Karen Beecroft. The event, held by the Department for Education (DfE) at the London Science Museum included talks from Robert Halfon MP, senior undersecretary of state for skills, Lord David Sainsbury and Ray Olive, amongst other inspirational speakers.
Designed with the input of leading employers, T Levels are two-year qualifications, each equivalent to three A Levels. With 20% of the course being an industry placement, they provide students with valuable insight and experience in the workplace. At the event, New College Swindon’s students shared their ambitions for where the qualification can take them and talked about the benefits of the course and in particular, this work placement element.
T Level Health Programme Lead, Karen Beecroft said, “I cannot express how proud I am of these students, they were amazing ambassadors both for T Levels and the college. It was a fantastic opportunity for them to meet with various employers from across the country and influential leaders in the sector. One college was so impressed with our students that they offered, on the spot, to pay for transport to Middlesbrough to inspire other students.” The successful week ended with an Open Day, showcasing the fantastic T Level facilities at New College Swindon, including a wet lab for biochemical work, a nursery, a cyber lab and a mock hospital ward with the birthing suite. They also announced a new group of T Levels in Engineering for Sept 2024.
New leadership, new direction, new branding. After a busy enrolment period, there is an excitement around New College Swindon as students and staff kick-start the academic year with raft of new initiatives, implemented by a new senior leadership team. After a fifteen-month process of planning and development, October also marks the launch a brand refresh and new website.
It has been a busy summer for New College Swindon as they welcomed new Interim Principal and CEO, Leah Palmer, who offers a fresh perspective and the determination to move the College forward. Supporting Leah is a new Senior Leadership Team, all on board to drive the next phase of the college’s development.
Leah, committed to offering excellence for all students, and staff says; “We are making changes and setting new standards for ourselves as Swindon’s college. It’s an exciting time to be a part of the New College Swindon journey and we’re so excited to welcome so many new learners this September”.
From the opening of the Swindon and Wiltshire Institute of Technology in September 2022 it’s been a mammoth year, with over 400 more students choosing to come to college this year. In particular the college has seen huge interest in some of the courses where there has been a significant investment in industry leading new facilities.
A 50% increase in students studying Animal Management courses, driven by the completion of the new Animal Management Centre.
A 15% increase in Healthcare enrolments driven by the industry-leading facilities at the Swindon and Wiltshire Innovative Technology Care Hub (SWITCH) launched in April 2023.
The college is focused on offering a wider variety of courses across its three campuses, from A Levels through to apprenticeships and degree-level courses, and courses for the adult learners in Swindon, provide the local area with choices and an education experience not offered anywhere else in the region.
Leah Palmer commented, ‘We’re really excited by the new initiatives for students that we’ve launched over the summer including our Careers Extra programme which aims to put careers at the forefront of the student experience. This collaborative approach between the College and employers focuses on more than just the qualifications, but delivers a truly rounded learning experience for our learners.’
The opportunities for students at the college include; career events, networking opportunities, mock interviews, industry placements and access to employer talks and workshops.
October 2023 sees the launch of a fresh new look for the College, including an updated logo, to support the fresh perspective and vision of the new team. A new website went live on the 9th October, with a mobile responsive design and enhanced navigation, provider a far better user experience.
This ethos of a better user experience for all will be echoed throughout this year in all areas of New College Swindon as they strive for excellence.
New College Swindon’s students and staff are celebrating A Level, T level and Level 3 vocational results, after reaping the rewards of their hard work and resilience.
The success of these students is impressive considering the adversity they have overcome due to the pandemic. These are the first public exams they have taken as their GCSE grades were teacher-assessed grades in 2021 and their learning has been disrupted by lockdowns.
Reflecting on the past year Carole Kitching, Principal and CEO said:
“We’re very proud of all our students’ achievements whether they were taking A Levels, T-Levels or BTEC and other Level 3 qualifications. We knew this would be a tough year with grades awarded at pre-pandemic levels but despite the severe disruption these students have faced but we have seen 100% pass rate in 18 of our A Level subjects and 35 of our technical and vocational qualifications.”
Over half of all A Level results achieved at the College were at grade A*- C and 18 subjects had a 100% pass rate. These included 99 students on the six A Levels across Art, Design, Textiles and Photography. Criminology with 67 students had 100% pass rate, with 61% of those being A*-B grades. Students also gained fantastic vocational results, with well over half gaining at least one Distinction and over 66% of vocational courses had a 100% pass rate.
Bertie Jaques-Matthias achieved D*D*D* in his BTEC Level 3 Performing Arts and has secured a place at the Liverpool Institute of Arts (LIPA) to study Screen Acting and Digital Media. Speaking of his time at New College he said:
“Personally, the course and facilities distinguished New College Swindon from my other sixth form options. I can confidently say without the support of my lecturers and the wider College community, I would not have been equipped with the skills and experience to have this great opportunity to pursue my dream university place.”
Clarissa Colle achieved BBB in A-level English, Spanish, and Psychology.
“I am really proud of myself and so happy that I got the results I need to get into my university of choice, City University in London. My advice to other students would be that studying what you enjoy and want you are passionate about is the key to success. My time at New College Swindon has been amazing and I’m excited for the future.”
Sameerah Rahmed achieved D*D*D* Level 3 Extended Diploma in Uniformed Public Services and said:
“I am really happy with the grades I received today. I have really enjoyed my time here at New College Swindon. It has been an absolute joy. I had the opportunity to learn and grow from arrange of different lecturers and staff here at the College. I want to thank everyone at New College Swindon who has made my time here so memorable. I am off to start a Degree-Level Apprenticeship in Policing at Thames Valley. I wouldn’t have been able to achieve this fantastic opportunity without the support of everyone around me.”
2023 also sees the first cohort of T-Level students in Swindon and Wiltshire collecting their results. There was excitement all round at the high pass rate confirming that the College is off to a great start with the introduction of this innovative qualification. New College Swindon was one of the first providers selected to offer T-Levels and has overseen a multi-million-pound investment in state-of-the-art facilities to support the new qualification. Introduced as a key part of the Government’s strategy to address the skills gap in various industries, T-Levels include a large work experience component and are equivalent to three A Levels.
The College is predicting that, once again, a high number of students will gain university places, with 471 students holding firm offers through UCAS. Many others are set to go straight into employment or a higher apprenticeship.
“As usual, we have staff available to provide advice and guidance on students’ next steps and to support anyone who is looking to access Clearing. We’re also delighted that many students are following the national trend of studying their university-level courses locally where we still have some places available at our University Centre and the Swindon and Wiltshire Institute of Technology.”
A national study, by the Sutton Trust and UCL, found that one in three students starting university this year may opt to live at home. New College Swindon has a long history of providing excellent university-level courses and in June this year, was granted University Centre status, underlying its position as a quality alternative to university, right here in Swindon and Wiltshire. Higher and Degree level apprenticeships are proving to be a great option too as you can earn while you get your degree and there are no tuition fees to pay.
The College is anticipating more success when their GCSE and Level 2 students collect their results next week. It’s also gearing up to welcome thousands of students through the doors for enrolment. With fast-track enrolment now open, there is still time to apply to New College Swindon this September.
TV presenter and practicing paediatric doctor, Dr Ranj Singh, joined local employers to launch a new innovative technology health and social care hub at New College Swindon.
Swindon and Wiltshire Innovative Technology Care Hub (SWITCH) is an exciting collaboration between New College Swindon and Wiltshire College which aims to enhance and upskill health and social care staff across local regions and beyond, using the latest immersive technologies.
Invited guests from local care homes, hospices, businesses, and healthcare organisations, were given a tour of the cutting-edge facilities, within the College’s dedicated training hospital wards that have been built to NHS specifications.
Guests were introduced to a family of patient simulators (manikins) that mimic human anatomy and physiology, setting the standard for high-fidelity realism, and allowing students to develop critical thinking, communication, and clinical skills without risk to real patients.
Teaching staff also demonstrated how they can simulate any number of scenarios, using the immersive suite, virtual reality and augmented reality, to train students and medical practitioners.
David Panes is the Programme Leader for SWITCH at New College Swindon and a Registered General Nurse with over 20 years of working in frontline roles. He is excited about the opportunities SWITCH is bringing to the region, “The use of these immersive technologies is a game changer for skills development in the health and social care sector. Not only does it provide an engaging and realistic environment to practice clinical skills, accident management, and technical procedures, but it also allows us to develop the softer skills around patient care and interaction.”
For those students who are looking to start a career in health and social care, this interactive way of learning is putting them in a much stronger position to enter the workforce, armed with the skills and hands-on experience.
For David Panes, supporting the training needs of employers is a key aim of the project:
“This is not just for our full-time students; we want to be the go-to training provider for any employers in the region who are looking to upskill their current staff. We can customise the software and create a wide variety of scenarios. So, if an employer comes to us with a specific training goal in mind, we can work with them to develop bespoke training for their needs. It is this type of collaboration with those on the frontline that will help to push the boundaries and shape the future of SWITCH.”
Between the two hubs at New College Swindon and Wiltshire College, SWITCH offers a wide variety of modular, short, full-time, and bespoke courses. A mix of face-to-face, virtual, and blended learning delivery methods provides the flexibility needed for a sector supplying services 24/7.
To reflect on another successful year, New College Swindon held its annual awards ceremony to celebrate students’ outstanding achievements and hard work throughout the past 12 months. Winning students, their families, College staff, dignitaries and governors all gathered together in the Phoenix Theatre with a ceremony hosted by Carole Kitching, Principal and CEO.
With a total of 24 awards, the ceremony celebrated far more than just academic excellence, with awards shining a light on student stories of resilience, determination, selflessness and the support of their peers. The awards were split across 3 categories, including Faculty Awards, which recognise the dedication of students within their individual course areas, Legacy Awards, which are named awards honouring past students, lecturers, and local representatives and finally the Spotlight Awards, including the Principal’s Award for Outstanding Student of the Year.
Attendees were treated to an inspirational speech by student ambassador, Sameerah Rahman, who talked about her three years at New College Swindon and gave some advice to her fellow students as they get ready to take those next steps in their journey: “Do not succeed for anyone else, instead succeed for your younger self…who once thought they could take over the whole world one day.”
Sameerah, a Level 3 Public Services student, was also an award winner. Her lecturers said: “Sameerah has been our longest-serving student ambassador, supporting us with college experience, enrolment, open events, school visits and curriculum interview evenings. Sameerah always arrives with the biggest smile and an even bigger positive and can-do attitude. She makes everyone smile and puts everyone she meets at ease. Watching her confidence grow and seeing her achieve her academic goals has been a privilege and for her to have gained her apprenticeship with the Police is an amazing achievement.”
Another winner on the night was Richard Matthews, who picked up the IoT Student of the Year award. On his time at New College Swindon, Richard said: “I was drawn to New College Swindon due to its reputation for providing high-quality vocational education. When practical work was required the IoT facilities and equipment were first class and available to provide a dynamic learning environment that bridged the gap between theory and practice.” With reflection on the ceremony, Carole Kitching, Principal & CEO of New College Swindon said: “I’d like to congratulate all of the award winners on their achievements. Their success is inspirational and many of them have overcome significant barriers to succeed in their chosen studies. We wish them every success in the future”.
We wish all of our students the best of luck with their future endeavours and hope that they receive the results they hope for. For those who are progressing with us in September; keep an eye on our Social Media’s for news, updates and more.
New College Swindon Principal and Chief Executive, Carole Kitching, has announced her retirement from the role at the end of the academic year after five years with the college.
Carole has worked in Further Education and Skills for twenty-six years, and as Principal for the past fifteen, in six colleges, taking the helm at New College in 2018. She is a graduate of the University of St Andrews and her forty-year teaching career has also seen her running her own international language school and recruitment businesses and writing textbooks.
She is passionate about the life changing difference colleges make and always regards herself primarily as an educator. Although she is retiring from full-time college leadership, Carole is planning to stay actively involved in the sector in other capacities, with more time to contribute in different ways in areas that matter most to her.
Carole said: “Since joining back in 2018, I am proud the college has supported over 45,000 learners, including my own daughter, to succeed and fulfil their potential. It has been a privilege to work alongside so many committed professionals and I thank them for their support and dedication in making everything we do possible.”
In August 2020, Carole oversaw New College’s merger, over fifteen years in the making, with Swindon College. This replaced confusing competition and duplication of courses with a single access point to a broad curriculum meeting local needs.
Carole has positioned the college as an important civic institution offering a mutually supportive ‘family’ of specialisms covering academic 14-16 and sixth form, technical, professional and trade teaching and apprenticeships for adults and young people, community learning, basic skills and leisure classes. There is also a fast-growing range of degrees and higher technical qualifications which has now won New College and its Swindon and Wiltshire Institute of Technology official University Centre recognition. Course innovation has also flourished with recent diverse introductions covering: T-Levels, e-sports, cyber security, VR healthcare, and training for green jobs
The College successfully has attracted more than £25 million of investment in new facilities since merger including a state-of-the-art T-Level Hub pioneering the provision in Swindon and Wiltshire, the Swindon and Wiltshire Institute of Technology, the SWITCH health initiative, and a new Animal Management Centre.
Carole said: “We’re certainly far more than a big school, or sixth form college. Visitors are amazed when they see our facilities and how much is happening. With so many opportunities to pursue there’s no need to travel to get where you want to go in life.”
Partnership working has been a priority for Carole to ensure the college’s local economic impact is maximised. She has been a board member on the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership and chairs its Talent and Skills sub-group. She has also worked on key local initiatives such as the Town’s Board and the Honda taskforce and built strong relationships with local representatives, groups & businesses.
Speaking of the significant challenge of steering the newly-merged college through the pandemic, Carole said: “Being in College every day though lockdowns was hard, but we kept teaching and support going throughout making sure we maintained some normality for students through their studies, that they got their qualifications, and had a sense of purpose about their future.”
Some of the impacts are still being seen but our students and staff are always so amazingly resilient. Despite all the challenges, the college has still seen steady, ongoing improvement although it’s taken a bit longer to get to where we need to be. Staff have demonstrated their professional pride and redoubled their efforts which has had a visible and positive impact. There is a sense of real energy and momentum which will position the college well for reinspection. Also what we learnt and made possible through the pandemic is now helping shape what future learning and ways of working will look like at the college.
Martin Wyn Griffith, Chair of Governors at New College Swindon, said: “I thank Carole for all she has done for New College. Her passion for Further Education is clear and the experience, skills and knowledge she has brought to the role have made a hugely positive impact. Her leadership leaves behind a legacy to be proud of and one on which we will build. I wish her well in her retirement and future plans.”
Arrangements for a smooth succession were put into place after governors were informed of Carole’s decision last year. A recruitment process for the appointment of a new permanent Principal and Chief Executive will take place during the autumn term.
Governors are pleased to announce that Leah Palmer, New College’s current Deputy Principal Curriculum & Learners, will be appointed as Interim Principal and Chief Executive. Leah joined New College last October having spent the previous twelve years working in two Ofsted ‘Outstanding’ rated colleges.
Carole said: “Having worked closely with Leah this year I know that the college will be in safe hands. At governors’ request I will be staying on till December to support Leah over the Autumn term and advise the Corporation on the search process for my successor.
“I know New College will always be ambitious to improve as it seeks to consolidate and build on what we’ve achieved. There are lots of exciting developments on the horizon that will help even more students and businesses to thrive. The college is well-placed for a new leader to take over the baton and make their mark serving a fantastic region with so much potential.”
New College Swindon is delighted to announce that its Higher Education programmes, including those offered in the Swindon and Wiltshire Institute of Technology, have been granted University Centre status by the Department for Education. An accolade that validates the College’s position at the forefront of higher education growth across Swindon and Wiltshire. With immediate effect, the College’s Higher Education Centre as you know will be re-branded as the New College Swindon University Centre.
In response to the news, Lynne Plested, Vice Principal for Higher Education and Curriculum, said: “For many years, we have been delivering higher education with first-class teaching and excellent facilities. Gaining this new title of University Centre highlights that New College Swindon University Centre is the provider of higher and degree level study for the town and surrounding area. Swindon is often cited as the largest town without a university, but Lynne and her team are keen to rewrite that narrative: “We want to raise local aspirations and make people realise that they don’t need to move or travel out of the area, or pay excessive fees in order gain a university-level qualification. At the New College Swindon University Centre, there are local, affordable opportunities right here on their doorstep. I am incredibly proud of our higher education management team and lecturers, whose hard work and skills ensure we secure great outcomes for our students”.
The qualifications offered across our North Star and Queens Drive Campuses, including the state-of-the-art Swindon and Wiltshire Institute of Technology, open up a wide range of career opportunities in areas such as creative arts; media; science and healthcare; engineering and construction; teaching and childcare; business and ICT. In response to growing demand, the University Centre is already looking to expand its provision, with new qualifications in Esports, Animal Management and Mental Health in development.
New College Swindon is at the centre of a collective effort between, Swindon Borough Council, the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership, local, schools, universities and employers, to open up access to higher education and address key skills gaps in the area. Carole Kitching, College Principal and CEO said: “We are in a period of substantial reform for the higher education sector and it’s thanks to this collaborative approach that we are able to think creatively and more expansively about the way we deliver higher education skills to our local community.”
Carole has overseen significant investment in higher education at the College over the past few years and when talking about this latest milestone she said: “Following the opening of our Swindon and Wiltshire Institute of Technology in 2021, bringing a University centre to Swindon is another important step forward when it comes to increasing and widening participation in higher education locally. This achievement is a sign of our commitment to deliver an innovative and responsive curriculum that meets the changing needs of individuals and employers.”
Our mental health and emotional wellbeing affects how we operate psychologically, emotionally and socially amongst our peers. Creating an environment where our students feel safe and are able to seek support whenever they most need it is therefore critical to how we operate as a College.
Our Wellbeing Mentors are based in the Wellbeing Room in BG27/28 at Queens Drive and P104 at North Star. It is open every day between 9am – 4pm for referred students only. If you feel as though you may need a bit of extra support, please ask your Progress Coach for the link or email email@example.com. We have wellbeing facilities at both our North Star and Queen’s Drive campuses, as well as an onsite nurse and a counselling team who can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can self-refer, making it easy for you to retreat to a safe space whenever you need it. The Wellbeing team offers discreet support and someone to talk to if you are in distress, or just need a reassuring chat. You don’t have to book an appointment, as the team run a drop-in service to offer flexibility for those of you who wish to visit the centre for help and support. We can also write any Support Recommendations and can act as an advocate for you, walk you to class and signpost you to outside agencies.
Some of the things the team deal with include:
Post-Covid loneliness and anxiety
It is clear that our students value the wellbeing facility. One anonymous student said: ‘It is without doubt that without all of your support, I would not be the person I am today and for that I am forever grateful’. Meanwhile another student said: ‘I had thought about dropping out of College but the Wellbeing team really helped me through my anger management issues. It helps having somewhere to come when I need to talk to someone’.
To ensure that we are providing our students with the best possible help we can give them, the Wellbeing Mentors works closely with the College’s Counselling team and also with CAMHS (Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services). They also work with Project Me, which is run by Barnardo’s every two weeks. Project Me consists of four mental health support teams consolidated into one service that delivers mental health interventions to children and young people, who are struggling with their emotional wellbeing. Students also have access to the Togetherall website, resources and community. Togetherall is a safe, anonymous online community for mental health support.
Protecting members’ anonymity is very important to Togetherall. Students don’t use their real names, so it allows you to share how you’re feeling more openly. The service is free to all New College Swindon students and allows you to get support, take control and feel better- all in a way that is most comfortable to you. It is moderated by trained professionals to keep you safe.