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There was a spectacular array of talent on show at this year's Creative Arts End of Year show at Windsor College last week. Students from the BTEC Level 3 Arts and Fashion course showcased their final pieces, which were unveiled at a private view for parents and students.

The programme, which combines a range of 3D approaches from fashion and textiles to interior design and visual merchandising, allows students to experiment with different styles and forms to create stunning designs and visual displays.

Sixth Form College Principal Amanda Down was delighted to be able to stage the show, which was opened under strict Covid safe guidelines. She commented: "The End of Year Show is the culmination of two years of intensive work that takes our students on a journey and builds on their raw talent and develops their technique, innovation and application. The standard has been incredibly high this year with many students opting to stay at Windsor for their Level 4 because of the incredible facilities and our team of talented teachers."

Windsor College has been growing its creative hub over the last five years and was commended by Ofsted in 2019 for the talent of its teachers, many of whom still operate in industry and have the latest skills and knowledge. The College is one of a handful in the country that offer Visual Merchandising and is a Centre of Excellence for the British Display Society.

To see the full range of work, visit the department's Instagram page here https://www.instagram.com/artandfashion_windsorcollege/

Inspired by the Skills for Jobs White Paper issued by the government in January this year, a group of local colleges have launched an initiative to link industry with training to improve the technical skills and knowledge of teachers and prepare students for careers in digital, science, technology, and healthcare.

The Windsor Forest Colleges Group is working with Activate Learning and Newbury College to engage employers in the Industry Specialist Teaching and Knowledge Exchange Programme. The initiative, backed by the European Social Fund, aims to address the existing gap between curriculum design and industry requirements. The colleges want to work directly with industry to clarify their needs and ensure teachers have the necessary training and expertise to deliver the technical skills required.

Group Vice Principal for Business Development at the Windsor Forest Colleges Group, Juliet Holloway commented on the initiative and said: “Our primary focus is to bring employers closer to curriculum design and to provide industry insight to our teachers and trainers so they can keep their skills up to date and in turn pass this knowledge onto the workforce of the future.”

Juliet continued: “We are interested in hearing from employers in these key sectors who want to contribute to the local economy and their specific industries by improving the skillset of the next generation of employees. Our experience shows that when young people can connect directly with employers it brings their learning to life and allows them to hit the ground running once they are employed.”

The programme will include mentoring of students, guest presentations, industry placements for the new T Level qualification, and knowledge exchange with teachers and trainers.

If you would like to find out more and invest in the future of your industry, then please contact Michele Clarke, Project Coordinator at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Former Langley College student Hetty Fay has given apprenticeships her seal of approval having opened a specialist Land Rover workshop in Ruislip. Hetty, who recently completed her Level 3 Automotive Apprenticeship, opened HM Land Rover Ltd in the summer, along with her partner Mark.

Commenting on how the apprenticeship route prepared her to run her own business Hetty said: “The value of an apprenticeship is that you learn the technical skills which you have to know to do the job. But if you want to go it alone and start your own business then you also need the all-important business know-how. My apprenticeship gave me both - the technical skills and qualifications and business knowledge too.”

To get HM Land Rover off the ground Hetty and Mark secured premises and bought specialist equipment such as a lift and tyre machine. The business is already doing well with old and new customers seeking Hetty and Mark out for their Land Rover expertise.

Hetty is keen to recommend the apprenticeship route as it offers the opportunity to learn skills at college which can then be put into practice on real customers and real cars: “At college the teachers have time to explain things in more detail. There’s also the time to ask questions so you fully understand the task being taught. It’s far easier to take notes at college and then you still get to put it all into practice in the workplace.”

Langley College offers a range of Motor Vehicle apprenticeships as well as full time courses. To find our more go to www.windsor-forest.ac.uk and if you want to learn more about HM Land Rover Ltd you can following Hetty and Mark on Twitter @HMLandRoverLtd.

Six colleges have joined forces to ensure their students don’t miss out on work experience opportunities during lockdown. Over one thousand 16-18-year olds will take part in the virtual work experience programme funded by the Department for Education (DFE), starting on 22 February 2021. Top employers will give the young people online webinars to demonstrate the latest technologies in their business sectors and show them best practice.

The work experience programme kicked off at the start of National Apprenticeships Week 2021 with a Welcome Webinar for the students and their teachers, hosted by Springpod and Heathrow.

Funded through the DfE College Collaboration Fund, Springpod began developing the online solution to provide virtual work experience in September 2020.

There will be a number of different airport-based employers taking part, known collectively as ‘Team Heathrow’. These employers are from diverse sectors such as engineering, construction, marketing, IT and business solutions.

The Team Heathrow employers will be demonstrating how they work together to ensure the smooth running of the UK’s hub airport, as well as showing some of the key roles in their sector and the skills needed to succeed.

Poorvi Patel, Head of Education, Employment & Skills at Heathrow, said: “COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on young people. That’s why we are proud to be working with our Team Heathrow partners to develop a high-quality virtual work experience programme for young people keen to learn more about a career in aviation.

“The programme will enable students to develop their employability skills, fuel their ambitions and gain an insight into the UK’s only hub airport. The new programme will help to support local communities affected by the pandemic – one of the key commitments set out in the Heathrow Local Economic Recovery Plan.”

The online platform for the project has been developed by Springpod and will enable the work experience students to watch videos and take part in a whole host of interactive webinars and quizzes, relating to construction, engineering, business, marketing, sustainability and IT.

Vice Principal for Business Development at the Windsor Forest Colleges Group, Juliet Holloway commented on the innovative programme, she said: “The current lockdown has forced us to be more creative with solutions for young people and this project has been an excellent example of how colleges and industry partners can work together. We will be encouraging our students to take part in the programme and get the valuable training and advice that Team Heathrow can provide.”

Harriet Menzel, Senior Strategic Account Manager at Springpod said of the specially designed online platform: "The students will be able to use the virtual work experience programmes and the Springpod platform to gain meaningful insights into their chosen industry and engage with employers like never before. It’s a fantastic opportunity for students in a time where options are limited, and Springpod has loved being part of the project."

The six colleges taking part in the innovative and inspirational work experience programme are West London College, the Windsor Forest Colleges Group, West Thames College, Buckinghamshire College Group, HCUC (Harrow and Uxbridge College) and Brooklands College.

David Warnes, Deputy Principal for West London College, said: “Participating in this programme gives students the opportunity to develop their skills, tap into fantastic insights in a huge variety of business sectors, which will prepare them for successful employment in their future careers.

“The project is funded by the DfE College Collaboration Fund, designed to enable colleges to work together to share good practice and to address common priorities. 

The Chair of Governors of the Windsor Forest Colleges Group, Tony Dixon, has announced today that Gillian May, current Principal of Berkshire College of Agriculture (BCA), has been appointed to the post of CEO and Group Principal.

Mr Dixon said, “We have been rigorous in our search for a new leader and are extremely pleased to have secured the services of Gillian who is well known to the Group and has been a strong collaborative partner during her time at BCA.” He continued, “We are extremely grateful to Kate Webb who after 16 years at the helm, agreed to stay on to successfully steer the Group through the many challenges generated by the pandemic. We can now have a smooth transition to bring Gillian on board to lead the team.”

Gillian, who has been the Principal and CEO at BCA for nearly eight years will take up her new post in April commented on her appointment, “ I am looking forward to joining the team at the Windsor Forest Colleges Group, we have an exciting future ahead of us. The skills and education agenda has never been more important to our young people and to our economy. It is a privilege to be asked to lead the Group at a time of such transformative change.”

Gillian has driven a significant improvement agenda at BCA since her appointment in 2011 – introducing a new curriculum, stabilising its finances and securing and maintaining an Ofsted rating of ‘Good’, which has seen numbers grow and its reputation flourish.

Outgoing CEO Kate Webb also commented and said, “I am very happy to be handing over the reins to Gillian who I have worked with closely for many years and I know she will bring energy and direction to the role. I would like to thank the governors and the incredible team of staff at the Group for their support during my tenure and look forward to seeing the Colleges continue to thrive under Gillian’s leadership.”

The Windsor Forest Colleges Group was formed in 2017 following a merger between East Berkshire College and Strode’s College. The group comprises Langley College which is the centre for technical and vocational education and the sixth form offer at Strode’s and Windsor Colleges. It also has a thriving apprenticeship and Higher Education programme that spans all three institutions.

The Group was rated as ‘Good’ by Ofsted in January 2020 and achieved top results in the summer assessment series in 2020.

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