Newbury College and West Berkshire Council have been working together to ensure that residents of West Berkshire Care homes were able to have a creative outlet, during a time in which contact with the outside world has been severely limited. The overwhelming response received from residents has led to this creative display being transformed into a virtual art exhibition, for the whole community to share.
Newbury College has been delivering art sessions to residents of several West Berkshire residential care homes for many years. These offer residents not only a chance to learn new skills but also an opportunity to meet new people, improve fine motor skills and cognitive ability, and improve mental and emotional wellbeing.
When the lockdown hit in March, all site visits were immediately halted and it wasessential to both the College and West Berkshire Council, who fund the initiative, to find a way to keep residents actively engaged in learning during this difficult time. There is overwhelming evidence to support a strong link between mental and emotional wellbeing and creativity.
As a result, Tanya Reid, Newbury College Art Lecturer, emailed the care homes each week with an art project. The weekly projects focussed on different artists, with some history, interesting facts and detailed accounts of their style and examples of their work. The artists studied were Van Gogh, Vlaminck, Cezanne, Matisse, Picasso, Kandinsky, the Pointillists and Banksy. Residents also learned how to make sculptures out of scrunched up paper.
Tanya Reid commented; “I wanted to give the learners a focussed activity each week, with examples to guide them as starting points and inspiration. The heart of the initiative was addressing the wellbeing of the residents through creative engagement. With limitations on materials available within the homes during the lockdown, I had to think outside of the box and encourage the use of recycled materials where possible.”
There were 65 pieces of artwork sent in altogether, mainly from Walnut Close in Thatcham and Willows Edge in Newbury. As Tanya explains: “The exhibition is not only a celebration of the wonderful artwork produced but also the fantastic work and dedication of the care home staff, who had to step into the role of teacher and guide the learners through the sessions; it was a real team effort!”
Community Learning Curriculum Manager Sarah Hemmings commented: “We were all so impressed with the artwork the learners had produced, and Tanya’s efforts, especially at a time when they were cut-off from friends and family. We are grateful to West Berkshire Council for providing an opportunity to share this amazing work with the local community, and their support in creating the virtual exhibition.”
Graham Bridgman, West Berkshire’s Executive Member for Adult Social Care said: “We’re delighted to be able to support this wonderful project that illustrates, literally, that the benefits of creativity are absolutely boundless in terms of mental and emotional wellbeing. This is particularly pertinent at a time when so much else is restricted.”
The virtual exhibition can be viewed on the West Berkshire Council website
To find out more about the creative options available at for adults take a look at our adult community learning page.
Hairdressing student, Liza-Jane Lamb, has picked up her scissors for a different type of cut, in support of the NHS. Instead of cutting hair she has been cutting material to make scrubs and other vital equipment to help keep care workers protected.
Liza commented, “I was moved to hear about the shortage of scrubs and PPE so vital in protecting the staff fighting to protect the lives of others. Shortly after the lockdown was announced, I set-up a Facebook fundraiser” she continued, “I owe everything to the NHS, two years ago, I was critically ill. The team in the ICU department at Basingstoke, though their skill and dedication, saved my life, without them, I would not be here today.”
The fundraiser had a £50 target and was intended to raise funds for materials, by the end of the day they had raised £300. Liza is able to continue producing the scrubs required, thanks to the generosity of the community via the fundraiser, and an army of around 20 volunteers supporting production. The group do everything from making complete sets of scrubs, cutting out, sewing up, making hats, making headbands, making bags and dropping off and picking up from self-isolators.
Regarding the support she has received from the community, Liza said, “The wonderful people at The West Berkshire Hub provided us with five patterns completely free of charge, and many local companies have supported by providing vital materials. I have been blown away by the overwhelming support that I have received, people want to help our wonderful NHS service. Donating their time is just as important as donating money, and I have received both in abundance. We will continue to carry on making as long as we are needed, and the fundraising can continue to support this.”
Scrubs, bags, hats and headbands have so far been provided as needed to the following:
Intensive Care Unit at The Royal Berkshire Hospital
Newbury COVID Hub at Newbury Racecourse, the Hub also distribute items around the country.
North Middlesex Hospital
The paediatric ward at Newham General Hospital
Buckingham Healthcare NHS trust
John Radcliffe Hospital
Rachael Elsey, Curriculum Manager, Hair and Beauty, Newbury College, commented “It is heart-warming to see students adapting their skills to support the community. We are very proud of Liza-Jane and all that she has accomplished.”
To find out more about the work that Liza-Jane and her army of volunteers are undertaking, visit the Facebook page, Lizas NHS scrubs.
If you are interested in finding out more about Hairdressing, Health and Social Care and many other career paths, register today to attend our Virtual Open Event
Foundation Learning workers at Newbury College have been recognised for their hard work and dedication by Laura Farris MP, who has commended them as West Berkshire Community Champions.
The Foundation Learning department supports students with significant learning difficulties and disabilities, to provide education and training that assists the students in independent living, social interaction and employability skills.
Teachers and support staff in this team, who often have their own caring responsibilities at home, have gone the extra mile to ensure that these young people continue to receive an outstanding level of learning and support during an extremely challenging time.
While the College building is closed for the majority of courses, this team are still keeping the doors open to provide a safe and structured environment for those in need and using innovative and technological solutions, with creativity and passion, to engage with students who are working from home.
Many of the staff in this department have also undertaken additional training and upskilling during the lockdown to provide services outside of their usual roles and responsibilities, or in preparation for the challenges ahead.
Iain Wolloff, Principal and Chief Executive, Newbury College, commented “We are very proud of the Foundation Learning team and all the staff for how they have adapted to ensure the continued support of all our students. It is a fantastic boost for them all to see this recognised by the wider community.”
Throughout this time in the College, the Foundation Learning students have been encouraged to get creative and have produced artwork that has been delivered throughout the community to raise spirits including a project to thank the Royal Berkshire Fire & Rescue Service and NHS for their essential services.
Ms Farris plans to celebrate the West Berkshire Community Champions at a special event in the House of Commons, once it is safe and practical to do so.
Find out more about the Foundation Learning programmes.
30 April 2020, Newbury, Berkshire – As people across West Berkshire, and the world, enter the second month of lockdown, Community Learning tutors at Newbury College are taking to YouTube and using their creativity to deliver micro-lessons online.
The exciting new series of online tutorials, dubbed ‘Newbury College at Home’, explores a range of interesting leisure topics that include drawing with pastels, seasonal flower arranging and basic Spanish. Community Art Tutor, Jeanette Cole, has even produced a special tutorial on creating commemorative bunting for the upcoming VE Day anniversary.
The majority of Newbury College’s full-time, professional and apprenticeship programmes made the move to online delivery in March to support students in achieving the qualifications they need for their future careers, with special on-site provision being provided for vulnerable students. The popular Community Learning courses presented more of a challenge, with many being temporarily postponed until September.
Community Learning Manager, Sarah Hemmings, said: “We are always looking for new and innovative ways to engage with our community and during this difficult time we understand that many people will be feeling isolated or in need of some mental stimulation. Our fantastic tutors wanted to reach out and share some of their knowledge and creativity so that their students and others in our community can continue to learn new skills.”
Newbury College offers a wide range of Community Learning courses including arts and crafts; flower arranging; dressmaking; ballroom dancing; Microsoft Office; social media; modern languages; photography; and many more. Courses for the new September 2020 term are on the College’s website now and are already accepting applications.
Enjoy the free online tutorials at www.newbury-college.ac.uk/stayhome
Engineering Apprentices, studying for their degree apprenticeship at Newbury College, in partnership with Buckinghamshire New University, have successfully achieved their apprenticeship, despite the difficulties surrounding lockdown.
The final element of an apprenticeship is an End-Point Assessment (EPA), in which the apprentice presents an overview of their knowledge, the practical capabilities of the role they are in and evidences that they are qualified to do the job they have been training for. Due to the current lockdown, there was a considerable concern that EPAs would have to be cancelled. However, the Apprenticeship Team at Newbury College worked incredibly hard with the exam body EAL to ensure that the apprentices would not miss out and managed to create a remote EPA.
The apprentices have complimented the support they received from College staff, and the outstanding achievement is a excellent reflection of the hard work and dedication of both the apprentices and the College team.
Tim Coole, Course Leader, commented "This year has shown the second cohort of students who have achieved outstanding results in their degree at Newbury College. It shows the quality and the range of projects completed by the students throughout the year and excellent dedication they have to their studies" he continued “It is encouraging for the development of University Centre Newbury (UCN). This year has seen a significant increase in the student numbers in the final year of the Engineering degree programme and adds to the success of this programme moving forward."
Jo Houghton, Director of Business and Partnerships, added “We are delighted with the standard of work reflected in these excellent results for the degree apprentices, especially facing the barriers in place during the lockdown. As UCN progresses, we are confident that this standard will continue to provide the community with highly skilled, highly qualified professionals”.
The University Centre Newbury will provide degrees and higher-level qualifications in the key sectors of digital technology, business & finance, engineering, health & social care and construction.
The first students of the University Centre will begin their studies in dedicated facilities within the College building, before moving into the state-of-the-art building, once it is completed.
To find out more about higher-level study options, visit www.newbury-college.ac.uk/higher
Former Newbury College Foundation Degree students have contacted the College to pass on their gratitude to their former tutor who has continued to provide support and guidance within their final year of studies at University.
The students had all studied the Foundation Degree in Children’s Development and Learning, which is a two-year course enabling students to develop their skills to progress a career working with children, alongside their current role in the sector. The course is delivered at Newbury College in partnership with Reading University.
Eve Burke, who contacted the College on behalf of the group said, “Tracey has kept in touch as we moved from College to the BA studies at Reading as well as providing our references for the UCAS application. We have been touched that she has gone above and beyond to provide on-going support and interest in our progression, especially taking the time to contact us to see how we are managing in these unprecedented times.”
Tracey Birchall, Newbury College Course Leader, Foundation Degree in Children’s Development and Learning commented, “I have very fond memories of school and the teachers, I believe this shaped my interested in pursuing a teaching career. It is lovely to hear that I am equally impacting the lives of the students I teach.” She continued, “The Foundation Degree in Children’s Development and Learning is an excellent course for anyone wishing to inspire a new generation as a teacher, The Child in Society module is a particular favourite of mine as we explore how childhoods have been lived over the centuries.”
From the new academic year, The Foundation Degree will be delivered as part of the University Centre Newbury (UCN) as the higher education provision expands for the area.
To find out more about the Foundation Degree in Children’s Development and Learning course or studying for a career in child care or education and teacher training click here
Since the recent outbreak of the coronavirus forced many schools and colleges to close their doors, Newbury College has worked hard adapting the delivery of off-the-job training for apprentices, so that they can continue to blaze a trail and stay safe as they learn.
College tutors and the senior business team are in constant communication with learners and employers. All have worked hard to adapt classroom delivery to online classes. Jo Houghton, Director of Business and Partnerships, said "As a business, we have been incorporating flexible learning technologies alongside the development of the University Centre Newbury. The current situation has moved things along quicker than expected, but we have been extremely impressed at how well tutors and learners have adapted to online learning".
Online classes have enabled many apprentices to continue their off-the-job training, supported by the businesses they work for, and allowed Degree Apprentices to successfully carry out their End Point Assessments via remote access with their examiners.
Student Governor and HND Engineering Student, Matt Grimston added, "The tutors worked diligently to organise the online tools into a usable framework for us, with their presentations and resources sitting within that. Our meetings and lectures are now all virtual, but we can call and message our lecturers as needed, which works fantastically. Everyone has had to learn quickly but by using the resources, and of course the tutors' hard work, we are now in a situation where we can continue in a different environment but with no change to quality. Thank you to all of the staff who have worked tirelessly to ensure our education continues without hindrance in this unpredictable world."
Following the government announcement on Wednesday 18 March, Newbury College has moved to online delivery for most courses.
Teaching staff have been preparing for this eventuality and are entering these uncertain times with confidence in their abilities to deliver an interactive and engaging learning package remotely.
Each curriculum group within the College has worked hard to ensure that the ‘at home’ delivery is adapted to the varying needs of each subject area. Principal, Iain Wolloff, noted, “From delivery of the Engineering Degree to online Spanish classes for adult learners, we are extremely proud of all the staff that have gone above and beyond. They have created a smooth and efficient transition to enable our students to keep learning for their future careers and aspirations.”
E-Learning Development Officer, Shaun Daubney commented, “It has been encouraging to see our staff adapt so quickly and be proactive in using technology to support our students. As a College we have always been ahead of the curve with embedding digital learning in creative ways, to future-proof our delivery and adapt to the way students learn in a changing environment.”
As well as providing learning for existing students the College offers a means for adults to start thinking about their own future with a number of FREE online learning courses in areas such as; dementia awareness, mental health, caring for children and young people, end of life care and nutrition and health.
Visit our course search page to explore your opportunities for the future.
Camille Packer, currently studying her Higher National Diploma (HND) in Graphic Design at Newbury College has been awarded a BTEC Bronze Award, in the BTEC Art and Design Student of the Year 2019.
The BTEC Awards celebrate exceptional BTEC learners and apprentices. More than 570 nominations were received across all categories from entrants across the globe, with 22 winning either Bronze, Silver or Gold Awards.
Camille commented “I started the course with minimal knowledge of the subject other than having creative skills and a love of design. Through dedication to my studies, I have been able to achieve high standards in my work and make positive steps towards my dream career as a Graphic Designer.” She continued, “I now feel I have the skills and experience to apply for a position in a high-ranking design agency. My time at Newbury College is empowering me to realise my passion and ideas and turn them into reality.”
Iain Wolloff, Principal and Chief Executive, Newbury College, said, “It is fantastic to see the standard and quality of Camille’s work being recognised on a global scale. We are very proud of the dedication that she has shown and delighted that she is continuing her studies with us alongside the development of her career.”
Explore the opportunity to retrain or upskill at www.newbury-college.ac.uk/higher