News (302)

On the evening of Tuesday 05 September students from Newbury College gathered together with family and friends to celebrate their academic achievements at the College’s annual Graduation and Award Ceremony. Guest of honour was BBC antiques expert and local businessman, Thomas Plant.

The event is held for students graduating from Level 4 courses and above, and for those who have worked exceptionally hard on further education courses (up to Level 3). Students were invited on stage to accept their certificates and awards from the College Principal and Chief Executive, Dr Anne Murdoch, the guest of honour and representatives from local organisations who helped sponsor the event.

Speaking about the evening, Dr Anne Murdoch said: “It is always an honour for us to come together and celebrate the achievements of our students. This year the event took place in an indoor marquee in our Sports Hall which added to the sense of occasion.

“We were very grateful to Thomas and his wise words of encouragement to our students. He told them not to be afraid of starting at the bottom and working up – that way by the time they reach the top they would have experienced all they need to know to make a success of their career. We hope he inspired the students to be as passionate about their careers as he so obviously is about his own.”

Winners of special awards were as follows: George Collins – Outstanding Higher Education Mechanical Engineer Elliot Taylor – Outstanding Higher Education Electrical and Electronic Engineer Karen Welton – Outstanding Higher Education Learner Award Hamish Hearn – Tony Allen Award for High Achievement in further education.

Other guests in attendance included Cllr Ellen Crumly, Mayor of Thatcham, Cllr David Fenn, Mayor of Newbury, Cllr Quinten Webb, Chair of West Berkshire Council and members of Newbury College’s governing body.

Sponsoring companies included: AWE, Bluebird Care, Castle School, Corn Exchange Newbury, David Lloyd Clubs, Debenhams Parkway, Euro Car Parts, Heart, Jason Palmer Hairdressing, Jewson, Monkey Business, MWS Media, Newbury Weekly News, Parkway Shopping, Resonates, Taylor Shaw, The Living Rainforest, Vineyard, West Berkshire Council and Xtrac.

To view all of the photos from the event click here.

West Berkshire Skills and Enterprise Partnership invites local businesses and organisations to take part in this year’s West Berkshire Work and Careers Fair taking place on Wednesday 11 October, from 1-6pm, at Newbury College’s Monks Lane Campus.

Following the success of the event in 2016, which attracted over 55 exhibitors from different industry sectors and 500 visitors, it is now regarded as one of the largest of its kind staged locally. This year’s event is supported by Elevate West Berkshire, helping 16-24 year olds gain the skills they need for employment. 

“The event is a great way for businesses looking to recruit locally to attract the talent they need,” explains Dawn Ray, the event organiser. “Additional activities such as advice on CV content and writing job applications, ensures that the event receives a wide variety of visitors, many of whom are looking for work, evaluating options for alternative careers in the local area, or are young people gathering inspiration about future career paths,” continues Dawn.

Exhibitors have space for a table top and pop-up stand, many of which are free depending on the space required, with larger stands attracting a nominal fee.

Anyone interested in either exhibiting or supporting the event in any way should email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or visit the event website for more information.

Avoid the queues on the day, register your attendance here.

A growing number of students are entering university with BTECs, according to an article in today's Guardian.

Acceptance of those with BTECs and a combination of BTECs and A levels is increasing rapidly and the proportion has almost doubled in the last eight years.

The article praises the qualifications, saying "The BTEC curriculum is considerably freer and more flexible than the tight syllabus and marking schemes of A-levels. In the University of Bedfordshire’s experience, BTec students show great strength in idea generation, independent learning and creativity, in ways that are atypical among A-level students."

Newbury College offers a wide range of BTEC qualifications for school leavers in subjects including Animale Care, Art and Design, Business, Computing, Engineering, Health and Social Care, Media Production, Music Technology, Public Services, Sport and more.

An increasing number of students on BTEC programmes at Newbury College also have the opportunity to progress to HNC and HND qualifications as an excellent alternative to university.

Free drop-in Advice Clinics are being held at our Monks Lane campus today (17 August 2017) and on GCSE Results Day (24 August 2017) to support young people make the right choices about further education, higher education, apprenticeships or finding employment.

Back in May, over 400 of our students took part in a country-wide satisfaction survey. The results from the survey showed that the enrichment activities we offer here at Newbury College scored 5% above the benchmark, with 84% of our students agreeing that we offer a good enrichment programme.

Students on full and part-time courses can enjoy a wide range of enrichment activities throughout the year. Some of the highlights include Freshers’ Day, Duke of Edinburgh Scheme, Road Safety Week, 'New Year, New You' campaign and Mental Health Awareness Week.

From a wellbeing perspective, students have a dedicated Counsellor and Chaplain they can access, as well as clinics promoting healthy lifestyle choices. In addition to this, the college Sport Maker offers a different sporting activity every lunchtime in the sports hall. This year the Sport Maker has also organised a basketball and football team, who regularly play against other local schools and colleges.

The enrichment programme also includes inspirational speakers, events to promote progression to employment and collaborations with local charities to help raise funds and awareness.

If you’d like to know more about what Newbury College can offer, come along to our Open Enrolment morning on Saturday 02 September, 10am-1pm or drop in during the holidays.

The question “what is an advanced learner loan?” is one we hear quite often. The scheme is targeted at helping adult learners (i.e. those aged 19 and over) manage the cost of further education at Level 3 and above. You can apply for a loan to study BTECs, NVQs, Access to HE courses and professional qualifications. The loans are similar to that available in Higher Education and are administered by Student Finance England.

So if you are aged 19 or over, live in England and are thinking about further education or training, you may qualify for an Advanced Learner Loan to pay for all or part of the course tuition fee.

About the loan

The loans themselves have been designed to be completely transparent and accessible to as many people as possible. Here are the key facts:

• The loans are not means-tested

• There are no credit checks

• You can be unemployed and still apply

• Loans are suitable for most Level 3 courses* (and above)

• You can have up to four loans either at the same time or one after the other

• You can either take out the full cost of the tuition fee or you can pay all or part of the fee yourself

• Additional fees, such as registration and exam fees are not covered by the loan

• A Newbury College bursary is still available for transport and childcare costs, and exam and registration fees – speak to a member of the Information Services team

• Money is paid directly to Newbury College

• Loan repayments only begin once you earn £21,000 or more.

*Check with Information Services when applying for your course.

How to apply

The loans are administered by Student Finance England. All applications need to be completed online or by post (if you can’t apply online). You will need a copy of your ‘Learning and Funding Information Letter’ that we give eligible students before they apply – speak to the Information Services team for more information. You will also need your National Insurance number to complete your application.

NB – Make sure, when you apply online, you click on the purple 'Further education' box on the right-hand side as per the image below.


Apply for student finance button

If you apply online, your confirmation is usually sent out within a couple of weeks. You can usually apply from May onwards if you are starting a course in September of the same year. 

Who is eligible*?

• Anyone aged 19 or older on the first day of your course

• Students must have been in the UK for three years prior to the course start date

• Students must be UK nationals or have ‘settled’ status

*Please note that eligibility is determined by criteria set by Student Finance England not by Newbury College. Discuss your eligibility with our Information Services team before you apply to a course.

How is the loan repaid?

The loan is repaid when you finish your course and earn more than £21,000 per year. The monthly repayments are based on how much you earn, not the amount you’ve borrowed. It is set at 9% of any income over £21,000. For example, if you earn £22,000 the repayments would be £7.50 per month (£1,000*0.09=£90, £90/12 months=£7.50) or £30 per month if you earned £25,000 (£4,000*0.09=£360, £360/12 months=£30).

Level 3 entitlement for 19-23 year olds

If you are aged 19-23 and do not currently have a first full Level 3 qualification, you may be eligible for entitlement. This scheme entitles you to remission on the cost of your tuition fees. Contact Information Services team for further clarification.

Need further assistance?

Make an appointment with the Information Services team on 01635 845000 or visit some of the following websites:


Happy Kids, an independent pre-school based in the grounds of Winchcombe School in the heart of Newbury, prides itself on providing a safe and friendly childcare environment tailored to the individual needs of children. As children learn through play, exploration and first-hand experiences, Happy Kids provides an environment that allows them to use their senses, imagination and previous experiences to support their learning.

Ofsted requires all staff working in pre-schools to be trained in paediatric first aid. Happy Kids ensures all of its staff are up to date with their training, but it can be a time consuming process. Kim Whelehan, Happy Kids Pre-school Manager, explains: “When staff attend courses on an individual basis, we have to change rotas and arrange cover; it can be very disruptive for the other staff and children. It’s far more valuable for us as an employer if the whole team can attend a course together at the same time.”

Happy Kids uses Newbury College’s in-house training service, where courses are delivered at a time convenient to the employer, such as evenings, weekends or during the school holidays. Deputy Manager, Sharon Dumelow, is very positive about this method of delivery: “Having the trainer deliver at our premises is much easier and, because we’ve been using this service for a while, the trainer has got to know our staff and ethos well.

“The familiarity means we are all relaxed and this helps us feel comfortable enough to ask the questions we perhaps would be afraid to if we were on our own. I’ve been on courses where it’s just me attending from here, and I feel we benefit much more from a group approach.

“We also offer parents the opportunity to join us on our courses. This is great for them because they can increase their skills and it makes the training more cost effective for us too.”

Emily Chandler, Business Development Executive at Newbury College, recommends this approach to other settings: “Training providers need to meet the needs of busy employers. Offering nationally-recognised qualifications delivered at individual premises is a good example of how the College is adapting its work with employers.

“We see that once a setting has benefited from this approach, they continue to come back to us for more of the same. The quality of the courses remains unchanged, we use the same trainers and materials from our open courses but, without a doubt, there is a benefit to all parties when our trainers get to deliver with teams this way.”

For more information about Newbury College’s bespoke training and in-house delivery, contact the Business Team on 01635 845229 or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Dr Anne Murdoch, OBE, who has been Principal and CEO of Newbury College for 16 years, recently announced her intention to retire at the end of the year. As well as the College’s longest serving principal, Anne is also the only female principal in its 70-year history.

Previously the Deputy Principal at Farnborough College of Technology, Anne Murdoch joined Newbury College in 2001 when it was located off the Oxford Road in Newbury. Anne oversaw the relocation of the College to its current, purpose-built site on Monks Lane in 2002, and has since developed the campus facilities to include a sports hall, construction training centre, training restaurant and, most recently, an engineering solutions laboratory.

The College, which was OFSTED rated ‘good’ in 2009, 2015 and 2017, also plans to open a new primary school – Highwood Copse – in 2018.

Speaking about her career, Anne said: “It has been an honour and privilege to have spent most of my career within the education sector and my greatest joy to have served as Principal and CEO of Newbury College for over 16 years. The staff, students and partners have been an inspiration to me and I will miss them greatly.

“Now that the College has had another ‘good’ OFSTED inspection and is in a strong financial position, it’s a good time to hand over the leadership. The College is moving into an exciting new phase of development, with a new primary school planned and excellent facilities for science, technology, engineering and maths in place – I have no doubt it will go from strength to strength.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of my colleagues for their support over the years.”

Anne was awarded an OBE in 2012 and graduated from the University of East Anglia with a Doctorate in Applied Education in 1983.

The College has also recently appointed a new Corporation Chair, Geoff Knappett. Geoff, former director of Newbury Building Society, who served on the College’s corporation board for over eight years, and took over from West Berkshire Council’s Chief Executive, Nick Carter whose term ended in April. Chris Boulton, Chief Executive of Greenham Common Trust, and Peter Allen, a retired businessman, have also recently joined the board.

Commenting on Anne’s retirement, Geoff said: “The governors express their sincere appreciation and gratitude for the way Anne has managed the College. Her drive and inspirational leadership have made a significant contribution to the College’s success and achievements over the years. She will be greatly missed by governors, staff, students and stakeholders alike and she will leave with our very best wishes.”

It is anticipated that Anne’s successor will be in post from 1 January 2018. Anne will continue to work on a part-time basis to see the development of the primary school through to its opening, along with other campus projects. She will also help the College celebrate its 70th birthday next year.

Over sixty engineering students took part in Newbury College’s annual technology presentation day on 12 July 2017. The students, many of whom were apprentices, presented their end-of-year skills projects to visitors including representatives from local engineering companies such as AWE, Intersurgical, UKAEA, Williams and Xtrac, and local dignitaries, including Cllr Ellen Crumly, Mayor of Thatcham, Cllr David Fenn, Mayor of Newbury and Cllr Quinten Webb, Chair of West Berkshire Council.

The event was officially opened by former Newbury College engineering student and apprentice, Richard Musson. Richard works as a senior project engineer at transmission technology specialists, Xtrac in Thatcham.

Whilst addressing the students, Richard reflected on his career: “Sometimes I contemplate how from starting my apprenticeship I have gone on to be able to buy my own house and provide for my family. I would never have dreamed of anything like that back then and some of you may feel like that now. If you believe in working for something, have an aspiration and find the motivation, you are half way there. Having completed my apprenticeship and worked my way up to senior project engineer, I now a mentor to three apprentices in the team.

“We should be proud to be engineers at this exciting time,” he concluded. “The rate of change through technology in the last 30 years or so is amazing, and we get to be part of it.”

Students, ranging from those studying Levels 3-5 in mechanical and electronic/electrical engineering, were judged on the quality of their presentations and their ability to talk through their project. As well as the projects on display many students included physical models and in some cases, full working demonstrations.

Visitor John Hill, UKAEA Apprenticeship Training Manager, said: “The Newbury College Technology Skills Exhibition gave me the opportunity to view first-hand the hard work undertaken by all HNC and HND students. The quality of the work presented was to an extremely high standard and it was a pleasure to listen to the students talk about their engineering projects. It is vitally important to support and guide young students through this important phase of their training, clearly something that Newbury College and its staff take very seriously.”

The projects were judged on the day and certificates were awarded to the best in each category. The winners were:

• Josh Terry (Level 3 Mechanical Engineering) for his unloader assembly pin pushing device

• Emily Organ (Level 4 HNC Mechanical Engineering) for her JET rotary valve design improvements

• Aaron Scott (Level 5 HND Mechanical Engineering) for his pinhole adjustment device

• Mathew Howe (Level 3 Electronic/Engineering) for his automatic watch winder

• Paul Brookes (Level 4 HNC Electronic/Electrical Engineering) for his automatic joystick tester

• Stewart Morrison (Level 5 HND Electronic/Electrical Engineering) for his software-defined radio.

The overall winner was Aaron Scott. 

From September 2017, engineering apprentices at Newbury College can progress all the way from a Level 2 apprenticeship up to a Level 6 degree apprenticeship. The new programme, in partnership with Buckinghamshire New University, is offered in three different pathways: manufacturing, mechanical or electrical/electronic and is ideal for those who are deterred from studying a traditional full-time programme by high tuition fees and student debt. For details of this new programme, call 01635 845000 and ask for the apprenticeship team.

See all of the photos from this event on our Facebook page.


Are you waiting for exam results in August? Not sure what to do next? Have you considered applying for an apprenticeship?

According to UCAS, applications for university places in 2017 are down by 5%*. That means more and more young people are deciding to look for alternative routes into their chosen careers. In 2015/16 just over half a million people started an apprenticeship programme – an increase of 9,500 on the previous year**.

Here are five reasons why apprenticeships are fast becoming a popular choice for school leavers: 

1. Get qualified – Alongside work experience, you’ll continue to study towards a nationally-recognised qualification. Apprenticeships can be studied at three different levels; intermediate, advanced and higher. You can now even study right up to a degree qualification (level 6).

2. Earn money – an apprenticeship is a real job that will earn you a wage!

3. Relevant work experience – you’ll receive practical training and experience in a real-world working environment.

4. Available in a great range of subjects – apprenticeships are available in a wide range of subjects including accountancy, business administration, health care, hairdressing, IT, professional cookery, engineering, vehicle maintenance and more. 

5. Support and guidance – all apprentices receive support and guidance from an assessor. The assessor will meet regularly with the apprentice and employer to discuss progress.

Don’t wait for results day to apply for an apprenticeship.

If you want to work in business administration, customer service, HR or IT, or if your dream job is to be a chef, nursery nurse or engineer, apply for an apprenticeship now. Newbury College is currently advertising vacancies in all these areas. Don’t wait until results day, get ahead of the game click here or call the apprenticeship team on 01635 845229.

Careers Advice

Newbury College is offering free Information, Advice and Guidance sessions throughout the summer email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 01635 845000 for details.

*UCAS – applications for UK higher education down 5% for UK students, Feb 17 **Apprenticeship Statistics: England, 21/11/16

As part of a collaborative project with Thames Valley Police, Newbury College media students have created a short video to help raise awareness of child sexual exploitation (CSE). The video will be used as an educational training DVD aimed at staff working in hotels, helping them to recognise the signs, deal with and report suspected CSE cases.

Following a series of training sessions with the West Berkshire neighbourhood policing teams, the Level 3 media students fully researched the subject and worked closely with the police on all aspects of the video’s production. The video, entitled ‘Penny’s Story’, was officially launched at an event at Newbury College on Thursday 29 June, with students, tutors, parents and police in attendance, and where Chief Inspector Lindsey Finch, Deputy Area Commander, presented students with a special commendation for their work.

“Police officers and PCSOs have been working with partner agencies to educate our communities, including young children, to report any concerns about potential child sexual exploitation. By working on the project, the students have gained a valuable insight into the subject area,” explains Inspector Warren Mckeown from Thames Valley Police. “I have been impressed by the hard work and support of the students and their tutors, who have assisted us with other community CSE awareness events as part of the project. They should be very proud to have produced this DVD knowing it will help us raise awareness of this horrific crime.”

Commenting on the work experience, tutorial programme leader, Sian Ellis, said: “The students have worked really hard to produce a piece of work which is both impactful and informative. The end result is reflective of their commitment to the project and highlights their skills as young film makers. We’d like to thank the police for giving us the opportunity to work on this project – we are proud to have contributed to the safeguarding and welfare of young people in the area.”

The video was shot on location in Newbury and will be rolled out to hotels in West Berkshire.

Listen to student Ashleigh Cock's interview with Phil Kennedy on BBC Radio Berkshire's Drive Time Show. (1:20:00 to 1:26:00)