‘A fantastic way to start a career’ – Alex hails her apprenticeship

Engineer Alex Johnson is starting the new year in a role she loves and with a management degree apprenticeship in her sights.

Alex is a quality engineer at Baildon-based Produmax where she has been working – through an apprenticeship with the college – for several years.

She has just gained a distinction in her Level 4 apprenticeship in Manufacturing Engineering with the firm, which specialises in high precision engineering for the aerospace sector.

Urged on by our teachers and Produmax’s team to keep pushing herself, Alex is now looking forward to starting a Level 6 Chartered Management degree apprenticeship through the University of Leeds.

She said: “I started on a Level 3 Manufacturing apprenticeship, having found the quality engineer role, and developed my interest in the inspection side of engineering, through Produmax’s work experience programme.

A terrific experience, with no limits to what can be achieved

“I’d encourage anyone to do an apprenticeship – it’s a fantastic way to start a career in any industry, whilst having the ability to continue studying. There are also no limitations to what you can achieve, it’s down to how much work you’re willing to put in.  

“My apprenticeship has been a terrific experience. I’ve been encouraged along the way by the team at Produmax and at Keighley College to work hard and aim high.

“I’m looking forward to continuing my workplace development whilst undertaking the degree apprenticeship.”

Produmax offers several apprenticeship engineering positions, usually starting at the end of August, each year.

Find out more about our apprenticeships at the college here

Principal enjoys factory floor shift at stairlift company

Our Principal has been putting a shift in on the factory floor at Acorn Stairlifts.

Kevin O’Hare visited the Steeton business to find out how a group of students from the college, who are on two-days-a-week supported internships with the firm, were getting on.

Kevin had been invited by the students themselves. He said: “I was asking them about their work at Acorn. They said it was great and that I should come along and ‘do some real work’ too!”

The college’s partnership with Acorn has been running for three years now, and four previous interns have gone on to secure jobs with the company. The current group of four students – Jason Baxter, James Littlewood, Jordan Lindley and Kenny Greenwood – work at Steeton on Thursdays and Fridays, supervised by Acorn staff and their own mentor, Fran Day.

A mutually beneficial partnership

Fran said: “All the supported interns have Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs), which means they need a little more support initially, until they find their feet.

“I’m here to supervise them at first, then gradually pull back so they can work independently. They learn about productivity and work ethic, but really they just want to work.”

Ryan Baron, Production Manager at Acorn’s Steeton factory, said: “The supported interns are brilliant, they’re hard working and have fitted in really well. The work they do – assembling components for our stairlift rails – is work that our guys would actually be doing on the line.

“We move it off the line until they get the hang of it, but they still have to meet demand for the components and they don’t let us down. The work they’re doing helps them to gain skills and experience and helps us too, so the partnership with the college benefits us both.”

A brilliant opportunity to gain valuable life skills

Kevin, speaking during his visit, added: “It’s a brilliant opportunity for the students to understand what life’s like in a working environment, seeing the different processes and how the workplace is structured, from the reception, the canteen, right through to the factory floor.

“It’s a valuable experience, and we often forget how important that is. The work is important, but the context of the work is too. It’s what I call residual learning – it’s about social interaction, navigation, orientation, timekeeping.

“It’s not on any curriculum or part of any course programme, but these are valuable life skills we all need to acquire.”

Acorn Stairlifts, which has factories in Yorkshire and Scotland, is a world leader in the manufacture, installation and innovation of stairlifts.

Though its headquarters are in Steeton the company, which produces 70,000 staircases a year, has sales and service staff across the UK.

Keighley College is awarded College of Sanctuary status

Keighley College has become the third college in West Yorkshire to achieve College of Sanctuary status, one of only 11 in the UK.

The status is awarded by City of Sanctuary to recognise good practice and provision in supporting refugees and people seeking asylum. The college was judged against various criteria, and was found to be successful in taking positive action to embed concepts of welcome, safety and inclusion through its curriculum. 

Jo Rusden, Deputy Head for Adult and Community at Keighley College said, “This recognition is testament to our staff and students who have created a warm and welcoming college that provides a safe environment in which everyone can learn, thrive and achieve.

“As a college, we’ve worked hard to create awareness amongst the entire college community about what it means to be seeking sanctuary, and to ensure that students new to the UK receive the support they need.

“We’re extremely proud to be recognised for our efforts, and having this accreditation cements our commitment to supporting all students regardless of background.”

As part of this year’s Refugee Week, Keighley College hosted a Refugee Film Festival, with the aim of enhancing the recognition and representation of refugees and asylum seekers across the region.

Earlier this year, the college also provided an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Summer School for students from a range of backgrounds, including a number of Ukrainian refugees hoping to boost their employment chances. The aim of the summer school was to help students gain the important skills they need to live and work in the UK.

Kate Hart, Project Coordinator at Bradford Schools and Colleges of Sanctuary, said, “The panel had the pleasure of visiting Keighley College and were particularly moved when speaking to students who spoke so enthusiastically of the support, opportunities and encouragement they had received from the college.
“It was clear that they felt a sense of belonging and purpose from being part of the college’s welcoming family culture.”

Launched in 2005, City of Sanctuary is a network contributing to building the movement for welcome and inclusion in the UK by promoting, recognising and celebrating ways in which people seeking sanctuary enrich society. 

Keighley residents take a big step towards employment

Keighley residents have celebrated completing a project to get back into education or work.

We have been working with local community centres and other partners to ‘provide pathways’ into employment, as part of the Community Led Local Development (CLLD) programme.

Of the 214 adults who have taken part so far, 110 have progressed into education – on courses ranging from English and maths, to teaching assistant and English for Speakers of Other Languages. Another 14, meanwhile, have gained work. 

To celebrate those achievements, the college presented certificates to nearly 40 women who have taken part at the Bangladeshi Community Association on Wednesday 23 November.

‘I feel much more confident in my abilities’

Shazia Hussain, who is studying towards gaining a teaching assistant qualification, said: “I have previously tried three different college classes and not gone back after the first lesson.

“This time, however, I have not only felt motivated to complete the course and progress, but I am also helping other students with their assignments. I feel much more confident in my abilities thanks to the project.”

Melissa Ciplinski also credits the programme with bolstering  her self-belief. She said: “I have always struggled with anxiety and the teaching assistant course has helped me to gain confidence.

“I now attend the classes without feeling vulnerable and nervous, and am looking forward to progressing onto the next course.”

Working together to make a positive difference

Mashuk Miah, who manages the Bangladeshi Community Association, said: “The CLLD project has enabled women to come out of isolation and helped them mix with others whilst learning maths, English, sewing or exercise. I know that our partnership with Keighley College will continue, and that together we are making a positive difference to the lives of those in our community.”

Our Deputy Head for Adult and Community, Jo Rusden, added: “We were delighted to celebrate the achievements of these learners with the association, which has been one of our key partners.

“This programme has already helped hundreds of Keighley residents take a step towards getting back into education or work, and we look forward to welcoming more moving forward.

“These are tough times for everyone just now, but especially those in households with low or no income. This programme is all about giving people the help, and skills they need, to take a step on the path towards employment and a rewarding future.”

Celebrating Disability History Month at Keighley College

This week is the beginning of Disability History Month, an annual celebration that recognises the achievements of people living with additional needs.

To mark the occasion, we’re sharing stories from some of our extraordinary students who have overcome personal challenges, as well as spotlighting the work we have done to support learners and members of our community.

Here at Keighley College, we believe that everyone should be treated with dignity and respect, and we’re committed to building an inclusive environment for everyone.

Sporting success for Dylan

This year’s theme is ‘disability, health and wellbeing’, so it’s only fitting that we start off with a sports-related accomplishment.

Enter Dylan Lightowler, a Foundation Studies student who was named Young Disability Sportsperson of the Year for the second time at the Bradford Sports Awards in April.

Dylan trains three times a week and has his sights set firmly on the paralympics, all whilst working towards his Independent Living course at Keighley College.

Following his second win, Dylan said, “I’m so grateful to those who recognised my hard work and training, which I continued to do at home during lockdown. I love running and shot put, so I hope to reach my full potential at the next paralympics and the Special Olympics World Games.”

Dylan’s drive and determination shows that your potential is not limited by your cirumstances, and his story is an inspiration to anyone wanting to make their mark in the sporting world.

A helping hand with moving on

When students leave us, we want them to have the confidence to go out into the world and succeed. But it’s important to remember that no two paths to success are the same.

That’s why earlier this year we hosted our first ‘Moving On’ event. Students with additional needs were given the opportunity to speak to a range of different organisations about their options once they leave.

SEND Coordinator at the college, Jeanie Forster, said: “This was all about helping the students find out about the support that they can access once they have finished their time at college. It was also a great chance for them to build contacts while seeing what organisations are out there.”

“We got some very positive feedback from both the participating guests and students about how useful this event was.”

Much of the disabled community face everyday barriers to things other people take for granted. This event was a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness of this, and ensure that every student gets the very best chance of achieving their dreams.

Caring in the community

At Keighley College, we’re proud to have students prepared to go the extra mile for others. Step forward our heroic team of complex care workers, five students who have been helping people in our community with additional needs, as part of their health and social care work placements. 

Their mission was to help these individuals live independently in their own homes, by supporting with everything from medication and dietary needs to simply being a friend.

Rohima Ali, course leader at Keighley College, commented: “As a community-focused college, we’re dedicated to supporting local people as much as possible.

“The students have worked incredibly hard to keep people safe in their homes and ensure they have their personal care needs met.”

The work of these students proves that we all have it within us to make someone with additional needs’ life that bit easier. The only thing left to ask is: what will you do this Disability History Month?

Students put on a star performance at local arts festival

Last month, students from Keighley College teamed up with local arts hub, Keighley Creative, to create artwork for their annual Arts and Film Festival. 

The students created star-shaped lanterns from willow branches and tissue paper, which they then showcased in an evening light parade throughout the town. 

The parade is just one of a number of exhibitions and events that make up the festival sponsored by Keighley College, which aims to celebrate the creativity of local artists and provide free or low-cost attractions for the whole community to enjoy.

Madeleine O’Reilly, Keighley Creative’s festival and events director, posted about the event: “It was a joyous weekend, with mixed communities coming together to celebrate arts and culture in so many different formats.”

The festival is hosted by Keighley Creative, a local charity who commission projects and activities with local artists, communities, organisations and businesses across the region. 

Throughout the rest of the year, their work is mainly based at their multi-functional creative hub, which provides studios for artists and makers of all ages and abilities, alongside a purpose built gallery, cinema and education room.

You can find out more about Keighley Creative and the hub here.

The art of artificial intelligence

Students have been finding out how artificial intelligence (AI) can unlock their creativity.

Tim Rogers, the founder of Future Transformation, came into college on 31 October to give a talk on Astro Art.

Tim worked with the college earlier this year, when we  hosted Keighley’s first ever TEDx talk. This time he was here to show Alternative Provision learners how they could use AI software to generate their own artwork.

Course leader for Alternative Provision, Philip Hartley, said: “The different cohorts of learners really enjoyed the session.

“Some ended up not actually creating any art as they were so engrossed in their discussion on AI, and the implications of it for modern life!”

A really positive adventure

He added: “But another group of pre-16 students enjoyed the adventure of creating images and altering them using different layers of AI.

“They created many different ideas that we look forward to sharing in the near future.

“Overall, this was a really positive experience for all who took part and we’re hoping to welcome Future Transformation back for another session.”

Future Transformation, which runs the TEDx talks, is a social enterprise that provides awareness, opportunities and programmes for people who want to get into technology.

Keighley College Lecturer meets King Charles III

Keighley College Games Design Lecturer, Adil Hussain, was honoured to meet King Charles III on Tuesday during the king’s two-day trip to Yorkshire. 

The monarch visited Bradford City Hall where he met with Adil and several other young leaders, and spoke to them for a few minutes.   

Adil was there representing QED, a foundation that aims to transform the lives of people from disadvantaged communities. He was recently shortlisted for their Yorkshire Asian Young Achievers Awards, an award that goes to those who have overcome adversity or broken down barriers in order to progress.

Speaking about his experience of the day, Adil said:  

“I’ve never met a royal before, I was very nervous.

“When His Majesty arrived, he went to each table and greeted us. I shook his hand and he asked me what I do.

“I was there representing QED Foundation Yorkshire Asian Young Achievers and I told him I’m a games lecturer at Keighley College.

“When I told him that I’m a games design lecturer helping students make video games, he asked if I made video games myself and joked that he hoped I was making appropriate ones.”

When asked about the king himself, Adil commented that:

“My overall impressions of him were very positive. He was very human and down to earth. He listened to every person. I was proud and honoured to meet him.

“I feel so appreciative towards QED for giving me the opportunity to meet His Majesty, King Charles III. 

“I want to thank Adeeba Malik CBE DL, the Deputy Chief Executive at QED, for giving me this once in a lifetime opportunity, as well as Simon, Sarah and Eleni from the Digital & IT team and the rest of the team at Keighley College. 

“It was also a great opportunity for myself in terms of networking, I met some powerful and influential people.

“I’m over the moon, I feel like a little celebrity.” 

King Charles also visited Morrison’s headquarters in Bradford to learn more about their sustainable farming work. Following the City Hall reception, the king went onto Leeds where he visited Leeds Central Library and Leeds Art Gallery.

The winner of the Yorkshire Asian Young Achiever Awards will be announced on Friday 11 November at their celebratory dinner at the Cedar Court Hotel in Bradford. You can watch the event, which will be broadcast live online, here.

Helping voluntary organisations rise to the cost-of-living challenge

We were delighted to welcome lots of local community organisations to a recent Cost of Living Crisis Summit.

The event featured guest speakers from Project 6, an award-winning drug and alcohol dependency charity, and primary healthcare and community services provider Modality Partnership.

Some 17 groups attended to discuss the impact of the crisis and what they could do to help people cope, and there were also stalls from Citizens Advice, Keighley Food Bank, Keighley Pathways and others.

Pulling  together to help our communities

Principal of Keighley College, Kev O’Hare, said: “It was a pleasure for the college to host  this important summit, and welcome many of our partner organisations from the voluntary sector.

“The cost-of-living crisis is affecting so many people, including our students and their families. We are more than happy to support any initiatives, like this, that will help support our communities through these difficult times.”

The summit was attended by: KAWACC, DWP, Salvation Army Keighley, Roshni Ghar, Keighley Town Council, Oxenhope Village Council, Bradford Metropolitan District Council, WACA, Keighley Healthy Living, Good Shepherd Centre, James Project, Modality, Bradford District Credit Union, Community Action, Asda, Project 6, and NHS Airedale and Bradford.