Adult learner inspired to launch beauty business

Adult student, Sarah Cookson, has suffered with extensive debilitating pain for many years. 

Passionate about helping others with similar disabilities, she embarked on her learning journey at Keighley College to become a qualified beauty therapist, resulting in the opening of her business ‘Healing Hands Holistics’. 

The right choice

Sarah’s medical situation meant she had been out of work for a while, however she had always been interested in beauty and was ready for a new challenge.

“My daughter was studying a media hair and makeup course at Keighley College and it was encouraging to see the college go above and beyond to support her with her education and wellbeing. 

“I was asked by her tutor, Clare Ravenscroft, if I was interested in taking a course. Although I’d been out of education for years and lacked confidence, I thought this could be a fantastic opportunity to rediscover myself and pursue my passion.

“During my time at college, I have studied Complementary Therapies Level 3, Beauty Therapy Level 2 and I’m looking to complete the Counselling Level 3 qualification next year.

“I’m currently studying Beauty Therapy Level 3 and I absolutely love it. My tutors are incredibly knowledgeable and we’ve covered topics such as mechanical massage, gel nails, body analysis, product and service promotions and anatomy.”

The beauty of learning

Although apprehensive about returning to college as a mature student, Sarah felt instantly at ease with the group.

“I have always been made to feel part of my class; everyone is so friendly and supportive – my age has never been a barrier to learning. 

“In addition to my beauty studies, I have also gained my maths GCSE with the college. This subject was always something I struggled with previously, but the teaching methods and support meant I passed with flying colours.

“The college is amazing, we have large classrooms with small class sizes, meaning we get valuable one-to-one time with tutors. There is a real sense of community on campus, each student is made to feel like a person rather than a number.”

Back in business 

Since beginning college, Sarah has gained the skills and confidence to start her own beauty and complementary therapy studio.

“My experience at college has inspired me to open my own studio, Healing Hands Holistics, where I practise all the treatments I’ve learnt during my courses. 

“I suffer with fibromyalgia, spinal arthritis, spinal degeneration and scoliosis – all of which give me extensive debilitating pain. Although I still have many medical, physical and mental health challenges, coming into college has provided an anchor of support and helps me stay focused.

“Because of my own experiences, it’s really important for me to offer treatments for people who have disabilities similar to my own. My learning has allowed me to gain practical knowledge to be able to safely and effectively treat this category of clients, as I know how hard it can be to find therapists who have knowledge on certain medical and physical issues.

 “Coming back to education has reignited my spark, giving me the opportunity to rediscover myself, my abilities and passions.”

Discover more about our beauty courses here.

A message from the principal

Following the Prime Minister’s recent announcement that colleges will be reopening, we really look forward to welcoming most of you back for a phased return from Monday 8 March. 

Although all students have been working incredibly hard from home, we’re pleased that we can start to invite everyone back to college in line with our phased approach and plans for testing. 

Why is it important to come into college?

As you’ve been remote learning for some time, returning to campus is really important for your wellbeing. You’ll be able to spend time with your peers, join in with college activities and access face-to-face support from tutors, college counsellors or the Safeguarding team. 

What safety measures will be in place?

We want you to feel safe at college, so we’ve implemented many safety measures to help this happen. 

Our safety measures include:

All students and apprentices did a fantastic job of following these rules before lockdown and I am sure they will when we return. 

The government lockdown guidance states that you must stay at home and only leave your house when necessary, such as for basic necessities, exercise, work (where you cannot work from home), meeting your support bubble or to seek medical assistance or avoid injury. 


We have been following government and Public Health England guidance on our Covid-19 safety measures. College Covid-19 Lateral Flow Device (LFD) tests are another measure that help in creating an even safer environment.

College testing

On returning to college, you will be expected to take three Covid-19 tests on campus, which will help to identify anyone who may be infectious.  These tests in college will happen three to five days apart. Your tutors will inform you of the times you have been booked in for student tests. 

Anyone who has taken their first test will need a negative result before coming into the classroom. After your second and third test, you can return to lessons while you wait for your results. 

Home testing

After your three tests at college, you will be expected to take tests at home twice per week. 


You will receive your test result on your phone or by email. If this is negative, you will be told when to begin your timetabled sessions. 

If positive, you must not return to college. You must self-isolate and book a test through the NHS website.

Before getting tested, you will need to complete a consent form with your tutors. You can find the NHS’ helpful guide to testing here.

There will be a different approach to testing and returning to learning for higher education students and apprentices. If this applies to you, please get in touch with your tutor for more information.

We’ve created this video to show you how to take your lateral flow test at college.


We’d like to thank everyone for their hard work and determination during such a challenging time. We’re really looking forward to welcoming you back into college next month and hope to return to normality soon. 

If you have any questions about attending college, please get in touch emailing You can also take a look at our student FAQs here.

Steve Kelly

Principal at Keighley College

Keighley College launches reverse advent calendar

Keighley College is counting down to Christmas with its ‘reverse’ advent calendar for students and families in need during the festive period. 

In its second year, the calendar allows students and staff to donate food, clothes and toiletries for disadvantaged students and families. Starting on 1 December, each box on the display will be filled and at the end of term, the contents of the calendar are distributed.

This year’s advent calendar is coordinated by Health and Social Care students, supported by the Learner Experience team. 

Steve Kelly, Principal of Keighley College, said: “Being able to give something back to our students and their families this year is incredibly important to us. We appreciate how difficult this year has been and our students have shown admirable resilience and strength.

“As many families may be struggling this Christmas, the calendar aims to support them by providing valuable products such as toothpaste, toothbrushes and shampoo. Last year’s calendar was incredibly successful – we were humbled by the kindness of everyone at college and felt privileged to be able to support our community.”

Keighley College goes to great lengths to support the community

Keighley College is offering free haircuts to those who live locally as part of its commitment to the community. 

The Hairdressing department is opening the doors of its socially-distanced salon for its free service. The initiative aims to support people within the community who may be struggling financially and helps people to feel confident during unprecedented times. 

Caroline McGreavy, Apprenticeship Assessor Coach at Keighley College, said: “The students providing the haircuts are studying a new Barbering Diploma Level 2 course at college, giving them the perfect opportunity to build their local clientele. They have all found this an enriching experience where they can practise their skills while engaging with the community.

“At a time where many people are struggling, we feel it’s important to give back to the community. Whether people are attending a job interview or just want to feel good about themselves, our friendly team of students are on hand to help out. The feedback so far has been outstanding; being able to boost people’s confidence gives the students an immense sense of pride.”

The salon has many safety measures in place, including socially distanced seats and the use of face visors, masks, disposable aprons and gloves. To book an appointment, call 01535 685030 and select a time slot. 

New qualification lifts ambition

Keighley College is working closely with elevator firm, Keighley Lifts, to offer a new lift engineering qualification.

Keighley is a nerve-centre for engineering with many pioneering and inspiring businesses. Following a Keighley-Made meeting, industry experts identified a recent skills gap. As a result, more young people are being encouraged to develop the relevant skills to prepare them for employment in this sector.

Keighley Lifts will be supporting the college in developing modules necessary to obtain a lift qualification. This will include onsite training with college assessors and the enrolment of their own apprentice at the college, who will have recently enrolled on a three year lift and escalator course.