Double joy for mother-and-daughter team at Keighley College

When Emily Ellershaw went for an interview at Keighley College she took her mother, Shirley, along for moral support.

Neither could have imagined that, a few years later, they would both be working for the college as teachers.

But that’s exactly what happened after Head of Service Professions, Kevin Burke, asked Shirley what she did for a living during that fateful interview. When Shirley replied that she was considering a career change, while wanting to continue working in health, Kevin told her about the college’s new Health & Wellbeing Foundation Degree.

Despite enrolling on different courses, Emily and Shirley were able to meet for study sessions, support each other through the Covid-19 lockdowns, and cheer each other on.

Never too late to follow your dreams

They succeeded and are now both enjoying careers at Keighley College.

Course Leader Shirley is delighted at how things turned out, and hopes her story inspires others to make a change.

She said: “It’s never too late to pursue the career you have dreamed about – even if the journey takes a little longer.

“Honestly, it is worth all the hard work when you finally have the job you want and love.”

For Emily, her time at the college, from starting as a student to ending up an employee, has been a transformative experience.

Amazing support through an amazing journey

It began when she was 15, and joined the college through a partnership programme with her secondary school, from which she  gained a Level 2 childcare  award.

She went on to complete a Level 3 diploma in Childcare and Education, a foundation degree in Supporting Teaching and Learning, a BA (Hons) in Children and Young People’s Care and Education, and finally a PGCE and teaching work placement.

She said: “It was when Kevin Burke started teaching me that I found out about the new supporting teaching and learning degree and, after numerous conversations, I applied for the course. I can say with absolute certainty that it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

“If it wasn’t for the support and passion from Kevin when talking about my future, and all the pathways I had in front of me, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

“When I started my PGCE I was extremely nervous and continually questioned myself if I was good enough, or if I could actually do this. But my fears were soon put aside when I started my first day of placement – I was welcomed into this amazing environment and everyone in the staffroom was extremely friendly, and made the time to help and support me.”

Emily is urging other adults who are looking to make a change to also take on a course at Keighley College.

‘Go for it and don’t look back’

She said: “The support I have received has been amazing, any time I have asked a question or panicked over deadlines or my work I have always had a tutor to support me.

“Being able to study and work together with my mum has also been an amazing experience, and I believe it created this stronger bond between us.

“My first words to other adult learners would be ‘go for it and don’t look back’, because it would be the best decision they would ever make. Keighley College is a family where, no matter what you’re thinking and feeling, you would have the support you need.

“It’s never too late to make a change, even if it scares you.”

Click here for more details on courses at Keighley College.

Celebrating LGBTQ+ History Month

What is LGBTQ+ History Month?

First launched in the UK in 2005, LGBTQ+ History Month is an annual celebration promoting the education of LGBTQ+, the history of the gay rights movement and encourages a safer, more inclusive society where the diverse spectrum of sexuality and gender is accepted and discussed openly.

Schools OUT, an organisation aiming to make schools safe and inclusive for LGBTQ+ students, brought about the first LGBTQ+ History Month in the UK, sparking over 150 events across the country in its first year. 

This year’s theme is Body, Mind and Spirit. There are many ways you can get involved this year, including OUTing the Past presentations, LGBTQ+ curriculum lesson plans, taking a look at interesting resources and much more.

What does it mean to identify as LGBTQ+?

We asked members of an LGBTQ+ Society what it meant to them. 

“To me, identifying as LGBTQ+ means having comfort knowing that even if you don’t have anyone close who supports you, there’s always a community, a family, behind you ready to support you 100%. It means having a place to belong even if you don’t feel like you’re worthy of taking up the space you exist in.​” 

“Being LGBTQ+ is standing out and being different from other people, being true to yourself and being who you truly are for yourself and not others.”

“It feels like a relief that I’m not the only one who is different. It feels nice when I find someone who is the same as me, as we can help each other because we both know how hard it is to struggle with our sexuality. It feels good having people to talk to about this type of subject, as not everyone understands how you feel.”

“Being LGBTQ+ to me means that I’m free to be who I am no matter what and I’m surrounded by people who are like me and accept me.”

LGBTQ+ triumphs in history

Over the past years, there has been significant progress in recognising the rights of LGBTQ+ people. However, it’s important to take time to reflect on this and how it happened. 


The Beaumont Society was founded, providing information to the general public, medical and legal professions on ‘transvestism’ and promoted research aimed at a further understanding. The word ‘transvestism’ is no longer used and the current terminology for this is now ‘trans’.

This society is now the UK’s largest and longest running support group for transgender people and their families.


This year marks an important milestone in LGBTQ+ history, as the government implements recommendations from the Wolfenden Report for the Sexual Offences Act 1967, which partially legalised same-sex acts in the UK between men over the age of 21 conducted in private. 

Although an important breakthrough towards equality, there was still a long way to go.


The UK Gay Liberation Front (GLF) was set up following the Stonewall Riots in New York over the treatment of the LGBTQ+ community by police. Marsha P. Johnson, a black trans-activist, is a key inspirational figure in LGBTQ+ history, as she sparked a series of protests across the world following the Stonewall incident. 

The GLF campaigned for rights of LGBTQ+ people, encouraging them to question the mainstream institutions in society which led to their oppression. 

Often protesting in solidarity with other oppressed groups, the GLF launched the very first Pride march in 1972, which is now a hugely successful and celebrated yearly event.


Although the GLF disbanded, this made way for the Campaign for Homosexual Equality; a Manchester-based organisation leading the fight for equality by legal reform. 


The Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988 was repealed, meaning students were now able to learn about homosexuality and LGBTQ+ history and rights, with the aim to create a more inclusive environment.


The Civil Partnership Act was introduced, allowing same-sex couples to legally enter into binding partnerships.

During this year, the Gender Recognition Act was passed which gave trans people full legal recognition of their gender, providing them the opportunity to update their birth certificate.


LGBTQ+ employees were protected from discrimination, harrassment and victimisation at work through the Equality Act

This also brought together existing legislation and added protection for trans workers.


This year marked a significant benchmark in LGBTQ+ history, with the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act allowing same-sex couples in England and Wales to marry. Scotland shortly followed suit with the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act in 2014.

It’s clear to see the progress that has been made over the last half century, but there is still much more to do for equality and social acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community. 

We can learn from the lessons from our past history and use them to address the issues we still face in today’s society. 


Keighley College has been a keen supporter and ally of the LGBTQ+ community. Along with staff members and students at Leeds City College, members of the LGBTQ+ societies came together to celebrate Pride Month and take part in the pride parades. Keighley College are also a proud partner of Keighley Pride as well as the Keighley Pride Flag Project. 

Celebrating at college

This year, we will be celebrating LGBTQ+ History Month digitally! Take a look at our list of exciting events and resources across the Luminate Education Group here.

Take part in our Pride Rainbow Quiz here.

See how to join in on our LGBTQ+ competition here.

For further details and information regarding resources or college events please contact or 

LGBTQ+ support

If you are struggling with mental health or just want to chat, there is plenty of support available.

LGBTQ+ Society

As a student at Keighley College, you have access to the Leeds City College LGBTQ+ Society, which provides a safe space for those who identify as LGBTQ+ to be fully themselves without fear of judgement, criticism or discrimination. The society also welcomes straight allies who are encouraged to attend events.

If you’d like to get involved, visit the page here to see what’s going on. 

LGBTQ+ Foundation

The foundation provides a helpline staffed by a team of dedicated staff and volunteer operators who have extensive training.

Stonewall Youth

Find information on coming out, health, and LGBTQ+ community groups near you.


Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer mental health service.

Mermaids UK

Support for transgender, nonbinary and gender-diverse children, young people and their families.

Gendered Intelligence

Access a number of resources by and for trans young people and gender questioning young people in the UK and beyond.


Sound is a group for LGBTQ+  young people aged 11-19 (up to 25 with disabilities) which meets in Bradford and Keighley. These groups offer a safe, confidential and supportive place where you can meet other young people. 

If you’re interested in finding out more about the LGBTQ+ terminology and definitions, take a look at the Stonewall glossary here

Secretary of State for Education pays tribute to Keighley College

Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, has paid tribute to the work that Keighley College is doing to bridge the skills gap through its work with local businesses. 

As part of the Q&A session with MP for Keighley and llkley, Robbie Moore, which centred on the recent announcement of the Skills For Jobs whitepaper, Williamson also highlighted the deep rooted industrial heritage of Keighley that has underpinned key successes in the town. 

Steve Kelly, Principal at Keighley College, said: “It’s fantastic to see Keighley College getting national recognition in parliament. Not only was the town’s steeped history highlighted, but also the work our college is doing to plug the skills gap in our district. We are committed to being at the heart of our community and working with the private, public and third sector to serve our town. 

“To be referenced by the Education Secretary as a college that is doing all the right things when it comes to building positive relationships with local businesses fills us with great pride. It’s an approach that is embedded in everything we do as we work closely with the communities that we serve, ensuring that the courses we offer are answering local demand. This national recognition further emphasises how crucial it is for the college to continue engaging constructively with the business community.

“Naturally we welcome the Skills For Jobs whitepaper as it echoes the positive work we are already doing and this will hopefully mean that other businesses will be encouraged to work collaboratively with us. We are so pleased to see that our community-led approach of forming tight knit relationships with local businesses is being recognised. We strongly believe that this will help us continue providing students with the right skills for now and in the future.

“As we look ahead to recovering from the pandemic, it will be even more important for businesses to work with us to ensure we’re supporting their needs. The college is already becoming a central driver for economic recovery in the district as a result of partnering with local support services and we want to see this continue.”

If you’re a local business and you would like to partner with Keighley College, then please contact

Couple excel with Access course

Keighley-based couple, Laura and Chris Smith, have always had an ambition to work in the healthcare sector. 

The recent pandemic gave them time to reflect on their career aspirations, realising they wanted to pursue their passion and study an Access to Health Science Professions course at Keighley College.

Choosing a college

When deciding on a college, Laura and Chris knew Keighley College was the perfect match for them.

Laura said: “As we live locally, we’re aware of the college’s great reputation so we knew this would be a good fit for us. After researching various courses, we thought the Access course sounded really interesting and engaging. As we both hope to go to university, this course provides us with all the tools, knowledge and skills needed to progress to higher education.”

Course highlights

The Access course allows students to study a range of health and science topics while gaining practical experience.

Chris commented: “The course is incredibly varied with many fascinating subjects, such as infection and immunity, control and coordination, complementary therapies, chemistry of drugs and psychology. These topics allow me to have a detailed, well-rounded knowledge of healthcare, giving me the perfect headstart for a nursing career.”

Laura added: “So far, the course has been amazing. As we are only studying three days a week, the course allows for flexibility around family commitments. Although it’s sometimes difficult to juggle work, family life and studying, the tutors have been exceptionally helpful by equipping us with all the tools we need to manage our work.”

Future plans

When they complete the Access course, Laura and Chris hope to study healthcare degrees.

Laura said: “I have always wanted to pursue a role in midwifery, which I hope to do when the course finishes in July. It’s been fantastic studying with each other on the course, as we’re able to support, inspire and motivate each other.”

Find out more about Access to Health Science Professions, as well as other Access to Higher Education courses, including Policing and Social Working.

Aim high with welding

Keighley College offers a range of enterprising welding courses, ranging from apprenticeships to diplomas.

To find out more about the courses, we spoke with course leader Simon Davison.

What welding opportunities are available at the college?

We begin the offering at Level 1 which teaches the basics of welding, right up to Level 3. Apprenticeships are also really popular here, which typically involves learning technical processes and developing practical skills.

What feedback do you get from students?

They love it. We have outstanding attendance across all our courses; it’s fantastic to see so many students excited about coming into college. We have a really nice mixture of male and female students on the courses. We’ve been so proud to see them go on to some amazing jobs, including working in the oil industry and travelling around the world.

What are the key benefits students can take away?

The students can develop their practical skills of using machinery through regular use of our facilities. We are one of few colleges that gives students their own welding bay, which creates a personalised experience, allowing them to master techniques much quicker than if they were sharing.

Due to us having 15 bays in the workshop, we usually have the same number of students per class. This is a great class size which creates a safe environment and good contact time.

The knowledge students gain from our staff is brilliant. All together, we have around 150 years’ experience and come from a variety of interesting backgrounds including teachers, facilitators and inspectors for the Welding Institute.

Why Keighley College?

Keighley College has an incredibly strong reputation in this field, we have been established as an engineering college for over 100 years and are recognised across the region for our engineering disciplines.

It’s one of the strongest colleges in the North of England for welding – we have an impressive range of equipment and many qualified staff members. The apprenticeship programmes we deliver are especially high quality due to our staff being qualified welding inspectors; we champion perfected techniques and excellent quality.

What advice would you give to a student considering studying a welding course at the college?

I would advise them to come over and meet us, we can give them a tour of the workshop and give some insight into what we do. We’ll let students have a taster and try it for themselves. If it is something they’re interested in, we will give them the best route possible to get on board – whether that is an evening class, full-time course or apprenticeship, we will be able to accommodate them.

Take a look at Keighley College welding courses here.


Going to great lengths to make a change

A champion of adult education, body positivity and mental health, Jane Dyminski leads the way in inspiring others to achieve their dreams and overcome challenging times.

Currently studying Level 2 Adult Hairdressing at Keighley College, we spoke to her to find out more about her inspirational story of setting up her own wig shop.


What is your experience of being a mature student?


It was really hard to come to college because I’m 45 years old. Previously, I was in dentistry for 30 years so making this career change was a big step for me. The main battle I faced was having no hair; I suffer with alopecia and wear wigs most of the time. Both of these factors acted as real tough barriers for me to overcome, but I’m incredibly glad I did. The young people weren’t as intimidating as I initially anticipated, everyone was so friendly and made me feel very welcome.


What do you enjoy about the course?


I love learning – I was worried that I may be a slow learner due to being out of education for so long, but the tutors are incredibly thorough and knowledgeable, making it easy to learn.

I was surprised how much I enjoyed the social aspect. Being a mature student, the young people often approach me with questions and I’m always delighted to be able to help them.


What inspired you to take this course?


I got alopecia when I was only 24 years old – all my hair fell out and I discovered how challenging it was to find good quality wigs. It had always been a dream of mine to set up my own wig shop, so I made the leap of faith and opened the doors of Big Wigs!

After completing a wig-making course, I learnt how to create my own bespoke wigs for my clients. I have always wanted to attend Trevor Sorbie’s wig cutting course, who set up the charity ‘My New Hair’ for his sister who had cancer. To complete the course, you need to be a Level 2 Hairdresser, so this is where my journey at Keighley College began. The course has really shaped my career path – I’ve discovered how much I love hairdressing and my end goal is to be a hairdresser and wig maker.


Is there support for other people experiencing similar challenges?


I run a support group once a month called ‘Friends of Hair’ for anyone experiencing hair loss. Regardless of people’s gender, hair loss can be a devastating confidence knock. The group provides a safe and comfortable environment, where people can discuss their experiences and get support.


How do you promote body positivity?


I use my social media to champion positive body images. Since I set up an Instagram page, I’ve got over 1,000 followers and I’ve also created a blog and website. Many people have found my story and platforms really inspiring – I’ve had messages from Cornwall to America commenting on how I’ve helped transform people’s confidence.

Being different is ok and that’s a message I’m truly passionate about. Social media can often make girls feel as if they’re not good enough, so it is incredibly important for me to show them that it’s good to be unique through posting photos without my hair.


What challenges have you faced?


Attending college as a mature student with no hair was really intimidating. I made sure to change my wig every week so the students got used to seeing different colours and styles. One student told me how nice my hair was – she was so surprised when I told her it was a wig! It was really nice to break the ice and talk openly about my alopecia.

I’m a real advocate of mental health and having alopecia can really affect anxiety levels. It’s important to keep positive and work for something you feel passionate about. It’s great to see so much mental health support within the college.


How does it feel knowing you’ve helped others?


I really like it. I’m trying to spread the word and I really enjoy helping people feel good about themselves. I felt so rubbish for so long at the early stages of alopecia that I wouldn’t want other people to feel like that and I am doing everything I can to empower people.

For more information on Keighley College’s hairdressing courses, click here.

Calculated grades for this year’s summer exams

The government has made the decision to cancel the 2020 summer examinations. We realise there will be a lot of unanswered questions as the guidance is quite limited at this stage, but we wanted to share with you what we do know or expect to happen.

This information is applicable to the summer exams for GCSEs, A levels, BTEC and some other equivalent vocational qualifications. Other qualifications’ awarding bodies may require students to sit an exam and/or assessment at a later date.​

Students will be awarded grades which fairly reflect the work they have put in. Please rest assured we will be doing everything we can to ensure that each student is awarded the grade they deserve in recognition of their hard work. It is clear from the announcement that every effort will be made to make sure that students will not be disadvantaged and will be able to progress as appropriate, to the next stage of their lives. 

Teachers will be asked to submit judgements about the grades students would have received if exams had gone ahead. This judgement will be informed by a range of evidence and data which could include; 

This will then be combined with prior attainment data and expected pathways to produce a calculated grade that is fair and expected. We will work closely with the exam boards to ensure that every one of our students achieves the right outcomes based on what is fair and reflective of their performance. This is important for adult learners or students who have only been studying their subject in this academic year.

For those who have exams as part of a vocational or technical qualification, some units will have already been assessed and completed. These will be important evidence in informing the final awarded grade. We will follow the guidance and work with the awarding organisations to ensure there is a flexible and pragmatic approach, so these students are not disadvantaged in any way. 

It is intended that students will be awarded their calculated grades before the end of July. Be reassured that grading and certification will look the same as in previous years.

Where students feel that their calculated grade does not reflect their performance, the option to sit an exam at the earliest reasonable opportunity will be available, or in the summer of 2021.

Students should continue with their remote learning as planned and supported by their teachers. This will make a difference in readiness for their next steps, and in completion of any assessments that may be used to inform the calculated grades. You should contact your tutor/s if you need any support.

We would like to offer assurance that although our ‘in college’ normal way of working has been interrupted, you can still apply for your next steps at college. We are doing different types of (safe) interviews and you will hear from us in due course. 

We look forward to celebrating the achievements of all our current students and meeting those who are yet to join us, as we plan for the new academic year ahead.

Keighley College reaches new level

Keighley College announces plans to launch an A level provision to boost its further education offering.

The Bradford Road campus provides full-time and part-time courses, apprenticeships and degrees, and welcomes a range of students from 16 to 19 years old and over.

Launching in September, Keighley College will be offering a two year Business and Law pathway, two year Social Science pathway and a three year pathway option. As the college is recognised locally for its high-quality vocational provision, the pathways will combine traditional A levels with vocational components. These elements incorporate Northern Council for Further Education (NCFE) and Business and Technology Education Council (BTEC) accreditations.

For students who haven’t met the minimum GCSE requirements to study A levels, the college offers Access to Further Education courses.

Steve Kelly, principal of Keighley College, said: “We’re excited to introduce brand new hybrid A levels. As we’re vocational experts, it’s fantastic to be able to combine practical and theory for the qualifications. We’ll be bringing in dedicated A level staff on board who are committed to creating an empowering and inclusive environment for our students.”

Keighley College, a member of Luminate Education Group, has also recently launched a higher education centre to meet increased demand for degree level courses in the area. The centre includes new learning and research facilities to complement the theoretical work of degree level apprenticeships and those studying for higher national qualifications.

Student steams ahead with STEM

A Keighley College student is having her work published in an official booklet promoting women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Masie Eccles from East Morton recently visited the Hitachi Rail site as part of International Day of Women and Girls in Science. The County Durham plant welcomed females from schools across the north to learn about roles including engineering and marketing. The students heard from workers who spoke about routes into careers and job responsibilities.

The visit was organised through Bradford Council’s Careers Technical Education (CTE) partnership and Industrial Centre of Excellence (ICE) scheme, who worked with Community Rail Lancashire and Bishop Line Community Rail as part of their ‘Women in STEM’ project. The initiative aims to educate young women about typically male-dominated career opportunities related to STEM.

Following the event, Masie submitted inspiring poem ‘You’ll see’ which celebrates powerful women. Her poem has been selected to feature in the ‘Women in STEM booklet 2020’ published by Community Rail Lancashire, engaging young women from diverse backgrounds to produce inspiring writing to express their views.

The booklet was launched at the ‘Women in STEM Celebration’ event hosted by Community Rail Lancashire at the Railway Museum in York. The event raised awareness of STEM career pathways for women and highlighted how the rail and community rail industries are working passionately towards creating a more inclusive place to work.

Masie’s tutor, Lizzie Sagar at Keighley College, said: “We were over the moon to hear that Masie’s poem had been selected for this extraordinary booklet. Her writing underpins women’s determination to achieve their full potential. At Keighley College, we’re dedicated to providing our students with the skills and experience needed to establish careers in STEM.”