Shouting about our students’ incredible volunteering efforts on Power of Youth Day

Power Of Youth Day, which takes place during Volunteers’ Week, is an opportunity to shout about the incredible contributions that young people are making in their communities, society and the environment. Throughout the day events and celebrations take place across the UK. Leaders, organisations and young people take to social media to celebrate the #PowerOfYouth, recognising the invaluable and diverse contribution they are making to society.  

To those ends, here are a few organisations that empower young people that you can direct interested students towards. 

Environmental action

Over the first week of the new year, Level 3 Public Services students planted 100 mixed trees in Keighley woodland, completing a 1,000 tree planting. Despite the wintry conditions, 30 Holly, 30 Hazel and 40 sessile Oak trees were planted.

The planting project continued earlier this month when 150 trees were successfully planted at Parkside Secondary School, Cullingworth, in a community partnership activity. This brought the total up to 1,000 trees and counting, an incredible piece of ongoing environmental work which those involved in should rightly be proud of. 

Keighley College welcomes new principal

Our Interim Principal Kevin O’Hare has been appointed as the new Principal of Keighley College.

Kevin took over from the college’s former Principal, Steve Kelly in December last year.

As interim Principal for the last four months, Kevin has made a positive impact in building relationships with both students and staff, which has contributed to, and is enhancing the college’s culture and presence in the community.

He has also played a key role in the college’s recent successes, such as hosting Keighley’s first ever TedX event. There has also been significant progress across the education institution’s A level, special educational needs and disability (SEND) and high needs provisions.

Kevin said: “What a brilliant four months I’ve had at Keighley College. I’m so pleased that I can continue on this positive journey with students, staff and the local community.

“I’ve been incredibly impressed with the aspirations of our young people at college. They have both embraced and made me feel welcome. It’s clear that our students have huge potential and I’m looking forward to leading the Keighley team to help deliver the best learning outcomes for them.

“I look forward to driving our culture of providing exceptional, responsive and life-changing education, skills and experiences for individuals, businesses and communities. This means ensuring that students gain the necessary skills and knowledge to progress to the next level, be it higher education, an apprenticeship or employment.”

Kevin has worked in the FE sector for 29 years. During this period, he has undertaken roles at every level of the curriculum. He has taught from entry to degree level, and has led, written and quality assured programmes across vocational, academic and apprenticeship programmes.

He joined Leeds City College, which is part of Luminate Education Group, in 1992 when there were limited options for creative learners in Leeds. With a small number of learners he helped establish a programme which has grown to include 850 learners over a range of subject areas.

He has an outstanding track record as a leader in education with a particular interest in Creative Arts and Digital programmes; his previous role was Head of Visual and Digital Arts at Leeds City College’s Quarry Hill campus.

Kevin sits on a number of professional boards and governing bodies, including as a Director of East Street Arts, and has worked with local organisations such as Games Republic, The Tetley, and Leeds Playhouse.

Games design students get top tips on ‘levelling up’

Budding games designers from Keighley College have been getting top tips from some of the giants of the industry.

BTEC Level 3 National Diploma Games Design and Development students got the chance to talk to leading figures in the sector when they visited the Yorkshire Games Festival in February.

The week-long event, held at Bradford’s National Science and Media Museum, is an annual extravaganza that celebrates games culture, design and production.

The festival also includes Game Talks days, featuring workshops, masterclasses and special guests, which are designed to boost the employability prospects and knowledge of aspiring designers.

Representatives from two of the UK’s biggest developers – Rocksteady, the team behind the Arkham series of Batman games, and Team 17, creators of Worms – were among the speakers.

Games design students from Keighley College enjoying Yorkshire Games Festival

An inspiring day out

Keighley College Games Design lecturer Adil Hussain said: “We had a very good turnout, with 17 of our students going along. They heard talks from the guest speakers that covered all aspects of the game design industry.

“The learners had an amazing time listening to professionals giving them tips on the design and development of computer games, and inspiring them about their future careers.”

Women in Games Ambassador, Bex Betton, also spoke to the students  about work experience opportunities in the industry, and the pros and cons of taking unpaid roles.

Adil added: “Some students had never been to the National Science and Media Museum before, so they also enjoyed the chance to explore as there were a lot of interactive areas, including an arcade with retro games.

“This trip was a positive experience for them which was great both educationally and for their mental wellbeing.”

Camp America places going fast

Keighley College students have been snapping up the chance to enjoy a fully funded work experience adventure in the United States.

We have teamed up with Camp America to secure dozens of camp placements, for students aged 18 or over, in the States this summer.

More than 40 students have now signed up but more places are still available for anyone who applies by 17 April.

The experience is designed to hone students’ employability skills while giving them a chance to enjoy a different country and meet new friends.

All travel, accommodation and living costs will be covered on the trip via £5,000 of student funding from the Turing Scheme.

To find out more click here. A snapshot of what life on a Camp America placement is like, meanwhile, can be found here.

Statement from Interim Principal, Kevin O’Hare, on the Russian invasion of Ukraine

Keighley College unequivocally condemns the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the terrible suffering and loss of life it is causing.

We stand in solidarity with all of the Ukrainians who are enduring this war, including the millions who have been forced to flee their homeland and seek refuge in other countries.

As an education provider, we cherish the values of diversity, inclusion and tolerance that are at the heart of democratic societies which respect the dignity of the individual and freedom of thought and expression. Indeed, tolerance and respecting others are part of the college’s core principles.

It is such values that authoritarianism and its consequences, of which this unprovoked invasion is a shockingly stark example, seeks to destroy. 

We are also painfully aware that this crisis is far from an isolated event. Instead, it is the latest – and from our European perspective, due to its proximity and severity, most shocking – example of a wider and ongoing pattern of conflict that has created refugees around the world. 

Whenever such crises arise it is vital that we respond with compassion and conviction, while continuing to uphold and defend our values.

And so it is now when we realise that many parts of the college, and wider, community are being affected by the events in Ukraine and will need our support. That includes our Russian students, many of whom will be opposed to the war, and all of whom – of course – have a right to feel respected and safe.

In terms of what we are doing specifically, the college:

A helping hand while ‘moving on’

Keighley College students have been finding out about the support that they can access after completing their studies.

The college invited a range of guest organisations to take part in its Moving On event on Wednesday 2 March.

The day was organised to let Foundation Studies students in particular, along with their parents and carers, talk to the visiting groups about the kinds of assistance that will be available as they progress.

SEND Coordinator at Keighley 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 had the guests set up tables with resources and information and then our students popped in to have refreshments, grab a goody bag and chat to each organisation about what they could offer.

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

The participating organisations were: School of Rock and Media, AWARE, Hft Bradford, Mencap, People First Keighley and Craven, Mind The Gap, Down Syndrome Training and Support Service Ltd, Focus Autism, Preparing for Adulthood, and Specialist Autism Services (SAS).

Foundation Studies at Keighley College are suited to anyone with disabilities, learning difficulties, or difficulty managing emotions and behaviour.

More information about our Foundation Studies courses can be found here

Deep discussion sparked through a day of powerful talks 

Keighley College hosted the town’s first ever TEDx event, which saw talented leaders come together to inspire local listeners from the community.

The event welcomed talks from a plethora of ambitious guest speakers, from expert entrepreneurs to community champions and education innovators. Influencers from a wide range of sectors, including health, technology, film and marketing, addressed captivated audiences at the college.

Kevin O’Hare, Principal at Keighley College, said: “This event was a real milestone for the town which put Keighley on the map globally; showcasing its rich culture, gripping ideas and unbeatable community spirit. We were thrilled to welcome diverse audiences who engaged in deep discussions through this phenomenal celebration of ideas and concepts.

“We were ecstatic to host 20 like-minded experts who engaged with our community and students on a fusion of innovative topics, such as the rise of artificial intelligence, raising aspirations of young people in the district, the power of apprenticeships, diversity in the TV and film industry, sustainable businesses and many more.”

The overall theme for the Keighley event was ‘life chances’.

Tim Rogers, founder of Future Transformation, which runs TEDx, added: “Keighley is a national epicentre of talent, shown through its skilled individuals and unbreakable resilience. The TEDx event was a unique opportunity to show the world what the town has to offer, and champion individuals who are leading the way in some of the country’s most exciting projects.

“We want to help shape the minds and skills of the local workforce, and what better way to do this than by hosting TEDx at Keighley College, which sits at the heart of the community. Through this day of wonder and curiosity, we have brought together communities, educators and businesses to show the town’s capacity to become a thriving place which encourages a new way of thinking and working.”

Among the speakers was Jason Atkinson, whose career started as an electrical apprentice before progressing to a technical director at local manufacturing firm, Byworth Boilers.

Jason commented: “The Bradford district is a real melting pot of ambitious and diverse young people, however not all of them know about the vast career opportunities available in the area. I was fortunate enough to discover apprenticeships, giving me the chance to engage in real-world scenarios and put my knowledge into practice. 

“The aim of my talk was to demonstrate the importance of providing young people with the best life chances by exposing them to options and career sectors they may not have come across before. Through discussing my journey from apprentice to director, I hope to inspire the next generation to consider apprenticeships, which can often lead to fulfilling careers in exciting sectors.”

TEDx is a community-led initiative which celebrates locally-driven ideas and elevates them to a global stage.

A once-in-a-lifetime overseas opportunity

Keighley College students are being offered the chance to experience a once-in-a-lifetime, fully funded work experience adventure in the United States.

We have teamed up with Camp America to secure the opportunity for up to 90 adult students.

All travel, accommodation and living costs will be covered on the trip, which is designed to hone students’ employability skills while giving them a taste of a different culture and the chance to make new friends.

While working for Camp America – supported, whenever needed, by guidance from a mentor – students will have the chance to become a role model for the children they are looking after.

Participants need to be 18 years old or over and will have the option of extending their stay, by up to 30 days, to further explore the US after they have completed their nine week placement.

To find out more about the offer click here. A snapshot of what life on a Camp America placement is like, meanwhile, can be found here.


The Principal of Keighley College has praised the contribution students have made to their local community – while congratulating their academic achievements.

Despite the difficulties posed by the pandemic the college has just enjoyed another successful set of Level 3 and GCSE results, with many students meeting or exceeding their target grades.

Principal Steve Kelly said he was full of admiration for the extra effort that students and staff had put in over a trying 12 months, and their sense of social responsibility.

Achievement in the face of adversity

He said: “This year has been extremely challenging for all students across the country, as well as for those who teach and support them.

“We are very proud of our students and over the past year they have not only completed their studies but helped in their local communities, as well as with their families. 

“I am pleased to say students at Keighley College have been able to gain their vocational qualifications and progress to university, further study or employment. Many have also decided to apply for apprenticeship opportunities in the region.

“The college is open for enquiries and we still have places for anyone wishing to enrol on our courses which start next month and include full-time vocational courses, T Levels, A levels and part-time study.

“We are here to help and would encourage anyone who has questions to contact us by calling 01535 685000, emailing or visiting”

Inspirational husband and wife team

There were many inspirational stories behind the grades achieved by Keighley College students, and especially adult learners, this year. 

Husband and wife Chris and Laura Smith both started at the college after initially being turned down for the Access to Higher Education – Health Science Professions course, as neither had the required GCSE grades for English or maths.

The Head of Service Professions, Kevin Burke, decided to take a chance and offered them each a place anyway. His belief in them was proved well founded as they both went on to work ‘tirelessly’ and pass the course, while also achieving Grade 5s in English and Maths.

Those achievements were all the more remarkable given the fact that Laura and Chris were both holding down a job while studying. They have now each been offered a place at Bradford University, where they will study Nursing.

Overcoming the challenges of dyslexia

Adult learner Katy Currell, meanwhile, has been struggling with the educational challenges of dyslexia for years.

Until recently trying to read longer pieces of text or to write represented a huge challenge to Katy. But that has now, thanks to ‘incredibly hard work’ on her part and specialist support from her English teacher, all changed.

Katy has just achieved a Grade 4 pass in her English Language GCSE, and her teachers also say  they have seen her self-confidence grow steadily as she has progressed.