King of the Courses: What Your Harrogate’s Nick and Pete learned about adult learning

Navigating an environment you’ve been out of for so long is no easy task. It’s therefore understandable why you might feel apprehensive about enrolling in an adult learning course.

But you’re not alone in wanting to take the plunge. According to one study by the Learning and Work Institute, as many as 44% of adults have taken part in learning in the last three years.

At Harrogate College, we’re on a mission to let adults in our region know that it’s never too late to hone a new skill or build on an existing one.

So to put our money where our mouth is, we invited two local legends, Nick Hancock and Pete Egerton from Your Harrogate radio, to test out our adult education provision in a head-to-head showdown to be crowned King of the Courses.

They battled it out over six weeks, with Pete clinching the title with a score of 4-2. We caught up with the pair to find out what they’ve discovered about adult learning.

“I was a bit sceptical”

Interest in adult education has enjoyed a rise in recent years, but its new-found popularity means that there are still misconceptions about what it means to be an adult learner.

When we asked Nick about his preconceptions he said, “I must admit, I thought adult education was mainly about people already in jobs attending conferences and training sessions to tell them how to do the job they were already doing!”

Many of these misconceptions arise from the assumption that learning as an adult is just like school, something that Pete found less than appealing.

He said, ”Admittedly, I was a little bit sceptical! School to me always seemed a bit limiting.

“I never felt truly free to pursue my passions and be independent. Stepping back into a classroom as an adult was a bizarre and somewhat unsettling concept.”

“A whole community under one roof”

But soon it was time for Nick and Pete to brush their nerves aside, set their alarms and arrive for their first day at the college. 

On their initial tour of the college, the pair were in awe of the facilities Harrogate College has to offer. Boasting over 40 courses, it’s important that our students have the best spaces available to learn specialist technical skills.

Pete said: “The thing that struck me the most was the variety.

I couldn’t believe that under one roof you could find a beauty therapy salon, a motor vehicle workshop and a science lab. Crazy! It was like having a whole community under one roof.”

Nick added:  “In my time at school, you’d have to go somewhere and get work experience if you wanted access to the proper equipment. But now, learners have it all at their fingertips!

“The tutors were incredible”

In the first two weeks, the pair rose to the challenge of beauty and bricklaying – two subjects that require a steady hand and an eye for detail. 

In the beginning, the pair found it tough. But the support of the tutors meant they were able to see it through. 

Nick said, “One thing I really appreciated was that even when I was a bit clueless (which was more often than I’d like to admit) the tutors still spoke to me with dignity and respect. 

“I was nervous that I’d feel a bit like a school kid, but that wasn’t the case.”

When we asked Pete how he found the beauty challenges, he chuckled, “I live in an all-female household so I’m surrounded by lots of nail and hair care, and let me tell you, it’s not as easy as they make it look! 

“I was rubbish at first, but the tutors were incredible. They teach all ability levels and their clear direction and patience really boosted my confidence to get stuck in.”

“I might be the next Van Gogh!”

Lots of people use adult learning as a way to upskill in a field they’re already familiar with, but there’s no reason why you can’t give something new a go. 

The average UK worker changes career every five years, so it’s never too late to find something you’re good at, which is exactly what happened to Nick.

Nick said: “I tried to keep an open mind going into the challenges, but naturally I thought I was going to be better at some than others. 

“What surprised me is that I actually did well in areas I’d never considered my strong suit. I was delighted to win the art challenge,who knew I might be the next Van Gogh!”

Pete added: “I completely agree. If you’re browsing the catalogue of courses and don’t see one that jumps out at you, I’d encourage you to try something new. 

You might unlock a talent you never knew you had. Although, if you do, try not to get as smug as Nick!”

“Take your skills to the next level”

As the curtain fell on King of the Courses, we asked the pair to reflect on their learning journey, and how it had changed their understanding of adult education. 

Pete (or His Majesty as he now prefers!) has learned that adult education is a far cry from traditional schooling. 

He said, “Speaking to tutors and current students made me realise that adults can learn in their own way, in their own time. 

“If you’re considering adult education, but you’re worried about what you can commit to and if you’ll be able to do it, just get in touch! 

With full, part-time  and online courses on offer at Harrogate College, there’s something to suit all abilities and schedules.

For Nick, the quality of the facilities and the expertise of the members of staff have transformed his perception of studying in later life. 

He said, “I had this vision of adult courses taking place in stuffy conference centres or over boring online calls, but that couldn’t be further from the truth!

“Harrogate College was buzzing with staff and students eager to learn, and it certainly had the facilities to take your skills to the next level. 

Want to find out how adult learning could open doors for you? Find out more at

Smiles all round as students celebrate GCSE success

For our GCSE and Level 2 students, the anxious wait for results came to an end last week. 

Learners faced the challenge of a return to pre-pandemic grading levels, despite many having had their secondary education disrupted by the Covid-19 lockdown periods.

But there was much cause for celebration at Harrogate College, as students of all ages and walks of life celebrated their exam success. 

“I can’t believe it!”

James Thompson couldn’t contain his excitement after he got his GCSE Maths result. 

He said: “I’m truly buzzing. I can’t believe it, I got a 5! It was definitely worth all the hard work as this passing grade will open so many doors for me.”

As he moves on to the next stage in his education, James looks back on his time at the college with fondness.

He added: “I’m so grateful for all the support I’ve received, particularly from my tutor Marie.”

First time lucky

Amber Crane was previously homeschooled, and had never sat a formal exam before. 

She said: “I was quite nervous, but I had a lot of support. I’ve just found out I passed my GCSE English with a 7, so I’m really pleased.

“Attending college was a big change for me, but I don’t regret it.”

Amber is now going on to do a T Level in Health.

Celebrating together

Friends Andrii, Sam and Simon all passed GCSE Maths with excellent grades. 

Andrii moved to the UK from Ukraine last year and was delighted to get an exceptional grade 8 despite the tough circumstances. 

Sam and Simon are looking forward to progressing with their electrical studies.

High fives from the High Sheriff

Our students have been rubbing shoulders with a high profile guest who once stood in their shoes – the High Sheriff of North Yorkshire.

It has been decades since Clare Granger was last at the campus as a student of fine art, but lots of happy memories came flooding back when she visited on Monday 11 September.

The High Sheriff discussed our sustainability work, our commitment to delivering an employer-led curriculum, and the plans for our new £20 million building with Principal Danny Wild.

She also enjoyed looking around our creative facilities, including textiles, painting, photography, ceramics, printing and media makeup, during a whistle-stop tour.

She said: “How exciting to be back here after quite a few years – I was here probably during the nineties!”

Creativity and wellbeing

Ms Granger was intrigued to hear about MA Creative Practice graduates Hannah Alderson, who is now exploring how working with clay can help reduce mental health conditions like anxiety.

MA Creative Practice Programme Manager, Dr Annabel Smith, told the High Sheriff: “Hannah noticed, when she started to work with clay, how it immediately helped her own anxiety and wanted to find out more.

“She’s now taken research into that further and is working with doctors, psychologists and psychiatrists with a view to starting a PhD: all while keeping a busy home life going.”

Ms Granger said: “Part of the theme of my High Sheriff year is exactly what Hannah’s doing, exploring the links between creativity and wellbeing.”

Technical training, including in green skills such as sustainable energy, low carbon construction, retrofit and electric vehicle maintenance, is at the core of what we do.

So the High Sheriff was also shown around the campus’s construction yard, where she viewed a model passivhaus building – created using ultra-efficient energy use standards – and the bricklaying and solar panels areas.

Lecturer Denise Cain, meanwhile, explained how the hair and beauty salons were producing skilled hairdressers, while Hospitality Programme Manager, Jason Parry, led a tour of the training kitchens.

Praise for our focus on technical skills

Reflecting on her visit, Ms Granger was full of praise for projects including the Harrogate College Employers’ Network.

She said: “What a wonderful initiative to find out what skills the businesses are predominantly looking for and to train the students accordingly. It sounds simple but so often we seem to struggle to provide the skilled workforce that is required. 

”I enjoyed seeing and hearing all about the various courses offered and it was so good to hear of the response by the college to sustainability.”

Referring to the new building, she added: “It certainly sounds as though that will be tremendously exciting. I shall certainly look forward to seeing it when it is complete.”

Danny said: “It was a real pleasure to welcome Clare, both as the High Sheriff of North Yorkshire and a very successful former student, so she could see all the different things we are doing now.”

The employers’ network, which was set up to create a direct link between the college and businesses, now has 127 members.

*Photographs by Matt Radcliffe Photography

Helping Harrogate’s young carers cook up some fun

Young carers have been putting their culinary skills to the test with us.

Members of the Harrogate Young Carers group – part of Carers’ Resource – have all had to shoulder the responsibility of looking after a sibling, parent or other relative at an early age.

That means they often have limited opportunities to enjoy themselves, so when they do get a chance to have fun they grab it.

The college helped them do just that recently when we invited 18 young carers along to use the training kitchens.

The visitors made the most of the opportunity by creating pizzas from scratch, batches of brownies and more. The event was supported by RAF Menwith Hill, which supplied the ingredients, and Heck Food Ltd, which donated a variety of sausages so the children could guess what each one was made of.

A great day out making treats

Young Care Practitioner at Carers’ Resource, Linda Hall said: “The young carers had a fantastic time; the feedback was that they had the best day ever, and didn’t want it to end!

“This was a chance for them to have some respite, away from their caring roles, and to be with others who are in the same situation. They had the pizzas that they made for lunch, made brownies to take home, and enjoyed quizzes about chocolate and other foods.

“The venue was perfect for them as they feel really grown up there, and love the whole set-up of the kitchens. We are very grateful to the college for the invitation and its support.”

The kitchens are usually used by our catering and hospitality students, including on themed dining nights which are open to the public. This autumn the facilities will also be used by those who sign up for two new courses, an After School Cookery Club and, for adults, an Italian cooking course.

A warm welcome for ‘extraordinary visitors

We have invited young carers in to use the kitchens before, as part of our wider support for the group. Hospitality Programme Manager, Jason Parry said: “These young people do extraordinary things every day for others, while also having to deal with their studies and all their other everyday duties.

“So they thoroughly deserve any chance they can get to have fun and enjoy some carefree moments.

“We are delighted to support groups like Harrogate Young Carers, which do such brilliant work in our local community, whenever we can.  They are welcome back any time.”

The team at Carers’ Resource supports young carers in the Bradford, Harrogate, Craven and Selby districts by organising trips, activities, mentoring, youth clubs and more. To find out more visit .

New scheme gives ‘invaluable’ work experience to young people with learning disabilities

An NHS organisation in Harrogate has been benefitting from the hard work of Harrogate College students, as part of a new supported internship scheme.

Since last September, four interns have been given roles within Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust and Harrogate Integrated Facilities (HIF) and tasked with working in areas ranging from IT and equipment services to gardening. 

The supported internships programme supports young adults with special educational needs and disabilities to learn while gaining real employability and work skills.

The scheme is run in collaboration with DFN Project SEARCH, who provide one-year transition programmes based on their successful international model, first used in Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in the USA.

In England, just 4% with a learning disability go on to secure paid employment, compared to 80% of their peers. Supported internships offer a structured transition from education to employment, offering invaluable work experience for those taking their first step into the job market.

The interns are given the opportunity to rotate through different departments, and are offered close one-to-one support from their college tutors.

Janine Stephens, SEND Internship Coordinator at Harrogate College, said: “This programme is one of the first of its kind, and we’re delighted to be involved in creating opportunities for young people who are often overlooked.

“It’s great to see the interns getting stuck into different types of work and watching their confidence grow as a result.

“I’m incredibly proud of their achievements; we’ve had some great feedback from the departments they’ve been a part of. One of our students has even managed to land himself a full-time role in sterile services.

“They are a real asset to themselves and the college.”

One of the interns, Ciaran Smith has been working with the grounds team at HIF, and believes the programme has given him the self-assurance to enter the world of work.

Ciaran said, “I have really enjoyed the challenges Project SEARCH has given me.

Ciaran’s mum Gill added, “I cannot speak highly enough of the people working on this programme. For the first time, I am looking at my son’s future with a feeling of optimism.”

To find out more about supported internships and other apprenticeship opportunities, visit:

Shining an artistic light on nature

‘Absolutely amazing!’

That is how MA Creative Practice student, Hannah Alderson, is feeling after her work was selected for a major exhibition.

Hannah and one of our graduates, Lisa Lundqvist, are among the artists taking part in the The Secret Life of Hedgerows display at Danby Lodge National Park Centre.

The pair’s paintings, prints and other works have already been viewed by thousands of visitors and will remain on show until Monday 6 November.

Lisa and Hannah were invited to get involved after exhibition curator Sally-Ann Smith had seen examples of their work at the British Craft Trade Fair, and was impressed.

Hannah, who is on course to complete her degree this year, is exhibiting a mixture of nature-themed collagraph prints and watercolour paintings.

Relishing an incredible opportunity – and course

She said: “My three watercolours are of thistles, which I love as they provide an excellent source of food and shelter for insects and birds along our hedgerows.

“It feels absolutely amazing to have my work exhibited and sold at such a beautiful gallery, surrounded by the stunning North York Moors.”

Reflecting on her course, she added: “The MA has been an incredible experience and I have gained so much confidence in myself, my work and as an artist. I focused mainly on ‘wellbeing through art’, in particular through using clay, and the course has enabled me to explore something that otherwise I’d not have been able to do.”

Artist Lisa Lundqvist with her paintings in The Secret Life of Hedgerows exhibition at Danby Lodge National Park Centre

Lisa, who graduated a couple of years ago, was also hand-picked for the Danby Lodge exhibition. She said: “Sally-Ann felt my organic, semi-abstract art suited the subject matter and she particularly liked the textural qualities I achieved by painting in oil mixed with cold wax medium.

“All of the artists were invited to a study day where we were given a guided tour of the farms, fields and hedgerows in the North York Moors National Park.

“It was exciting meeting the other participants and then seeing the results of all our hard work come to fruition. The differing artistic interpretations, mediums and styles makes for a fascinating and engaging exhibition.”

‘Just rewards’ for talented students

MA Creative Practice Programme Manager, Dr Annabel Smith, has been delighted to watch the progress of both artists.

She said: “This is exactly the kind of opportunity we love to see our students securing before and after graduation.

“It is a testament to Hannah and Lisa’s talent that their works are being featured in a high-profile display, alongside those of seven other skilled artists, like this.

“The exhibition will be seen by so many visitors who can admire both the quality and the scope of the work, which includes ceramics, textiles and print.”

The Secret Life of Hedgerows exhibition is free and can be viewed at Danby Lodge National Park Centre’s Inspired by… gallery.

Support for Harrogate’s young footballers

We are thrilled to announce that we have become the official sponsor of Harrogate Town AFC’s Player Development Centre.

The partnership reflects a shared commitment from the college and the club to help young people – in this case the district’s aspiring footballers – grow and succeed.

The Player Development Centre offers a platform for junior players to refine their skills, nurture their passion, and achieve their full potential.

Happy to team up with a brilliant club

Celebrating a new sponsorship deal – Harrogate College Principal Danny Wild and Harrogate Town AFC’s Commercial Director, Jo Towler

Principal Danny Wild has visited the club to see the players receiving their new, Harrogate College branded, kit. He said: “Harrogate Town AFC, just like our college, is committed to giving great opportunities to the district’s young people to help them flourish and grow.

“Collaborating with brilliant local organisations is in our DNA, and we know that sport brings all kinds of benefits – physical, mental and social – to those involved. So we are proud to be supporting the club, our local community and its aspiring young footballers in this way.”

Valuable support will make a difference

Harrogate Town AFC Commercial Director, Jo Towler, added: “We are delighted that Harrogate College has become the official sponsor of our Player Development Centre.

“The partnership reflects our shared dedication to supporting young people and fostering their development both on and off the field. We are excited to work closely with the college to create a positive impact on the local community.”

Milestone for employers’ network

More than 100 businesses have signed up to Harrogate College Employers’ Network.

The group has just welcomed its 103rd member – representing a four-fold increase since its first meeting in 2021.

The network was set up to create a direct link between the district’s businesses and the college so that training and work opportunities could be tailored accordingly.

That has resulted in closer collaboration which has brought a range of benefits to both parties.

Building something special

Principal Danny Wild said: “It’s fantastic to see the network growing so fast. To have gained more than 100 members in under two years is a real achievement – and a sign that we’re building something special here.

“The feedback we gain from businesses is invaluable and helps us identify and address any gaps in our courses, so we can keep ahead of the curve in terms of meeting emerging training needs.

“Our students also benefit from meeting employers when they come along to support our events, like recruitment fairs, or give guest talks – and this in turn helps them secure work placements or apprenticeships.

“Our business partners, meanwhile, get the opportunity to directly influence our curriculum to ensure it’s delivering the training, and future workforce, they need. They also get some great networking and free advertising opportunities, so it’s a win-win.”

A network that sets the college apart

One of the network’s many businesses is Boroughbridge-based ATM Ltd – contractors in vegetation management, fencing, landscaping and ecology. HR administrator, Kelly Thomas, said: “We appreciate and support the working relationship we have with the college and its employers’ network.

“We have worked out that the best way to grow our workforce is by identifying someone who has an interest in our industry, investing in their development, and nurturing their progression.

“We aim to do this through apprenticeships and encouraging those leaving college to consider a career at ATM – and that’s where the network comes into its own, and sets Harrogate College apart from others we work with.”

Other local employers can find out more when the network holds its next meeting – which includes lunch – on Thursday 6 July. Places can be reserved at .

Harrogate College Business Newsletter – May 2023

Harrogate College prides itself on working hand in hand with local businesses and organisations to provide the skills and training they need to ensure that our economy grows and thrives. Our monthly newsletter is a handy way of keeping our partners informed of developments at the college.
To receive future Harrogate College Business Newsletters directly to your inbox click here

Business Newsletter – May 2023

Dear partners,

We were proud to be nominated for three Harrogate Advertiser Business Excellence Awards this year – and are absolutely delighted to now be able to say that we have been crowned winners in one of them! Read on to find out more.

May has been a busy time in college (despite all the Bank Holidays), and started off in fine style when we welcomed the local Chef of the Year finalists in to compete for the trophy.

We were also pleased to share some great news about two of our supported interns who are working at Harrogate Hospital – another success story for our partnership work with local employers.

Your Harrogate’s King of the Courses competition, meanwhile, is continuing to spark interest in our courses while providing some light-hearted fun for the station and its listeners/readers. We include an update on presenters Nick and Pete’s latest challenge in this edition of the newsletter.

I hope you enjoy the read!

Danny Wild
Harrogate College


Harrogate Business Excellence Awards
As this great photograph (taken by Gerard Binks Photography) shows – we were one of the winners at the Harrogate Advertiser Business Excellence Awards 2023!

We scooped the Sustainability Award on the night, in recognition of our work to deliver vital green skills training while reducing our own carbon footprint.

Principal Danny Wild said: “As a college that is fully committed to playing its part in tackling the climate emergency and supporting our businesses as they embrace green technology, we are delighted to see our sustainability work being recognised like this.”

The college was also a finalist in the Business in the Community and Employee Health and Wellbeing Award categories.


Awards for hospital interns
We’re proud to share the news that two of our supported interns have received a national award.

Lewis Grayston and Charlize Barik, who are both based at Harrogate Hospital, were recognised for their progress and achievements by Hft, a charity that supports over 2,500 adults with learning disabilities.

The pair were two of only 20 interns and graduates, from across England and Wales, to receive the award.

Find out more.

A ‘hair-raising’ challenge for presenters Nick and Pete
Nick Hancock and Pete Egerton, from Your Harrogate, have been coming to the college regularly since April to try their hand at all kinds of skills.

Their latest King of the Courses challenge saw the duo receive some quick, expert training on the art of hair styling, before putting what they learnt to the test on two ‘training heads’.

To find out how they fared, and more about the competition and the pair’s previous results, click here.

College welcomes top chefs for ‘cook-off’
We were glad to welcome some of the Harrogate district’s top chefs on Tuesday 2 May.

As has become an annual tradition, the finalists of the Harrogate Hospitality & Tourism Awards‘ Chef of the Year contest used the college’s catering facilities for their ‘cook off’.

The contestants were each challenged to create a delicious main course from a mystery box of ingredients.

The winner will be revealed at an awards ceremony on 12 June.

Work with us! We are a college that prides itself on collaborating wth the district’s businesses and community groups. To find out more contact Business Engagement Advisor Susan Roberts, email: .

We hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of our Business Newsletter.