What are the advantages of T Levels? We asked our students!

Deciding what to do when you finish school can be tough. With options such as apprenticeships, A Levels and vocational courses, it can be tricky to figure out which one is right for you. 

Of all the qualifications, T Levels are the new kid on the block. Introduced just two years ago, T Levels feature a mix of classroom-based learning and work experience to provide you with the skills you need for future employment.

Having only been around for a short time, you may not be aware of all the things a T Level has to offer you. So we spoke to two of Harrogate College’s Digital and IT students, Adrian and Claire, and asked them: what are the advantages of T Levels?

The course offers a blend of different learning styles

Whichever T Level you take, you’ll spend 80% of the course in the classroom and the other 20% on a meaningful industry placement. For Adrian, the varied learning style has been a great way to develop and master certain skills, before putting them to the test. 

He said, “The best thing about the T Level is the mixture of theory and practical learning. I like to learn the basics so that I can then put it all into practice when doing work experience.” 

On Adrian’s Digital and IT course, he’s had the opportunity to work with a regional IT provider, which he says has helped deepen his understanding of how we use digital technologies to analyse and solve problems.

You can specialise in your favourite subject

For people who already know what they want their future to look like, having to take so many options at GCSE can be frustrating. If this sounds like you, then T Levels could be your one-way ticket to specialising in something you love. 

Claire’s passion has always been IT, and so she was delighted to find out there was a way she could focus on it full time. 

She said, “I’ve always been interested in information technology, especially programming. So when one of my tutor’s told me about this T Level, I knew it would be perfect for me. 

“So far I’ve had the chance to learn about a variety of areas, including internet networks, security and programming, which is still my favourite. There are so many different aspects of IT that I’d never even heard of, so taking this course has been great to expand my horizons.”

Outside of college, Claire gets to use what she’s learned to advance her coding skills, which she likes to do whilst listening to Taylor Swift.

They prepare you for the next step, whatever that may be

All T Level courses have been designed in collaboration with employers, to ensure that you get the skills you need to enter straight into employment. 

But what if, like Adrian and Claire, you’re thinking about university? The good news is that taking a T Level will not stop you progressing onto further education. 

Adrian said, “my main goal is to get a place at university to study computer science. I think that my T Level will help me get there, as the skills that I will develop throughout the course and work experience will help me a lot.”

Claire added, “I think that my T Level will help me get to university as not only does it help me understand useful subjects, the independent learning aspect allows me to be versatile and a better version of myself.”

In fact, as many as 130 UK universities have confirmed that T Levels will be suitable for entry on to at least one of their courses. 

So, how do our students rate their T Level?

Adrian: “I would rate it 8/10. It is definitely a big improvement from the course that I did last year, and I’m hoping by the end of the year that score will continue to improve.”

Claire: “I would rate it 9/10 because everyday you get to learn new things and absorb knowledge which helps you in building your future.”

High praise indeed! 

If you enjoyed reading about Claire and Adrian’s experiences, visit our T Levels page to find more about studying T Level at Harrogate College 

Students share their experiences for UK Disability History Month

This week marks the beginning of Disability History Month, an annual celebration of the achievements of people living with a disability. 

This year, the theme for UK Disability History Month is ‘Disability, Health and Wellbeing’. Unfortunately, there can still be a level of misunderstanding when it comes to some of the challenges disabled and neurodiverse people can experience.

Here at Harrogate College, we have a number of remarkable students who overcome challenges everyday and who have gone on to enjoy personal and academic success. 

We spoke to three students about their experiences of wellbeing within education and how the college has supported them along the way.

‘For others with autism who are thinking of studying or applying for a job, I would say – never let the ignorance surrounding autism get in your way.’

Megan Knight, who is autistic, was apprehensive about feeling overwhelmed when she first started her course, due to the potential learning barriers and sensory triggers associated with more hands-on learning. But the college’s staff worked closely with her to draw up an action plan that would remove obstacles and give Megan the very best chance to succeed – and it worked.

Megan said, “My tutors at Harrogate were great at setting a calming work environment, so I was less likely to be triggered.

“Autism can affect the way we learn but, due to me being a visual learner, I was often able to watch a treatment demo before being able to copy it myself.

“Despite the difficulties and struggles we can face every day, your autism gives you a creative view on the world, so work with that and let that creativity shine through. Stay focused on your goal and don’t let anyone get in your way.”

Megan Knight studied Level 2 and 3 Beauty Therapy at Harrogate College, and has since gone on to excel in her role as a spa therapist. 

‘The college has been really flexible to let me continue my fencing and training, it’s been really great.’

Emily Holder has cerebral palsy, but manages to fence using a specialist sports wheelchair. Earlier this year she reached a personal milestone by representing the GBR women’s team at the Warsaw Para World Cup. She now hopes to go on and compete in the 2024 Paralympics, all whilst studying at University of York towards a BA in Business Management. 

Emily has credited Harrogate College and her tutors for helping her to successfully balance the demands of her sport and her studies.

She said, “The staff have been very helpful and understanding. Although we haven’t been going to too many things because of covid, when it has come to me having to take time to attend training and fencing competitions they’ve been really good, on the understanding that I just need to make sure I get the work done. Which, to be fair, I always do!

“I also use a little bit of sport psychology, in terms of setting goals and deadlines, envisioning positive outcomes and that sort of thing, to help with my studies.”

Emily Holder completed her Level 3 BTEC National Extended Diploma in Business at Harrogate College throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, whilst also representing Great Britain in Paralympic Fencing.

‘My tutors were able to help me and identified that I have dyslexia. It boosted my confidence massively as I was now aware of why I was struggling.’

Whilst studying towards her GCSEs, Mollie Blakey struggled at school and felt she didn’t fit in. It was not until she started at college that she got the support she needed and discovered that she was dyslexic.

After discovering her passion for food preparation and customer service at college, Mollie gained the confidence she needed to take the next step in her future.

Molly said, “The support I received from my tutors throughout my two years at college made a massive difference academically as I really struggled at school.

“I don’t think I would have landed a job at Bettys if I had not received the support I needed. College gave me the confidence to believe I could do what I wanted and achieve what I wanted to achieve.

“I want to encourage others, especially those who may have a disability, to follow their dreams and pursue what they are passionate about. Don’t ever let anyone ever tell you that you are not capable of achieving what you want.”

Mollie Blakey completed a food preparation course at Harrogate College, and is now using the skills she learnt in her role at Bettys Cafe Tea Rooms.

National recognition for our sustainability work

Our commitment to sustainability has been recognised by a major environmental awards scheme.

The Green Gown Awards celebrates examples of exceptional green projects that are being carried out by education institutions across the country.

Harrogate College reached the finals this year after being shortlisted for the Tomorrow’s Employees category. The judges were impressed by the partnership work we are doing to provide retrofit training, our delivery of green skills based on local feedback, and our efforts to embed sustainability into our courses.

The 2022 winners were announced at Loughborough University on November 8, when Professor Sir Duncan Wingham, Executive Chair of the Natural Environment Research Council, congratulated all the finalists.

He said: “Their work is helping us to meet the challenge of ensuring environmental sustainability is an inherent part of research and innovation excellence.”

Another step towards green excellence

The college, which is striving to become a recognised centre of green excellence, also now provides carbon literacy training for all of our staff and students.

We have been teaming up with local organisations such as Harrogate District Climate Change Coalition to raise awareness of, and provide courses on, retrofitting – which makes buildings more energy efficient.

And we are working closely with businesses, too – through our Employers’ Network – to provide training in other green skill areas including electrical vehicle charging technology and renewable energy installation.

Principal Danny Wild said: “As a college that is determined to play its part in tackling the climate emergency, we are pleased to see our ever-evolving sustainability work being recognised in this way.

“The Green Gown Awards celebrate best practice in environmental initiatives across the country, so we are in good company.

“This recognition will inspire us to work even harder to become a centre of green excellence and, as outlined in our Sustainability Pledge, become a net zero college by 2035.”

The college’s environmental work was previously recognised by the Green Gown Awards in 2021, when its Performance and Projects Coordinator was shortlisted in the Sustainability Champion category.

The Truth about T Levels: how much do you know?

If you’re looking to continue into post-16 education but don’t see the appeal of A Levels, then you may have come across T Levels. 

They’re the new qualifications that have been developed by the government to offer a learning experience that involves a mix of classroom learning and practical experience. 

Thing is, T Levels haven’t been around long, so you might feel in the dark about what T Levels have to offer and where they can lead you.

That’s why, to help you find out more about this exciting new qualification, we’ve prepared a short true or false quiz to give you the truth about T Levels. 

How many can you get right? Click the headings to reveal the answer!

T Levels are equivalent to three A Levels

TRUE!

T Levels are an alternative to A levels, apprenticeships and other 16 to 19 courses. 

What’s really beneficial is that they are equivalent in UCAS points to three A levels –  making them a great alternative if you want to specialise in one subject area rather than three.

If I choose a T Level, I’ll spend all my time in a classroom

FALSE!

If you like to take a more hands-on approach to your learning, you will probably enjoy the hybrid learning T Levels offer.

You will spend 80% of the course at college, gaining the skills that employers need. The other 20% is spent doing meaningful work experience, where you get the opportunity to put these skills into action.

As part of this, you will get the chance to complete an in-depth industry placement that lasts at least 45 days. During this placement, you will be given a designated role within the organisation you join, allowing you to take your standard work experience placement to the next level.

I won’t get into university with a T Level 

FALSE!

One of the biggest misconceptions surrounding T Levels is that you cannot progress on university if you choose one, but this is untrue. 

A T Level will prepare you to progress into a skilled job, but also provide you with the qualifications needed if you wish to progress into higher education, such as a degree or degree apprenticeship. 

As of October 2022, as many as 130 UK universities have confirmed that T Levels will be suitable for entry on to, a minimum of, one of their courses. 

If you are wanting to progress to university, it’s important that you do your research into which courses will accept T Levels, however there are plenty of options available for you to take this route.

T Levels are only good for people who already know what they want to do

FALSE!

T Level courses allow you to focus on a particular industry or subject area, making them great for anyone who knows what subject or career they’d like to specialise in.

However, within the qualification you will learn skills that are transferable to many different careers and opportunities. 

Take for example our T Level in Digital and IT – whilst learning about software production, design and digital technologies, you will also get the opportunity to explore related areas such as business, ethics and law. 

The skills and experience you will gain from completing a T Level will prepare you for the world of work, regardless of what you choose to do. So if you haven’t yet made your mind up about the career you want, don’t let that stop you from taking this qualification.

I’ll get to work with an employer, which might lead to a job in the future

TRUE!

One of the many benefits of completing a period of in-depth work experience is that you can get to know the employer you work for and start to build relationships with your colleagues.

As a result of this, many employers retain T Level students on completion of their course and support progression within their business to an apprenticeship or into another role.

But even if you don’t stay with that particular employer, the skills you will gain from completing an industry placement will give you an edge over other candidates when it comes to applying for other roles. 

Are you ready to get a head start towards the career you want? Find out about the T Levels on offer at Harrogate College here.

Landlords turn out for retrofit information evening

The district’s landlords have been finding out about the benefits of ‘eco-refurbishment’ at an information event hosted by Harrogate College.

Retrofit for Landlords, run in partnership with Harrogate District Climate Change Coalition, took place on Wednesday 2 November.

Seventeen local landlords heard from expert guest speakers about how they could go about retrofitting their properties, thereby cutting tenants’ energy bills while reducing carbon emissions.

The speakers included Mike Kaye from Energy Oasis, Sarah Stark and Emma Wade from Harrogate Borough Council, Erin Wheeler from York and North Yorkshire Enterprise Partnership (LEP), and John Kerr from Zero Carbon Harrogate.

Supporting action on climate change

Harrogate College’s Principal, Danny Wild, said: “We were delighted to team up with Harrogate District Climate Change Coalition to hold this information evening.

“Improving the efficiency of our district’s rented properties is a crucial part of the wider push towards sustainability, so it was encouraging to see such a good turnout.

“Guests also had lots of questions for the speakers about how they could develop their properties to help support their tenants.

“As a college, we are committed to reducing our own carbon emissions while delivering the green skills training our economy needs. We are only too pleased to work with local landlords, businesses and forward-thinking organisations on initiatives like this which will be vital in our efforts to slow climate change.”

Subjects covered on the night included: a Net-Zero Toolkit, how landlords can access free energy-efficiency training, details on a new local grant to support retrofit projects, and a look at some successful retrofitting schemes.

Strong support and job offers at Student Recruitment Fair

Harrogate-based employers have been meeting and interviewing our students about exciting potential opportunities.

Representatives from 10 businesses visited Harrogate College on Wednesday 2 November to take part in a Student Recruitment Fair.

The event, set up through the Harrogate College Employers’ Network (HCEN), let local companies talk directly to students – all with customer service training experience – about their work.

They were also able to hold interviews with some students about positions with part-time, study-friendly hours – resulting in at least two job offers being made on the day.

A successful day for students and businesses

Harrogate College Principal Danny Wild said: “We were delighted to have so many of our local employers coming along to support this event, which attracted a lot of interest from our students.

“To have a couple of job offers being made on the day was fantastic, and I know that most of the participating businesses also took away contact details for a number of other students that they may well be back in touch with.

“This recruitment fair emerged following Harrogate College Employers’ Network feedback, and is part of our continuing push to ensure our training helps local businesses thrive.

“It was very encouraging to see the first one go so well and we look forward to holding more fairs, supported by our local business partners, as a regular part of the college’s calendar going forward.”

The participating businesses were: Springfield Healthcare, West Park Care, Cairn Group, Disability Action Yorkshire, Vida Healthcare, Harrogate Healthcare Facilities Management Ltd (Harrogate Hospital), ATM Ltd, Arc Inspirations, Anchor Care Homes, Morrisons plc.

Harrogate Business Newsletter – October


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 – October 2022
Dear partners,

We are delighted to include reports in this edition of three very positive events that the college has hosted over the past few weeks.

In October, some of the district’s key businesses sent along representatives to the annual meeting of the Harrogate College Employers’ Network, to hear more about how it is helping firms thrive.

Then on 2 November we had two events on the same day. Our Student Recruitment Fair gave employers a chance to talk directly to appropriately trained students about potential vacancies that might fit around their studies.

That was followed, in the evening, by our hosting of Retrofit for Landlords, which was held in partnership with Harrogate District Climate Change Coalition. Part of our continuing drive to promote sustainability and green skills, this event shone a light on the many benefits of eco-refurbishment.

Read on to find out more!

Danny Wild
Principal
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Harrogate College Networking meeting explores opportunities
Representatives from some of the district’s highest profile businesses took part in the 2022 annual meeting of Harrogate College Employers’ Network (HCEN).The event, held on 20 October, gave local employers an opportunity to reflect on the achievements of the last year and suggest how the college could further support the needs of their industries.Existing and prospective members also heard more about what benefits the employer network offers, and how they can get involved in shaping the skills and training of the future workforce.The meeting also offered attendees a first-look at the proposed Pathway to Employment Programme, which, among other things, would support the costs and challenges relating to recruitment and employee retention.

Read the full story here

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Landlords hear about the benefits of retrofitting
The district’s landlords have been finding out about the benefits of ‘eco-refurbishment’ at an information event hosted by the college.

Retrofit for Landlords, run in partnership with Harrogate District Climate Change Coalition, took place on Wednesday 2 November. Seventeen local landlords heard from expert guest speakers about how they could go about retrofitting their properties, thereby cutting tenants’ energy bills while reducing carbon emissions.

Harrogate College’s Principal, Danny Wild, said: “Improving the efficiency of our district’s rented properties is a crucial part of the wider push towards sustainability, so it was encouraging to see such a good turnout.

“As a college, we are committed to reducing our own carbon emissions while delivering the green skills training our economy needs.”

Click here for the full story.

——


A Bustling Recruitment Fair
Harrogate-based employers have been meeting and interviewing our students about exciting potential opportunities.

Representatives from 10 businesses visited Harrogate College on Wednesday 2 November to take part in a Student Recruitment Fair.

The event, set up through the Harrogate College Employers’ Network (HCEN), let local companies talk directly to students – all with customer service training experience – about their work.

They were also able to hold interviews with some students about positions with part-time, study-friendly hours – resulting in at least two job offers being made on the day.

Read the full story here.

——

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: Susan.Roberts@harrogate.ac.uk

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We hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of our Business Newsletter – we’ll be back with more next month!

Harrogate College Employers’ Network event outlines future support for local businesses

Harrogate College recently hosted its annual Employers’ Network meeting.

The event, held on 20 October, gave businesses in Harrogate district an opportunity to reflect on the achievements of the last year and suggest how the college could further support the needs of local industries.

Existing and prospective members also heard more about what benefits the employer network offers, and how they can get involved in shaping the skills and training of the future workforce.

The event also offered employers a first-look at the proposed Pathway to Employment Programme, which, among other things, would support the costs and challenges relating to recruitment and employee retention.

Employer networks allow education providers to take an employer responsive approach when it comes to preparing students for future employment. 

They provide employers with the opportunity to influence the education being delivered in their local area and, therefore, the future workforce.

Through the network, businesses also gain access to a pool of potential students, which supports industries by fulfilling their staffing needs, and our students, who will accrue invaluable work experience.

Danny Wild, Principal at Harrogate College, said: “We were delighted once again to welcome local employers to the college to discuss ways in which we can support their training and recruitment needs.

“Our Employers’ Network has had considerable success so far, with a number of employers taking on students as apprentices to support in areas where there have been staffing shortages.

“By listening to employers we have been able to develop our courses to meet the needs of businesses including Harrogate Borough Council, where we have begun to offer horticulture apprenticeships to support their parks and gardens teams.

“The college has also been working with industry experts to adapt our curriculum to better reflect the current demands on workforces in various sectors.

“As a result of conversations with some of the network’s members, we’ve started to include basic catering training in our health and social care courses to address a significant skills shortage in that industry.

“Our annual event has given us the opportunity to both celebrate some of these successes and explore further ways of supporting local employers.”

Attendees are also invited to give feedback on proposed plans and outline what they would like to see from the college, the network and the new curriculums that are being developed.

Tracey Hopkinson, HR Manager at Springfield Healthcare, said: “There are so many opportunities for young people to access jobs and skills in the healthcare sector.

“By working with Harrogate College, we hope that we can showcase to students the options that are available in the industry and work collaboratively to give a more well-rounded learning experience.”

To become a member of the Harrogate College Employers’ Network, please contact danny.wild@harrogate.ac.uk.

Retrofit for Landlords information evening

Landlords can find out about the benefits of retrofitting at an information evening at Harrogate College.

Retrofit for Landlords, which is being held in partnership with Harrogate District Climate Change Coalition, takes place from 6pm to 7.30pm on Wednesday 2 November.

Designed to explain how ‘eco-refurbishment’ of properties can improve efficiency, cut energy bills and reduce carbon emissions, the event will feature several presentations.

Guest speakers will include Sarah Stark from Harrogate Borough Council, who will be sharing details about a new council grant that can be used by landlords and answering questions about EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) regulations.

Shining a light on how to help the environment and the economy

Harrogate College Principal, Danny Wild, said: “We look forward to welcoming many landlords  to this event, where they can hear about the benefits of retrofitting.

“Working closely with local employers, to ensure our courses and training delivers the maximum possible benefit to them, is one of our key aims.

“We are also striving to become a net zero carbon college* by 2030, as set out in our sustainability pledge, and supporting green skills like retrofitting aligns perfectly with our sustainability goals.

“So we are delighted to be teaming up with the Harrogate District Climate Change Coalition to stage this event, which sets out how practical steps can be taken to help both our economy and the environment.”

Expert speakers

Other guest speakers will include Erin Wheeler and Katie Privett from York and North Yorkshire LEP, who will give presentations on the net-zero business toolkit and energy and retrofit options, respectively.

John Kerr from Zero Carbon Harrogate, meanwhile, will be discussing the work it is doing – including through teaming up with Harrogate College – to provide free retrofit training, and how landlords can access it.

Places at the event can be booked here:  www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/harrogate-college-retrofit-event-tickets-425667923217.

*The college now provides carbon literacy training for its staff and students, and has embedded sustainable practice into all of its courses as it works towards becoming a recognised centre of green excellence.