From education to employment

Northern College ceremony celebrates adult students’ success

Students at Northern College in Yorkshire celebrate their achievements.

A ceremony to celebrate inspirational adult learners from Yorkshire and beyond has been held by Northern College.

Around 130 guests including students, their families, college staff and governors attended the event at the college this month on 5th September 2023.

Students were presented with certificates marking their achievements on qualifications including pre-access and access courses, which provide a pathway to university.

Emma Beal, Principal and Chief Executive, Northern College, said:

“I am so proud of our students and their phenomenal achievements.

“It takes courage, hard work and perseverance to return to studying later in life especially given the other responsibilities that many of our learners have.

“Our amazing staff, facilities and stunning outdoor environment provide a supportive and inspirational backdrop that motivates our students to learn, achieve and succeed.

“It is extremely rewarding to see them grow in confidence and create life changing opportunities that some students thought were not possible until they came to the college.”

Northern College is the only adult residential college in the North of England and attracts hundreds of students every year from South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and further afield.

A significant proportion of learners are from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds and have additional learning needs.

Based at the grade 1 listed Wentworth Castle within 60 acres of National Trust gardens, the college provides short community courses and academic and vocational qualifications.

Kelly Hall, who received a certificate of excellence at the ceremony, is one of the many Northern College students who have found a new sense of direction.

Kelly, 51, from Wakefield, West Yorkshire, left school with few qualifications. Now, thanks to Northern College, she is going onto study a degree at a top Russell Group university.

Kelly said:

“Studying at Northern College has changed my life.  I have gone from not even thinking about education to being able to go to university. I feel like a different person.

“It’s given me direction, purpose and a goal to aim for. It’s all about progression and finding a route to fulfil your potential.

“Studying wasn’t on my radar. I didn’t get any GCSE grade A to C passes when I was at school. But all of that changed when I came across Northern College on a visit to Wentworth Castle with a support group.

“I decided to start a couple of short courses and stayed on campus as a residential student. The place and the grounds – I just loved it.

“The teaching was brilliant and really helped me in terms of my wellbeing. There was lots of support and it was a very inclusive environment.

“I loved it that much that I decided to move on to study a one-year Level 2 Pre-Access Diploma in Progression in Social Studies.”

Alongside the course, Kelly studied for maths and English GCSEs resits and secured a grade 5 pass and a grade 4 pass in August 2023.

Now she is progressing to the University of Leeds to complete a foundation year in arts and humanities and then a Degree in Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Thought.

Kelly added: “I have also developed other skills. Going to Northern College has given me a voice. I have learnt acceptance and to be who I am. It has really built my confidence.

“After I left school, I worked in accountancy for many years. Now I am really enjoying studying. I love the idea of going onto study a Masters Degree or PhD in future.

“My advice to others thinking of returning to education is – give it a go. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. You can make something of yourself even if it is later in life.”

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