From education to employment

Vocational and Foundation Learning students launch on-campus boutique

The Boutique

Pre-loved clothing, shoes, bags and so much more filled HSDC’s new on-campus boutique, which recently opened its doors for the very first time at HSDC’s South Downs Campus. 

The Boutique, which is run by Vocational and Foundation Learning (VFL) students, has been put in place to enable VFL students the opportunity to gain first-hand experience in a busy, customer-facing environment.

VFL Boutique

All students involved provided excellent customer service to the large number of customers who visited during the boutique’s first day of trading, whilst also operating the tills and answering any customer queries.

Julie Bryant, who teaches Vocational and Foundational Learning and was the driving force behind the boutique said:

“There was a need for meaningful and valuable work experience for VFL students with high and complex support needs so twice a week, two Entry 1 classes turned into pop-up shops.

From these humble beginnings, a professional and thriving store has emerged which is a testament to the dedication, hard work and resilience of both students and staff.”

Julie added:


“Witnessing students master tasks like operating card readers and touchpads independently is amazing. Their communication has flourished as they engage with customers, they have learnt to work as a team and demonstrated improved problem-solving and independence, learning to use their initiative.

The impact of The Boutique resonates far beyond the shop floor as we have also seen a significant increase in confidence and self-esteem and it demonstrates the college’s commitment to equality and inclusion for all our students.”

VFL Shop Opening

Visitors consisted of students, staff members and those from the local community, including Link Up Leigh Park Programme Manager Katie Howard. Katie added:

“It was wonderful to see such a brilliant initiative being launched to provide an upskilling opportunity to the Vocational and Foundation Learning students attending HSDC. 

This is a great way for the college to be an exemplar to the rest of the business community.”

Richard Barlow, HSDC’s Deputy Principal and Head of Campus at HSDC South Downs, who was also in attendance said:

“It was an early highlight of 2024 to attend the opening of this fantastic new facility for our students – their excitement and enthusiasm reflect the value that this will add to their experience at the college, as they develop their confidence, employability and life skills. 

A massive thanks to Julie Bryant for being the inspiration and driving force behind the project, and I look forward to the boutique having a very successful first year!”

For more on VFL at HSDC, visit here.

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