Cardiff and Vale College has held an inaugural graduation ceremony for students it has re-engaged with back into education or training.
The College’s Widening Participation team provides a range of progression opportunities for young people aged 16-25 who have found themselves not in education, employment or training (NEET) to give them a second chance. This includes the Fast Forward programme which focuses on personal and social skills development, work related education and essential skills that can lead to a unique ‘Passport to Progression’ guaranteeing an interview for a mainstream course at CAVC.
The successful students have either re-engaged via the Connect programme supported by Families First programme in Cardiff, referrals form partner agencies or have been signposted onto the European Social Fund - Inspire to Achieve programme which support students in maintaining their studies.
It has been a successful year for the College’s Widening Participation learners. Nearly 90% of students successfully completed their courses despite many of them facing personal challenges throughout their time. Meanwhile, 100% of those who did successfully complete are progressing into education, training or employment.
The learners, their families and friends were treated to performances by two very talented students Sabrina Islam and Shaun Edwards, who expressed their views through rap and spoken word. There were also excellent videos of students’ work who had been studying Creative Media and Music Technology.
The Graduation Ceremony, held in the College’s Theatr Michael Sheen at its City Centre Campus, saw students from the Fast Forward courses held in East and West Cardiff, Connect to CAVC, alongside partnership courses with third sector partners, Ministry of Life and Media Academy Cardiff collect their certificates.
Many of the learners collected a special award for 100% attendance, quite an achievement considering many of them had been or had been at risk of becoming NEET before coming to the College.
There were also a series of awards presented with Most Improved Learner going to Marcus Barry from the Vale of Glamorgan, Most Inspirational Student going to Joel Curtis from Cardiff and the overall CAVC Widening Participation Learner of the Year was Cole Chick who studied Creative Media at Media Academy Cardiff.
CAVC Widening Participation Manager Wayne Cater said: “It was a very tough decision in selecting the overall Widening Participation Learner of the Year, but it was felt that Cole epitomises the inclusive, influential and inspirational vision of the College. Both his personal and academic progress during the year has been remarkable and his determination to succeed, alongside supporting others, is testament to the award recognition.
“We recognise the collaborative approach needed to support young people back into education and we take great care in providing pastoral support alongside the academic provision, which is brokered in partnership across the public, private and voluntary sector. This ensures early identification of needs of young people on engagement, creating innovative and relevant provision and securing progression routs for our students.”
Cole offered unwavering support to his colleagues throughout his time on the course and often led discussions on everything from social media to politics and film. Throughout the year he navigated through personal challenges while supporting fellow students, volunteering for LGBT charities and forums, and producing excellent work thoughout. Cole is progressing to a Level 3 Digital Media Production course at CAVC in September – skipping the Level 2 as he has already amassed so many credits on his BTEC.
“I heard of Media Academy Cardiff and that it was for people who had problems at school,” Cole said. “I wanted to do film so I got in touch and came in and saw it was really cool.”
“It’s been amazing – I joined late but I caught up quickly. If I don’t enjoy a project it can take me a long time to finish it and I get frustrated but here I’ve been very passionate about what I’m doing and the atmosphere is so relaxed and everyone on the course is part of a close-knit group. Everyone helps each other and we co-operated all the time.”
Cole made short films about specific areas of interest such as health and wellbeing and LGBT history on his course, as well as collaborating on a stop-motion animation.
“I’ve always wanted to make films; I’ve wanted to be a director for as long as I can remember,” he said. “I’ve now got on to a Level 3 Media Production course at Cardiff and Vale College and I’m really looking forward to it. Hopefully I will go on to university to study film writing and film studies – that’s my long-term goal.”
He was not expecting to win an award. “I was really surprised,” Cole said. “It was really, really cool - I got to phone my mum to tell her and she put it all over Facebook. The award now has pride of place in my room.”
For more information about Cardiff and Vale College’s Widening Participation provision click here.