From education to employment

Reading College students have a go at upcycling

Students from our supported learning programme at Reading College have created clothes using upcycled fabric to take part in a photoshoot. 

On Wednesday afternoons, students on our supported learning programmes are given the opportunity to do something fun as a break from working on their qualifications. Students are given options to do sport, art, photography and other activities.  

Following a donation of bedding and material off-cuts, the students, with the help of their tutors and support staff, upcycled the bedding and off-cuts into clothing using a Wonderland theme as inspiration.  

The students did research to help them with the creation of the outfits. 

Students on the supported learning programmes have a range of learning disabilities or difficulties and are supported via Activate Learning’s award winning LLD/D provision.  

Qian Chen, Casual Teacher and LLD/D Lecturer at Activate Learning, said: “We thought, let’s upcycle the fabric into clothing because it’s good for the environment and we’ve got some talented students who are good at art. 

“We made a dress from a white valance. We did some research together and had some help from one of the members of the support staff to turn the bedding into a dress.  

“Of course, they’re not fashion students, so some of the details aren’t quite right but it still turned out alright. The flowers are made from an offcut piece of material using a simple flower making technique, which makes it a bit prettier.” 

The students also made a Peter Pan outfit from a T-shirt and material off-cuts.  

Once the outfits were finished, the students took part in a studio photoshoot. Some students modelled the clothes, others took the photographs or did other things such as makeup or face painting. 

Jess is studying a Work Preparations Horizons programme at Reading College. 

She said: “It was a good project. I was quite nervous about having my photograph taken but once I got into it, I really enjoyed it.  

“I also did the makeup for myself and some of the other students.”  

Lara is studying a Work Preparations Horizons programme at Reading College. She was both a model and a photographer for the photoshoot. 

She said: “I enjoyed the project and being a model, but I think that I preferred taking the photographs. I feel more confident now.” 

Qian added: “This project has helped the students to grow in confidence and self-esteem, as lots of them are young, have low self-esteem and don’t believe in themselves, but by doing this they were really proud. 

“One of the students has added it to her CV as she felt so proud about the project. None of the students experienced a studio photoshoot, so it’s a good life experience for them, which would be really expensive otherwise.  

“I also want to say a special thank you to Keith and Sarah from Creative Industries for letting us use the studio equipment and helping us by setting up the photoshoot. Sarah has been amazing by setting up the photo studio to use and very kindly staying with us for two hours for both sessions.” 

The students will also take part in an outside photoshoot, as some of the students were unable to take part in the studio photoshoot as they are sensitive to flash photography.

The importance of sustainability

This project also demonstrates one of Activate Learning’s strategic drivers, sustainability. As a values-driven organisation, we recognise that our resources are finite and precious, and we do not want to waste them. As an organisation that wants to offer the highest quality to its staff, students and employers, we wish to use our resources in an effective and efficient manner.    

From the curriculum we deliver, to the carbon footprint of our campuses, Activate Learning recognises that we have a duty to ensure everything we do is considered against the backdrop of the impact it will have on both our local and global environment. We also recognise that we have a duty to create learners who are more environmentally aware and are able to make informed choices.

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