From education to employment

Widening Participation Graduation Ceremony at Cardiff and Vale College celebrates success of young people returning to education

Cardiff and Vale College has held its second Graduation Ceremony for students it has re-engaged with into education or training.

The College’s Widening Participation team provides a range of progression opportunities for young people aged 16-19 who have found themselves not in education, employment or training (NEET) and provide them with a second chance. This includes the Fast Forward programme which focuses on personal and social skills development, work related education and essential skills, alongside accessing a range of vocational opportunities, that can lead to a unique ‘Passport to Progression’ which guarantees an interview on a mainstream course at CAVC.

The successful students may have been referred and support by the European Social Fund Inspire to Achieve programme that provides support for students in maintaining their studies at the College.

It has been another successful year for the Widening Participation learners with more than 90% of students successfully completing their studies, despite many of them having to deal with and overcome personal challenges.

The learners, their families and friends were treated to performances by two talented students. Shaun Marsden expressed his views through rap while Solheil Mojaveri delivered a unique performance in his first language of Farsi.

The students also presented videos of the work they have completed through their Creative Media studies through CAVC partner provision at Ministry of Life and Media Academy Cardiff.

The Graduation Ceremony held in Theatr Michael Sheen at CAVC’s City Centre Campus saw many of the learners also receive awards. The Most Inspirational Award went to Nirjona Akter, who has moved from Italy to Cardiff and has worked extremely hard in her studies and has progressed on to a Foundation Degree in Travel and Tourism.

Solheil Mojaveri won the award for Widening Participation Learner of the Year. Eighteen months ago, Solheil was observing a music session delivered by Ministry of Life while at a refugee centre in Cardiff.

Since then, Solheil’s commitment to his studies while successfully achieving British citizenship has seen as truly inspirational by the Widening Participation team.

“After meeting the Ministry of Life crew, I started to chase my dreams,” Solheil said. “Attending the Music Technology course enabled me to improve my skills in the music industry.

“I have created a new music video and six new tracks. The end of year music event was very exciting and provided further motivation for me to succeed. I not only developed new skills but made new friends and have a clear focus on what I want to achieve in the future.”

CAVC Head of Independent Living Skills and Widening Participation Wayne Carter said: “This Graduation Ceremony is a fantastic way to celebrate the students’ achievements, and the individual journeys that the learners have been on are inspirational both academically and personally. It is a great opportunity to celebrate their achievements, particularly with support from family and friends. Many of the students are on the rung of their educational ladder and the learner-centred provision is designed for them to explore choices and career progressions.

“We recognise that the collaborative approach needed to support young people back into education and we take great care in providing pastoral care support alongside academic provision, which is brokered in partnership across the public, private and voluntary sectors. This ensures early identification of needs of young people on engagement, creating innovative and relevant provision and securing provision routes for our students.”

Janine Bennett, Dean of Foundations of Learning at CAVC, said: “The graduation and awards ceremony is one of the highlights of the annual calendar and is an opportunity to celebrate the hard work that students undertake throughout the year. It demonstrates the wider priorities of the College being an inclusive, inspirational and influential organisation.

“Student satisfaction within the department is at 92% and all students state that the teaching is good and that they are gaining skills to get a job or progress to further education or training. Almost all learners have progression routes secured for the following year and our collaborative approach in transforming lives by unlocking potential is a testament to the learners, staff and partners who seek better outcomes for young people.”

For more information about Cardiff and Vale College’s Widening Participation programme visit


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