Student named winner of second SkillFRIDGE regional heat


An air conditioning and refrigeration student from Bath College has been named the winner of the second SkillFRIDGE regional heat.
Steven Monk will now wait to see if he has won a place to compete in the national finals at the Skills Show in November.
The top scorers from three regional heats go through to the final where they could be selected for the WorldSkills UK training squad.
Steven, 29, from Bristol, is a Level 2 first year apprentice studying at Bath College and working as an apprentice at Bath-based company Ambient Engineering Limited.
He said: “I wasn’t expecting to win at all, I’m over the moon.
“It was tougher than I expected. Although I’m studying air conditioning and refrigeration, I was out of my comfort zone because I normally do air conditioning (rather than refrigeration) in my day job.
“It’s good to challenge yourself and set yourself goals.”
SkillFRIDGE is a national competition for apprentices studying air conditioning and refrigeration from Level 2 to Level 3.
Competitors at the regional heat, hosted by tutor Simon Robinson at Bath College, spent a day completing three tasks under the watchful eye of competition judges.
The aim of competition is to improve students’ knowledge and experience, and to promote career opportunities within the industry.
Bath College students Adam Jackson, who works for Space Engineering, and Chandler Davison, who works at Thermocold in Wiltshire, also entered the competition alongside students from Eastleigh College.
Chandler said: “It’s a tough challenge but we can all do it.
“You have to think about it and go through it slowly. It teaches you how long you should be doing tasks and improves your confidence.”
Bath College is one of only 15 colleges in the UK offering air conditioning and refrigeration qualifications, from Level 2 to Level 3.
Students enrolling on the college’s access to building services engineering Level 1 course also study refrigeration for 12 weeks, as well as electrical engineering and plumbing.
The course gives students an introduction to refrigeration, allowing students to progress to a Level 2 full-time course or an apprenticeship.
With a skills shortage in the industry, students are in high demand from companies who need engineers to design, install and maintain cooling systems.
Tutor Simon Robinson said: “I would like to see more students coming into the refrigeration and air conditioning industry.
“We feel our industry needs to be better recognised and holding such events will help to raise awareness.
“I want to demonstrate the high skillset required to be a top apprentice in our industry and let the industry and employers know about the high-quality students we have here.
“The students I put forward have shown natural ability and a genuine interest in the refrigeration industry. Taking part in these competitions will give them a great confidence boost.”
SkillFRIDGE is organised by Datateam Business Media and WorldSkills, which is responsible for running the international WorldSkills Competition every two years.
Head judge Mark Forsyth said: “This competition is held to raise the standard of professionals in the industry. This should be a benefit for employers, who will see the level of delivery to their clients improve.
“What the students learn here and what the employers experience should be managed back at the college to improve their standards.
“So the individual comes back out of the college, enters another competition and the level increases. We actually raise the standard of the competition because we’re raising the capability of the entrants.”
For more information about air conditioning and refrigeration courses at Bath College click here.


Traineeship is life-changing for young man with Asperger’s Syndrome


A six-month traineeship with Somer Valley FM has made a big difference to the life of a young man with Asperger’s Syndrome.

Jamie Marsden, from Keynsham, found a traineeship at the radio station through Bath College’s pre-apprenticeship programme.

During his traineeship, he learnt how to script a local news bulletin and read the lunchtime and afternoon news.

He has grown in confidence thanks to the support of radio station manager Dom Chambers and a job coach from Bath College.

As a result, Jamie has a new job as a data controller, is re-taking his A-levels to go to university, and plans to move into supported living.

Jamie, 22, said: “My traineeship started with an interview with Dom. Despite my difficulties, he engaged with me really well.

“I felt welcome and able to make a meaningful contribution. For the first time, I was actually excited to work.

“Asperger’s Syndrome is a disability which makes things like talking to other people and basic tasks really hard.

“This was especially true when it came to answering the phone or the door. I’d go into work every day hoping that I wouldn’t have to answer them.

“I did, and I improved. Thanks to my experiences at Somer Valley FM I got interviews for the first time in years.

“I also began to take charge of my life.”

Bath College’s pre-apprenticeship programme is aimed at young autistic people, aged 16 to 24, who want to be able to work independently.

Following Jamie’s success, Somer Valley FM has taken on three new trainees, with two trainees starting in May and another starting this month.

Jamie said: “When I applied for jobs I didn’t get to the interview stage.

“Jobs I was interested in I lacked a degree for and those jobs which would consider me did not match my aspirations. Sometimes I’d be turned away on the grounds of being overqualified.

“I was stuck in a downward spiral, but I leave my traineeship a changed man. On the last day of my traineeship I was interviewed by BBC Somerset.

“I never thought that would happen, it just goes to show how much of a difference six months can really make. I’m not the Jamie defined by my Asperger’s but a new Jamie defined by my aspirations.

“I am really proud to have done my traineeship at Somer Valley FM.”

Radio station manager Dom Chambers said: “My job is to facilitate an environment for others to get on and succeed with their aspirations.

“Jamie made the most of his traineeship and leaves us with a set of skills and expectations that would have surprised him six months ago.

“A lot of this was down to his own drive and determination. I could not be more pleased that he leaves us going into a job he wants to do and I wish him ongoing good fortune as he develops his career.”

Bath College Principal Matt Atkinson said: “Traineeships are a great way for employers and colleges to work with people to build confidence and give them the essential skills requited to get on the first rung of the career ladder.

“We are very pleased that we are able to work with Somer Valley FM on this joint programme and we wish Jamie well.”

Opportunities for traineeships at Somer Valley FM are available. To find out more about Bath College’s pre-apprenticeship programme click here.


Students celebrate at Bath College’s higher education graduation ceremony


Hard-working students from all walks of life gathered to celebrate their achievements at Bath College’s higher education graduation ceremony.
There were plenty of smiles and proud faces as students gathered at the college to collect their caps and gowns before heading to Bath Abbey for the ceremony.
More than 70 students won the right to graduate after completing courses at Level 4 or higher in subjects such as construction, computing, music, fashion and sport.
They graduated from a range of college higher education programmes, including programmes validated by the University of Bath and Bath Spa University.
Charlotte Wise, 20, from Radstock, has spent two years studying at Bath College and graduated with an HND in sport and exercise science.
In September, she will start a year-long course at Gloucestershire University to convert her qualifications into an honours degree.
Miss Wise said: “I did my A-levels and then came straight to college, it was the best decision for me. I couldn’t imagine sitting in a lecture hall with hundreds of people.
“Being at college we got a lot more support from staff. I have put in a lot of hard work so it’s nice to be rewarded at the end.”
Graduate Sarah-Jane Doman attended the ceremony as a newly qualified teacher and a new member of staff at Bath College.
Sarah-Jane, from Frome, has just completed a Level 5 diploma in education and training, and has been offered a job teaching hairdressing.
The 35-year-old, who begins at the college in August, decided on a new career after developing RSI.
She said: “This is the first time I have graduated and I am really excited. I want to make my parents proud and throw my hat in the air!
“I was cutting down my work load in the salon due to RSI. Becoming a teacher in the industry seemed like the next best step for my career.
“Completing a Level 5 course is quite an accomplishment for me. My tutor Clive has been nothing but an inspiration and extremely supportive through the entire course.
“I have met some fantastic characters in the group, most of which work in the college, so I look forward to our paths crossing in the future.”
Bath College Principal Matt Atkinson said: “At Bath College we are the place where people come to enter the world of work,
“We are the place where people come to improve their place in the world of work and we are the place where communities come together to keep learning.
“Our graduates today have made the decision to undertake a higher education programme at their local college, knowing that the learning and skills they develop will prepare them well for their futures.
“Many of them will have had to overcome challenges – we should not underestimate how difficult it is to complete a higher education programme while holding down a job and managing home and family commitments.
“We have the utmost respect for our higher education students – they certainly add to the richness and diversity of our college.”
Interested in a higher education course at Bath College? Click here to find out more.

Students Union

June: Student Takeover – A day in the life of a Principal

So this month was our student takeover, where a number of students were able to apply to takeover a role in college.  I’m going to hand the reigns over to Oliver Watkins for this months blog post who was Principal for the day, but I will let him tell you all about it…


Student Takeover Blog: Becoming College Principal for the day – Oliver Watkins

On Monday 13th June 2016, I had the privilege of acting as Co-Principal of Bath College for the day, witnessing and becoming involved in critical decision-making areas for the entire college, which for me was very exciting, interesting and fascinating.


At the start of the day, my activities included an introductory meeting with Matt Atkinson; the College Principal and his PA, who would be monitoring and guiding me throughout the day. Meeting Matt and introducing myself to him was an exciting experience.  He introduced me to his role and the daily activities of his job as the Principal. An example of this was reviewing and assessing inquiries made by different college departments and requesting suitable employment of new people for the departments’ needs.
Having the chance to sit in Matt’s office I witnessed Matt assessing with one management colleague discussing the most appropriate course of action to take in relation to their HR inquiries. It was fascinating to see how the College’s strategic management team deliberated and took consideration into staff recruitment and human resource processes.

After this, Matt informed me about the planned day ahead for me, which included sitting in a weekly strategic meeting with College executives. The primary task of the day was for me to be given the responsibility to investigate and decide whether ‘Bath College should become smoke-free?’

Weekly Strategic Meeting
After the initial brief with the Principal, I was invited to sit in the weekly senior team meeting, which lasted 2 hours.  Discussion included present issues impacting staffing, performance and administration at Bath College. I found it very cool and exciting to be present in the situation where major management discussions were being made, as this can lead to decisions that can have a major impact on the working lives of 1000s of employees and students at this college.

For many people of my age, sitting in a meeting for over 2 hours may seem a long and daunting experience to endure; at first, I even thought the information being discussed would be far beyond my comprehension. However, happily, I proved myself wrong. Everything being discussed was fully engaging and thought-provoking but at the same time very clear to understand. Witnessing these exciting discussions even at one point encouraged me to speak out and give my independent opinion on a topic of concern. So all in all, this was a very fascinating and surprisingly enjoyable experience for me to be part of.  Perhaps one day, with much hard work I could see myself in more of these types of settings.

After the meeting, I was invited to lunch with the Principal at the Shrubbery restaurant, where I was able to take the opportunity to talk on a more relaxed and informal basis, asking questions more to do with his day to day role and his plans and aspirations for the future once he has left the college.
After lunch, I met up again with Matt’s PA, who had created a timetable for me of all the people I had arranged to meet for my upcoming task of deciding whether Bath College should become smoke-free.

The Task
Finally, it was time to start my main task of investigating and concluding with recommendations for whether the College should become smoke-free. I needed to be finished by 4 pm to be ready to present my recommendations to Matt and the College’s Chair of Governors. Personally speaking, this was the most exciting and enjoyable part of the day.  It involved me taking up the challenge of hearing others’ opinions from the different areas of the college such as the Estates department and Student Participation, which empowered me to make actual strategic recommendations that could impact the whole college. Moreover, by being given the chance to hear each argument as part of the interviewing process, I had the opportunity to decide and weigh out the positives and negatives for each argument.  This, in turn, would influence the actions of Matt, the Principal himself and others from the board of governors. This made for a very fine sense of achievement; that will never be forgotten. Just knowing I had played a factor in the organisation’s policy felt surreal.


Once my task had been completed, I presented my findings and recommendations to Matt and the Chair of Governors, where I decided to recommend that the ‘college should become smoke-free by 2020’ and that ‘there should be provision to cover and protect the area allocated for bikes from potential damage’.
After my meeting with Matt and the Chair of Governors, my role as acting Co-Principal for Bath College had finished in what had been a thoroughly enjoyable, and empowering day. I could easily say yes to doing this again if the opportunity ever arises.

Since that day, I was honoured with a sense of achievement to hear that shortly after my investigation a strategic meeting was held that considered my recommendations and put forward plans to make the city campus smoke free by September later this year.


To summarise, I am very glad and proud of myself for taking on this wonderful opportunity and would strongly encourage any student to apply for this role. As well as this, I would like to thank the college personally and thank the people involved in setting up this day, and huge thanks for giving me the chance to come here to experience a very different day that was both challenging and fantastic.


Thank you so much Bath College!




Fashion student creates shoes to challenge stereotypes


Not many students studying fashion would describe themselves as a tomboy, but Chippenham teenager Jasmin Barber is keen to challenge stereotypes.
Jasmin, 19, has just finished studying fashion at Bath College and chose to create a series of shoes examining gender perceptions for her final major project.
As a female football player, who came as a bisexual this year, the project was a deeply personal one for Jasmin.
Her shoes, which went on display at the college’s end of year show, were modelled on shoes worn by both men and women – brogues, football boots, Doc Martins and Converse.
The laces, made with the help of an electronic embroidery machine, featured words from songs referencing sexuality, sexism and homophobia.
Jasmin, who plays for FC Chippenham Ladies, said: “I’ve been playing football ever since I was small in a boys’ team, but when I couldn’t play with the boys I joined the ladies.
“I met some football friends last year who helped me discover who I am and now I feel so content in myself. This year I went to Bristol Pride for the first time.
“The project is about identity. You look at peoples’ shoes and you make an assessment about them.
“I made the shoes using masking tape – which is a neutral colour. There’s still that stereotype that pink is for girls and blue is for boys, but I was very much a tomboy growing up.
“When I was younger I wanted to play professionally, but it’s hard work (physically and financially). It’s sad that top quality female footballers have to have more than one job to survive financially.
“What they earn in comparison to men is insignificant. In that respect we still have a way to go to make progress.”
In September, Jasmin starts at Brighton University studying for a degree in fashion and communication.
Her project was filmed for Bath College’s annual fashion show, giving her the chance to explain her thoughts to people in the audience.
She said: “My friend was in audience when the film was playing. I didn’t know what the reaction would be, but she looked round and saw people nodding their heads, so they understood it.
“I want to learn about the business side of fashion. I’m interested in communicating ideas and concepts, which I think I explored in this project.
“I’ve found what I want to do, going from school to college and onto further education. I really like all my tutors. They helped encourage my work and my ideas.”


Project SEARCH students share their stories at graduation ceremony


Five students who have been on a life-changing journey preparing them for the world of work shared their stories at this year’s Project SEARCH graduation ceremony.
Project SEARCH, run in partnership with Bath College, Bath and North East Somerset Council and Sirona Care & Health, is a year-long employability programme for young people with learning difficulties and disabilities.
Ashley Westcott, from Bath, was the first student to receive a full-time permanent position as a result of the project and is now working with the housekeeping team at the Assembly Rooms.
The 22-year-old was cheered by family and friends as he collected his certificate at the graduation ceremony and spoke about his work placements.
Young people aged 18 to 24-years-old are placed on three 10-week work placements as part of the Project SEARCH programme.
Mr Westcott said: “It feels good to be working. The people at the Assembly Rooms are friendly, I got to know them when I was at my work placement and it progressed from there.
“They saw what I could do and they put in a good word for me. At times I thought I wasn’t going to get a job. I think I’ve grown in confidence, my work placement at the recycling centre helped me with this.
“When you’re on your lunch break everyone talks to each other and brings you into the conversation. If someone wants to get a job they should come to Project SEARCH.
“If I hadn’t signed up to this course I would be sitting at home and I didn’t want that, I wanted to be working.”
Students Kyle Longstaff, Gabriella Falcone, Katie McDonald and Chelsea Lovell also graduated at the ceremony, held at the Guildhall.
Throughout the year, the group have learnt about health and safety, equality and diversity, customer service and finance. They took part in mock interviews with the Bath Building Society and helped to host the Project Search European conference.
Principal Matt Atkinson said: “For the young people we work with, we’re doing everything we can to prepare them for the world of work.
“We have 9,000 students that come to the college to study with us. Of all the programmes we run, Project SEARCH probably has the most impact on peoples’ lives.
“The problem with the education system is it assumes that everyone will go one way. What Project SEARCH does is recognise that we can develop very personal individual programmes.
“Working and earning money gives people a sense of purpose, a sense of participation in society, and Project SEARCH allows young people to do just that.”
Alan Hale, Chairman of Bath and North East Somerset Council, said: “It was so nice to be able to attend the Project SEARCH conference and share time with the people who make a difference to students’ lives.
“I’m very proud to stand here representing this council and know we’re playing a big part in doing that. We must all talk to people about Project SEARCH and let them know what’s happening.”
For more information about Project SEARCH click here.


IT Students design new website for Yeovil Youth Theatre

Students at Bath College are planning, designing and hosting websites for customers to improve their employability skills and build up a portfolio of their work.
Level 3 IT students Alex Ball and Matthew Barnett have just finished work on a new website for aspiring performers at Yeovil Youth Theatre.
The website, built from scratch, will help recruit new creative talent and pull in customers for Yeovil Youth Theatre’s popular shows. 
The pair, who are both due to start at Plymouth University in September, worked on the project with Yeovil Youth Theatre director and committee member Alan Forster.
They were part of a team of students working to build websites for local organisations and businesses over the course of a year. 
Matthew, 18, from Radstock, said: “I’m glad that we had this opportunity. It was good to follow the whole process from start to finish.
“We had built practice websites, but this time we were building a website for a client. It’s taught us how to communicate. We’ll definitely be using these skills when we go to university.” 
image 3
 Yeovil Youth Theatre caters for young people aged 13 to 18 with an interest in performing, as well as sound, lighting, costume design and set design. 
Mr Forster said: “We’re an inclusive company. We’re trying to give as many people the opportunity to get involved.  
“We were running without a website for 18 months and it was critical to everything we did. It was the one place you could go to get any information you needed, whether you were a prospective member or a current member.  
“This opportunity came along which seemed too good to miss. The students should be proud of what they have come up with. “ 
Alex, 18, from Corsham, said: “Developing the website has been very interesting, I’m glad to see it has come together.
“It’s given us some challenges. If we did this again we would do it even better and build the website faster.” 
Bath College lecturer Steve Harries said: “This gives our students a chance to build a portfolio, develop a reputation as website developers and to challenge themselves.
“The students have had the opportunity to work for an external customer on a project, receive and respond to constructive feedback of their work and then make improvements.
“For some of the students, it has opened up opportunities to work in industry and some are now considering full-time employment in website design.”
Next year’s students will start their website projects in October.
Websites are free to design and build and cost £20 per year to host. Customers need to invest their time and meet with students throughout the project.
If you’d like a website designed by students at Bath College please e-mail Steve.Harries@bathcollege.ac.uk
To visit the website when it goes live go to www.yeovilyouththeatre.org.uk


Fashion students step onto the catwalk for end of year show


Fashion students at Bath College had their moment in the spotlight when they walked down the catwalk for their end of year show.

The hour-long show featured a stunning selection of designs created by students studying Level 3 fashion and textiles.

Students worked as a team to organise the show, becoming models and stylists, and organising refreshments, music and lighting.

Catwalk models showcased a wide variety of creations, including bomber jackets, print dresses, denim tops and satin kimonos.

Mia Raghunath, 19, from Shepton Mallet, won the DIA (Design and Industries Association) Gane Trust award.



The Gane Trust, managed by a team of eight trustees, was set up in 1954 by Crofton Gane, a pioneering furniture designer.

Trustees award an annual prize of £500 to a fashion student at Bath College, choosing the student with the best clothing collection.

Mia, who will study costume design and making at Nottingham Trent University, collected her prize from trustee Peter Metcalfe.

She said: “I couldn’t believe it. I’m just shocked and really grateful. I have absolutely loved being here at college, it’s a lovely atmosphere and I have really been able to expand my skills.

“I want to go into the film and TV industry, so I’m looking forward to progressing at university and being a bit more crazy with my designs.”


Fashion and textiles lecturer Fiona Coombs said: “It’s massive doing the fashion show. It’s hard work, in the last few days there’s been a lot of pressure, but when you see the show it’s so exciting you forget all that.

“All the students are either going on to employment or university. They’re all going onto diverse courses: fashion and design, textile design, fashion buying, and fashion promotion.

“They have worked really hard and you feel so proud of them. Tonight, they have their parents and friends here and it’s their moment. It’s great to see everyone clapping and enjoying the show.”


Apprentice of the Month: Liz Doughty from the Bath Vet Group

Bath College works with over 260 businesses, who employ over 450 apprentices, making it the largest provider of apprenticeships in the Bath and North East Somerset area.
 Liz Doughty is studying at the college and working for the Bath Vet Group. In this interview, she shares her thoughts on her time as an apprentice.
To find out about apprenticeships at Bath College click here.
How did you secure an apprenticeship?
I got a job as a kennel assistant at the Bath Vet Group. They were advertising for a trainee to study veterinary nursing and because of my age (and the way the funding worked) they put me onto an apprenticeship.
What do you enjoy about your apprenticeship?
Doing an apprenticeship is fun way to study. There’s a lot of pressure, but you’re not sat in a classroom all the time. I like working at the same time as studying, it helps you apply what you’ve learnt. You can relate what you’ve learnt to the animals you’re working with.
What have you learnt during your apprenticeship?
It’s a very intense course (the amount they pack into the two years) but our tutor at Bath College has been amazing. I have had a lot of support and I get on with the rest of the group.
We have just finished studying anatomy and physiology. I like doing the operations at work. I like preparing the animal for the operation, doing the anaesthetic and watching the vet complete the operation. I find that really interesting now I know how things work and what I’m looking at.
How has your apprenticeship helped you?
It’s given me a route into the career I wanted. I didn’t think it was possible before, but now I can see what I want to do for the rest of my working life.
What’s the best bit about your chosen career?
I worked in rescue care before and found it really rewarding. It’s the care and the healthcare that you’re able to give to the animals. You get really nice people and owners. Some can be difficult, but that just comes with the job. They care so much about their animals they can get emotional. Communication with owners is a big thing and very important.
Do you have any tips for someone looking for an apprenticeship?
I had an interview for my apprenticeship and I got a phone call the next day. I think some people find it more difficult to get an apprenticeship, but I found it quite easy. It helps to do a job in a veterinary practice beforehand and it helps to do a veterinary assistant course at college. I’d recommend getting a job in a practice (even if it’s just work experience) so they can see how hard-working you are.


Interested in an apprenticeship? Let us know!




What are the next steps to becoming an apprentice?


Our programmes are designed for young people who have either found an employer who will take on an apprentice, or for those looking to find an employer.
Please complete the form below giving details of the apprenticeship you want to take and the employer who has offered you a placement.



Register your interest in becoming an Apprentice using the form above.

College Placement Officer contacts you to discuss the next steps.

Interviews, start dates and enrollments are arranged for you.

You begin paid employment through the programme.


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