Lab Technician for a week

Daisy Dudgeon is a 4th year pupil at Marr College in Troon.   Daisy would like a career in science and as part of the school’s work experience programme, she decided to spend the week working in the Science department at the Kilwinning Campus of Ayrshire College.

She tells us about her week at Ayrshire College and how it has helped her at the start of her career path.

“I went along to a recent Girls into STEM (Science,Technology, Engineering and Maths) event held at Ayrshire College, which inspired me to find out more about spending my work experience week at the College.  I already know what I want to do career-wise, but it definitely gave me more of an idea of how coming to college can help you get this kind of career.

Eventually, I would like to work in forensic science.  To be completely honest, the main reason I wanted to get into forensic science was a TV show, ‘Hawaii 5 – 0!’  It just caught my eye, and I thought, I want to do that with my life.”

Engineering and Science Technician, Christine Gorrian with Daisy

We asked Daisy what she has been doing as part of the work experience in the Kilwinning Campus science labs at Ayrshire College.

“I’ve been shadowing Engineering and Science Technician, Christine Gorrian for the week.  It’s been so busy:

Monday – we prepared the experiments for the microbiology classes, which involved making and pouring the agar. 

Tuesday – we finished off preparing more experiments and I helped to set up a spreadsheet for the equipment orders that have to be ordered for the science department.

Wednesday –in the morning I got to join the Microbiology class and we did some experiments.   In the afternoon I joined the chemistry class, they were making esters, so it was good to help them outwith that.  

Thursday – as part of the work experience we have to do a workplace project.  My project was working on the stock-take with Christine, updating, refreshing and keeping track of all the stock in the Science department.  It was a big job – I didn’t realise how much goes into running the science labs, making sure that everything is ready for the lecturers and students. 

The work experience has really helped me with the science subjects that I’m studying at school at the moment.  It’s given me more of an understanding of the more difficult stuff we are doing in chemistry at the moment.  I’ve learned a lot of things that I didn’t know and got to do experiments that I would normally only get to do in a more advanced class. 

I really enjoyed being a bit of a lab technician while I was at college.  It’s a lot different to school.  I’ve learned so much in just a few days.  I felt like I’ve been learning the whole time as well as experiencing being at work. It’s been an enjoyable experience.

I’d like to go to Strathclyde University to study and eventually get a job in forensics.”

Find out more about Science courses at Ayrshire College.


Modern Apprentice inspires Hospitality Assessor

Ayrshire College VQ Assessor for Hospitality, Angela Murray introduces us to inspirational Professional Cookery Modern Apprentice, Sanabel Dawod. 

“Before I met Sanabel I had heard a lot about her, I can honestly say I was intrigued to meet this young person as I heard so many nice things about her and interesting things about her journey.  I remember various people telling me she was a very inspirational person and a joy to be around.

The first day I met Sanabel in her primary school placement she was so appreciative of my being there and signing her up to start her SVQ in Professional Cookery. I remember thinking to myself immediately that I could understand why people were so inspired by her.  I knew from our first meeting that this qualification meant a lot to her and she was so excited to get started.

Sanabel 1

Sanabel had been though a lot to get to this stage. After arriving from Syria as a refugee, she had been separated from her family and moved to various locations around the UK before arriving in Ayrshire. Throughout her travels around the UK, she had tried unsuccessfully to enter the education and skills system. Being on her own as a young woman, Sanabel showed great resilience and determination to succeed, even teaching herself to speak English from the internet.

After arriving in Ayrshire, Sanabel was delighted to be offered a Modern Apprenticeship in Professional Cookery with South Ayrshire Council.

Sanabel was a really keen and dedicated student. Within her placement, she had the opportunity to make some of her own Syrian dishes and present this to her colleagues and me. Her lamb curry, artichokes and al baraziq biscuits were delicious!

She progressed very quickly, often using Google Translate to understand methods of British cooking and recipes, and I visited her every week to see her cook various dishes. I have seen her settle into her job role, learn to work in a team and develop her cooking skills. Sanabel’s confidence and personality really grew throughout her course and this was reflected in her cookery.

Sanabel has just recently completed the SVQ part of her Modern Apprenticeship along with Health & Safety and an Elementary Food Hygiene Certificate. The day she completed her SVQ with me was such a happy occasion. I asked her what it meant to her and she said  “It means so much to me to be qualified in professional cookery and to be able to use this Scottish Qualification. It has been a very good experience and has given me a chance to find myself. Seeing people like and enjoy my home dishes was so great, I love showing others what I can do”.

sanabel 2

I can honestly say that in my career I have never assessed a student where it meant so much to them to gain a qualification. This was another level of self-achievement for this young person and was clearly very emotional and deep rooted for her. To achieve her SVQ in Professional Cookery has meant the world to Sanabel and it was my pleasure to be part of that for her.

Sanabel was a finalist in the recent Ayrshire Apprentice of the Year awards 2018. She is very proud of what she has achieved and is looking to secure permanent employment in Ayrshire and to gain permanent leave to remain status when her case is reviewed next year.

Sanabel’s Al Baraziq Biscuits


For the biscuits:

Biscuits for Sanabel

150g icing sugar, sifted

130ml clarified butter (or soft butter)

250g flour, sifted

100ml warm water

½ tsp active dried yeast

200g crushed pistachios

400g toasted sesame seeds

For the syrup:

250ml water

200g white sugar

3 tbsp honey


1.     In a pot, add the water, sugar and honey and bring it to a simmer. Stir a few times, remove from the heat and let it cool.

2.     Preheat the oven to 170C.

3.     Using an electric mixer, cream the sugar and butter together.

4.     Mix the warm water with the yeast and let it sit for a minute.

5.     Add the flour to the butter and sugar mix, then the water and yeast mix, and combine until you obtain smooth dough, which will be quite sticky.

6.     In a bowl, mix the sesame seeds with half the cooled syrup then place the seeds on a plate. Add more syrup if desired.

7.     Prepare another plate with the crushed pistachios.

8.     Using your fingers, dip the sticky dough in the pistachio plate first, then flip the biscuit and dip it in the sesame seeds. The dough will be a little tricky but manageable. The stickier it is the better the consistency of the biscuit later, but you may add a little more flour if needed.

9.     Place the biscuits on a baking tray lined with parchment paper, and bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, making sure they are golden brown. Let them cool on a tray and store in tin or jar in a dry place.

Being a care experienced student at Ayrshire College

Paula McPhail, an 18-year-old student at the Ayr Campus who is studying NC Early Education and Childcare, has agreed to write an important post for our blog.

Paula has foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) and recently spoke to MSPs at the Scottish Parliament about her experiences in education.

Here she tells us all about her Scottish Parliament presentation and her experiences as a care experienced student, and how the College’s Inclusive Learning team and lecturers have supported her at college.


“Earlier this year I was at an Adoption UK conference giving a talk about my experiences with foetal alcohol syndrome. They asked if I would consider talking at the Scottish Parliament, so that’s how we got involved. There were five of us talking in parliament.

“I was nervous and excited at the same time. It was a great thing to do. I felt like everyone listened to me because I had a powerful story. My mum came with me and was really proud of me.

“I spoke about being an adopted child at school and what my experience was. I talked about how I felt misunderstood and how teachers made me feel at school. I felt I didn’t get the help that I needed – but it wasn’t really because I was adopted.

“A big reason why I didn’t get the necessary support was because I didn’t get a FASD diagnosis until I was 16. But once I got the diagnosis I still didn’t feel I got the help I needed. I was always a quiet kid at school and I used to copy off my friends just to get by, so no one noticed. It wasn’t until I was doing my exams that I started saying I needed help because I couldn’t copy off anyone.

“FASD affects me because I can’t have too many instructions given to me. I just won’t be able to remember them all. I can read information fine, but taking it in is difficult.

“I came to college last year on a School-College partnership course in Early Education and Childcare. I immediately approached Inclusive Learning because I felt I probably needed to tell them about my FASD. They have supported me really well. They did a test on me straight away and help me all the time.

“The Inclusive Learning team at Ayrshire College gives me a laptop with software that helps me type it up better. They also arrange for me to have extra time, and if I say in class that I’m struggling then my lecturer takes the time to explain it better to me. My lecturers are very understanding.

“College life is better than I thought it would be. I was quite scared to come up. I thought it’d be the exact same as school but you get more responsibility for yourself and they treat you like an adult here. My classmates don’t really know about FASD but I don’t really mind talking about it if they were to ask me. They’re a great help too.

“I’m hoping to get a job in a nursery. My mum and dad are foster carers so I’ve always had kids coming into my house. I’ve always loved being with kids so that’s what made me choose this course.”

Meet the Kilwinning 2018 graduation prizewinners

In the lead-up to the Kilwinning Campus graduations we will unveil our graduation prizewinners. At the Kilwinning graduations, there are 10 recipients in total.

Last up is Kenzie HarleyHND Computer Science, who is receiving the Outstanding Achievement Award.

SOY Kenzie Noble_Instagram Post.png

I was a student at St. Matthew’s Academy before I came to college. While I was there, they introduced Digital Media Computing which I was really interested in. I took the subject and it’s led me further into Computing Science.

I had no fears about coming straight from school. I thought college would be quite similar to school life.

The course covered a lot of coding. We were tasked with creating databases, web programming, and making small Android games. It was great to be able to put my own twist on the projects we were assigned.

I’ve made a lot of friends here at Ayrshire College. The course has also allowed me to finally believe in myself and my abilities. I feel very proud of myself for winning this award.

The long-term goal is to gain employment abroad, but first I need to finish my degree at the University of the West of Scotland!


Meet the Kilwinning 2018 graduation prizewinners

In the lead-up to the Kilwinning Campus graduations we will unveil our graduation prizewinners. At the Kilwinning graduations, there are 10 recipients in total.

Next up is Stuart McCall, HNC Sports Coaching and Development, who is receiving the Making a Difference in the Community Award.

SOY Stuart McCall_Instagram Post.png

I was unemployed for a while after being made redundant from my previous job as a textile foreman.

I decided to come to college to study Sports Coaching and Development because I was very keen to learn new coaching methods and gain experience.

We went on various placements during the course, coaching sports within schools. It was great to learn new coaching techniques. It made me more confident in myself, knowing that my knowledge was improving.

I’m pretty shocked to have won this award. Hopefully it shows what type of person I am and that I’m very dedicated to my work. Right now I’m working for KA Leisure and Active Schools, where I’m a coach.

Ayrshire College is a great college. The lecturers are a great help to us students. The College is there to help you succeed as much as you can.