What’s next for former School-College Student Euan Lobban?

As the 2017/18 school year has come to an end, many Ayrshire secondary pupils will have completed their school-college course at Ayrshire College and be thinking about what’s next.

Maybe it’s a full-time course at College?

We caught up with Euan Lobban, an NC Building Services student at the Ayr Campus. Euan is a great example of a student who has progressed from a School-College course, into several full-time courses at College. He perfectly demonstrates that there is #NoWrongPath when it comes to education, as he prepares to move on to a HNC in August 2018.


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Euan is a former Kyle Academy pupil and has been a full-time student at Ayrshire College for two years now. With support from his family and College staff he has grown in confidence and self-belief, and is ready to explore what he can do next.

What School-College course did you study?

“I studied Introduction to Construction Crafts. When I was at school I enjoyed graphics and woodwork. I felt I was more of a practical learner, so thought the course would suit me. I felt school was more theory focused and I wanted to do a more hands-on subject.”

Did you enjoy the course?

“I really enjoyed the course. It was good for a variety of different reasons. I was able to learn a whole range of new skills. The course was also split into 3 different trades; painting and decorating, joinery, and bricklaying, which meant there was lots of variety and different types of assessments. I also got to meet new people from different schools, so I had the opportunity to make new friends.”

Did this course influence your decision to come to Ayrshire College full-time?

“Yes it did. My school asked me if I was enjoying the college environment and if I wanted help to apply for a full-time course. My guidance teacher sat down with me and showed me some course options. I decided to apply for NPA Plumbing (SCQF Level 5) at the Ayr Campus. My uncle was a plumber and my parents felt this course would really suit me, I started it in 2016.”

What are you doing now?

“After I completed the NPA in Plumbing, I was offered a place to continue at college and choose to progress to NC Building Services. There isn’t a next level up from NPA Plumbing so moving to NC Building Services meant I could go on and do a HNC, which is what I am planning to start in August 2018.”

Have you enjoyed the NC Building Services course?

“I really enjoyed it. The course is quite different from what I have done before. It is very theory-based, which I am not really used to. I also have felt in the past that theory is something I struggled with. Doing this course has actually made me feel more independent and confident about it.

I am planning to do my HNC in Construction Management starting in August, I went for my interview in February and have since been offered an unconditional.”

Did you aspire to do a HNC at College when you were at school?

“When I was at school doing my national 4s I assumed I would end up with a part-time job at a supermarket or something afterwards. It was the support of my family, student services, and the lecturers here that have pushed me to get to where I am now. I didn’t really think I would even get much further than NPA Plumbing. It’s support from others that has made me see what I can achieve.”

What kind of support did you get from Student Services at Ayrshire College?

“At the start, when I was studying the Introduction to Construction Crafts course, they helped me when I needed support in class. Sometimes when the lecturer was discussing a topic in class, I would struggle to understand it immediately. To help with this, student services worked with the lecturer and Inclusive Learning to help me with my notes. I am dyslexic, so this really helped when I was studying. Inclusive Learning also got me some equipment to help me read handouts and course textbooks.

One of my lecturers, Euan Granger, taught me how to study at home. I wasn’t good at studying myself, so he taught me techniques for how to focus and block out noise.

This year they offered me a laptop with specialist programmes on it to help me study, but I felt I was ready to be more independent. The support over the last few years has helped me gain confidence in myself and my abilities. It’s been great.”

What are your future plans?

“Student Services have helped me plan out what I want to do next. When I finish the HNC Construction Management course, I want to go to university, so they will help me with my application next year.

I have always thought about going to university but I thought it would be later in life. My parents went to university when they were in their 30s. I am excited to see where my career path takes me.

Eventually, I hope to get a job in quantity surveying or marketing for the construction industry.”

 

Euan is just one example of a student who has progressed through several levels and courses at Ayrshire College. Student Services and Inclusive Learning are areas of the College committed to supporting students in any way they can.

Student Services offer different kinds of support depending on your needs. You can use the service as often as you need. The advisors are here to support you throughout your time at Ayrshire College.

Student Services can also put you in touch with other college services such as funding, Inclusive Learning, counselling and more.

Inclusive Learning are also available to ensure students that require additional support are able to access equipment and resources to aid their learning.

For more information on services available to students click here.

For more information on school-college courses click here.

It’s never too late to learn Hospitality

Marketing have been tasked with spending a “Day in the life of” a variety of students.

As a Marketing and PR Officer, I quite often interview students for blogs, case studies and press stories. However, I haven’t had the opportunity to spend the day as the ‘student’.


It might be a little bias, but think I may have scored the best class with Professional Cookery (Level 5). Firstly because I got to cook with the class and secondly, I got to eat what I made! Thankfully, the students were there to keep me right.

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Arriving at 8:45am on a Monday morning outside the student kitchens I found my student mentor, Linda McIntosh, a mature student from Kilmarnock. She has to be one of the most enthusiastic students I have met to interview for the College blog. She helped me source my kitchen attire and off we went for a morning of cooking.

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The most striking thing about being in the professional cookery class was the immediate feeling of acceptance and sense of community. Not one student in that room was excluded from the social conversation or kept to themselves. Everyone in the class looked out for each other. It wasn’t uncommon to hear “don’t worry I will stir your sauce” or “leave the dishes, I will wash them for you”. The pressure in the kitchen is intense but not one student looked the slightest bit stressed.

Linda started her College career in 2016 with an NC in Business and Administration, afterwards moving to Introduction to Professional Cookery in January 2017, and starting her full-time Professional Cookery (Level 5) class in August 2017.

While Linda and I prepared the class lesson dish: lemon and thyme pork chop with Pomme Anna potatoes and fine beans rolled in bacon, with an Espagnole sauce, we chatted about why she decided to come back College.

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Linda explained what it’s like to be a Professional Cookery Student…

“The people in this class are lovely. It’s great being in a class where those around you are supportive and help each other out. I am loving the course, I look forward to each class, every week. It’s just great.”

What’s the best part of the day?

“I would have to say getting to try what we have made. Although, I really enjoy every part of the day to be honest, getting to taste the food is what it’s all about. It’s a great atmosphere in the kitchen with the class. We learn new elements of cooking every lesson, it’s so much more than just practical cooking.”

Did you feel apprehensive about coming to College?

“No not at all, it felt right. For some of the younger students the course might be the first time they are cooking something so complex, but they do great. I don’t feel out of place in the kitchen, cooking is something I have always enjoyed. I also don’t feel uncomfortable being in a class with more young people than people my age. Age is not a barrier.

When I completed the Admin and IT course, I knew I wanted to move into cookery. I started the January course in professional cookery to learn the basic skills required for the next level starting in August (2017). I feel like I just absorbed everything they taught us in the course and I gained the basic skills required to continue.”

Is there anything you find challenging?

“I need to work more on my IT skills, especially when it comes to sending documents. Sometimes I am fine, other times I need help to find the correct functions to select. A lot of people my age don’t have skills in IT. I had to learn how to work computer programmes and online platforms, this wasn’t something I grew up with.

I am really pleased that I did the Administration and IT course first, only because I feel it has helped my confidence with using technology. We upload photographs and theory work online for the lecturers after we have cooked the dish, so having the skills to do this has been helpful.”

Do you like the teaching style of the class?

“I really enjoy the way the course is taught. You aren’t inundated with things. There is a bit of theory in the classroom and practical in the kitchens. We learn about the art of cookery. I just found out there are 5 mother sauces, we have learnt some of them so far. We learn their derivatives and the ingredients of each base sauce, it’s just great. I also enjoy being able to put into practice what I have learnt, it helps me to process the theory work.”

(I would like to add that never have I seen a class full of students applaud and cheer at a lecturers demonstration – the Pomme Anna potatoes turned out perfectly when tipped out of the bowl onto the plate. The enthusiasm and excitement about cooking is undeniable in the class.)

Do you plan to move onto the Level 6 course?

“I would like to progress to the next level of professional cookery. If I pass this course, I don’t see why not. It’s what I am interested in and feel I am good at.”

What are your future plans?

“I would like to work in the industry, or create my own if I have too. If I could get myself up and running with my own business then I could employ some people; other students even that have done courses like this. You have got to have plenty of drive but I would like that. I could even have an online business. There are lots of opportunities out there. The world is your oyster.”

At the end of our conversation, Linda revealed she had been nominated for an Excellence Award by the course lecturer. She was absolutely delighted and the class were equally pleased for her.

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I left the class that afternoon with an infectious desire to cook. My re-creation of the Pomme Anna potatoes at home even got a thumbs up, I may have to consider a career change.

 

 

Do you think you a course in Professional Cookery might be for you? Check out the course description and how to apply here.

 

I am a Digital Marketing Apprentice. Do you want to know what that is?

Hi, my name is Catriona Cook and I’m a Digital Marketing Modern Apprentice.

That sounds like a confession, but it’s not. It’s a sentence I proudly tell anyone who’s listening. I joined Ayrshire College as an apprentice in 2016, five whole years after leaving school. Of course I didn’t just sit around and twiddle my thumbs during that time. I worked and volunteered abroad, visiting Spain, Thailand and Australia and also worked in odd jobs when back home in Scotland. I guess during that time I floated about, not really too sure of ‘what I want to do when I grew up’.

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After getting a little bored of being away from home and living in hostels – the time arrived. I had grown up… but I still had no idea of what I wanted to do. It was actually my mum that suggested I should do an apprenticeship. I didn’t quite understand why she was suggesting this – surely my own mum should know that I didn’t want to be a welder, or plumber, or bricklayer. But little did I know; that isn’t what an apprenticeship has to be these days. At the time, I didn’t realise the endless list of opportunities available to me. There are so many apprenticeships in various different industries. Turns out, I just had a very old-fashioned idea of what an apprenticeship actually is.

Ok, so what actually is a Modern Apprenticeship I hear you ask? Well, before I started my apprenticeship with Ayrshire College, I was asking the same thing. Skills Development Scotland say; The Modern Apprenticeship (MA) programme provides individuals with the opportunity to secure industry-recognised qualifications while earning a wage. It offers people aged 16 and over the opportunity of paid employment, combined with training at different levels.”

To put it simply, I am working in the role of a Digital Marketer, while working towards a recognised qualification in that exact field and getting paid to do so. For me, this was the best of both worlds: working, being paid and learning all at the same time.

I did relatively well in my exams at school but honestly, I just never felt like the classroom setting was right for me. Being full time at College or University did not appeal to me at all – I would never knock them as an option, both my brothers went to uni and absolutely loved their time there but I believe everyone learns in different ways, and I know I wouldn’t have reached my full potential going down the full time College/University route. That’s the beauty of an apprenticeship; I am a College student but am still working full time! I have worked since I was thirteen, so I am used to being paid a wage – this was another main attraction to an apprenticeship; I would earn while I learn.

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My apprenticeship lasts for two years and it is now scarily close to finishing. In the last year and a half I have learned so much and had so many great experiences. Digital marketing is a growing industry, so I feel really lucky to have been selected for this role and I’ve learned so much in a short space of time. I’ve had the opportunity to take part in so much more than I’d ever imagined I’d get the chance to. I’ve built websites, ran campaigns across social networks and built up the College’s Instagram following. I’ve represented the College at job fairs, took part in the Scottish International Airshow and flew to Birmingham for a youth conference. I’ve had the opportunity to speak at school events and created an online community for female STEM students at the College to help towards tackling the gender imbalance in their field. I’ve also worked at huge Graduation ceremonies and Fresher’s fayres and had the pleasure of attending awards nights. I’ve led social media training for staff in the College, written blogs and presented to students in their classes. I’ve organised trips for students to local work places, co-ordinated photo shoots and worked with the Ayrshire College Foundation to increase their online presence. I’ve led tours of the College, helped brand the new training restaurant in the Ayr Campus and so, so much more! It’s been a very busy year, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.

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The best part of my apprenticeship has been going from someone who was floating from job to job with no real direction to being super focused and confident in what I want to do in the future. It’s made me feel like I am really good at something, and it’s a great thing to be able to truthfully say that you love your job.

Away back at interview stage for my apprenticeship, I thought I wouldn’t be selected for the role as I didn’t have any experience in digital marketing but that’s exactly what an apprenticeship is for. Everything I’ve learned, I’ve learned on the job in the last year and a half. My advice to anyone thinking about applying for an apprenticeship would be to go for it. You learn so much, you get paid and you get a qualification at the end of it. I’ve had a really positive experience and I would love other young people to get to do some of the things I’ve had the chance to do.

I am a Digital Marketing Apprentice – do you wish you were too?

 

Meet the Foundation Apprentices – Annie and Tj, Software Development

As part of Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2018 we are talking about Foundation Apprenticeships.

Last year (2017) we added two more Foundation Apprenticeships into our School-College Programme – Social Services: Children and Young People, and IT: Software Development – alongside the course in Engineering.

These courses are open to pupils going into S5 across Ayrshire, lasting two years they offer a range of qualifications that enhance a pupils employability and progression pathways.

Foundation Apprenticeship in IT: Software Development is aimed at pupils who are interested in software design and programming skills. This course enables pupils to write and maintain computer applications, to create websites and successfully define customer requirements taking them from initiation to a final product.

Annie Harrison and Tj Freeburn, both Kilmarnock Academy pupils in S5, told us all about the course and what they plan to do next.

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Why did you choose the Foundation Apprenticeship in IT: Software Development programme?

Annie – I am really interested in computer games development and thought this course would be a good opportunity, as my school doesn’t offer a higher level of computing.

Tj – I felt this course would be a good stepping stone into a course in games development at university. I want to have a unique application and felt this would help. When I got told that there is a year of work experience, I thought that would be my best bet to get recognised by universities.

Did you have any experience in software development before the programme?

Annie – I haven’t studied software development before this course, only computing classes in first and second year. I am always playing games in my spare time, and I wanted to learn how to create them.

Tj – I play games at home but I don’t code them. We don’t have this opportunity at school, so I decided to take this course. Last year I studied the Computer Games Development (Level 5) school-college course.

Tell me about the programme. What have you been doing throughout the year?

Annie – At the beginning we were researching websites and how to create them. Now we are actually making a website. The theme is promotion for a farm. We get to be creative and design what we feel works.

Tj – So far we have learned HTML, CSS and linking for our websites. We have created a website from scratch using notepad ++, which is a programme to help you create HTML files. It’s been a useful introduction for me as it starts at a basic level.

I think we are moving onto games development next.

What have you liked best about the programme?

Annie – I have enjoyed getting to design how the website will look, and choosing the images and colours. The course is what I was expecting and it’s something different from what I am doing at school. This is what I want to do when I leave school.

Tj – I like the freedom of the course. I have enjoyed being able to come to class and learn new things, as well as chat to the lecturer and the rest of the class about new games and cyber security. Michael (lecturer) has worked in the business and has so much industry knowledge to share.

In the class we share the same interests but all have different opinions on the gaming industry and games. This makes the atmosphere relaxed and we can have a laugh as well.

What’s been the most challenging aspect?

Annie – Trying to get the coding off the ground at first can be quite challenging. The good thing is I can speak to the others in the class and we help each other out. When you have got the initial understanding, it sticks then.

Tj – The coding can be quite challenging but only because we do it the most and it can be frustrating if it’s wrong. When you solve any problems with the coding it’s such a relief. The class do help each other out a lot and check each other’s coding for errors.

What is it like going to school and coming to College two afternoons per week?

Annie – We have to travel to the Ayr Campus and I had never been on buses or trains myself before, so that was a first for me. I feel more confident coming here. There is a lot more freedom.

Tj – I take the train from Kilmarnock to Ayr which is only a half hour ride. It’s a different environment in the College, I feel more like a young-adult. I feel like the class and the lecturer are more on the same level, so that’s good.

Do you feel any different since starting the programme?

 Annie – This has confirmed what I want to do, it has also helped with the ‘growing’ up part of life. I feel more confident now.

Tj – I feel more confident and lively here, I am usually the quiet person at school.

What are your future ambitions?

Annie – I would like to go to Japan and work for Atlas or Square Enix. I play the games they make. It’s the place to go for gaming. I am trying to learn Japanese through online courses so I can be, at least, conversational.

Tj – I want to study games development at university and then get a job in the industry. I am thinking of companies like Square Enix in Japan. I really like the idea of living there, it feels like the place for me.

What advice would you give other pupils hoping to take the class?

 Annie – If you know this is what you want to do, just go for it.  It will be worth it in the end.

 Tj – Definitely have a look at programme languages. When you are in the class get to know your lecturer and try to make friends. It means you will also have a social aspect to the class and it feels less weird as you won’t know everyone at first.

Loraine Johnston, Curriculum Manager, said “we are very pleased with the pupil feedback about the course. The Foundation Apprenticeship in Software Development is intended to bridge the gap in secondary school computing provision in Ayrshire, so that pupils like Annie and Tj have the opportunity to get a foothold in the software and games development industry. Given that there are not enough qualified people in the UK to fill the computing jobs that are available, courses like this are vital to address the digital skills shortage we are currently facing in the UK.”

This year the College is adding Civil Engineering and IT: Hardware and System Support to our list of Foundation Apprenticeships on offer.

Learn more about our Computing Foundation Apprenticeships by watching our new video here.

Can men study Early Education and Childcare?

Ayrshire College encourages the recruitment and promotion of men into early years and childcare courses. As part of the College’s ambition to tackle gender imbalance in courses, the campaign #ThisManCares aims to inspire men into typically female dominated industries such as early years and health and social care.

“If I could say one last thing it would be that you’re changing gender roles for young people” – Evan McKiernan-Dooner


Evan didn’t expect that a year ago he would change his career pathway from business to early education and childcare. We caught up with him before the end of term to find out more about his future ambitions.

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Why did you decide to study NC Higher Early Education and Childcare?

My end goal has always been to teach. I have always had an interest in education but I didn’t start off thinking it would be the route I would take.

I completed an HND in Business at college before I decided that it wasn’t the route for me. At 23 years old I decided that my career path is actually in early education.

Did you have any experience in early education and childcare before the course?

I hadn’t studied anything to do with early education and childcare. I also had no experience in the industry either. The only experience I had was looking after my little cousins.

What did you do on the course?

It’s a bit of everything really. You learn how to play, which is not something you ever think you would need to study. We looked at analysing child behaviour and learnt about the Hierarchy of Needs Model (Maslow), which I had actually studied in business and now understand it in a completely new way. I also completed work experience in a primary school for two days per week during the course.

What did you like best about the course?

Definitely the work placement. It was daunting at first as I didn’t know what to do and I was worried about being the only man in the school. Essentially it was me and the Janitor, but that didn’t put me off. Everyone was really supportive at the school.

My placement was in a primary one class which was challenging at first. I acted as a teaching assistant for the class teacher. One of my favourite moments was teaching a group of pupils about quantity. I gave them a plastic pound coin and then showed them that 100 pennies made the value of that one pound coin. Just seeing that lightbulb moment is incredible. You can almost see the moment that it just clicks and they have understood. It’s worth it all for that moment.

What has been the most challenging part of the course?

I don’t think anything has been too difficult, it is more the volume of work that you have to complete. I have completed an HND so I am used to studying. Throughout the year you have 16 activities and for each one you have to plan it, write it up and evaluate it, which is time-consuming.

Working with children is also challenging. It can be hard to understand what level a 5-year-old actually works at; and how to create activities and communicate information so they fully understand. You do learn this over time.

What have you learnt about yourself from this course?

I have learnt that I can walk into a class and complete some tasks that a classroom assistant does. I feel more confident, especially around children. Funnily enough I actually like children more now, not that I didn’t, it’s just now I can understand why they are behaving in a certain way. I am definitely much more patient and tolerant as well. This has actually made me better at my part-time job in hospitality. I feel like I am so much more confident when families come in. I can talk to the kids in a way they find engaging which parents really appreciate in a restaurant.

What are your future ambitions?

I would like to either become a Primary School Teacher or a School Counsellor. I would like to go to university and feel my qualifications from college will help me get there. I also want to travel, I could teach all over the world which is really exciting.

What advice would you give anyone thinking of taking the course, especially men?

It’s a worthwhile and enjoyable course. The career routes with this qualification are stable and well-paid jobs. You also don’t have to be ‘kid crazy’ if that makes sense, you learn to be tolerant and understanding with the pupils.

I think for men it’s important to acknowledge that you probably will be the minority in the college class and the workplace but that shouldn’t stop you. Working with women in a school is no different than working with women in a bar, or a restaurant or in any business really. The only difference is there might be more female teachers than male teachers in that school.

I have never experienced any stigma from friends or family, quite the opposite actually. Not once has anyone asked me why I would want to do this course or work in that industry.

If I could say one last thing it would be that you’re changing gender roles for young people. When male and female pupils see you as a teacher they learn what is normal and they learn if they want to be a teacher they can be. The primary one class didn’t know any different and totally accepted it as normal, and older classes really enjoyed having a male teacher as well.

It’s one of the most fulfilling jobs so don’t be afraid to try it out!

Lecturer, Germaine Dudgeon highly praised Evans contribution to the class: “Evan has been an asset to the class group bringing a male point of view to many discussions and has fit in well among the female-dominated course.

He has demonstrated his confident and caring nature while being helpful towards staff and colleagues. Evan received positive feedback from his placement where he provided the children with a positive male role model. He has successfully completed an NC Higher Early Education and Childcare and will be progressing onto our HNC Childhood Practice course in order to become a qualified Early Year’s Practitioner.”

If you think this might be the career route for you, click here to view the courses we have on offer.