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For all our good intentions, the majority of us will not keep our New Year resolutions. So instead of making the same old resolutions this year, why not try learning a new skill, improving your prospects, changing careers or taking up a hobby in 2018.

Whether you want to study part-time or full-time, there’s plenty of new courses on offer to suit your needs and you don’t have to wait until September to start. From stand-up comedy to interior design and Italian to hairdressing, there are a variety of courses starting in early 2018 at Langley College, Windsor College and Strode’s College in Egham.

“It’s never too late to learn something new,” says Juliet Holloway, Assistant Principal for Marketing and Business Development at Windsor Forest Colleges Group. “We have students aged from 15 to 87 years old. With our part-time courses, people can learn at a pace that suits their lifestyle or work commitments. We have courses at various levels to suit most people’s needs and a growing range of apprenticeships, from catering to engineering.”

“This year, we also have a new Skills 4 Careers course for 16-18 year olds, which provides a first step towards a career and the chance to try a range of practical subjects. For adults, we offer an extensive range of recreational courses and professional qualifications, including our new six to 12 week fast-track courses. Some people may also be eligible for free course fees or a government loan.”

With everyone expected to work longer before retirement, keeping your skills up-to-date or training for a career you enjoy, is a wise move that is sure to pay off.

With growing demand for higher level skills and the cost of university education on the rise, many people are also finding studying for a higher level qualification (e.g. Higher National Diploma, Foundation Degree or Higher Apprenticeship) at their local college is a more convenient and affordable alternative.

From business to construction, Windsor Forest Colleges Group offers a growing range of Higher Education courses including a Foundation Degree in Tourism & Hospitality Management.

Katie Snowden is one individual who decided to study a foundation degree at Langley College:

“My circumstances meant that I couldn’t go to university straight away, but I didn’t want to delay my plans to become a teacher. Studying a degree course at Langley College was so convenient and the teachers were fantastic. They really make time for you and they’re so supportive.”

For those who wish to unwind from the stresses of modern life, take up a hobby or simply meet new people, then the College also has plenty of recreational courses to choose from. New courses for 2018 include stand-up comedy, knitting, sewing and tiling as well as flower arranging, digital photography, Spanish and British Sign Language.

Windsor Forest Colleges Group was formed in 2017 following a merger between East Berkshire College and Strode’s College in Egham. For further information on over 800 courses and the financial support available, contact Windsor Forest Colleges Group on 01753 793000 or visit www.windsor-forest.ac.uk/courses

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Pupils at local primary schools were last week treated to two action-packed stage adventures thanks to talented performing arts students from Windsor College, part of the Windsor Forest Colleges Group. Putting their own twist on the classic pantos, Pinocchio and The Wizard of Oz, the students delighted the young audiences with professional shows full of colourful characters and comic capers.

Now in its 14th year, the festive panto tour saw the College students deliver a series of 45 minute pantomimes to groups of between 40 and 300 children at various primary schools, including Marish Primary School, Ryvers Primary School and Eton Wick First School.

Both productions had all the elements you would expect from a classic panto, such as adventure, music, dancing, colourful costumes and plenty of audience participation. The tour was created as part of a module of the College’s Performing Arts BTEC Level 3 Diploma course and students have spent the term developing their skills in this area of performance.

Lecturer Natalie Jones said: “The response at every show was tremendous and the students thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The tour provides our students with an insight into what it is like to be part of a professional touring company, with some early starts, creating characters, improvising and adapting their performance to fit different spaces.”

The performing arts department at Windsor College have been visiting Ryvers Primary School in Langley on their panto tour for the last fourteen years.

Jane Alameddine, School Administrator at Ryvers School, explains: “The students from the College do such a good job, it is all very professionally organised and our pupils love the shows. That is why we ask them back every year. In fact, they now put on two performances for us.”

The College’s performing arts department has an excellent record of success with many students progressing onto successful careers on the stage and screen or behind the scenes. Former students include actor David Gyasi, who has appeared in Interstella, BBC2 drama White Heat and E4 drama Containment.

Windsor College is part of the Windsor Forest Colleges Group, which was formed in 2017 following a merger between East Berkshire College and Strode’s College in Egham. For further information on Windsor College and its wide range of creative courses, please visit www.windsor-forest.ac.uk/courses or call 01753 793000.

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A talented Windsor College student has been crowned one of the world’s top young visual merchandisers. Catherine Abbott, who recently completed a retail and merchandising display course at Windsor College and now works for Topshop, won the silver medal for visual merchandising at WorldSkills 2017 – the world’s largest international skills competition for young people.

Catherine (aged 21, from Reading) showcased her skills by designing, planning and creating a stunning window display as part of the four-day competition in Abu Dhabi. Beating contenders from across the globe, Catherine was presented with her medal at a prestigious Olympics-style closing ceremony on 19th October.

Catherine said: “I was in absolute shock when they called my name. This means so much within my industry, I’m sure this will lead to a bright future for me. Big sacrifices were made to get to this point, but it’s been worth all the hard work and effort.”

Catherine took part and triumphed in regional heats, a national final, a Team UK selection process and months of intensive training, to represent the UK in visual merchandising at the 44th WorldSkills Finals.

More than 1,200 young people, from over 50 nations, who are specialist in 51 different disciplines from hairdressing to aircraft maintenance plumbing to 3D Games design, competed for gold, silver and bronze medals. Picking up 20 medals, Team UK finished 10th in the medals table ahead of Germany and was the smallest team to make the global top 10.

Minister of State for Apprenticeships and Skills, Anne Milton MP, who visited the competition to support WorldSkills UK and the team, said:

“I have been blown away by Team UK. They have done fantastically well – this is the UK competing on the World stage for skills and achieving great things.

 “There is a message here for parents – university is not the only option – the opportunities are boundless if they overcome any bias that they might have. We must ensure that the young apprentices here become an inspiration to others.

 “WorldSkills UK is doing a fantastic job supporting these young people – with thousands of hours of input. We need to put all that they are doing - the ethos of this competition, the spirit of these apprentices- into a bottle and sprinkle it across the UK.”

 The Retail and Merchandising Display Department at Windsor College is a centre of excellence for visual merchandising and display design. The courses are highly respected within the industry and former students have gone onto successful careers with leading retailers such as Harrods, John Lewis and Debenhams.

 Sue Leadbeater, lecturer at Windsor College, enthuses: “We are absolutely delighted for Catherine and we are all very proud of her. It has been great to see her develop her skills and grow in confidence. She is a talented individual with a bright future ahead of her.”

 Catherine follows in the footsteps of fellow Windsor College student Kirsty Hoadley, who won the gold medal in visual merchandising at WorldSkills London 2011.

 Windsor College is part of the Windsor Forest Colleges Group, which was formed in 2017 following a merger between East Berkshire College and Strode’s College in Egham. For further information on Windsor College and its wide range of creative courses, please click here or call 01753 793000.

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Talented visual merchandising students from Windsor College have created an inspirational piece of interactive art for Windsor Baptist Church in Victoria Street. The vibrant tree-themed artwork, which has been sensitively designed to reflect the values and diversity of the church, was officially unveiled on Tuesday (13th June 2017).

The three students, Frankie Di Gangi, Manisha Kumar and Diya Seepaul, who are all studying a level three course at the College in St Leonard's Road, designed and constructed two six foot trees to adorn the quiet balcony area of the church. As well as providing a beautiful back drop for the space, the colourful trees have been specially devised, so those visiting the church can write a thought, feeling or prayer on a leaf and hang it on one of the trees as a way to express themselves or connect with the church.

Student Frankie Di Gangi (aged 19), said: “We are really proud we have created something for the community for local people to enjoy. We’ve never done anything quite like this before and the experience has taught us a lot about teamwork and working to a client brief.”

Kate Saunders, Community Pastoral Manager at Windsor Baptist Church, explains: “We had an idea about creating some artwork for the Church and approached the College after seeing the beautiful window displays created by their students. The students visited us to understand how the space is used by the community and what we were looking to achieve.”

“The ideas the girls came up with were so good. We’ve had a very positive response from people who have seen it, with many commenting on how it joins the different areas of the building together. It is something that is going to be used and loved by the community for years to come.”

Windsor Baptist Church is truly a space for the community, being used by a wide range of different groups including the Windsor Homeless Project, Street Angels, UP Depression and Anxiety Group, Blossoms Ballet, Rattle ‘n’ Roll Drama Group and a local rock choir. The Church also includes the popular Treehouse Café, which is open six days a week. For more details, click here.

Windsor College, part of East Berkshire College, has an extensive art department that includes facilities for fine art, graphics, 3D design, photography, media production, fashion, interior design and visual merchandising. The College also offers a wide range of A Levels as well as specialist courses in performing arts, science, accountancy and business.

For further information on East Berkshire College and its extensive range of over 800 courses available, click here or call 01753 793000.

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Fabulous fashion, sustainable furniture, larger than life puppets and thought-provoking animations were all part of an exciting art and design exhibition showcasing the work of talented students at East Berkshire College’s Windsor Campus recently.

Running from Monday 20th June to Friday 24th June 2016, the end of year show featured an impressive array of artwork in various media and styles.

Reflecting the individuality and creativity of the students from across the College’s range of creative courses, the work on display included 3D design, abstract paintings, printmaking, photography, graphic design, animation, textiles and visual merchandising.

The show featured a mix of work produced by students on the College’s A Level, vocational and community courses including A Level Fine Art, A Level Photography, BTEC Foundation Diploma, BTEC Art & Design Level 2 and Level 3 courses, BTEC Media, BTEC Interactive Media as well as Visual Merchandising and Interior Design.

Paul Ryan, a senior lecturer at East Berkshire College, commented: “On display is a wide range of work which includes fine art, graphics, 3D design, animation, photography and fashion. All the work has been produced by our students as part of their courses and reflects the great diversity of the areas we offer at the College. The end of year exhibition is a valuable experience for our students, many of who will be going onto a range of university courses, from digital arts to fashion.”

Patrycja Kepka (23, from Slough), who has just completed a level three BTEC art and design course at the College and is looking forward to studying product and furniture design at Kingston University in September, said: “I’ve really enjoyed my time here at college. I’ve been able to really explore my creativity and develop my ideas. I like designing things that are practical as well as artistic, which is why my final piece is a range of furniture inspired by the human skeleton.”

Level three visual merchandising student Irene Lelliott, who created an impressive display inspired by the film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, was another student exhibiting at the show. She explained: “I was apprehensive about returning to study after 30 years, but the lecturers are incredible. They go above and beyond their roles to help you. I’ve learnt how to create a PowerPoint presentation, put together a portfolio and I’m putting my skills into practice in my job at Farnham Castle.”

For further information on East Berkshire College and its extensive range of creative courses, click here or call 01753 793000.

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Pupils at local primary schools were recently treated to an action-packed stage adventure thanks to talented performing arts students from East Berkshire College. Putting their own twist on the classic panto Robin Hood, the students delighted audiences with a professional show full of mayhem and merriment.

A cast of 16 students, who are all studying at Windsor College, performed a 45 minute pantomime as part of a festive tour for schools. The show had all the elements you would expect from a classic panto, such as adventure, music, dancing, excitement and lots of audience participation.

Lecturer Natalie Jones said: "The tour was a tremendous success. The response at every show has been excellent. The students have thoroughly enjoyed the experience and it has given them an insight into what it is like to be part of a professional touring company, with some very early starts, loading and unloading a minibus, creating characters and improvising, and adapting their performance to fit different spaces and different audiences."

Entertaining groups of between 40 and 300 children at a time, the tour visited five schools in the area including Marish Primary School in Langley, Eton Wick First School in Windsor and Ryvers Primary School in Slough.

Now in its 12th year, the 'Adventures in Panto-land' school tour was created as part of a module of the College's Performing Arts BTEC Extended Diploma Level 3 course. The students, who are all in their second year, have spent the term developing their skills in this area of performance and researching the origins of pantomime.

For further information on East Berkshire College and its performing arts courses, click here or call 01753 793000.

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Four talented art and design students from East Berkshire College in Windsor have had their work commissioned by the Environment Agency, after being named as winners of an exciting mural competition to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta.

As part of the celebrations, local schools and colleges were asked to design two commemorative murals in a competition run by the Environment Agency. The winning designs were then painted by artist Helen Brady from Inspired Spaces on the walls of the lock keeper's house at Bell Weir Lock, Runnymede.

Aliah Anwar, Rebecca Young and Nur Yasmin Ifran Nurdin won the 'Magna Carta 1215' category with their beautiful mural depicting the sealing of the charter 800 years ago, while Cristina Bree created an eye-catching and inspiring design to win the 'What the Magna Carta Means Today' element of the competition.

The two vibrant murals were officially unveiled at a special ceremony recently and provide a fitting backdrop to the busy lock.

Andrew Graham, Waterway Manager for the Environment Agency said: "The original idea of the mural actually came from David Andrews, our resident lock keeper at Bell Weir Lock.

"It has been great to see the wall transform into a fantastic piece of artwork which reflects the magnitude of the Magna Carta and how it has affected law, popular culture and human rights over the last 800 years".

One of the winners, Aliah Anwar, who is studying a level three BTEC extended diploma in art and design at Windsor College, explained: "It was a really special moment when we saw our mural full size on the wall. We worked solidly on our design for three days, researching and coming up with ideas. I feel very proud knowing that our artwork will be seen by so many people every day for years to come."

Run by the Environment Agency, the mural competition was sponsored by the Runnymede-on-Thames Hotel and Clarendon Serviced Apartments (Wraysbury Hall). As well as having their artwork adorn the lock house, the students were also offered a meal at the Runnymede-on-Thames Hotel courtesy of the hotel along with a framed photo of their work and a commemorative scroll.

Windsor College in St Leonards Road has an extensive art department that includes facilities for fine art, graphics, 3D design, printing, photography, media production, interior design and visual merchandising.

For further information on East Berkshire College and its extensive range of over 800 courses available, click here or call 01753 793000.

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Fabulous paper dresses, sustainable furniture designs and thought-provoking photography were part of an exciting art and design exhibition showcasing the work of talented students at East Berkshire College's Windsor Campus this week.

Running from Tuesday 23rd June to Friday 26th June 2015, the end of year show featured an impressive array of artwork in various media and styles.

Reflecting the individuality and creativity of the students from across the College's range of creative courses, the work on display included 3D design, abstract paintings, printmaking, photography, graphic design, animation, textiles and visual merchandising.

The show featured a mix of work produced by students on the College's A Level, vocational and community courses including A Level Fine Art, A Level Photography, BTEC Foundation Diploma, BTEC Art & Design Level 2 and Level 3 courses, BTEC Media, BTEC Interactive Media as well as Visual Merchandising and Interior Design.

Paul Ryan, a senior lecturer at East Berkshire College, commented: "On display is a wide range of work which includes fine art, graphics, 3D design, animation, photography and fashion. All the work has been produced by our students as part of their courses and reflects the great diversity of the areas we offer at the College. The end of year exhibition is a valuable experience for our students, many of who will be going onto a range of university courses, from digital arts to fashion."

Level three art student Eleanor O'Brian (19, from Datchet), who created an impressive chair made from old books, was one of the students exhibiting at the show. She explained: "I've really enjoyed the course and putting on our final show. I'm hoping to do product and furniture design at university, so the course has given me the chance to develop my skills in this area. For my work, I chose to explore the idea of recycling materials and objects to create something new."

Balraj Sehmi (19, from Slough), who has just completed a level three art and design course at the College and is looking forward to studying architecture at De Montfort University in September, said: "The end of year exhibition is a great opportunity to showcase our work. Our lecturers all come from different specialisms, so I've had the chance to explore lots of different creative techniques, from painting to 3D design."

For further information on East Berkshire College and its extensive range of creative courses, please click here or call 01753 793000.

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Budding moviemakers and entrepreneurs at East Berkshire College were given an insight into the world of filmmaking and advice on starting a business venture, when former student and Oscar-winning film producer Gareth Ellis-Unwin visited Langley College on Tuesday (16th December).

Gareth, who studied A Levels at Windsor College in the late 1980s, returned to his roots to talk to students about running their own business as well as his illustrious career in the film industry. A career that has included producing the critically-acclaimed 2010 film The King’s Speech, for which he won an Oscar for Best Film, and setting up production company Bedlam Productions.   

Gareth, who used to play ice hockey for Slough Jets, said: “Winning the Oscar was personally and professionally an amazing time in my life, but part of that legacy is visiting colleges and inspiring the next generation. It is important that industry integrates with education to help build a bridge between careers and school or college.”

Receiving an Oscar from legendary director Steven Spielberg seems a far cry from college life and playing ice hockey in Slough. However, Gareth was keen to highlight to students that their ambitions are achievable if they put their minds to it. 

He said: “TV or film are not unachievable careers. I think it is important to give young people that belief in themselves. The development process in any business, project or career is key. You have to work hard and be persistent. I did a lot of unpaid jobs and worked as a runner on various shows to obtain practical experience. My ‘overnight success’ was actually 18 years in the making.” 

After graduating from Ravensbourne College in London, Gareth rose quickly through the ranks to be Assistant Director and Production Manager for a number of drama and documentary projects. His first feature film as Producer, Exam (2009) earned a nomination at the 63rd British Academy Film Awards. Following that, Gareth produced The King's Speech alongside Iain Canning and Emile Sherman, picking up the Audience Award at Toronto International Film Festival, a Producers Guild of America award, seven BAFTAs, including both Outstanding British Film and Best Film, and four Academy Awards, including Best Film.

Gareth’s latest film is Kajaki: The True Story, which tells the moving story of a small unit of British soldiers who find themselves on an old minefield while protecting the Kajaki dam and their subsequent struggle for survival. The low budget British film premiered in the West End on 12th December and is receiving great reviews.

Gareth’s visit is part of a series of talks by guest speakers and former students, which are organised by the College to enhance the learning experience of its students, encourage innovation and demonstrate how the curriculum relates to future careers. 

Media student Leigh Reid (18, from Slough) said “It was great to meet someone who has been where we are now and made it in the film industry. I’ve seen a lot of his work and I would like to be a director or producer myself, so I was kind of star struck when I met him. His talk was really inspiring and he was really down to earth. He even made time to give us one-to-one advice and answer our questions.”  

For further information on East Berkshire College and its extensive range of over 800 courses including apprenticeships, call 0845 373 2500 or click here.

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