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With the government announcing new funding for low paid earners, many adult courses offered by the Windsor Forest Colleges Group will now be free. Anyone earning less than £20,000 who is not already eligible for free funding, can now receive full funding on a wide range of courses at Langley, Strode’s or Windsor Colleges, starting in September 2018.

Chief Executive and Group Principal Kate Webb welcomed the announcement commenting: “This is a great opportunity for those who want to improve their English with one of our ESOL courses, learn a new skill to either develop their career or re-train for a completely new direction. This new government funding will take the worry out of having to finance courses as many offered at our colleges will now be free. Anyone keen to take advantage of the funding needs to move quickly as this is a year’s trial by the government for courses starting from September.”

She continued: “We already offer a number of courses that are completely free for adults who are unemployed or claiming a range of benefits. This is the first time the government has acknowledged that people on a low wage should also be entitled to free education and training. This will improve the career and employment opportunities for many in our community.”

Eligible courses range from the technical such as Level 1 and 2 Construction, Hair and Beauty and Motor Vehicle through to the professional including Accountancy, Business, Hospitality and Travel and Tourism.

This initiative will also be welcomed by employers who can now utilise this funding to help upskill their staff who may be employed at entry level who are keen to progress.

The government funding is aimed at people earning less than £15,736.50 annual gross salary, based on the Social Mobility Commission’s low pay threshold. However Windsor Forest Colleges Group has acknowledged that the low pay threshold in outer London would be higher and has therefore increased its level to those earning £20,000 or less.

Visit the Langley or Windsor College course pages, or Strode's College course pages to discover the courses. Alternatively, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information. 

Academic excellence, endeavour, promise and performance were all recognised at Langley College’s annual Student Award’s Ceremony last week. Students along with their proud families joined college lecturers, governors and VIP guests The Worshipful the Mayor of Slough, Councillor Paul Sohal, and the MP for Slough, Mr Tan Desai for the awards which showcase the very best of the College renowned for advanced technical vocational training.

The annual ceremony recognises and celebrates those students who have all contributed to an outstanding year which has seen the creation of the Windsor Forest Colleges Group following the merger of East Berkshire College with Strode's College in Egham. 

This year over 140 students were shortlisted for the prestigious awards which included prizes for Endeavour, Excellence, Service to the Community, Best Overall English, Best Overall Maths, Excellence in the use of IT, Best Overall Apprentice and Best Higher Education Student.

Special guest Tan Desai presented the award to The Most Promising Students, commenting: “It was an honour to be Guest of Honour and share views with everyone here at Langley College. Well done to Kate Webb and all the teachers, staff, governors and parents. Hopefully their efforts to support the young people in their achievements will have laid the foundations for successful futures for each of the bright students.”

A particular highlight of the evening was the award for the Most Outstanding Student which this year went to Joe Davies, who due to personal circumstances missed out on schooling. With no formal qualifications Joe enrolled on the Access to Social Work in 2015 and has become a motivated and enthusiastic learner with excellent concentration and study skills and is going to university to study social work.

Group Principal and Chief Executive Kate Webb commented on the vital role the College plays in the community supporting the academic and skills development of local students and said: “This is always a special evening where we recognise those students who embody the spirit of Langley College - hard work, success and ambition. We specialise in developing real skills for real careers and are proud that our students now have the advanced technical skills to progress in their careers.”

 

Joe Davies Most Outstanding Student Most Outstanding Students 2018 overall

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Game-changing ENGAGE platform beams in the best teachers from around the world

The traditional classroom lesson were finally consigned to the history books when technology pioneers, Immersive VR Education, beamed experts from California and Dubai into a virtual classroom to teach students here at Langley College, via a short trip to the moon.

 

PIXAR co-founder, Loren Carpenter, was ‘beamed’ in to the virtual reality (VR) classroom live from the US so that IT and gaming students could learn from the very best in the world on how VR brings education to life. Commenting on the future of VR in education he said: “Through virtual reality, we can create a fabulous distributed classroom where anyone in the world with the internet can access a classroom and teaching. We can examine concepts that are difficult to recreate in other ways. Students can experience what it is like at the top of Everest or get inside a locomotive to see how it works up close.”

 

Christian Long, gaming teacher and champion for VR technology for Windsor Forest Colleges Group created the event for his students by drawing on his impressive connections within the global VR industry, said: “It is said we only retain 30% of what we hear, but 90% of what we experience. It’s why we can often remember our childhood holidays vividly, but not many of our school lessons. VR is an incredibly powerful tool for engaging students and helping them experience what they learn, so the lesson is never lost. When we can then add the best teachers from across the globe into the mix, the impact we can have on our pupils’ ability to learn will be phenomenal.”

 

The PIXAR animation guru and Oscar winner was also joined by Dubai-based teacher and VR pioneer, Steven Bambury. Steven, from the Jumeirah School, took students on a VR journey from Langley to the moon and then to an ancient stone circle in Wiltshire so they could experience the transformative power of VR on a lesson.

David Whelan, CEO of Immersive VR Education, creators of the ENGAGE platform said: “This is a pivotal moment in the history of learning. ENGAGE allows students to not only experience the environment they are learning about in virtual reality but have the best teachers from around the globe join them in a virtual classroom.”

The Windsor Forest Colleges Group has made significant investment into technology, working with employers and businesses to ensure we are pioneers of this exciting technology in the education sector.

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Langley College, part of the Windsor Forest Colleges Group, and Slough Museum have formed an innovative partnership, which will see the two organisations working together to make the museum’s collection a sustainable and interactive learning resource for all ages.

Through the new partnership, which is believed to be the first of its kind in the country, the museum will display parts of its collection in relevant areas of the College to enhance the learning environment and raise awareness of the area’s proud history. Volunteers from the museum will maintain and rotate the displays as well as run talks and workshops with students.

Like many local museums, Slough Museum has faced the challenge of losing its local authority funding and although it has an excellent permanent exhibition in The Curve in Slough, much of the museum’s impressive collection has remained in storage. The move to Langley College will mean the collection will be accessible to current and future generations. In fact, college students are also helping museum staff to explore ways they can use the latest virtual reality technology to bring the collection to life in a virtual world.

Richard Kirkham, Assistant Principal for Further Education at the College, explains: “We believe this partnership with Slough Museum brings the past and future together perfectly. It will enable our students to learn and understand the history of their communities and how different industries have developed in the town. Equally, our students will use their skills and the latest technology we have at Langley College to work with museum staff to take the collection into innovative directions that will appeal to future generations.”

Slough Museum plans to complete the move and installation of its displays into the College early next year. Both the Arts Council England and the Lottery Heritage Fund are interested in the project and whether this could be a feasible model for other museums across the country.

Steve Green, Museum Development Manager for Slough Museum, said: “We are excited about engaging young people with our collection and working with them to explore new ways of sharing the many fascinating images and objects we hold. The partnership with the college is a great way to experiment with new ways to understand the past.”

The two organisations are already working together on the Young Roots Project, which aims to engage young people in learning about the changing face of Slough High Street. Students from Langley College and the local community have been recruited to work with a young trainee project manager, Jessie Cheema, and museum volunteers to develop an exhibition and a smartphone app. They will receive training on historic research, interpretation, planning and IT as well as visit the Royal Geographic Society to learn about maps. The final exhibition will then tour The Curve and local libraries.

Langley College is a state-of-the-art centre for innovative technical and professional education, offering courses from entry level right through to Higher Education. The College has been serving young people, adults and businesses in the local community for over 40 years.

For further information on Langley College, part of the Windsor Forest Colleges Group, please visit www.windsor-forest.ac.uk or call 01753 793000.

Slough Museum is the only organisation in Slough with a remit to collect, conserve and communicate the town’s heritage. As such, it is the guardian of the story of Slough. For further information on Slough Museum, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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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, why not try learning a new skill or language, improving your career prospects or taking up a hobby this January.

Whether you want to study part-time or full-time, there’s a variety of courses on offer to suit your needs and you don’t have to wait until September to start. From computing to interior design and Italian to construction, there are an array of courses at East Berkshire College starting in early 2017.

“It’s never too late to learn something new,” says Juliet Holloway, Director of Learner Services at the College. “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. There are courses at various levels to suit most people’s needs and a growing range of apprenticeships, from catering to engineering.

“This year, we have a new Skills Pathway course for 16-23 year olds, which provides a first step towards a career and the chance to try a range of practical subjects, from motor vehicle to hairdressing. We also have a range of professional qualifications and language courses as well as English, maths and IT classes. Some people may even 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.

Farooq Ahmed found going back to college gave him a new career path and renewed confidence: “I was concerned about returning to education after 10 years, but the teachers were fantastic. They were so supportive from the word go and you could email them any time if you had a question.”

Meanwhile, for those interested in taking their skills to a higher level, the College now offers a growing range of Higher Education courses, including a new Foundation Degree in Tourism and Hospitality Management. These courses provide a more convenient and affordable alternative to university.

Lauren Elliot, who recently completed an HND course at Windsor College, believes studying for a higher level course at college offers a greater degree of flexibility. Lauren explains: “I wanted to take my studies further, but university wasn’t for me. An HND at college is a great alternative. You get more one-to-one time and the lecturers are amazing. Because the course is flexible, I was even able to work while I studied.”

For more details on over 800 courses and apprenticeships at East Berkshire College, please click here or call 01753 793000.

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East Berkshire College is proud to be a partner in the successful Elevate project, which aims to help 16-24 year olds into education, employment and training in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead.

Providing comprehensive advice and guidance to help progress young people into their chosen career pathway, the project has supported over 200 young people since it first launched in September 2014.

Going from strength to strength, Elevate is a joint partnership between the Royal Borough’s Grow Our Own service, East Berkshire College and Ways into Work. Joanne Horton, Service Manager at RBWM, explains: “Since the beginning of the project we have seen an improvement to the careers service for our young people, this has mainly been due to the fantastic partnership work that has taken place.

“Elevate has enabled partners to co-locate in our hubs based across Windsor and Maidenhead to enable our young people to access direct advice and support, whether they are interested in higher education, employment, work experience, training or volunteering. In fact, we have seen high numbers of young people progressing into the destination of their choice.”

Young people aged 16-24 from across the borough can access this free service by simply dropping into the Elevate Me Hub in Nicholsons Shopping Centre, Maidenhead or Windsor College in St Leonards Road, Windsor from Monday to Friday 9.30am-5pm.

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Jobcentre Plus and East Berkshire College teamed up with local employers last week (22nd October) to give adults and young people around East Berkshire the opportunities they need to take up work.

Hundreds of jobseekers from the local area were invited to a special Careers and Learning Fair, where they were able to meet employers and find out about developing their skills through a wide range of Traineeships and Apprenticeships.

Held at Langley College in Station Road, the event featured a range of employers offering jobs and advice, local training providers and voluntary organisations. Employers exhibiting at the event included the Royal Air Force, McDonalds, Interserve, Primark, Morrisons and Thames Valley Police.

Raj Basram, Employer & Partnerships Manager Slough Jobcentre Plus, said: "This was a fantastic opportunity for Slough Jobcentre Plus claimants to apply for work and learning opportunities. We received a great response from local businesses all working to the ethos of supporting Slough community and local jobs for local people.

"Our partners East Berkshire College commissioned use of their newly built ground floor 'Street' and Social areas for the event. They also provided sessions for Jobcentre Plus claimants who needed Basic Skills, English as a Second Language training support and delivered presentations on Traineeships and Apprenticeships. I hope this will mark the start of future annual events working in partnership with East Berkshire College and local business."

Working in partnership with Jobcentre Plus, East Berkshire College is committed to supporting adults and young people in successfully finding employment. As part of the event, the College provided information, advice and guidance on careers, funding and a wide range of courses including Traineeships and Apprenticeships. In addition, the College delivered sessions on basic skills and English for speakers of other languages.

Latisha Dendie-Hodge (18, from Slough) found the event particularly beneficial. She explains: "I didn't realise there were so many job opportunities available until I came to the event. I've been able to make some useful contacts and find out information I couldn't find online. I've spoken to lots of different companies and I even discovered that there are roles for musicians in the armed forces, which I never knew. I play a number of instruments, so I think I might apply for this."

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

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As the treacherous weather caused havoc with schools across the borough, Churchmead School and East Berkshire College have been working together to ensure minimal disruption to students studying for their GCSEs.

Churchmead School in Priory Way was forced to close this week as all access routes to the Datchet school were hit by severe flooding. Determined not to be beaten by the weather, however, the school was able to continue to deliver classes for Year 11 students thanks to the generosity of East Berkshire College in Langley.

Chris Tomes, Headteacher at Churchmead, said: "We are very grateful to East Berkshire College, who at very short notice have provided an amazing service for our students and staff. Around 70% of our Year 11 students made it to Langley College today (Wednesday 12 February) to focus on their English, Science and Maths revision for their GCSE exams.

"The College has gone out of their way to accommodate us. They have even provided iPads for our students to use and put on lunch for us in their new restaurant. In fact, it was great to see that a former Churchmead Head Boy, Rhys Kralyic, was one of the catering students who served us lunch."

The Year 11 students will continue their lessons at Langley College in Station Road for the rest of the week, while Year 10 students are attending Beechwood School in Slough.

Kate Webb, Principal of East Berkshire College, explains: "We are delighted to be able to come to the rescue of Churchmead School. We know it is an important time for those studying for their GCSEs, so we were keen to help the school to continue teaching in any way we could. With a little reorganisation, we were able to accommodate their students and staff in our new Hospitality & Catering Academy at Langley College.

"As well as helping the school, having the Year 11 students here has also given our professional cookery students a great opportunity to cater for a large event. They were able to use their skills to create, cook and serve a lunch that would appeal to young people. The atmosphere in the restaurant was fantastic!"

East Berkshire College continues to go from strength to strength in terms of raising standards and is currently undertaking a £30m refurbishment of its Langley College to provide state-of-the-art learning facilities for current and future students. These improvements include a new commercial hair and beauty salons which are due to be completed in early 2014.

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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A smoothie bike, BMX stunt show and a walk doctor were all in action at Langley College on Thursday (14th November) to educate students and staff on the benefits of changing to more eco-friendly forms of travel as part of a special Sustainable Travel Event.

Demonstrating East Berkshire College's commitment to reducing its carbon footprint, the Sustainable Travel Event highlighted ways students could save money and keep fit by cycling or walking to college and even car sharing.

As well as receiving some fantastic discounts at local bike shops, the students were able to take part in an eco-driving challenge or use their peddle power to whizz-up a healthy fruit drink on the 'Smoothie Bike.' There was even a Walk Doctor (aka Chris Rushbrook from charity Living Streets) on hand to provide prescriptions on how to incorporate more walking into their daily routines.

To encourage more people to swap their four wheels for two, charity Sustrans provided safety and security tips for budding cyclist and a bike doctor talked to students about how to ensure their bikes remain roadworthy. Meanwhile, Stows Cycle Shop showcased the latest range of bikes and accessories on the market. Jay Sengun from Stows Cycles, which has shops in Slough and Windsor, also entertained the crowds with some impressive BMX stunts outside the new look Langley College.

Ramandeep Gogna, Travel Plan Co-ordinator at East Berkshire College, explains: "As a College, we are dedicated to promoting healthy, eco-friendly modes of transport and this latest travel event was a fun way to get the message across. We have already launched a number of travel initiatives including a car sharing programme, walking challenge and a student bus pass scheme. In the future, we also plan to introduce enhanced cycle facilities, public transport information screens and priority car sharing bays at our Langley College."

IT student Ali Asimi (19, from Slough) was one of the first to try out the driving simulator to learn how to drive more fuel efficiently:

"I really enjoyed the event and I think supporting green travel is important. I try to walk to college whenever I can as it saves money and it is good exercise."

The College's Sustainable Transport Event was held in association with Slough Borough Council and Slough's Local Sustainable Transport Project, which aims to reduce traffic congestion in the town and increase economic growth. The project includes the promotion of sustainable travel measures, improved cycle and walking routes as well as cycle training.

Laura Wells from Slough Borough Council, who attended the event, adds: "It's great to come to this event and speak to college staff and students about travelling here sustainably. There are so many initiatives on offer at the college, from cycle training to car sharing, and we are here to support staff and students in their travel choices. If everyone could reconsider their journey where possible and travel by bike, walking, public transport or car share, there will be less congestion on the roads, less pollution, and health and money-saving benefits for individuals too. Slough is relatively flat and compact and so is an ideal place to travel by bike or on foot."

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

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