COLUMN: September is a time of new beginnings

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From early childhood, September marks a time of new school uniform and new school shoes.

Above all, it’s a time of new beginnings. And so it is for many West Nottinghamshire College students, who started with us last week.

It’s when 16-year-olds take that all-important next step towards their futures and when adults embark on the latest chapter of their lives, often after a very long break from formal education.

For our returning students, it’s when friendships are rekindled and journeys continue.

Our campuses spring into life and are filled with the buzz and excitement about what is to come, when the meticulous planning by hundreds of staff over the summer comes to fruition, where potential and talent is developed, and ambitions start to be realised. For many, coming to college acts as a watershed. For school-leavers it signals a transition to adulthood. For those returning it is a step closer to achieving their goals and, for adult learners, a change in direction or a move towards a better career.

Throughout September we see many of our new students transformed from being a nervous new starter to a confident course representative, and adults rekindling a long-forgotten love of learning. This metamorphosis is possible because of our dedicated staff who recognise that everybody’s journey is different – and that the support we offer students must be tailored to their needs. We pride ourselves on our exceptional support for students to achieve their goals – that’s why our feedback from them is always so positive and our results so consistently high.

There are literally hundreds of opportunities for students to enhance their skills outside of the classroom or training workshop. A comprehensive wider-learning programme exposes our younger students to a huge range of volunteering opportunities and work experience, as well as the potential to try their hand at running a business or enterprise, or get engaged in sport through the college’s acclaimed sports academy.

Our highly-experienced careers team can help with CVs, job interviews and even finding part-time work, and our financial support packages mean a lack of funds will not stop anyone from accessing all parts of college life. If it’s more personal support that is needed, then our team of dedicated support assistants work with students with a range of disabilities or learning difficulties to ensure they enjoy the same college experience as everybody else.

My advice to anyone starting at the college this year is to grab every opportunity with both hands. The difference it will make in terms of your confidence and progression – whether to university, an apprenticeship or other employment – is immeasurable.

We employ around 800 staff and every single one of us is committed to ensuring each individual student succeeds. September is a time when un-tapped potential starts to be honed, when relationships are formed and new beginnings are turned into bright futures.