Exeter College’s vocational students joined together to celebrate their achievements in a garden party held at the college’s Hele Road campus.
Vocational and technical qualifications offer a more practical and applied style of study and are offered by a range of awarding bodies but at Exeter College BTEC, UAL and City & Guilds are the three largest.
Many Level 3 programmes are the equivalent of up to three A Levels. Vocational & technical programs tend to focus on continuous assessment rather than exams and typically provide a practical method of acquiring skills for the workplace or further study. About half of the college’s vocational students use their Level 3 qualifications as a passport to university and half use the skills they have learned to start an Apprenticeship or join the world of work.
Nationally, vocational students don’t have a formal ‘results day’ like their A Level peers as grades are released gradually over the course of the summer. However, in a bid to give some much-deserved recognition to these students, Exeter College played host to its first ever Vocational Garden Party, complete with cupcakes and live music from college alumni Ophelia Pearce, to celebrate the achievements of these hard-working students.
The college has lots to celebrate around BTECs this year, with nine Exeter College students being recognised at the BTEC Awards 2019. This included Abbie Densham being crowned BTEC Science Student of the Year and Luke Bearpark being named BTEC Hospitality, Travel and Tourism Student of the Year.
“I’m delighted to welcome our vocational students here to celebrate everything they’ve achieved in their studies,” said Exeter College Principal John Laramy.
“Vocational courses are a hugely important part of what we offer as a college and are a vital route in education for many young people. While they offer a different approach to learning to many A Levels, vocational study can still be applied academically to aid with progressing on to university-level studies as well as having a direct line of sight to industry.
“Our teaching staff on vocational courses are all dual-qualified which means that not only are they excellent teachers, they’re also hugely experienced and successful in the industry they’re teaching students about.”
Students who attended the event paid tribute to their time at Exeter College and the support of staff. Cain Spiller studied the BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Public Services and is now taking his next steps to become a fully-fledged Police Officer. He said, “I was very nervous before coming to the college but they’re great in how they support you.
“I’ve really benefitted from staff guidance and whether you’re struggling with work or thinking about the next step of your career they give you the very best advice about what you can do.”
Cain, 18, felt that the vocational route of study is what suited his needs as a learner best. He continued: “From a very early age I’ve known that I wanted to be a Police Officer and the Public Services course suited me perfectly. It was a really practical way of learning and that suited the way I work.”
Vocational student Georgina Atiya-Alla is heading off to Plymouth Marjon University to study Primary Education after recently completing her Level 3 Diploma in Childcare and Education.
“It has been amazing at Exeter College,” said Georgina.
“I’ve had my own personal struggles but as long as you work hard and put in the effort then everything will come through for you. For me, the work experience side of things makes the study more enjoyable because you’re learning the practical skills as well as the theoretical knowledge.
“The staff here have been so helpful with me. They’re really encouraging and there’s always somebody there if you need to ask questions or talk about something.”
Paulo Sallis from Totnes achieved a Distinction in his Extended Diploma in Fine Art and is going to be staying with Exeter College to study for his Foundation Diploma. He particularly enjoyed the freedom his vocational course gave him to fully focus on a subject he is passionate about.
“I was considering a few other routes but I decided that I wanted to apply myself completely to a subject that I’m really interested in,” said Paulo.
“The course has completely changed the way I look at art and the way I work. Doing a creative subject in this way has given me a whole range of ideas moving forward because I’ve had the time to fully engage in what we’re learning about.
“Today has been a great opportunity to thank everyone at the college and talk with staff and fellow students about what’s happening next for us all!”