Take a look at our highlights video, or for a more detailed recap, scroll down!
At the start of the year, we saw a new influx of students being welcomed at our Freshers Fayre, which was our first large scale event for quite a while! Special guests in attendance included Kent Fire and Rescue, Canterbury Christchurch University, the University of Kent, Charlton Athletic Football Club and many more! Students throughout the day were given lots of vouchers, free merchandise and free pizza provided by Papa John’s Pizza (across the road from our campus!) It was a great day, and students learnt all about the opportunities available to them including our enrichment program! Find out what these opportunities were today.
We also provided students and local residents the opportunity to have a Covid vaccination with our drop in service in partnership with the local NHS Trust.
We were pleased to see Ashford College’s football team have their first match. The team was set up and funded by Charlton Athletic’s Community Trust, and has helped the students so much in the year boosting their confidence and skills outside of lessons. Taking place at Ashford United FC, they drew 1-1 against Dover College. Students also went to Thorpe Park and experienced ‘Fright Night’ around Halloween.
This month brought us great news, as we secured Government funding to allow us to continue with Phase 2 of our college expansion plans. The new 'engineering hub' building will allow about 250 extra students to study with the college. Ashford MP Damian Green said the news was "absolutely fantastic". Read more about our Phase 2 development here.
Aiding further development in Ashford, our college had the pleasure of hosting Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce for a an Ashford Economic Development Group meeting. It was an enjoyable experience for attendees that enabled our students to influence the progression of their town.
We also hosted our first Veteran's Lunch to commemorate Remembrance Day. Our special guests included members of Ashford Royal British Legion, Smeeth & Brabourne Royal British Legion and the Mayor of Ashford, Cllr Callum Knowles. The day consisted of lunch prepared by our talented catering students and art exhibits by our creative art students.
We also had our affordable art show, with all the money raised going towards buying supplies for the Afghan refugees based in the Ashford International Hotel. Read more here...
To end the month, students went ice skating at Bluewater in the run up to Christmas.
We had a hairdressing competition in college with looks being based on Film and TV. Entries included hair and beauty designs based on Avatar, the Lion King and many more!
Handmade Christmas cards, paper chains and tabletop decorations were kindly made by students from Supported Teaching & Learning and Health & Social Care. These were part of Christmas boxes to be delivered to local care homes and were made using sustainable/recycled materials where possible. Our catering students also prepared some delicious Christmas cakes!
We also got involved with Ashford’s Carnival of the Baubles, where a procession of giant illuminated lanterns and baubles decorated by children from local primary schools, made its way from Elwick Place, up Bank Street and through the Lower High Street. It ended with a family-friendly disco party on the bandstand hosted by Ashford College students!
We had our Virtual Open Day, which was well attended and allowed people the chance to see and explore the college from the comfort of their own homes.
Music students also launched the College’s official podcast ‘the spotlight’ which aims to shine a light on the students, college life and wider issues in the community. We hope to record many more episodes and have lots of exciting guests over the next year. To date at the end of July 2022 there are 8 episodes and a bloopers reel so click here to listen.
We celebrated LGBT+ History Month and every day on our socials we looked at an inspiring figure who helped shape LGBT+ issues.
Our Music Technology students went on The Dominic King Show on BBC Radio Kent, giving them the chance to talk about the course and college in general, as well as getting radio experience
We also held a pop-up experience at the Ashford Designer Outlet, where shoppers could view our Art Exhibition, take our Careers Personality Quiz and write a kind note to a stranger for our 'Wall of Kindness' interactive exhibition. Our friendly staff were on hand to give people advice and information on our courses! Read more here...
We had our careers fair, allowing students to explore their options and meet with companies. One student even had an interview on the day which resulted in a job offer! Thomas White, Careers and Employer Engagement Officer, organised the event and is always there to provide career support and advice to students, and ultimately help them reach their potential. Learn about the student's experience here...
We also held another affordable art show and raised funds for Red Nose Day and Honeypot Children’s Charity, selling cakes and cookies in the atrium of college. Art and Design students were tasked with creating two murals for a local trampoline centre, ‘FlipOut’, which resulted in some amazing pieces of art that will welcome people into the centre.
Ashford College was transformed into a feast for the senses on Wednesday, March 23, as it hosted a Celebration of Cultures. Representatives of cultures around the world came down to Ashford to show off their food, dances and music to enthusiastic students. Catering students were also offered work experience and jobs at the participating restaurants, meaning the event was an opportunity to further the careers of students and boost Ashford’s economy. This event was the idea of SU President Chandrika who said afterwards "This event will be one that I cherish and remember it's one of the best things I've been involved in. I am so proud of the way it turned out. It was better than I envisioned it to be and the student participation for this was amazing!" Learn more about this great event here!
This month brought a very special guest to the College, the Archbishop of Canterbury! The Most Reverend Justin Welby visited Ashford College on Wednesday, April 13 during the Easter/half term break to get an insight into life as a student. The tour saw the Church of England leader meeting the Student Union and learners from several different departments. He also met some of the College's ESOL students, some of whom had come from Afghanistan following the war and were now finding their feet in their new homes. Learn about his visit here.
As part of a new scheme involving us, Southeastern and the Kent Community Rail Partnership (Kent CRP), some of our students including ESOL, went along to Charing village just outside of Ashford on the train, and helped to maintain the appearance of the station. This was a really good experience for our students to go out and explore the wider community immediately outside Ashford, as well as help to volunteer and gain some work experience skills. See what the students did in more detail here.
This month brought us lots of community involvement and connections. Our Catering students went to The Yarrow Hotel in Broadstairs and learnt about fine dining and food presentation as well as commercial catering. Four of our Catering students and our Chef Lecturer; Jackie Apps, also volunteered over the Bank Holiday to cater for the Headcorn School May Fair, helping them to raise over £9000. Having never cooked BBQ food before in a setting such as this, it was a great experience for our students to do so. Learn more here.
On Monday 9th May, our very own football team travelled up to Charlton Athletic to play in their Post 16 Valley Cup. This was a one-of-a-kind experience for our team, as it was a chance for them to play in a league football stadium, and to represent the EKC Group. See how they did here.
Our music students became crew as part of all change for Ashford, which gave them vital industry experience Every part of the show that required technological know-how was run by our students! The show’s director Stephen Israel called them ‘a real credit to the college’.
We went all out for our Jubilee celebrations, which we held early due to the Jubilee being in half term. This didn’t stop us from going all out though, with a design contest, a BBQ, a college ‘street party’, being part of the Jubilee Tree Trail and a redesign of the Ashford International Station’s decals. See how much we really did here!
To end the month, students got to ‘Try the Train’ and make announcements/give their thoughts on the train services in our area which you can learn more about here.
We held our end of year art show ‘Together’ at County Square, which was well received by the public, and gave our Art and Design students a chance to show their progress in the year. See how it went here, including views from County Square staff.
Using the Government’s SDF fund, we as well as the wider EKC Group are helping to decarbonise Engineering. We purchased new machines which will help do this as well as help out our students next year with group projects!
A romantic meal for two contest for Catering students was judged by staff across all departments such as student services, marketing, estates and teaching. Options included halloumi salad, roast duck, puff pastry tarts and garlic bread.
Nationwide, Balmain Hair UK, Construction Testing Solutions and the Careers and Enterprise service all came in to give talks to our students, and we attended the UCAS Convention in Detling Hill for students to explore their future.
Our first student awards/afterparty since 2019 went down very well, with lots of food (once again provided by our Catering team!) as well as dancing and celebrating the end of the year. We recognised those students that had really made a difference in terms of individual achievement and community engagement. See who won and for what here.
Some of Catering students went to Azet’s Accountancy down the road to make and serve canapes to their clients at a networking event. Our students were complimented on their professionalism!
As an end of term treat, students also went to the Harry Potter studio tour in London.
In our last week of term, we held the ‘Positive Pathways’ event to reach out to those 16+ in our local community and to help them explore their career options. Local businesses and services were in attendance to promote their offerings, as well as the wider EKC Group including EKC WorkHigher and EKC IntoWork. We as a college also promoted our Adult courses including a Beauty nail masterclass.
Staff Celebration Day was on the final Friday of term, where staff achievements were recongised with our STAR Awards, and we had a chance to let our hair down as a college with a Country and Western themed day! Activities included a cowboy quiz, Dolly Parton based Karaoke and a Bucking Bronco which was very difficult to stay on for longer than 20 seconds. See which staff made a real difference this year.
Now that August is starting and we think ahead to the new year, we can’t wait to see what we will get up to! We hope you all have a great summer holiday, and we will be back in September with more updates.