Northumberland College is aiming higher with many new courses available from September - sponsored feature

Northumberland College students show off their talents at prestigious competitions as new courses are unveiled - sponsored feature

Head shot of Northumberland College Principal Marcus Clinton
Head shot of Northumberland College Principal Marcus Clinton

Why Northumberland is aiming higher?

The increasing demand for higher level skills in industry has created a challenge for further education colleges, particularly in areas like Northumberland.

While we have a long-established history of delivering higher education courses, it is fair to say there has not been enough growth in this area.

It is why we have been working in partnership with Newcastle University on expanding our land-based provision, with many new courses available from September this year, subject to validation.

They will cover agriculture, animal welfare and management, arboriculture, equestrian coaching and performance, and foundation degrees in horticulture, countryside management and rural enterprise and leisure management.

The rural economy needs a well-educated workforce, equipped with the skills to meet the challenges of land management. We have a great range of specialist resource and highly-qualified staff to deliver this expansion as well as dedicated space across our facilities at Kirkley, Ashington, Berwick and Hexham.

A higher education qualification can help students to progress along their chosen career path or on to a university degree. It can also support those in employment to prepare for a promotion or to change jobs.

Newcastle University has a fantastic reputation and has been a hugely-supportive partner. Similarly, with the University of Cumbria we are able to offer HNDs in fine art, graphic design, fashion, information technology and web-based solutions, health and social care and sport as well as HNCs in electrical and electronic engineering, manufacturing engineering and an HE diploma in counselling. We also offer an innovative foundation degree in children’s workforce practice, suitable for all those who wish to develop their careers in nurseries, schools and care settings. This programme is also available at our Berwick campus and students can then progress to the BA (Hons) in working with children and families, so they can complete their full degree at Northumberland College.

In addition we will be offering the HE diploma in counselling which will enable graduates to practise in the voluntary or private sector.

We are also proud to be part of the teacher education consortium with University of Huddersfield. This university performs very strongly and has a proven track record in teacher education, enabling staff to gain a recognised post-graduate teaching qualification and qualified teacher status.

This expansion in higher education courses is a major step forward. It is building on the success of our new facilities and very strong teaching to engage with employers and deliver students with the employability skills they need through a combination of academic study and practical experience in real work environments.

Marcus Clinton, Northumberland College Principal

Box office flower power

Victoria Hughes is a Level 2 floristry student at Northumberland College
Victoria Hughes is a Level 2 floristry student at Northumberland College

Three Northumberland floristry students won Harrogate Flower Show Oscars after giving a truly flowerful performance.

The level 2 floristry students entered the Blockbuster category at the popular North Yorkshire Show and they proved a box office hit with the judges taking first, second and third prize.

Victoria Hughes led the way with her floral depiction of the Hunger Games, second place went to Sarah Dickson for her depiction of Pirates of the Caribbean while The Towering Inferno earned Margaret Telfer third place.

Floristry tutor Meg Ellison said: “I am absolutely thrilled for them. It has boosted their confidence and it is great for Northumberland College as it shows that, although floristry is a relatively new course, we can compete with the best.”

A total of 13 students entered the show, which was held this week. As well as designing and depicting a film they had to stage it ready for the critics – the judges.

Meg added: “From planning through to the displays, this has been a great learning experience for our students. They were all really nervous but they have done us proud.”

Sian sows the seeds of success

Sian Nichol she is studying a Level 3 Diploma in Horticulture at Kirkley Hall
Sian Nichol she is studying a Level 3 Diploma in Horticulture at Kirkley Hall

Sian Nichol triumphed on home soil to be crowned the North’s Young Horticulturist of the Year – going one better than last year.

The 26-year-old from Newcastle dug deep to beat off all the competition at the regional final held at Northumberland College’s Kirkley Hall campus where she is studying a level 3 diploma in horticulture.

Sian will now represent the region against seven other regional winners from across the UK at the Chartered Institute of Horticulture’s grand final at Somerset’s Barrington Court on May 9.

She will have to answer a wide range of questions and identify horticultural-related elements if she is to become overall winner and collect the Percy Thrower Travel Bursary worth £2,500, provided by the Shropshire Horticultural Society, to fund a horticultural tour anywhere in the world.

Previous winners have visited China, Borneo, New Zealand, the Himalayas, the United States, South America and various parts of Europe.

Sian, whose prize for winning the regional heat was £150, plus a spade and fork set sponsored by Bulldog Tools, and the latest edition of the Collins Guide to Pests, Diseases and Disorders of Garden Plants, has her sights set on a career in horticulture.

She said: “Winning the regional heat was very exciting after being a runner-up last year. I am now very focused on the final, furiously revising when time allows.

“I never really knew what I wanted to do then I visited a botanic garden one day and I immediately knew. There is a real variety of things on the course – there are never two days the same and we are building a huge folder of all kinds of experience.

“It is a very positive environment – all the tutors are really passionate so we learn a lot while we are here. I would recommend the course to others because of the resources at Kirkley. We have greenhouses, huge gardens and the variety of plants we have is mind-blowing.”

John Guy, Northumberland College’s horticulture team leader, said: “Sian is a very committed student with a real focus on achieving her goals which has been borne out in her competition success. We wish her well in the grand final.”

To find out about horticulture courses on offer, visit or call 01670 841200.


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