Delivering excellence in education
It’s an aim of every school and college to prepare students for the world of work ut not every institution takes it to the same extent as Kinsale College of Further Education!
The college’s practical emphasis is legendary and an asset to every graduate but health-care students recently took it all one step further.
The students studying the QQ1 Level Six Healthcare Supervisor Management Skills course recently organised a fashion show in aid of Downs Syndrome Cork.
Nothing unusual about that, although the fact they managed to raise €4,000 for charity was certainly something to be celebrated. However, it was the raison d’etre for the show along with the superb preparation and organisation that went into the event that was the most impressive element of the event, as Helena Farrell, Coordinator of the Healthcare programmes recalls.
A significant objective of the course, explains Helena, is the promotion of awareness of disability amongst students, and to this end, a young woman with Down Syndrome, Nicola Healy from Bandon, worked closely with the group: “Nicola came once a week to the college and we met with her for two hours each time. It was Nicola’s dream to organise a fashion show and the students took this on board as a project.
“They worked with Nicola to organise the show. We felt it was a unique opportunity to make Nicola’s dream come through using our Person- Centred Planning Module, which is part of the QQ1 Level Six programme.
“This is a philosophy that we try to help people with disability make their dreams and aspirations come true.”
The saga began back in November 2016 Nicola came to the college for the first time on the invitation of Helena and college principal Liz Moynihan.
From then until the end of March Nicola worked with the group of 15 students to organise the fashion show which took place with resounding success on March 28 at Actons Hotel.
More than 30 models over 50% of whom were people with intellectual disability stalked the catwalk with verve and grace, eliciting cheers and applause from an audience of more than 200 people, and raising in excess of €4,000 for charity.
“During the organisation of the show the students incorporated many of the skills they learned from the course to bring this event together — leadership, health promotion, disability awareness,” recalls Helena.
“This was an all-inclusive college project as not only did our Healthcare students help to organise the show, but some of our film and media students videoed it while several students and teachers modelled clothes! Everyone was included.”
The event was such a success, and the working partnership n with Nicola was so enjoyable, that the students requested that Nicola feature in their graduation ceremony as an honorary graduate: “Nicola was presented with a Certificate of Achievement on the night.”
The whole affair, says Helena, reflects the philosophy and ethos of the college: “It showcased the potential of our students and displayed the progress they had made during the course.”
The college, which has a student cohort of over 300 students, draws pupils from Co Cork, from all around Ireland and from as far away as Spain and Mexico.
“It’s a very diverse and international college,” says Helena, who explains that the popular Outdoor Education course, for example, a programme which trains people for careers in outdoors activities centre such as Kayaking Instruction, attracts students from all over Ireland.
It’s family-friendly ethos also attracts a large cohort of mature students, she says, “especially mothers who have children attending school or college and who are now interested and have the time to gain an educational qualification in their area of interest.”
Women from the age of 30 and upwards tend to choose places on the college’s Childcare or Healthcare courses: “These courses attract the largest percentage of student of any of the courses we offer,” says Helena, who explains that the childcare course qualifies graduates to work in the Montessori and Creche areas as well as in the area of special needs.
The college offers two Healthcare courses which include QQ1 ( formerly FETAC) Level Five Healthcare Support.
This popular course, she says, qualifies graduates to work as healthcare assistants, working with nurses in healthcare settings such as hospitals, nursing homes or private residences. This qualification is now a mandatory requirement put in place by HIQA and is the minimum qualification to work in any capacity in a healthcare setting. The Kinsale college is the only college in Ireland to offer an additional qualification to students on this course the Dementia Awareness course, a City & Guilds Certificate in Dementia Awareness.
“All of our students opt for this programme as it significantly improves their employability,” she says, something that makes sense in the light of recent statistics which showed that dementia is now overtaking cancer in the UK as a leading healthcare issue.
Kinsale College is justifiably proud, both of its learners and of the results they achieve that enable them to follow courses of study in universities and institutes of technology, at home and abroad.
In addition to classroom learning, students are regularly involved in exciting projects outside the classroom and in the community, including Drama performances, art exhibitions, culinary art competitions and multi-media projects.
Liz Moynihan, director of Kinsale College (front) with staff members Valerie Foley and Lynda O’Connor. Picture: Dan Linehan
Students participating in a sustainable horticulture course at the Kinsale College of Further Education.