While Apprenticeship Week is well underway, we are celebrating with five amazing apprentices that have had great results. Read their stories below.

Jack Kirby

Jack has been on a learning journey since September 2016 here at Shrewsbury Colleges Group. He started out on the level 1 Diploma Professional Chef, then as he was about to progress to level 2, he landed an apprenticeship at Shrewsbury Colleges Group, so he became a level 2 apprentice in Professional Cookery which he completed in May 2019. Loving what he does, he progressed straight on to the level 3 Professional Cookery apprenticeship, and this time he specialised in Patisserie and Confectionery.

This catering and hospitality apprenticeship is unusual in that not only does Jack work in the commercial kitchen for the Origins restaurant, but he also has a lot of dealings with the full time cookery and front of house students. This is a perfect scenario for Jack as he loves demonstrating his skills to other people, helping them to practice. He is a great support to his teacher, Chef Steve Poole, who quite honestly wonders what he will do without him! And sadly for Steve, this will be soon as Jack, who has also been working part time at Weston Park Hall, has secured a position there helping them with their new hotel venture.

When Jack isn’t working in the college kitchen, or Weston Park, he is always the first to volunteer for additional tasks. Always available for helping with college trips, Saturday workshops, external functions, Jack is the first to put his hand up. In fact, Jack is a bit of a workaholic as he has also been working at The Old Vicarage too. Quite how he fits in all these jobs is beyond us, but he has boundless energy and simply loves what he does. As we all know, this sector has been hit harder than most in the pandemic. Lockdown has been a very long and potentially worrying time for many employees, but this didn’t stop Jack continuing with his learning. He has been spending a lot of his time at home, baking. In fact, his Viennese whirls went down particularly well when his mum took them to the local hospital!

Jayne Smallman-Brooks

From the outset, Jayne was referred to as a ‘model apprentice’. Employed as a senior administrator at Shropshire Council, she was offered the opportunity to upskill by embarking on the level 4 apprenticeship in Business and Administration and she’s never looked back. Her college assessor, Lesley Adams, was so keen to put Jayne forward, when we asked her why she provided us with a very impressive list!

  • never missed a scheduled meeting
  • never missed a deadline for handing work in
  • embraced the challenges of research and going outside her comfort zone
  • consistently put a tremendous work ethic into her assignments which have been substantial (20 – 30 pages), achieving distinctions for content and presentation
  • even when the modules were difficult, she kept the same high standards (it’s easier when you love the topic, much harder when you don’t)
  • always welcoming, helpful, enthusiastic, professional and just a joy to work with.
  • applied her learning to the role, benefitting her employer with this new knowledge and skills
Believing ‘you get out what you put in’, Jayne has not only gone over and above with her own learning but also in supporting others by becoming a ‘study buddy.’ We all agree, she is pretty inspirational and so we’ll give her line manager, Jo Hardie the final say “Jayne has done all this while managing a demanding day job, particularly under the exceptional circumstances over the last few months. She is a real credit to the organisation.”

Tom Evans

Tom first started at Shrewsbury College back in 2015, where he enrolled on to the level 2 Apprenticeship in Fabrication and Welding before progressing in 2017 to the level 3 which he successfully completed, on target, in October 2019.

As an apprentice, he works for the family business, Shropshire Stainless Fabrications, and clearly loves what he does. Furthermore, he is really good at it! In fact, his welding skills are so good, that the engineering department at the college have kept his work to show other students what excellent welding looks like. His tutors tell us he is, quite simply, a perfectionist in everything he undertakes.

He is also a bit of an evangelist when it comes to his love of fabrication and welding. Not only could he always be relied upon to patiently help his fellow students, but as he progressed on his learning journey, he became a mentor at work for one of the more junior apprentices. And the message and support doesn’t stop there. Tom takes every opportunity to help out at college with Open Evenings and Tasters. An excellent communicator, he inspires everyone around him and is an absolute credit to his industry.

Andy Lee, Head of Engineering, said “He would absolutely get my vote. Finishing his work ahead of time, he is truly exceptional; I’d employ him here tomorrow if I could or recommend him to anyone”.

Jody Wiggin

Jody is an apprentice Teaching Assistant at a community special school, Southall School. Before applying for this position, Jody was a single parent who had no background in this type of work, but with her children getting a bit older, she wanted to carve out a career for herself.

So, having successfully past the interview, Jody started her employment and apprenticeship in June 2019. Not only was this a new beginning in terms of work and learning, and despite a few hurdles to overcome, Jody was not going to let anything get in her way. Despite having dyslexia, having been away from education for a long time, and unsure what would be expected at level 3, she nervously took the plunge and from what we’re told, the progress Jody has made has been immense.

Jody lets nothing get in her way. As well as working through her Diploma, she has passed her level 2 ICT and is working towards level 2 English, having passed maths earlier. Anything that is asked of her she responds positively and proactively, both in terms of her learning and also her role within the school.

Jonathan Barratt, her mentor at the school, has been really impressed with the way Jody has totally embraced the schools aims and ethos. “She has worked throughout lockdown as a key worker for the vulnerable students and has taken responsibility for assisting student’s with their personal care. This is an aspect of the job that not all staff take to, but Jody is kind and respectful to all the students and not only sees this as part of her role, but is also willing to cover for others who are sometimes uncomfortable with this side of the work”.

Jody’s assessor, Zoe Hands, says “Jody is a model apprentice. She has overcome the odds to produce exceptional work as well as broaden her opportunities in the work setting. Southall School are very lucky to have her”.

Ffion Hobbs

As an A level student studying Product Design, Ffion really enjoyed making things. It was this creative interest that she wanted to pursue and so, having moved to Shrewsbury in 2016, she signed up at the college for a level 1 course in carpentry. In many ways, she was following a family tradition as her mum had enrolled to a Building Studies Diploma and her grandfather had been the Head of Building back in the day!

In the following March, Shrewsbury College advertised a carpentry apprenticeship vacancy which Ffion successfully applied for. Focussing on bench joinery, this was ideal for her, offering a variety of work, assisting the technician at the college as well as making products such as window frames and staircases for the electrical department.

So that’s how Ffion started, but that really was just the beginning. Having successfully completed her level 2 apprenticeship in joinery, she progressed to level 3. For most people that would be more than enough, but having seen the teaching side of things, she decided to explore this route as well, starting with the Level 3 award in Education, progressing to the level 4 and now currently studying the PGCE for full teacher status. And if that wasn’t enough, she has also completed level 2 site carpentry in the evenings and is currently working her way through level 3.

Clearly loving what she does and enjoying the sharing of her knowledge and skills, Ffion would ultimately love to split her time between teaching and making products. We have a feeling she will do just that!

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