Category Archives: Adult Education

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!


It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas… by Chantelle Maguraushe


It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. With the Christmas holidays fast approaching, you can visibly see the thirst for a reprieve on many a student’s face. For some, life at college has been a breeze, but for others, a struggle. As mature students, the return to education has taken some adjustment. The work has undeniably reached a new level of difficulty with the progression from ungraded to graded units. We are being tested, yet prepared for university study.

Since my last post, we have cultivated our intellectual minds, broadened our knowledge and received our grades for several assignments as well as feedback for improvement in future projects. Socially, we went to the Glee Club and had a Christmas party. The opportunity to relax and unwind was greatly appreciated by all the students and attending staff.

Living away from home, meeting new people, or learning something new does not come easy for all and unfortunately, some students have succumbed to these struggles of college life and have left us for other projects. Change is indeed an acquired taste and sometimes the unsuccessful outcome of a task or goal can leave us disheartened and despondent. Even so, there is hope. If we only stop stumbling in the dark and turn on the light, we may just find that path that leads us to our goal. So to those students, I/we wish you good luck and great success in the future.

Aspirations are not always easy to attain and if we keep this in mind, then the struggle will be worth it. With that in mind, I leave you with the following quote:

“Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle.” (Napoleon Hill)

To all, warm greetings. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


Make 2017 your year of personal and professional fulfilment


As 2016 draws to a close, the dark Winter nights provide the ideal opportunity to plan your personal and professional goals for 2017.

For many people, choosing goals that will enhance both their professional and personal lives is high on their agenda.

Leadership and management are two of the most sought-after skills in employment across the private, public and third sectors.

As well as equipping you with valuable skills for the workplace, a qualification in leadership and management can help increase confidence and assertiveness outside of work.

At Fircroft College in Birmingham, we offer the ILM Level 3 Award in Leadership & Management qualification which provides the skills and knowledge to lead, organise and motivate teams.

The ILM Level 3 Award in Leadership & Management is ideal if you have management responsibilities but no formal training and want to develop your abilities further, or if you aspire to work in management and are preparing to make the step up. It has a particularly successful track record in training public sector and third sector employees.

Getting the right mix of inspirational leadership and effective management skills and practices can have a significant impact on organisational performance in terms of profit, sales, growth and survival. 93% of employers see tangible increase in their managers’ capability after an ILM qualification.

This nationally recognised qualification consists of two taught day-long sessions delivered on 16th January and 13th February 2017 at Fircroft College, together with online resource learning.

Benefits to the learner:

  • Gain a range of key management skills
  • Put new skills into practice in your own role
  • Build your leadership capabilities
  • Motivate and engage teams, manage relationships confidently
  • Develop your leadership skills using your own knowledge, values and motivations.

Benefits to the employer:

  • Effective and confident first-line managers
  • Better relationships and communication in teams
  • Measurable results: workplace-based assessment ensures new skills are effectively transferred to your organisation
  • A broad range of optional units – qualification can be tailored to your organisation’s learning and development needs


Matt Lloyd a former student of the ILM Level 3 Award in Leadership & Management gives his feedback on the course:

“My time at Fircroft College on the ILM course was invaluable to my professional development and helped enhance my management skills. Having recently been promoted to a more senior managerial position, I enrolled at Fircroft in order to learn new exciting leadership techniques and theories to assist me my new role. The tutors were incredibly engaging and were always prepared to go the extra mile. I have benefitted so much from achieving my ILM Award courtesy of Fircroft”. 

To learn more about the ILM Level 3 Award in Leadership & Management at Fircroft College, course cost and the entry requirements, please click here.








What’s it like being a residential student on the Access to Higher Education Diploma at Fircroft?


Chantelle Maguraushe shares her experiences of studying the Access to Higher Education Diploma at Fircroft College.

Fircroft student Chantelle Maguraushe offers a fascinating insight into what it’s like to be a resident student on the Access to Higher Education Diploma in Social Sciences and Humanities.

“There’s a time in your life where you’re not quite sure where you are. You think everything’s perfect, but it’s not perfect… Then one day you wake up and you can’t quite picture yourself in the situation you’re in. But the secret is, if you can picture yourself doing it, you can do it.” (Tom DeLonge)

If you’re looking to study the Access to Higher Education Diploma in Social Sciences and Humanities at Fircroft College, then I hope this blog post goes some way in helping you make that decision.

Like anything, the Access Diploma is not without its difficulties, but thankfully there is a great team of staff on hand to help. With our first few assignments due this coming week, it can feel daunting given that we started only three weeks ago. But on a great note, the modules are very interesting.

So far we have been exposed to literature on Feudalism, Socialisation and other sociological theories, as well as literary pieces such as Billy Bragg’s ‘It Says Here’ and Nick Hornby’s ‘Nipple Jesus’ – all fascinating reads. With a class of less than thirty students, we have become quite a close-knit group – a family away from home if you like.

As for college life, there are some residential students as well as non-residential students living off campus. I can mostly speak for the residential students and what I have to say is – it is awesome! Now, I am not just saying this. Class is a mere minute away from the living quarters, there is free WIFI, three meals are provided daily and the living quarters aren’t too shabby. They are spacious with an en-suite bath and toilet. I mean, what more can you ask for?

The grounds are beautifully maintained and there is plenty of benches to sit and just chill, maybe whilst enjoying the view.

I won’t blather on… I will finish by saying, if you’re looking for a unique learning experience unlike that of much larger colleges, then Fircroft College is the place for you.

Here are some opinions of my fellow students on the Access course:

  • Whilst at larger colleges you can get lost in the crowd, here at Fircroft it’s not really a worry and it’s not difficult to get work done. Plus, you can’t be a resident at most colleges! (Alex French)
  • It’s more accommodating at Fircroft and offers more support due to its smaller size. (Clarista Bird)
  • There’s a cosy atmosphere and you’re not likely to slip under the net whilst here. You feel like a part of history. You are not treated differently whether you are a resident or non-resident. (Chantelle Golden)
  • It’s very inclusive, with smaller classes and structured in such a way as to get the best out of its students. (Karen Mowbray)
  • I think Fircroft, due its ethos and smaller size is a much more supportive college. I get a sense of the ‘Fircroft family’ here. (Naomi Ball)
  • Fircroft offers a supportive learning environment. (Nathan Chin)
  • It is warm and welcoming with small study groups/classes that mean staff can really help students with their personal study goals. (Melanie Starkey)

For more information on the Access to Higher Education Diploma at Fircroft please take a look at

10 ways the ILM Level 5 Award can improve your leadership and management skills


Leadership and management skills are the lifeblood of maintaining a happy and productive workforce.

Studying a qualification offered by the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM), is an ideal way to develop your knowledge and skills in this area, whether you’re starting out or in a senior management role.

At Fircroft College of Adult Education, we offer the ILM Level 5 Award in Leadership & Management.

ILM is the UK’s leading provider of leadership, coaching and management qualifications, training over 90,000 managers each year.

The ILM Level 5 Award in Leadership & Management is designed for new and aspiring middle managers – such as heads of department, regional team leaders and operations managers. It helps you consolidate your experience, while developing new skills to take on greater management responsibility.

By studying the ILM Level 5 Award you’ll learn how to:

1) Identify the need for innovation and change management
2) Choose between incremental and step change
3) Propose innovative solutions to improve organisational performance
4) Implement techniques for analysis
5) Identify strategy options and assess viability
6) Lead and manage change
7) Create a change management plan to meet stakeholder expectations
8) Implement plans and monitor progress against targets
9) Assess your own performance as a manager and improve it
10) Improve your inter-personal skills by focusing on relationship management

We also offer the ILM Level 3 Award in Leadership & Management – aimed at people who have management responsibilities but no formal training, and are serious about developing their abilities.

It’s particularly suited to practising team leaders seeking to move up to the next level of management, and managers who need to lead people through organisational change, budget cuts or other pressures.

For more information, or to apply to study the ILM Level 3 or 5 Award in Leadership & Management please contact one of our applications team on 0121 472 0116 or email Alternatively visit our website.

10 Reasons to choose Fircroft College for the Access to Higher Education Diploma

access -to-higher-education-in-humanities-and-social-sciences

August is the ideal month to take stock of your current situation and plan how to improve your learning and career prospects.

There are thousands of courses out there designed to move you a step nearer to your personal and professional goals.

For some people, this goal is gaining entry to one of the UK’s many prestigious universities.

However, these same people may feel excluded from the system if they were unable to gain GCSEs or A-Levels whilst at school or college.

If you are one of these people then the Access to Higher Education Diploma in Social Sciences and Humanities can help you gain university entrance – even if you don’t have the conventional GCSE or A-Level requirements*.

Here’s 10 reasons to consider Fircroft College to study the Access to Higher Education Diploma in Social Sciences and Humanities:

1) High success rates – year-on-year at least 10% above the national average 

2) Fircroft is small, friendly and very supportive with a close community of like-minded people – read about our learner experience

3) Regular access to a progress coach to guide you through the course and your time at the college

4) Residential option to immerse yourself in your studies and make life-long friends (plus free meals and accommodation)!

5) Modern teaching, ICT and classroom facilities with free WIFI 

6) 24-hour comprehensive library with access to library facilities at nearby University of Birmingham

7) Vibrant social science with trips, activities and events organised throughout the year

8) All learners receive help with living costs

9) The college is set in six acres of beautiful gardens of a former Cadbury home

10) We are just 15 minutes away from the attractions of central Birmingham

*The Access to Higher Education Diploma is a Level 3 qualification and therefore we require applicants to be able to work at Level 2 in English and Level 1 in Maths.

For more reasons to study the Access to Higher Education Diploma in Social Sciences & Humanities at Fircroft College, please go here or call one of our friendly team on 0121 472 0116.


Record numbers of Access students are going to university – could you be next?


A record number of Access to HE learners made it into higher education in 2015, with an impressive 10% gaining entry to prestigious Russell Group universities.

According to a recent TES article, 25,480 students took an Access to Higher Education course and successfully entered higher education in 2014-15 – an increase of 10 percent from the previous year.

These encouraging statistics demonstrate how valuable Access courses are for people without qualifications, who want to enter undergraduate study.

Here at Fircroft College, we offer the hugely popular Access to Higher Education Diploma in Social Sciences and Humanities and have a pass rate of over 10% above the national average.

The course offers a diverse range of subjects including History, Literature, Sociology and Psychology and provides a firm foundation for university entrance in several subjects.

Here’s just a few of the benefits of studying the Access Diploma in Social Sciences and Humanities at Fircroft College:

  • Excellent one-to-one support including a progress coach
  • Modern teaching facilities, comprehensive ICT and a 24-hour library
  • College set in six acres of beautiful gardens
  • Residential and non-residential places available
  • Financial support and help with childcare available
  • Free meals and help with living costs

Every year, learners from all backgrounds, ethnicities and abilities study the Access Diploma in Social Sciences and Humanities and progress to university – including Russell Group institutions.

Sometimes, people can feel they are beyond help socially and in education terms. Nothing could be further from the truth when you read some of the inspiring stories from our past learners – many of whom came from very challenging backgrounds and went on to succeed at university and subsequent careers.

For more information on how the Access to Higher Education Diploma could change your life please click here.

How the Access to Higher Education Diploma can transform lives and career prospects


The Access to Higher Education Diploma is much more than a stepping stone to university.

For many people, it’s a second chance at education and a second chance at life.

The Access to Higher Education Diploma is designed to help people academically and socially while providing a widely-recognised qualification for university entrance. University is still regarded as a very worthwhile choice, academically and financially.

A recent report suggests that graduates can earn up to £12,000 a year more than non-graduates, that’s the equivalent of more than £500,000 over an average working life*.

At a personal level, there are many examples of how the Access Diploma has transformed peoples’ lives.

One such example is Mark Riley.

Before enrolling onto the Access Diploma at Fircroft College, Mark had spent most of the previous 8 years in prison. He started using drugs and alcohol aged 11 and left school with no qualifications. He was a self-confessed ‘latchkey kid with only bad role models in his life.

Casual jobs came and went and Mark started leading a more chaotic lifestyle, sleeping at friends’ houses and taking more drugs. He was sliding down a slippery slope.

The tipping point came in 2012, when Mark considered suicide whilst in prison, but fortunately sought help from a support service which helped him end his drug habit.

After leaving prison and moving into supported housing, Mark heard about the Access Diploma from a friend who recommended he speak to Fircroft. This was the beginning of a new life for Mark.

“Starting the Access Diploma at Fircroft changed everything. It gave me self-belief, confidence and a sense of self-worth I’d never had before. It opened my eyes. I want other people who’ve been in my situation to know that it is possible to change”.

“I’m really proud of what I’ve achieved so far. I remember getting my first essay handed back to me after not being in a classroom for 20 years. I got a distinction. I’ve been offered a place at Lincoln Bishop Grosseteste University to do health and social care. I want to be a support worker and help people who’ve been in my situation. I’ve had so much support from other people, especially the tutors at Fircroft, It’s my turn to give something back.”

Mark won the Open College Network 2015 Access to Higher Education Learner Award given to ‘extraordinary individuals who are undertaking or have had inspirational learning journeys helping them to transform their lives.’

There are many others like Mark who’ve transformed their lives by studying the Access to Higher Education Diploma at Fircroft College. If you didn’t succeed at education first time around and would like another chance**, please visit this link or contact our friendly team on 0121 472 0116.


* Statistic taken from a report compiled by Adzuna who analysed 1,000,000 vacancies in June 2015 and concluded there is a widening pay gap between graduates and non-graduates, although overall the opportunities are becoming better for both.

** We strongly recommend that applicants for the Access to Higher Education Diploma undertake at least some of the Skills for Further Study programme. The programme specifically aims to develop the range of skills you’ll be expected to use on the Access course.

How you can oppose funding cuts and help secure Fircroft’s future.



Fircroft is facing proposed funding cuts of 25-40% which threatens its ability to help disadvantaged learners in the future.

In 1909 George Cadbury Jr. founded Fircroft College of Adult Education and established an institution that would transform the lives of thousands of people over the next 100 years.

The college was founded with a firm social justice mission, transforming the lives of thousands of disadvantaged and socially excluded adults across the UK.

Many of Fircroft’s learners have missed out on conventional education due to challenging personal and family circumstances – often through no fault of their own.

The college offers a wide range of courses and training from basic English and Maths right up to the Access to Higher Education Diploma which prepares learners for University entrance.

The educational offering is only part of what makes Fircroft such a valuable asset to disadvantaged people and society as a whole.

Its residential facility enables learners to immerse themselves in a positive learning and social environment which helps develop inter-personal skills, friendships and trust.

Despite the valuable and essential nature of Fircroft’s work, it’s facing potentially devastating cuts of 25-40% in funding.

These cuts would make it very difficult for the college to continue delivering education to some of the most vulnerable in society.

In 2014, Fircroft was invited to a Parliamentary reception to celebrate the contribution that ‘Specially Designated Institutions’ make to adult education.

The reception was attended by Baroness Gillian Shepherd, Labour peer Baroness Janet Whitaker and Skills Minister Nick Boles who said:

“These (Specially Designated Institutions) organisations deliver learning that has profound, life-changing impacts on the lives of individuals, families and communities, particularly those who are disadvantaged.”

There are hundreds of examples of people whose lives have been transformed by Fircroft College. Often, these learners go back into the community to help benefit the lives of many others.

One such example is Rob, who came from a background of drug and alcohol dependency as well as spells of living on the streets. After a number of courses at Fircroft, Rob progressed to university and subsequently gained a Masters. He’s now a professional counsellor helping people overcome problems like he experienced. He says of his time at Fircroft:

“The support I received was incredible. Fircroft taught me how to embrace education.”

If you think organisations like Fircroft should be sufficiently funded so that they can continue to help disadvantaged people, please take a few seconds to sign this petition.

If you’re a current or former Fircroft learner, there are additional ways you can support our campaign by visiting this page.

Thank you for reading and please share via social media.

How third sector training can equip you with skills for work and life


There’s no shortage of training provision for people employed in the private sector, but those working in the third sector are not so well accommodated for.

This is surprising given around 800,000 people are employed in the voluntary sector alone. Finding a suitable third sector training provider can equip you with the knowledge and skills to enter a wide range of careers.

At Fircroft College of Adult Education, we have a training facility dedicated to the third sector. Many of our trainers have worked in third sector organisations and pass on their real-world experience to students.

We offer a range of key skills courses covering all the essential skills required for third sector employment including:

Train the trainer – Specifically designed for the third sector, this course gives you new skills to train people within your organisation. The two-part course leads to Open College Network accreditation at Levels 2 & 3.

Bid writing – A broad introduction to basic fundraising techniques, concentrating on identifying the different sources of funds and how to access them.

Public speaking and presentation skills – This very popular two-part course equips you with the skills to deliver presentations confidently, using a range of media, including PowerPoint. Few people relish the thought of speaking in front of large groups of people, so this course teaches you composure and communication techniques.

We also offer courses in customer services, communications and diversity.

Our experience in the third sector has led us to develop a range of tailored training courses including ‘Residents in Action’, ‘Peer Mentoring’ and ‘Lay Assessors’.

After completing one or more key skills courses, many of our students progress to employment within the third sector. One such former student is Jeanette Siret, who set up her own community interest company. Jeanette explains how she did this in the video below.

Our third sector training programmes are designed to fit the specific needs of your organisation which we feel works more effectively than ‘off the shelf’ courses.

If you’re interested in learning more about our third sector training please visit our website.


Help us to secure the future of Fircroft College

Fircroft College is an educational success story that has helped, supported and transformed the lives of many thousands of adults during its 106 year history.

As part of the government’s current spending review, the college is facing potential funding cuts of between 25% and 40%. Such a huge cut in funding would have a devastating impact on the services we work hard to provide to our learners. It would also place the entire future of this inspirational college at risk.

Learn how you can help us secure the future of our wonderful college by visiting our website.


Your adult education learning journey starts here …


Time is running out to enrol on to one of our adult education courses which start throughout September.

Fircroft College of Adult Education has over 150 courses to choose from – many of which are free for eligible learners.

By choosing Fircroft, you will be following in the footsteps of thousands of people who have transformed their personal and career prospects.

And what’s more, all of our courses have a residential option which immerses you in a friendly and supportive environment amongst like-minded learners.

Here’s just a few of our adult education courses starting in September:

Gateway to Learning – the ideal starting point for adults returning to education, this course will help you plan your learning and career journey.

– Functional Skills for Maths – helping you to build your practical maths skills and apply them to everyday life.

Functional Skills for English – giving you the essential English skills you need for life, work end education.

Functional Skills for ICT – ideal if you have never used a computer before, this course will introduce you to ICT and help you feel confident about your skills.

Preparing for Work – this programme of courses is designed to equip you with the advice, knowledge and skills to help you find paid or volunteering work.

Key Skills at Work – a range of short courses designed to support those either currently working/volunteering in the voluntary, community and public sectors.

All of our class sizes are small, so that learning is as personalised and interactive as possible with a high proportion of staff to learners. Many of our courses are just 2 to 3 days in length and pack  lot of learning into a short time frame.

At Fircroft we have many inspirational stories of students who have overcome adversity and gone on to achieve great things in their career and personal lives.

A recent example is Bawinder Kaur who came to Fircroft in 2014. Bwinder had been through some very difficult times in previous years which resulted in a relationship breakdown and a spell in prison. 

After her support workers told her about Fircroft, Bawinder enrolled on the Personal and Social Development programme of courses with a view to improving her confidence. She later enrolled on the Stepping Stones programme aimed at people wanting to move into support work.

Balwinder is now volunteering at Anawim Women’s Centre with a plan in place to become self-employed.

She is one of may former Fircroft students who have transformed their personal lives and career prospects.

To learn how you can achieve your learning and employment goals, please visit or call one of our friendly team on 0121 472 0116.