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.

How to prepare for the Access to Higher Education Diploma


‘Skills for Further Study’ courses offer the ideal platform to progress to the Access to Higher Education Diploma.

Life, work and study skills are something we all need to get on in life.

For some people, these skills are developed at an early age, through school and the conventional education system. For others, acquiring these skills is not so straightforward for a variety of reasons.

Where this is the case, many people approach their local adult education college to ‘catch-up’ on some of their missed education.

Most adult education colleges offer courses from entry-level stage, right through to pre-degree level, such as the Access to Higher Education Diploma.

To qualify for the Access to Higher Education Diploma, many students opt to study Level 2 courses such as those offered by the Skills for Further Study programme at Fircroft College of Adult Education.

Skills for Further Study courses provide you with the skills and knowledge required for the Access Diploma. They use a variety of learning materials relevant to each subject, making the experience interactive and enjoyable.

The subjects you can study include:

– Speaking and listening skills

– Introduction to Literature

– Introduction to History

– Introduction to Social Science

– Essay writing skills 

Once you have successfully completed some or all of the Skills for Further Study courses, you should be much better prepared to study the Access to Higher Education Diploma.

At Fircroft College of Adult Education, we have many examples of students who have worked their way up from entry-level courses to the Access Diploma and then on to university.

One inspiring example is Shafiq Ur-Rehman. Shafiq spent a long period of time in unfulfilling jobs and decided to undertake a series of Level 1 and 2 courses at Fircroft to improve his career prospects.

He then took the next step and successfully completed the Access Diploma at Fircroft as a residential student. This enabled Shafiq to progress to undergraduate study where he studied Law at the University of Gloucestershire. You can read more about Shafiq’s inspiring story and many others like his here.

Fircroft welcomes people of all ages and backgrounds who want to improve their knowledge and skills for learning and employment.

To find out more about how we can help you develop your skills in a supportive environment and prepare you for the Access to Higher Education Diploma, please contact us on 0121 472 0116 or visit this page.

How work skills courses can put you on the fast track to employment…


Work skills courses can prepare you for a wide variety of paid and voluntary employment roles.

The workplace can be a challenging but very rewarding environment.

Considering many of us will spend a third of our lives at work, it’s crucial that we’re equipped with the skills and knowledge to make it a fulfilling experience.

If you’re aiming to enter the world of work for the first time (voluntary or paid), or returning to work after some time out, we’ve compiled some tips to help you on your way.

1) Match your passion to the position

It sounds obvious, but whether you’re starting work for the first time or having a career change, you need to think about where your interests and passions lie. These may be helping people, selling, voluntary work or animal welfare for example. If you can match your interests and passions to a career, then you’re likely to have a much more rewarding experience. Of course, many of us do not have this luxury and have to look for what’s available, whether we’re passionate about it or not. Whatever your situation and career goals, the majority of people will benefit from attending work skills courses before entering the workplace.

2) Communicate to accelerate

Good communication skills are one of the main attributes employers look for in an applicant. The first place these will be tested is at an interview and employers take first impressions seriously when it comes to recruiting. If you’ve never worked before or are returning to work, you should consider attending a communication skills course. This will help you with assertiveness, meeting and presentation skills and how to deal with differences of opinion.

3) Be a problem solver

As with any area of life, the workplace sometimes presents challenges and problems. These issues need not become entrenched if you have the right problem solving skills. Think about how you deal with problems outside of work; do they make you feel overwhelmed for long periods or are you quick to nip them in the bud? You may be a good problem solver at home but you may benefit from more knowledge of problem solving in the workplace. If so, you may want to consider  a work skills course that covers problem solving and conflict-resolution.

4) Make your CV work harder

A CV should contain much more than just a dry list of personal and professional details. It’s your first opportunity to attract the attention of an employer and leave them with a favourable impression. Your opening statement should ‘sell’ your personal and professional qualities. If haven’t worked before, focus on voluntary work or leisure pursuits where you’ve demonstrated leadership and team work. If you need help on how best to put together your CV, consider a CV writing course.

5) The interview

The prospect of an interview can make many of us feel anxious, but you can turn an interview into a very positive and even enjoyable experience! The key, as always, is preparation! There are a few obvious questions you need to prepare for e.g.

  • ‘Why do you want to work here’?
  • ‘What makes you think you’re suitable for this role’?
  • ‘What are your strengths’?

As is often the case, practice makes perfect. An interviewing with confidence course will help to ensure you’re well prepared for anything an interviewer may throw at you.

If you would like to know more about our work skills courses please contact Fircroft College on 0121 472 0116 or read about them.


Access to Higher Education Diploma – making the journey to University affordable and fun!


People of all age groups and backgrounds study the Access to Higher Education Diploma at Fircroft College.

The Access to Higher Education Diploma provides an affordable, alternative route to university for people without formal qualifications.

Many would-be students think that the only way into university is via A-Levels, or vocational equivalents such as BTEC and NVQ.

Other people rule out university because they think they lack the academic ability, social skills or may feel they’re too old.

The Access to Higher Education Diploma banishes these myths, enabling people of all ages and backgrounds to study a nationally recognised pre-university qualification.

Each year at Fircroft, the access course brings together a wonderfully diverse group of people from across the UK. Every student has a unique story to tell, from those who’ve overcome personal challenges to older people who want to keep learning throughout retirement.

Studying the access diploma costs less than you may think, as there’s generally more financial assistance available than traditional pre-university qualifications.

Tuition fees are free if you’re aged between 19 and 23 and don’t have a full BTEC or NVQ Level 3 qualification. You may also be eligible for a living allowance, childcare provision and travel costs.

Other financial benefits include:

– All students receive help with living costs regardless of age.

– Residential students receive free meals and an additional living allowance.

– Non-residential students receive a free lunch and help towards childcare costs.

For full details of financial assistance available, please take a look at the Fircroft website.

Apart from a fulfilling learning experience, all students enjoy a varied range of social, leisure and sporting activities at Fircroft. These extra-curricular activities complement the learning experience, by helping students to unwind, get to know each other and reflect on the day’s study.

At the end of the Access course, you’ll have earned a qualification recognised by all UK universities, including the prestigious ‘red-brick’ institutions.

In less than 9 months, the Access to Higher Education Diploma can transform your education and career prospects by preparing you for undergraduate study and beyond.

To learn more about how our Access to Higher Education Diploma can help you gain a university place, please contact one of our friendly team on 0121 472 0116 or visit the access section of our website.



The ILM Award in Leadership and Management – the road to successfully managing people needn’t be ‘long and winding’.


At Fircroft College you can study ILM Levels 3, 4 and 5 at our Birmingham training centre or at a location to suit you.

The ILM Award in Leadership and Management enables professionals from all sectors to become effective leaders and managers.

Most managers would agree that the key to maintaining a successful organisation is keeping its people well trained and motivated (as well as keeping customers and stakeholders happy of course).

However, planning and executing the most effective training programme for individual roles requires careful consideration, whether it’s performed in-house or externally.

There’s a wealth of training and development resources available for all disciplines, but choosing the right one can be a confusing and time-consuming affair, particularly for inexperienced managers.

Sourcing suitable management training provides staff with the skills to lead and manage their team from the outset.

Many professionals continually develop their management skills with the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM).

The ILM offers the widest range of leadership and management qualifications and accredited training in the UK.

At Fircroft College, we have been successfully delivering the ILM Award in Leadership & Management at Level 3 for several years. Building on this success, we now offer Levels 4 and 5 as non-residential courses.

These qualifications provide the natural next steps for managers to broaden their skill-set and prepare themselves for a more senior management role. The awards are relevant to every sector, though Fircroft has particular experience in voluntary sector training.

ILM Levels 3 and 4 helps new and aspiring managers to get to grips with leadership and management and equips them with the skills to lead effectively at this level.

ILM Level 5 is targeted at practising middle managers preparing for senior management responsibilities up to Board level.

As well as offering ILM qualifications, Fircroft provides tailored management training courses to suit the needs of your organisation and your people. We run programmes from our training centre in south Birmingham or we can deliver courses at a location to suit you. We also offer one-to-one coaching to develop your management skills or general effectiveness at work.

To learn more about the ILM qualifications and the bespoke management training we offer, please visit our website or call one of our friendly team on 0121 472 0116.

10 Reasons To Choose Fircroft For Voluntary And Third Sector Training


We tailor our third sector training courses to the needs of the individual organisation.

Voluntary and third sector organisations usually have very differing training needs to other sectors, particularly when it comes to areas such as finance, governance and HR.

Training for these sectors almost always needs to be tailored to the individual organisation. For example, a large national charity will have very different needs to a small community trust.

If you’re considering approaching a training provider, it’s wise to check up on their credentials and previous work in the voluntary and third sectors.

At Fircroft College, we have several years’ experience of delivering tailored voluntary and third sector training in Birmingham, the West Midlands and across the UK.

Here’s 10 reasons why you might want to consider us for your training and development requirements:

         1. We provide a thorough initial analysis of your training needs to create a truly bespoke training programme.

2.  We can design a training programme, including content and format to suit your specific needs.

3. A choice of residential or non-residential training.

4. Our clients include well know names such as Mencap, Swanswell and Midland Heart.

5.  Our trainers have extensive experience of working and training in the voluntary and third sectors.

6.  Outstanding value for money – Fircroft is a registered charity so our pricing is very competitive.

7.  Modern facilities in a beautiful 6-acre garden setting.

8.  Flexibility on times and locations – train at our centre or we can come to your offices on weekdays, evenings or weekends.

9. We’re conveniently located just 4 miles from Birmingham city centre, with excellent road and public transport links.

10. Contact us anytime after your training has ended for guidance on further programmes.

To learn more about how we can tailor voluntary or third sector training to your needs please visit our website or call Zed Bhatti on 0121 472 0116.


Adult Education – the ideal way to boost your career prospects in 2015.


Fircroft students come from a variety of different backgrounds to progress their learning and skill-sets.

January is the ideal time to assess your current life situation and plan out where you want to be in 12 months.

However, it’s very easy to set a raft of ambitious goals in January, but by February, realise they were too unrealistic or impractical to achieve!

We’ve all been there…

One of the most beneficial goals you can set in January (or at any other time) is to improve your knowledge and skill-set for the workplace, or for further learning.

This can be particularly valuable for people who, for a variety of reasons, weren’t able to achieve their goals in education first time around.

At Fircroft College of Adult Education, our 2-3 day short courses are designed for people who want to broaden their knowledge and skills for work, or further study.

Some of our adult education courses are free of charge and students do not need any previous qualifications to study subjects that include:

–          Gateway to Learning – the ideal starting point for adults     returning to education. A chance to plan your learning path with a fully-trained advisor.

–          English and Maths – practical levels of English and Maths required for the workplace.

–          ICT – basic computer skills including word processing, internet, email and spreadsheets.

–          Preparing for work – giving you the advice, knowledge and skills to help climb up the career ladder.

–          Skills for further study – helping you to develop your learning skills to a higher level.

–          Professional Qualifications – including ILM Award in Leadership & Management and the Award in Education and Training

Many of our students enrol without previous qualifications and are understandably anxious about their new learning experience. However, anxieties are soon lifted by our friendly and supportive learning environment and students soon realise that everyone is in the same boat.

We also have the added advantage of being a residential college, offering all of our students a private room with en-suite for the duration of their 2 or 3 day course. You also get some stunning views of our grounds and serene surroundings!

Fircroft has many success stories, where students have overcome adversity in their life by choosing to study one or more of our short courses. Many of our students use the short course route to gain entry to the Access to Higher Education Diploma which has led some of our alumni onto red brick universities.

Read more about our student success stories.

We have short courses starting throughout 2015 – you can find out more on our website by calling our friendly team on 0121 472 0116.


Employer and employee training – get your people in tip top condition in 2015


Fircroft College offers a broad range of employer and employee training courses for all levels of seniority.

The late, business trouble-shooter Sir John Harvey-Jones once said “if you stand still in business, you’re dead”.

A very blunt, but true statement, entirely in keeping with the eminent business guru’s business philosophy.

In business, or any organisation, whether it operates for profit or social benefit, it’s people who will ultimately determine its success or failure.

All staff, no matter what their level or specialism, can benefit from continual employee training and development to progress their personal development.

If every employee is continually developing and improving their skills and knowledge, the organisation can only benefit as a result, and most importantly, its customers or stakeholders.

At Fircroft College we deliver tailored employee training courses at all levels from administrator to senior management and Board level.

Some of the employee training courses we offer include:

–          Voluntary and Third Sector training including Lay Assessors, Quality Champions and Equality & Diversity.

–          Essential Work Skills Training – improve your Maths, English and IT skills.

–          Communication Skills Training – become a more confident and effective communicator at work – improve presentation and meetings skills.

–          People Management & Support Training – learn coaching and trainer skills to maximize your team’s performance.

–          Institute of Leadership and Management Level 3 – Understand the role of a leader and  learn how to motivate your staff.

In addition to training and development, we have a long and successful track record of providing other business support services including equality and diversity consultancy, bid writing and facilitation services.

We have a state-of-the-art training facility in South Birmingham, which is easily accessible by car and public transport. Alternatively we can train your people at a location and venue to suit you.

Please visit our website for more information on our employee training and development services or call us 0121 472 0116.


How Access to Higher Education can transform lives as well as learning…



Our Access to Higher Education class of 2014 celebrate their achievements with many heading off to University.

The Access to Higher Education Diploma  provides the ideal stepping stone to University for students who haven’t got traditional qualifications such as A’ Levels or an NVQ.

Here at Fircroft, several of our students start the Access course with very few formal qualifications gained through secondary or further education.

The real value of the Access course is that it enables people to go on to University who may have previously thought it impossible.

In fact, for many of our students, life after access to higher education couldn’t be any more different to when they enrolled 30 weeks before!

Several of our students have transformed their lives, as well as their learning as a result of studying the Access to Higher Education Diploma.

Students like Shafiq Ur-Rehman, who before enrolling at Fircroft, had tried several jobs including factory worker and taxi driver.

Feeling unfulfilled and wanting to provide a better life for his family, Shafiq initially enrolled on a number of short courses at Fircroft. He then progressed to study the Access course, with the ultimate aim of reading Law at university.

Just over 7 months later, having passed with flying colours, Shafiq was accepted at the University of Gloucestershire to study Law.

Reflecting on his time at Fircroft Shafiq said:

“I had a great experience, all staff and my fellow students were brilliant…Read more

Another example of triumph over adversity is Ann Wall.  Ann struggled at secondary school due to an unsettled home life and worked in a series of unfulfilling jobs afterwards.

She also lacked confidence in her own ability, but plucked up the courage to enrol on a creative writing short course at Fircroft which started, in her own words; ‘an amazing journey’.

After passing the short course,  Ann enrolled on to the Access to Higher Education Diploma where she conquered her self-doubt and was rewarded with a place at The University of Birmingham.

Speaking about her time at Fircroft Ann said:

“I am one of the lucky ones who have experienced the great learning environment that is Fircroft College; it really is a special place. The tutors are…Read more

If you would like to learn more about how Fircroft transforms lives and learning, please see our website for more details or call one of our friendly team on 0121 472 0116.




Access to Higher Education News & Views

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