Getting crafty about Christmas learning gifts

Debra Forsythe-Conroy, Principal of Harrogate College and MP Andrew Jones (s)
Debra Forsythe-Conroy, Principal of Harrogate College and MP Andrew Jones (s)

It’s the time of year when we all turn to buying gifts and presents for our friends, family and colleagues.

Each year I think….what can I buy which will be unusual, well received and be remembered.

One option may be the gift of a short course, have you ever thought to yourself I wish I could paint, take a good photograph, and bake a cake. Most colleges and training providers have a short course offer and the diversity of courses is truly amazing from DIY to baking. The current interest in arts, crafts, dressmaking, gardening, baking, pottery and healthy eating is endless eg: in pottery there is a lot of interest owing to the television series. It seems that each week has a new programme dedicated to leisure and recreational hobbies.

One of the most popular courses in this category at Harrogate College is our wonderful Ceramics course which is offered across several days per week and students can sign up for sessions to suit their personal circumstances. The work produced is absolutely stunning. Andrew Jones MP visited the college in the summer was very impressed and the staff and students presented Andrew with a beautiful garden urn which was filled with lavender. It was so beautiful that I commissioned one for my garden too. I am sure that if the students were asked, not only would they sing the praises of the course but would also cite the camaraderie amongst the various groups.

In the spring the College is launching its Heritage Craft courses which will include restoration building techniques such as dry stone walling and specialist carpentry. Our dress making courses are also now well established and continue to be popular. The photography department in Harrogate College is second to none and boasts some of the finest skilful teachers who are passionate about their subject. Despite the era of the smart phone, true photography is starting to see resurgence in popularity not least in the short 10 week offer. Short courses on book keeping, using spreadsheets, developing a bespoke website for your business are also popular.

In hairdressing and beauty therapy we are seeing a rise in students over the age of 19 who want to study full qualifications in order to start a new career. They are choosing to study in bite size chunks rather than attending full time which allow them to slowly add the individual units which make up the whole qualification in a time to suit them and their personal circumstances. We also have students who want to study through the traditional part time route of one day per week. Alternatively there are a range of short 10 week courses classed as learning for leisure and these introduce the students into a range of skill areas such as how to plait and braid hair, to put long hair into sleek and graceful chignons, to perfect the skill of shaving and other aspects of male grooming, once again if you are prepared to study for a few more months you could complete a full barbering qualificatio There are also short courses tailored to upskill those who are already practicing hairdressers and beauty therapists in the latest techniques in the industry including a raft of nail based courses and the increasingly popular Cosmetics Aesthetics which includes a focus on non- surgical cosmetic interventions. We launch this exciting course as a Foundation degree from September. The course which will be heavily science based will be aimed at students with appropriate A levels or those who have a level 3 qualification in a related subject such as business, sciences et al.

The surge in popularity in all things kitchen related continues with the success of the Great British Bake-off. From spring 2016 we will be offering short courses in baking, how to prepare dishes for dinner parties, cooking for beginners and survival classes in basic cookery for students about to start University and having to be self-sufficient for the first time!

So who are the students who opt for such courses? They tend to be local residents over the age of 19 although most of our students following such courses are from their mid-forties upwards, some of whom are working, some are parenting and look forward to some ‘me’ time and some are retired. Whatever the circumstances each has an interest in developing or pursuing a new interest and a hobby.

The costs of such courses vary depending on whether it’s one day or 20 weeks but start from as little as £60. Most providers will have such provision so check out their offer also.

So if you are looking for an unusual Christmas gifts why not consider short courses, they are always a winner.

Contact Harrogate College on 01423 879466.