Last term the Widening Participation team was invited to take part in Weymouth College’s Careers Week. Each year students in years nine and ten from various schools across the central, south and west Dorset area are invited to the college to take part in practical activities designed to give a taster of various employment sectors.

Some of these schools encompass a large number of students from disadvantaged groups with multiple barriers to accessing higher education. There was a diverse range of Further education providers and employers in attendance, all offering taster sessions in their area of expertise designed to give students some insight into the realities of what they did.

We decided to offer students taster sessions for Fine Art and Make-up for Media and Performance. Each session was structured as a workshop and allowed students to gain accurate information, advice and guidance about the nature and expectations of the course at degree level as well as appropriate progression and job market information of careers that related to it. However, the main focus of each session was aspiration building through making.

We empowered each young person to practically produce something physical through a creative learning process. Fine Art focussed on representations of the self with Visiting Tutor Laura Joy, guiding each group through self-portrait development and collage. Once students had completed their work they could display it in quite a thought-provoking gallery at the college, depicting a large number of self-portraits grouped closely together. Make-up for Media and Performance centred around how to make realistic cuts, bruises and lacerations using a variety of special effects make-up techniques taught by student ambassadors Alice Goodrich and Abdul Hasnath. There was also a fake blood making exercise which saw the young people produce authentically coloured and textured blood made with ingredients easily purchasable from a supermarket for less than five pounds.

We engaged with around one hundred students in total during the week and received extremely high feedback with over 95% of them mentioning that they got what they wanted from the sessions. Also, the young people in attendance particularly commented on the approachability, enthusiasm and dedication of the AUB staff that delivered the sessions.

Further feedback went on to say that: “It has been amazing, by far the best activity I have done at college this week”. “I thought it [Fine Art] was really fun and would consider it as a career”. “I really liked it [Media Make-up] and feel as though I want to do this when I’m older”. “I enjoyed it [Media Make-up] and found it interesting because it was a new experience and I don’t normally work this way”.