Nine foundation learning students from Cornwall College, part of The Cornwall College Group (TCCG), have gained valuable experience of working life as well as boosting their independence after completing an 11-day placement in Seville, Spain.
Learners from the College’s St Austell and Camborne campuses applied the independent living skills gained in their courses to engage with a variety of employers during their stay in the Andalusian city and immerse themselves in the Spanish culture and lifestyle.
During this exciting opportunity overseas, supported by Turing Scheme funding, they undertook diverse work placements in hospitality, administration, IT or customer services roles which will serve as valuable additions to their CVs, showcasing varied skills and achievements to future employers.
The group also took Spanish lessons so that they would feel more confident in a foreign country and handled their own money, requiring essential budgeting skills. In addition to the work experience, they were also supported to undertake daily tasks like grocery shopping and meal planning.
Back home in Cornwall, all nine learners expressed that they feel better equipped to live independently and more confident when applying for jobs as a result of the experience.
Joshua Holten, who worked at the Ibarra Hostel in the historic city centre, said: “This was a once in a lifetime opportunity for me, I’ve never been on a plane or away from my family. It was scary but the staff from Cornwall College supported me all the time.
“Towards the end of my trip I gained the confidence to walk to my work placement on my own and do my own grocery shopping.
About building my confidence
“One of the most memorable experiences was seeing the architecture, some buildings looked like castles and it was such a great place to discover, we went up the Cathedral tower and looked out at the city.”
Alisha Prisk, who did her work experience at the Feria 83 café, added: “For me it was about building my confidence. At first, I was so scared about going on this trip and getting lost in a different country, but the experience has made me so much more independent and given me belief in myself.”
Thomas Murray’s placement was at the Milk Away restaurant. He said: “I learned so many new skills, for example taking food and drink orders from customers who speak Spanish, serving food and drinks, cleaning up and being a helpful member of the team.
“In our free time, we explored the city, went on an open-top bus, visited historical buildings, the aquarium and the arcade.”
Ben Smyth worked at technology and social media specialists 3Si during the stay and said: “It was amazing to be in Spain with my college friends, I made so many great memories and if I got the opportunity to go again, I would. Definitely an amazing experience.”
David Price, head of foundation learning and high needs at TCCG said: “As a Group, we pride ourselves on delivering bespoke experiences across all our campuses, ensuring equal opportunities for every student. The recent success of the Seville trip for this group of Foundation Learning students shows our commitment to student-led learning.
Everyone made the most of the opportunity
“Collaborating with international organisations has been truly rewarding, and witnessing the profound benefits for our students fuels our enthusiasm to plan more exciting journeys in support of the curriculum.”
Roxy Kilmurray, curriculum area manager for foundation learning at Cornwall College St Austell, added: “We couldn’t be prouder of our incredible students. Some of our special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) learners had never been on a plane before, and for all of them this was their first time away from their families, so they’ve done exceptionally well to achieve what they have on this trip.
“The feedback we have received from their work experience placements has been astonishing, with some employers stating that our learners are among the best they’ve ever had. Everyone has made the most of the opportunity.”
The excitement didn’t stop for this group when they returned home though. Their exploits in Spain have subsequently been featured on BBC Radio Cornwall, involving the group going to the local studios for a tour before recording an interview about their adventure.