In partnership with Heart of Worcestershire College, Willowdene delivers over twenty nationally recognised qualifications across ten vocational areas. We work hard to identify industry areas across the West Midlands that offer the greatest potential for our students to embark upon building a purposeful, working lifestyle; and ensure that the training and qualifications we offer are focused on maximising those opportunities by targeting regional skills gaps and requirements in those areas.
Working in fully-equipped, purpose-built facilities, our students learn in a safe, welcoming, empowering and non-institutional setting that promotes inclusive learning. Our trainers are highly skilled at engaging with individuals who have faced significant barriers to education, using innovative methods to overcome those barriers and ensure equality of opportunity for every student who undertakes any of our training.
With pass rates in excess of 98%, the results we deliver are outstanding, and for many of our students the qualifications they gain at Willowdene will be the first recognised qualification they have ever achieved. We celebrate the success of our students at regular graduation ceremonies, which bring together students, staff, key-workers and family to recognise the achievements of each individual student for what is often a placement highlight for all concerned.
Set out below are the vocational areas that our training targets.
In state-of-the-art facilities, students are able to engage in a variety of engineering-based activities.
As they learn, students engage in the day-to-day running of the agricultural and horticultural activities, applying the skills they learn in real-world situations, such as welding feeding troughs, building trailers and carrying out vehicle maintenance and repairs.
In addition, students have the opportunity to make items that they can keep as a reminder of the skills they gained.
Qualifications are offered in welding, car mechanics and equipment maintenance.
As a 200-acre farming facility, Willowdene offers a wide range of opportunities to gain skills, experience and qualifications in agriculture.
With a pedigree cattle herd, as well as a breeding herd of beef cattle, horses and goats, students can experience working with livestock in a live farming environment. In addition, students gain first-hand experience and invaluable insight into the practicalities of safely operating large agricultural machinery as part of a working day on a busy farm.
With qualifications in animal husbandry, tractor driving and health and safety, students are able to put in place a firm, practical foundation for developing their rural skills.
Our horticultural site at Stanley Farm provides students with an amazing opportunity to experience the workings of a commercial nursery, and gain insight into the farm-to-fork process.
In a range of glasshouses and polytunnels, students actively engage in the growing cycle of vegetables, fruit and herbs, while gaining skills, experience and qualifications in working with plants and trees.
The work the students undertake not only helps to supply Willowdene with some of the food that they enjoy as part of their day in the form of a freshly cooked lunch, but also supports the ongoing operations of Willowdene by helping to generate social enterprise revenue from the sale of produce.
In a purpose-built and fully equipped carpentry workshop, students are presented with an opportunity to learn skills in the use of loose hand tools and fixed carpentry machinery.
Whether it’s making items for use in the upkeep or development of Willowdene’s facilities, or working on a project to construct an item that they can take home at the end of the day, students work towards woodworking qualifications while engaging in practical, purposeful and meaningful activity.
Willowdene is a constantly evolving project, with new site developments being undertaken on a regular basis. These developments – from the construction of log cabins to the laying of concrete to painting and decorating – all provide hands-on opportunities for our students to gain construction-related skills, experience and qualifications.
The Black Barn, built by a team of staff, contractors and with significant student input, is an enduring example of student engagement in the construction and development of Willowdene’s facilities.
This opportunity for students to leave a permanent positive mark on Willowdene, and create something that will be used by all who follow in their footsteps, has a profound impact on the students involved.
Every student attending Willowdene is offered a freshly prepared and nutritious lunch, often comprising a number of ingredients that they may have been involved in growing as part of their horticultural activities.
As well as providing the facility for preparing the daily meal, our catering kitchen provides students with the opportunity to gain skills, experience and qualifications that will not only equip them to develop a healthy lifestyle at home, but also lay a foundation should they wish to explore a catering-related career.
Students are able to gain a food hygiene qualification, as well as a qualification in basic food preparation, both of which are as applicable to healthy daily living as they are to a career in catering.
One of the fastest growing sectors in our region, Leisure and Tourism, represents an accessible route for many of our students to become actively engaged in the workplace.
By gaining skills and experience in this field, students open up a wide range of possibilities for short-term employment as well as longer-term career development. In addition, the confidence and self-belief that experience in a customer-facing situation builds sets our students more generally in good stead for building the life that they want.
Willowdene’s regular events offer students opportunities to experience working in this area, and to build skills, experience and confidence that will be beneficial whether or not they pursue employment in hospitality.
As an active social enterprise growing produce and manufacturing items for sale, students are exposed to the full retail journey, from raw material to final sale.
While stopping short of providing shop-floor retail experience, the exposure to a wide range of aspects of the retail process equips students with an understanding of what is required to operate successfully in a retail workplace.
In addition, by adapting the teaching of numeracy and literacy to the context of a retail environment, students learn to think on their feet when it comes to situations involving pricing, communicating product attributes and handling transactions.
Combining mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health considerations, Willowdene’s focus on developing skills for healthy living ensures students are exposed to the fundamental principles of establishing a balanced, healthy lifestyle.
Nutrition, fitness, self-care, and self-awareness are fundamental building blocks of our training in this area. Alongside those building blocks, we also encourage students to gain a firm understanding of dependency and exploitation, equipping them to make healthy choices that help them to avoid harm.
Our bespoke life-skills short courses focus on helping students to develop the key skills they need to discover, build and grow into the life they were made for.
Covering topics such as personal finance, problem solving, goal setting, self-awareness and self-management, these engaging and practical sessions help students to gain a better understanding of who they are and where they fit in the world, as well as leading to nationally recognised qualifications.
In addition, practical employment-focused courses covering creating a CV, searching for jobs and job interviews help students build on their improved life-skills to build a purposeful, working lifestyle.
Willowdene’s training programmes are delivered in partnership with Heart of Worcester College and supported by the European Social Fund.
If you would like more information on specific courses or qualifications, then please do not hesitate to get in touch. You can contact us by telephone on (01746) 718658, or simply complete the contact form below with details of your enquiry.