An Award, An Academy and Some Skills Profiling.

Another Friday, another Blog update for you and we have some great news for you this week.

First this week, Stow College has been honoured, for the second time, for their commitment to mental health and has received a Commendation Award for Mental Health and Wellbeing from The Scottish Centre for Healthy Working Lives.  This honour makes Stow College the first further education establishment in Scotland to retain both a Commendation Award and a Healthy Working Lives Gold Award.

The driving force behind a range of successful initiatives is the College’s Healthy Working Lives committee – a group of staff members working together to make sure everyone is happy and healthy. Projects have included Health MOT days, corrective breathing courses and advice sessions with health and fitness experts.  Congratulations to everyone involved in securing this commendation award!!  If you would like to read more on this story then our News and Events page on the website.

Next up some information on Core Skills Profiling from Margaret Cooke in the Hub.  We are now in our third full year of using the Tribal software package to profile the core skills of our FE learners.  Core Skills Profiling will once again be carried out by Hub staff prior to the start of term.  Every learner who has been accepted for an FE course (NC, NQ, Pathways, Access, etc.) will be profiled.  The learners will complete 2 profiles, which will review their numeracy and communications skills.  The results are given using SCQF credit ratings.

Last session we managed to profile in excess of 650 learners before the beginning of term.  Hopefully we will be able to accomplish a similar feat this session, as data shows that more learners were identified or approached the Hub for support at an earlier stage than in any other academic year.  This meant that learners accessed appropriate support at a time when it is most beneficial to students, helping in the improvement in retention.   A further benefit for the students and indeed staff, is that the profiles will provide a basis for a learning plan and will also highlight ESOL issues.

When the learners have completed their profile they will be directed to appropriate top-up materials.  It is vital that all tutors encourage and support students in the completion of the top up activities.  Tutors can have access to the results and suggested resources for their learners, just pop into the Hub if you do not have a username and password for the package.  Tutors and support for learning staff can also check learner progress and review how often a learner uses the system.  All top up materials can also be used in a classroom environment and in group work.

To date feedback from learners and staff has been extremely positive, all are impressed by the ease of use of the package and also with the resources which are available to enhance and improve learning.  The support materials which are signposted for all learners, also give them the opportunity to take control of their own learning.  If you would like to try the profiling software, please contact Margaret Cooke in the Hub, Ext 611, for a demonstration and trial.  Go on, have a go and try to beat the scores of your students!

We have some exciting news for you now, Stow College will be running a one year BTEC Diploma course in Enterprise and Entrepreneurship through the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy (PJEA).  This scheme has been running since 2009 and there are over 30 PJEA centres south of the border, however Stow will be the first academy in Scotland.  The course will start on the 25th of September and will have places for 20 students at our Stow West building.

The Peter Jones Enterprise Academy at Stow has been set-up by Dragon’s Den star Peter Jones CBE and offers further education courses in enterprise and entrepreneurship.  Students are required to set up and run their own businesses as part of the learning process so gain hands on experience as well as classroom learning.  The students will also take part in masterclasses, which will be run by various businesses.  This will be a fantastic opportunity for all the students involved.

Finally for this week Chris Greenshields from Learner Services has requested that that students refer to Learner Services for the most up to date Funding information to avoid any confusion on what is and is not covered by your grant/bursary/EMA.  This includes the completion of Council Tax forms.  So if in doubt contact Chris and his team.

Well that’s us again for this week, hope to see you back again next Friday.


Sun, Healthy Living and an Electric Honey Showcase!!

Wow what a fantastic few days, all this sun and heat, who would have thought this could happen in Glasgow.  Hope you all enjoy it while it lasts and that you are using your mobile devices to read our Blog, while you increase your vitamin D levels.

First this week is an announcement from West Dunbarton Council about the Clydeside Open Art Show 2012.  Clydeside Open Art Show will run across four venues this year including the newly instated Clydebank Gallery in a curated programme of exhibitions showcasing the work of both professional and amateur artists. The show is open entry to both local and international artists and will take place between November 1st and December 8th 2012.

West Dunbarton Council have enquired as to whether students and/or staff would be interested in participating in the show.  They are keen to show the best of work produced by artists both amateur and professional in the surrounding areas and beyond and would be delighted if students or staff from Stow College would be able to participate in this year’s event. There are no age restriction, but there are some Open Art Show Conditions 2012 plus an Open Art Show Application 2012 and the closing date for submissions is Friday 7th September 2012.  A preview will be held on Friday 1st of November prior to the exhibition opening to the public.  Good luck to all that take part.

Now some news from Ken McCluskey about our very own Electric Honey.  Its Electric Honey Showcase time once again for the West End Festival @Oran Mor”.  Come on down to the Electric Honey showcase at Oran Mor on Friday the 1st of June for the launch of the West End festival.

The Stow College record label in partnership with Oran Mor and the West End festival will be celebrating the launch of the debut album from Glasgow band French Wives “Dream of the Inbetween” and new single from Young Aviators “The Question Is”.  Opening the evening will be Stow student Danny Aubrey.  Anyone interested in a VIP  free pass (purple badge actually) contact Cara Graham.

In the meantime here are the Young Aviators with a video for the single made by Stows film and TV students

Next a section from Glasgow 2014 – Frontrunners Volunteers.  There will only be 400 frontrunner Volunteer roles, of which some are advertised on this link  The full Volunteer programme for up to 15,000 Volunteers will launch in January 2013, however Frontrunners are needed now.

Glasgow 2014 Ltd’s mission is to deliver a fantastic Games and the success will depend on staff and Volunteers coming together as a skilled, collaborative team. All of the frontrunners that come on board will be assigned with a Volunteer mentor from the department in which their role is based.

The team are committed to creating a uniquely powerful, vibrant, exciting and fun life experience for all employees, Volunteers and contractors.  Previous Games Volunteers have described their experience as life changing and people who give up their time to Volunteer for Glasgow 2014 can expect a wide range of personal and developmental benefits.  If you are interested in taking part then please visit the about link for volunteer positions.

I am sure you were all aware that this was our Health MOT Week, well we have an update from Ron Dillin for you on the Big Focus on Health.  This week saw a big focus on health related matters in the college.  The college celebrated Mental Health Awareness Week with a prize quiz for staff and a ‘Doing good does you good’ poster campaign.  Friday 25th May is the last chance to enter the quiz with the chance of winning a £25 HMV voucher – so get your entry in now!  The winner will be announced next week.

Many staff and students took advantage of the free Health MOTs offered on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week by members of the Healthy Working Lives Committee.  The Health MOTs involved readings of blood pressure, flexibility, lung capacity (peak flow), body mass index (BMI) and percentage body fat.  Staff and students who want to lose weight, stop smoking or exercise more can come back in 6 months to see how their health has improved.

Next week will see a Health Fayre in Café Connect on Monday and Stow West on Tuesday.  There will be stalls promoting Mental Health and Wellbeing which will include advice and guidance from Glasgow Association for Mental Health, together with drug and alcohol awareness.  Other topics covered in the Health Fayre will be healthy eating, smoking cessation and physical activity.  Food samples and recipes will be available – please come along and support the Health Fayre.

Another opportunity for students, however this time it involves a rare study opportunity.  Do you want to go to China for three weeks to explore its rich and diverse economy and culture?  Do you want to learn Chinese language and find out how your future might be connected with China?  Take a look at The Study China Programme.

This is a government-funded programme open to undergraduate, postgraduate and gap year students attending (or about to attend) Universities/HE Colleges in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.  You can find more information about the programme and application procedure on

Two final short items now, the first is from Margaret Bradley of Skills Development Scotland and she would like to remind you all of the CV Clinic, which is held on the last Wednesday of the month in Room 5/2 between 11.30 am and 2.30 pm.  Next Wednesday will be the last session of the academic year so now is the time to pop along for some help.

Lastly Proact UK are holding a Recruitment Fair in Glasgow on 14th June 2012.  The fair will be targeting graduates with a technical background.  The following link will provide full details of the job description and how to apply.

Well that’s us again for this week, but we hope to see you back here next week ….. and don’t forget the sunscreen over the weekend, we don’t want to see any lobsters in class next week.

Design Pants, Mental Health Awareness and A Student’s Experience!!!!

Welcome back to our weekly blog update.

First this week some news of an enterprise competition.  This competition is being run by Pants to Poverty an Gazelle and it’s called the ‘Pantrepreneur Challenge’ and it gives you the chance to work on a ‘real’ business where you will design, produce and sell themed pair of pants.  You will get the chance to show off all your business skills including those you have in sales and marketing.  Not only will it provide you with an invaluable business experience, you will also have a chance of winning one of the great prizes – including a trip to India!!  The competition is open to anyone from the age of 16 plus and Archie Dickson is in the process of setting up teams to take part in the challenge.  If you think you would be interested in taking part then please contact Archie.  For more information on the Pants to Poverty charity and Gazelle, visit their websites.

Now for another piece by a student, this time it’s by Cherry Hei Tsui, one of our International students.  Cherry is studying on our HND Business course and she will be telling us about an important meeting she recently attended.

‘I am Cherry. I am an international student who is studying HND business in Stow College. I have heard this meeting from Douglas, the school Business & International Development Department Team Leader.

The visit is about the Hong Kong Undersecretary for Education would be visiting in Scotland, they would like to invite the student from Hong Kong to have a meeting. The meeting was on Thursday 15 March between 3 and 4pm at the Playfair Library, Old College, Edinburgh University, South Bridge, Edinburgh EH8 9YL.

The meeting was about the 334 system which is the new education system in Hong Kong is practicing in Hong Kong. In the past, Hong Kong is using the 523 system that means 7 years in secondary school and 3 years in the university, but now it has changed in to 334 system which means the students have to study for 6 years in the secondary school and 4 years in the university. This coming year is a special year because it is the first year the system changed and the UK and Hong Kong would like to continue their collaboration. They would like the students in Hong Kong or the UK may have a chance to study overseas.

The Hong Kong delegation were using a chatting group format. They came and chatted with you one by one, they asked about your background and the living life in Scotland. Also, they have introduced themselves and give us some advices. Overall the meeting just wanted to know more about our studies in Scotland and give us some advices for our future.’

Thank you to Cherry for this insight into her meeting with the Hong Kong Under-secretary for Education, we appreciate the time she has taken to share this with us.

Next a little health information.  Each year one in 4 people experience a mental health problem.  By tackling stigma and discrimination around mental health problems in the workplace, employers can make a positive impact on the lives of people who are experiencing, or have experienced , mental illness. Challenging negative assumptions about mental health problems and recovery from them helps everyone, and means people are more likely to seek help earlier and recover more quickly.  ‘see me’, is Scotland’s national campaign to end the stigma and discrimination of mental ill-health.

Every employer has a legal duty of care to ensure that their employees mental health is taken into account and Stow College is no different.  We take a comprehensive and integrated approach to mentally healthy employment, including promoting he mental wellbeing of all our employees and of course students.

Stow is currently aiming to get the Mental Health and Well-being Commendation Award.  The Commendation Award sets a workplace standard for good practice in promoting positive mental health and well-being, supporting staff with mental health problems in the workplace and reducing barriers to recruiting staff with a history of mental health problems.  There are only a handful of employers in Greater Glasgow and Clyde NHS region that hold both the HWL Gold Award and the Mental Health Commendation Award.  We are making every effort to add the Commendation Award to our Gold HWL Award.

Finally for this week a wee update on Moodle.  The college is currently using Moodle version 1.9. and Moodle community support for this version will end in July 2012.  Moodle 2 is the latest version of the platform and has a number of changes in its operation for both staff and students.  To help us prepare for the new Moodle we have been putting a strategy in place for the changeover.  One of the aims of this will be to provide an ‘Introduction to Using Moodle 2’ course for students.  This will be piloted April to June and rolled out in August 2012. The underlying principles behind the introduction to Moodle 2 course is that:

  • It will be a taught course delivered by Faculty staff
  • It will be accredited
  • It will provide students with the basic skills to navigate around and use Moodle 2 confidently
  • Completion of the introduction to Moodle 2 course will allow students to access Faculty based teaching and learning materials

Something to look forward to, remember to visit your Moodle site regularly.

That’s us again for this week, but be sure to come back next Friday for more news and updates.

International Students and a Disability Symbol

Welcome back after your long weekend, we hope it has left you rested and raring to go.  This week’s blog is a relatively short one, due to the three day week, but we still have some news for you.

First this week is some good news from Kenny Muir.  Stow has very recently come to an agreement with a very reputable Agency in Pakistan, in collaboration with a former colleague, Gavin Macdonald, to establish a Regional Office in Pakistan. SCS has been a regular source of students to Stow for many years, and Gavin maintains a continuing interest in the region and is a frequent visitor.  We have been able to reach a mutually beneficial agreement with SCS and Gavin to allow us to improve our ‘presence’ in Pakistan and, hopefully, the flow of good quality students who want to study at Stow.  Gavin has been representing us at a number of recent DAWN Expos and the outputs are beginning to arrive in the form of applications.  He sent us the photograph below from one such event.

Now a little bit of background and news on one of our International students.  Cherry Tsui Cheuk Hei is only 17 years old but has already set her sights on big things.  The teenager arrived a year ago in Scotland, alone and scared, she experienced a few initial problems, but thanks to our dedicated staff Cherry is now settled, enjoying Glasgow and succeeding in her studies.  Cherry is one of the brightest stars in her class and is hoping to study for a business degree at a Scottish university once she completes her HND at Stow College.  She then plans on returning to Hong Kong where she can put her business skills into practise.  We are all sure she will achieve her goals.

Next up …….. a healthy update.  This week saw the college hold it’s MOT Health days in both the City and Stow West campus’s.  Staff and students alike were involved in the activities set up to see how healthy they were.  This included tests such as Blood pressure test, Flexibility test, Lung capacity test, Body Mass Index(BMI) test and Body Fat content test.  Everyone involved found it extremely informative, we hope no one was too surprised or shocked at their test results.

Lastly for this week is news from Rita Glackin in Human Resources.  It has been confirmed that Stow College has been awarded the disability symbol employer status for a further 12 months.  The college provided proof that we were embracing the ethos of the symbol and that we are continuing to meet the criteria of the five commitments.  These commitments include interviewing all applicants with a disability that meet the minimum job criteria, ensuring  there is a mechanism in place for disabled employees to discuss developing and using their skills, to make sure newly disabled employees get the help to stay employed, to make sure all employees have a certain level of disability awareness and finally we have to review what we have done and plan for the future.

So that’s us for now, but we will be back here next Friday, see you then.

A Gold Award, A New Booking System and A Discount Card.

Welcome back to our wee blog.  It’s been  good week this week, news of awards and a discount scheme for students and no disruption, which is always good.  So let’s get on with it.

First this week an update for you on the Garnethill Day of Action, which took place on the Tuesday the 13th of December.  This event was a community clean up in partnership with Glasgow Community and Safety Services, McDonalds, Keep Scotland Beautiful, Strathclyde Police, Garnethill Community Council, Garnetbank Primary School, St Aloysius College, Land and Environmental Services and Stow College.  Several members of staff and students met up with other volunteers outside McDonalds on Sauchiehall Street and then proceeded to pick up all stray pieces of litter in the Garnethill area.  They did a fantastic job, leaving no trace of discarded crisp packets or juice cartons.  Well done to all involved and thank you for helping to make our streets a bit cleaner.

Now some fantastic news for Stow.  Stow College takes the health and wellbeing of its staff very seriously.  The college was one of the first organisations in Scotland to achieve the Healthy Working Lives Gold Award.  This success was followed by the achievement of the Mental Health Commendation Award which aims to raise awareness of stress, anxiety, depression and other mental health issues while promoting positive mental and emotional wellbeing.  There are currently only 4 or 5 organisations in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area which hold both the Gold award and the Mental Health Commendation Award – and Stow was one of the first.  The College has held the Gold Award standard since 2001 and there are only a handful of organisations in the NHS Greater Glasgow area that have the HWL Gold Award and the Mental Health Commendation Award.

On 1 December the college was visited by Alex Connor and Kevin O’Neill as our three-year re-assessment was due on the Gold award.  Alex and Kevin met with Sam Stevenson, Gary Blair, Rita Glackin, Margaret Cairns and Ron Dillin to discuss the extensive portfolio we had submitted.  The portfolio contained details of the many awareness campaigns, interactive events, physical activities, training events and policies which the college has run in the last year.  Our assessors were happy to note that the college had done even more than was required in order to obtain the gold award and had, in many cases, not only met but surpassed the criteria for the award.

The college received confirmation this week that they had successfully retained the award.  In offering his congratulations, Kevin O’Neill commented on the hard work and enthusiasm of all the staff who are involved in the Healthy Working Lives committee and also those who assist in running events.  The award scheme is intended for staff, but of course our learners and the wider community benefit from the activities and events that are organised under the Healthy Working Lives banner.

The Stow team will now concentrate on updating the portfolio for the Mental Health Commendation award which is due for interim assessment in the spring and full re-assessment in July.  Assistant Principal Audrey Miller passed on hearty congratulations to Stow’s Healthy Working Lives team.

Next up, we have been told, by Linda Vaughan, of a new service that will be available very soon, starting with the Learning Centre.  In January 2012, we will firstly introduce our new PC booking system – MyPC – in the Learning Centre (room 3/14).  It will be also rolled out in the SuperFlex (room 3/11) soon after.  MyPC is a computer booking system which allows students to control their PC bookings and access to PCs in our centres.

What does MyPC mean for students?

  • Quick access – walk up PCs and screen will tell them how long they can access the PC for
  • No need to sign in at the desk
  • Internet booking –can book PCs in advance from home or in the class before coming to our centres
  • Students will have fair access to the PCs
  • It will encourage students manage their time better

How does MyPC work?

  • Access MyPC using a link on the Learning Gateway
  • Access MyPC using a link on Moodle
  • Access MyPC using a link on the College Website
  • Book 2 hours at a time
  • Bookings held for 10 minutes
  • Book up to 7 days in advance
  • Alerts to let students know their time is nearly up

If you would like any more information, then please contact Linda Vaughan.

A little bit of performing now.  Stephen Langston has been telling us about Stowaways latest venture.  The Stowaways will be performing a double feature – ‘Mr Kolpert’ by David Gieselmann and ‘Body of Water’ by Stuart Pursell.  This will run for 4 nights, from Tuesday 20th December until Friday 23rd December 2011, starting at 7.30 pm each night in the East Kilbride Arts Centre (Tel 01355 261000).  Tickets cost  £8.50 / £6.00 (Conc).  It should be a great performance so pop along and see it, but please be aware that ‘Mr Kolpert’ contains scenes of an adult nature.

We have some great news now from Chris Greenshields!  All students at Stow College can now order a totally free copy of the 2011/2012 Glasgow Student SNAPfax and collect it on campus.  If you are not familiar with SNAPfax it is a discount scheme for students, which secures discounts, which are bigger and better than those discounts, you can enjoy with just your Student ID.

To get your FREE SNAPfax you need to register and order online, using PROMO CODE: STOW, which will discount your order to nil (you need to choose the deal which corresponds to your campus).  When you hit order you will be sent an email with a voucher and a unique security code.  Print this voucher and swap it for a SNAPfax (The SNAPfax collection point for your campus is indicated online and on your voucher).  For a step by step guide on how to register and for a list of some of the discounts you can get, visit our News Feature on the college website.  Please let your classmates know about this new service.

Finally for this week an update on our Photography Competition.  We had some fantastic entries in our category 2 (Glasgow Buildings and People) and category 3 (Glasgow Greenery) sections and these have been uploaded to our Facebook page for voting.  However entries to category 1 (In and Around Stow) we very low and we decided to extend the closing date for this category until Monday the 19th of December.  So all you students out their if you want the chance to win a 3 course meal for 2 people at the Landsdowne Bar and Kitchen, take a picture of Stow or Stow West or the staff, fellow students, vending machines, classrooms, labs or your favourite seat – whatever you think is photogenic – and send them to Tracey Borland.  Also remember to visit our Facebook page and vote for your favourite Category 2 and Category 3  picture.

Well that’s us for now, see you all back here next week.