College gives fresh start to aspiring chefs

8th April 2019

Catering students at Stratford-upon-Avon College have reconnected with education since leaving school, thanks to the learning environment provided by their lecturers.

Ronan Cranmer, 17 from Stratford, and James Bye, 18 from Alcester, are currently studying Level 2 Catering. Having found school challenging, they had both left with qualifications that they believed restricted the choices open to them and limited their future prospects and ambitions.

But it was a case of Stratford to the rescue! Ronan and James joined the College in September 2017 on its Level 1 Catering course, which, like all its Level 1 programmes, is designed for students who have found school demanding and want to reconnect with learning. Having successfully completed it, they then progressed to level 2 and are both now well on track to achieve their future career aspirations.

Ronan and James have thrived in Stratford’s environment. Reflecting on the transition from school to college, Ronan commented, “College life is a lot more independent than being at school. I think Level 1 prepared me by treating me as an adult.”

Ronan Cramner & James Bye Catering students
Stratford-upon-Avon College Catering students Ronan Cranmer (left) and James Bye (right)

As part of the course, James is studying for GCSE English, having achieved GCSE Maths at school, while Ronan is preparing for GCSE Maths and Functional Skills English, and both appreciate the College’s smaller class sizes. James believes that “the teachers have made the subject much easier to understand. They can focus more on each of the students and make sure we understand everything we’re doing in each lesson” while for Ronan, the benefit is that “because the class sizes are quite small, it feels like a family.”

They have found their lecturers extremely approachable and always willing to help with any problems they may be having. Ronan commented, “I used to have trouble opening up to people, but here I’m always happy to speak to lecturers whenever I need help with work.”

Both are grateful for the skills Level 1 taught them – the basics of food preparation, cooking and knife skills – and the confidence they gained which enabled them to move on easily to the more advanced Level 2. Thrilled with the progress they have made, James said “The Level 2 course is more intense and we have to work closer to the speed needed to work in the catering industry”, while Ronan – who now plans to use the wealth of catering experience he has acquired to join the army as a chef – commented, “There’s quite a big increase in the level of challenge – but it’s never impossible.”

Level 1 courses are available in Sport, Motor Vehicle, Engineering, Health & Social Care, Catering, Business, Performing and Production Arts, and more. Also available are Level 1 programmes that allow students to study this range of disciplines while they identify in which direction they want to take their future careers.

Find out more about the College’s Catering courses: Catering courses