College and Museum Hold Taster Day for Sharing of Facilities

Brecon’s Y Gaer welcomed staff and students from Brecon Beacons College (part of the NPTC Group of Colleges) to a taster day including practical learning and tours of its facilities. This was in preparation for the College to share the building for lessons in the future. Also open for the event was the café in the library, which is set to open full-time in the coming months and be run by the College catering staff.

Students from the Health, Social and Childcare school started off the day in the library by reading stories to children from Buttons Nursery and Puffins Nursery. Childcare Level 3 students Becca Hiscocks and Nia Thomas were happy with the opportunity, with Becca finding it an “amazing experience to see some of the childcare facilities we’ll be using” and Nia believing it will “help for when I qualify and look for a job in a childcare setting.”

Childcare lecturer, Rachel Halsey, said: “This was a fantastic opportunity for the learners to develop their confidence and skills as well as meet with childcare practitioners. The learners are studying to achieve careers as nursery nurses, teaching assistants and primary school teachers and have recently started placements in local nurseries and primary schools.”

As part of the event, those studying Business & Law Level 3 and BA Business, Management & IT, put their understanding of the legal system to the test in a mock trial in the court room. Brecon Beacons College campus manager, Kevin Morris, was on ‘trial’ for theft, and students played the roles of judge, jury, lawyers, police and witnesses. Staff and students from the College were a captive audience.

The students participating in the ‘trial’ acted this out in full costume, adding to their new cultural experience. They also had to use their initiative by responding to ‘heckles’ from the accused and audience. In the end, Mr Morris was sentenced for the original offence, and contempt of court, following shouting between himself and the judge.

After the ‘trial’ Samantha Ford, a first-year student in Business & Law Level 3, said: “I played a witness, and learned a lot about how vital witnesses are to a case. The law has become more real for me today. Having that practical experience was fun, and I’m more interested in a law career after taking part.”

Robin Flower, Lecturer for Business & Law, said: “It was really inspirational for our students to re-enact a trial in the historic surroundings of the museum court room. They were supported by an appreciative audience of fellow students, and the staff of Y Gaer and the College.”

The taster day concluded with a presentation from author and teacher Chloë Heuch, shortlisted for the Rhys Davies Short Story Award 2021. The author gave advice to the students about writing for fun and for their own wellbeing, and read extracts from her latest young adult novel, Too Dark To See. Speaking about the event, Chloë said: “Writing can be a really positive tool for keeping a positive mindset while you’re in College.”

“People express themselves in a variety of ways, including blogging and vlogging, but I wanted to encourage writing and journaling too. Sometimes posting on social media can be bad for your well-being, but writing and journaling give you a safe space to share your feelings. I believe we’re seeing a resurgence in journaling and writing because of this.”

On the events of the taster day, the Principal and CEO of NPTC Group of Colleges, Mark Dacey, said: “During our visit, we’ve seen our students gain practical experience helped by the enthusiasm and knowledge of the staff at Y Gaer. As we collaborate and share facilities more going forward, there will be further opportunities for linking the curriculum with the museum and library.

“I think the partnership between the College and museum is something you don’t see in most towns. We’re public services co-habiting a space in the town centre for the betterment of the local community, and now offering students a cultural experience they wouldn’t have had access to before.”

Nina Davies, Head of Housing & Community Development for Powys County Council, said: “This was a fantastic event day for young adults and a great opportunity to engage Brecon Beacons College students with our library and museum services. Y Gaer and College staff have worked in partnership to deliver a variety of interactive cultural and educational activities for the students and are very much looking forward to further engagement opportunities in the not-too-distant future.

“As a valued community resource, Y Gaer is well placed to connect students with their culture and heritage, as well as supporting education and skill-building in an inspiring setting. There are lots of creative ideas for new events – I look forward to seeing what happens next!”

PICTURE CAPTION: Staff of Y Gaer and NPTC Group of Colleges in the Y Gaer Café. From right to left: Martin White (Senior Officer: Catering, NPTC); Trish Thomas, Nichola Farr & Alan Hood (Y Gaer); Andy Borgia (Catering, NPTC); Mark Dacey (Principal, NPTC).