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  • 11 Apr 2017Hyundai Coupe Cup race report

    What a brilliant weekend our Motorsport students had at Silverstone recently, taking part in the Hyundai Coupe Cup. Race driver, Rob Brown's post-race report is below:



    I arrived early on Friday to test the car for the first time and as I pulled into the paddock I could see that Dave and the students had already arrived and unloaded the car. The car looked absolutely fantastic and very well prepared. Before the first session Dave got the team to work, checking things over and just making sure we were ready for our first time on track. Jon Winter, the series organiser came over to give us some encouragement, he was very complimentary about the work the team had done in preparing the car.

    We headed out for the first test session and this was a real eye opener. I had never been on track in a front wheel drive car before, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. However, the car was the most compliant, very simple to drive, totally adjustable and predictable with huge levels of grip. It also ran without an issue and was very easy to set consistent laps in. On return to the paddock, the team immediately set to work checking the car over and asking me for feedback on how it had performed. I had a chat with another Hyundai Coupe driver who was also new for the season and we both said what great cars they were.

    There were two more sessions for the day and they went pretty much as before. Dave ensured that the team all got involved and had plenty to occupy them and they worked on the car with immense enthusiasm.


    Race day

    Once again I got to the track early and the team were already working, they certainly didn’t look like they’d only got two hours sleep because of the arctic night time temperatures at Silverstone! The first task of the day was to get the car down to scrutineering and ensure we were ready for the track. Dave spoke with our scrutineer who agreed to give a run through of what he was doing so the students would gain a full understanding of what kind of thing is checked at this stage. The first thing checked was the brake lights - this is when disaster struck as the brake lights weren’t working! We knew they had been working on Friday, as the students had been comparing braking points into Copse. Fortunately everything else was fine and again the scrutineer was very positive (by their standards) about the presentation of the car, we just needed to get the brakes sorted and we’d be out.

    The team set to checking for loose connections, but it seemed like none of the usual things were the cause. Time was now ticking by before the qualifying session and the team were to get their first taste of working under real pressure to get the car ready in time. Fortunately, Dave and the guys were able to work their magic and get the car ready with minutes to spare - stressful, for the team but undoubtedly a huge learning experience and a great success in overcoming adversity.

    Qualifying went smoothly and the car performed without fault; however, it soon became apparent that the car was struggling in a straight line relative to the other cars. In the end we qualified last, just a little off the pace. We had weighed the car the day before and knew we were overweight (the minimum weight is 1125kg with driver, we were coming in at 1199kg) so there was room for improvement here and we were also told that the standard exhaust would be costing us a few bhp. With the cars so evenly matched every little bit would help, the cars from 2 to 11 were separated by only 1 second.

    Race 1 went without a hitch and we made one place up due to a retirement. Before race 2, Dave set the team to work, trying to strip some more weight from the car, we knew there were marginal gains to be made here but everyone rolled their sleeves up and got stuck in. The car undoubtedly felt a little quicker in race 2, although remained just off the pace of the pack in front. Knowing we were off the pace, I was able to play with the car a little and learn just how to drive it. Once again the car performed fantastically and showed just what a solid platform it is.



    We qualified last and finished last in both races; yet it was as far from a bad weekend as it was possible to be. The car is a very solid dependable car and a great platform for the season ahead. We know what to do to improve it for the next race and the team learnt a lot from this experience. The students showed they are capable, enthusiastic and willing, and the rest of the paddock were full of praise for all we achieved. Overall it was a fantastic weekend, enjoyed by all involved and above all, the car came home in one piece. Roll on Snetterton in 6 weeks’ time.


    Find out more about our automotive courses starting September.


    Image credit: Phil Mundy

  • 10 Apr 2017Prince's Trust students excelling at BCoT

    Staff and students on The Prince’s Trust programme at BCoT were visited by the members of the Trust’s executive team to see how students have been getting on since starting in October.

    The Prince’s Trust Achieve programme was introduced at BCoT 18 months ago. It offers disadvantaged young people aged 13-19 the opportunity to develop the skills and confidence they need to reach their goals. It is designed to help students re-engage with education and support them to achieve their full potential.

    Achieve allows the team at BCoT to develop and tailor its own framework, selecting units and criteria to meet the needs of students. This includes personal, social development, life skills, active citizenship, enterprise projects and employability. Maths, English and digital skills are embedded into the curriculum ensuring students achieve the Personal Development and Employability (PDE) qualification. 

    Lynsey Spillane, Head of Specialist Provision at BCoT, says the Prince’s Trust programme has given hope and a new start to the students. She said:

    “Most of the students came to us totally disengaged with the education system and this was a fresh new start for them.  The majority have very challenging home and personal lives and therefore the support we give them has to be continuous and without limits. If they stick with the programme they know it will provide them with the foundations needed for the world of work, we just have to focus their minds on this.”

    Dave Gibbs, Programme Executive for the Prince’s Trust southern region, described the progress made by Lynsey and her team as “amazing,” adding:

    “This cohort of students have come on an incredible journey which is testament to the hard work and commitment of the team here at BCoT. There is so much evidence of personal development both individually and across the wider diverse group it is truly inspiring to see.”

    Two students currently on the Prince’s Trust programme are Natasha and Jordan – below they tell us the impact the programme has had on their lives:

    Natasha Perrett age 16

    “I’m enjoying the Prince’s Trust Programme, for the first time in ages I feel like part of a group. We’ve all gone through similar experiences so understand each other - it’s like being part of a family really. My confidence has definitely grown since starting in October and I’m learning really useful things through the projects we are doing. At the moment we’re looking at healthy eating and exercise which is great as I’ll need that for when I start the Level 2 Public Services course in September!”

    Jordan Ellis age 16

    “I didn’t get on well at school so was worried about coming to college. It’s so different here though, it feels safe. I’m now doing exams which I’ve never be able to do before and this is all down to the support I get from Lynsey and the other teachers. I think that coming to BCoT and doing the Prince’s Trust has changed my life.”

    To find out more about the Prince’s Trust at BCoT, please call Lynsey Spillane on 01256 306312 or email her lynsey.spillane@bcot.ac.uk



  • 05 Apr 2017Former apprentice retires

    An employee who started his working life as an Apprentice at the age of 16 is set to retire after fifty years of service with Middlesex Aerospace in Basingstoke.

    Stephen Wood began his career in Engineering shortly after leaving school. His first job involved working on the factory floor as a general assistant, learning the basics. He was then offered an Apprenticeship with Weyside Engineering in Guildford, which was later bought by Middlesex Aerospace, marking the start of his career as an Engineer.

    “Even at a young age, I knew I wanted to get on in life, learn as much as I could and make a good career for myself. An Apprenticeship was the launch pad for this. In the early days I was thrown in at the deep end, it’s not like now when there is a real structure. It was a case of spending two weeks on a section, learning how to use the machinery, then doing the job.”

    Fifty years on, Apprentices continue to be embedded in Middlesex Aerospace’s culture. Roger Rustell, Training Manager, says it would be “inconceivable” not to have any Apprentices in the company, adding:

    “Our Apprenticeship scheme involves training individuals to become fully skilled mechanical engineers. We recognise that each Apprentice is unique and should be treated as such. We set no limits to their training, and remain totally flexible in our approach. We now offer the opportunity to study right up to degree level, something we are very proud of.”

    One of these Apprentices is 18 year old Amy Valles who is now in her second year of the training programme at Middlesex.

    “I feel like I’ve learned so many new skills, not only engineering based but also personal skills. I’ve almost completed my NVQ Level 3 in Mechanical Engineering and am looking forward to starting my HNC at college in September. Middlesex have gone out of their way to help me adapt to the working environment at such a young age and given me an opportunity to have a secure, well paid career. I’ve even started saving for my own flat!”

    As for Stephen, he’s looking forward to the next stage in his journey, but says he’ll look back fondly on his fifty years spent at Middlesex.

    “I’ve got great memories of being an Apprentice, learning my way through the factory, the machines and all the processes. Everything I know has been taught to me by seasoned professionals, experts in their field. I have great hope for the next generation of young Engineers. Technology has moved on at an unbelievable pace and it is vital that Apprentices continue to be an integral part of this future. Successful careers stem from a solid foundation – just look at me.”

    To find out more about becoming or employing an Apprentice visit www.bcot.ac.uk/apprenticeships.





  • 24 Mar 2017Students Take Part in Barbering Competition

    Five students on Level 2 & 3 hairdressing & barbering courses at BCoT are taking part in the National Student of the Year Barbering competition run by British Barbers’ Association (BBA).

    As part of the competition, Level 2 students have to do a basic haircut and finish, whilst Level 3 students are tasked with doing a precision creative cut and finish.

    Photographic entries are then sent to the BBA and are judged by a panel of industry experts. Winners will be announced at a glittering ceremony held at the NEC in Birmingham on 22nd May.

    Donna McGuirk, hair and barbering Tutor at BCoT said the competition is an opportunity for students to showcase their talents, and compete against other students in their field. She added:

    “Since the start of March when the details of the competition were released, the students have been very excited and professionally planning their entries. Every week they have been practising and perfecting their skills in preparation for the photo shoot of the final entries. As their tutor I am extremely proud of their effort, enthusiasm and commitment to this event and I wish them the best of luck with their entries.”

    If you’d like to find out more about any of the hairdressing and barbering courses at BCoT, please visit http://bit.ly/2mwc8ZP, email sue.scott@bcot.ac.uk or call 01256 306611.



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