A college course which has proved a “stepping-stone to stardom” for performers in some of the West End’s biggest shows has been shortlisted for a leading national award.
Northampton College’s Level 3 Musical Theatre course is a finalist in the ‘Excellence in Musical Theatre’ category of the coveted 2021 Music and Drama Education Awards.
The awards are recognition of the hard work and innovation that has gone into running a successful course amid the complications and challenges of the COVID-19 lockdown – maintaining a high-quality education while working remotely from home and without the usual studio space.
Voice and singing teacher Natalie Evans said: “The past year has been difficult, especially for the arts, with many of our past and present students facing a huge void in their progression within the professional world. It’s been an incredibly tough period so to get this recognition is a huge boost for all of us.
“The switch to remote learning has certainly been a challenge as so much of the course is, by its very nature, performance-based with students working closely together. But rather than shy away from it we have all dived headfirst into making the very best of it and coming up with new ways to make it work.
“As an alternative to our year end practical showcase, which was unfortunately cancelled due to COVID, our students created a virtual choir, recording a stunning cover version of ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’ from their homes. This offered a ray of hope and support to all those struggling through the first national lockdown.”
The video proved a viral social media smash, receiving international acclaim.
Having been approached by course leader Suzanne Lewis, several former students agreed to take part in exclusive ‘online masterclass’ sessions throughout lockdown, passing on their experience to the next generation of West End stars.
Suzanne added: “Our former students are always happy to return to the college because of the excellence of teaching and support they received. I have led the course since 2002 and to receive this recognition now is outstanding, it’s come at the perfect time and has given us all a real lift.”
Pat Brennan-Barrett, principal of Northampton College, added: “Our course is typically a stepping-stone to stardom. We have former students currently billed in Cats, Aladdin, Dear Evan Hansen, Hair Spray, Mamma Mia, Six, Thriller Live, Pretty Woman and many who were performing on cruise ships around the world.
“All of them, without fail, credit the training they received at Northampton College as part of their success and I am delighted that the hard work of everyone in the team over the past 12 months has been recognised.”
The awards will be held virtually from 6pm on Wednesday, March 24. The ceremony will be streamed live at https://www.musicdramaedawards.com/ and on Facebook.
For more information about Musical Theatre courses available at Northampton College, please click here.
Fancy netting a six-figure salary by playing FIFA on your Xbox? Could your Call of Duty skills help you rake in a fortune on PlayStation? Computer games are big business and Northampton College is playing a pioneering role in finding the next breakout star of Esports.
The college is one of 72 across the country involved in the launch of the first-ever BTEC in Esports as competitive gaming continues to gain traction in the mainstream and evolve as a genuine career choice for the next generation of highly-skilled gamers.
With most American colleges now having their own Esports courses and teams and all Premier League sides also having gamers representing their football clubs, the course will enable students to gain knowledge and skills in an ever-growing area.
They will have the opportunity to compete nationally and also develop an understanding of digital marketing, fund raising and event management – with the ultimate aim of seeing Northampton gamers at the forefront of the Esports revolution.
Pat Brennan-Barrett, principal of Northampton College, said: “We have a generation of students who are incredibly well versed in digital life. Gaming is no longer a hobby, it’s a genuine career choice and there is good money to be made for those who are early adopters and can spot a gap in the market.
“This course will look in-depth at the business side of Esports, focusing on strategy, entrepreneurship, live-streamed broadcasting, video production and computer networking – it’s far more than simply playing games with your mates, it’s an opportunity to do something spectacular.”
Televised FIFA tournaments starring professional footballers and competitive gamers gained impressive viewing figures both on YouTube and Sky Sports during the initial COVID-19 lockdown when elite sports were suspended.
The burgeoning Esports industry is projected to have generated revenues of more than £830 million in 2020, equating to year-on-year growth of more than 16 per cent. The total global Esports audience is set to rise 11.7 per cent to around 495 million people.
The Esports course will be one of the flagship programmes in Northampton Coollege’s state-of-the-art Digital Academy – due to open in September this year.
The Digital Academy, funded through the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP) and the Local Growth Fund, aims to close digital skills gaps across the county and develop students’ basic IT competences.
The Digital Academy will enable students to develop their skills from a basic to a specialist level, appropriate to their need. Digital spaces will encourage teams to network, create, plan and build.
Entrepreneurship will be at the heart of the Academy with programmers working alongside creatives, coders with designers and technicians with marketeers to share ideas and build the businesses of the future.
As part of the planning process for the building, teams from the college visited a number of institutions to find a model on which the Digital Academy could be designed and built, including the East London Academy of Media/Music, the National College for Digital Skills and the Northamptonshire County Council offices at One Angel Square.
It promises to be a purpose-built facility constructed with the modern worker in mind – with scope for the sort of flexible workspace made even more in-demand due to the remote working we are all now so accustomed to as a result of COVID-19.
Assistant Principal of Northampton College, Jake Zelcowicz, said: “Colleges are at the centre of the economic rebuild and we are preparing a new generation of tech-savvy digital natives who are going to change the way we do things for years to come.
“Our Digital Academy is going to be a game changer for the Northampton economy. As a town we are at the forefront of the digital revolution, with a host of emerging start-ups and small businesses making waves in the exciting world of social media, games design, coding, virtual reality and artificial intelligence.
“We want people from different backgrounds to come together and build the businesses of the future by putting together the best creative minds and setting them on a journey of discovery to see what their ideas and technical skills can develop.
“Those businesses are going to be the backbone of the town’s economy for years to come, creating jobs attracting investment and uniting communities.”
For more information about the Level 3 Esports course at Northampton College please visit https://www.northamptoncollege.ac.uk/courses/games-design/570-level-3/2476-level-3-esports.html
In light of the more stringent lockdown measures announced yesterday, the College has taken the decision to postpone all Vocational & Technical examinations and assessments due to take place in January.
This is not a decision we have taken lightly but having reviewed our risk assessments and the level of transmissibility of the new strain, we cannot guarantee the safety of the students taking the exam and the staff required to administer these exams.
We understand this will be disappointing news for a lot of people but to proceed with the exam series now would be unfair on students. The stress of the pandemic would undoubtedly affect their performance and could lead to results which are potentially very unfair.
We appreciate how hard students have worked in preparing for these exams. Please be assured that this learning is not wasted and it will help students achieve their qualification. We are waiting for further information from DfE, Ofqual and the awarding bodies as to how grades will be assessed and will communicate this to students as soon as possible.
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