When Greenock schoolgirl Hannah Blue was given the chance to study at West College Scotland’s Greenock Campus she jumped at it. Hannah studied Car Body Repair, turning her interest in cars into valuable skills, before even leaving high school, and it’s already paying off.

“My school, Notre Dame High, have an agreement with West College Scotland where 5th and 6th years can study a course at the College alongside their school subjects. The courses on offer were very different, and it meant while still at school I could do something I enjoy, that could lead straight to a career.

I love cars, and was really interested in learning how to work with them, so I took the course in Car Body Repair. It gave me a chance to learn the basics, and see if it was what I really wanted to do. It meant when leaving school I knew where I wanted to be.

As part of West College Scotland’s work to improve young people’s employability, senior pupils can study College courses while still at School. The College has a strong partnership with schools across Inverclyde, and continues to develop and improve what’s on offer.

One benefit is that pupils have a chance to study for vocational qualifications not normally available in school. Pupils can gain experience in a new subject, see if it’s for them, and be in a great position to make their choices for leaving school.

Hannah took the opportunity to try something new, in something she loved, and see where it would lead.

“I didn’t know what to expect; though I seriously love cars, I’d never worked with them. I went in with an open mind though, and I was keen to show a girl can do this job just as well anyone else.”

“The College was great. Even though I was studying at a higher level, it was more relaxed than at school. It was a great place to make new friends too. I thought being the only girl would be awkward, but I was made to feel welcome and we all got on really well. I think they liked having a girl about the place!”

Hannah settled in very well to her course, and lecturer Ryan Horn was more than pleased with her work.

Hannah showed great talent and initiative throughout her studies here, working hard to build her knowledge and develop her skills. As the only girl it could have been difficult for her, but this wasn’t an issue for Hannah, or the rest of the class.

"It’s a male-dominated profession so it’s fantastic to see a young girl like Hannah show such enthusiasm and skill. She’s a mature learner, who could succeed in any field, and I know she’ll do well in this industry.”

Such were Hannah’s talents that the College awarded her the course prize, the ACE achievement award, in recognition of her hard work and success.

“I was pleased to find that the course suited me; not only did I pass, but I won the course ACE achievement award! It really boosted my confidence and was the encouragement I needed to pursue a career in the industry.”

“I haven’t wasted anytime; I’m now a Motor Vehicle Refinisher on a 3-year apprenticeship with Arnold Clark. It’s going well so far, the course at College was a good taste of what to expect, and prepared me well.”

Hannah’s experience with the College has been a great one, and she encourages anyone else, whatever their situation, to consider applying.

I’d recommend the College to anyone, whether at school, leaving school, or any time after that. There’s such a diverse range of subjects, and a great staff support network to guide you through it all. If I hadn’t taken that course I’m not sure what I would have gone onto do, but now I know exactly where I’m going.

Photo on top: Hannah Blue (17) receives her ACE Achievement Award, while studying Car Body Repair at our Greenock Campus last term.