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Visiting Derwen College

Image: Painting by Pixels - in a pixellated fontIn May 2018, Paul Kielty and I will be running some PAINTING BY PIXELS workshops at Derwen College in Gobowen; and at Designs in Mind in Oswestry.

On 14th February 2018 we went along to Derwen College to meet up with Jen and Marianne in the Creative Studies quarter of the college.

We thought we were there to discuss the logistics of the workshops but were blown away by their generosity and interest in us – for we were not only shown round the Creative Studies section of the college – but all the rest. And what an amazing place the college is!!


Image: Derwen college students standing on grass around a large white-lettered OUTSTANDING

Derwen College, image from their website


The art rooms are fab. The students are encouraged in their striving to be individual and stretch themselves. The college is making every attempt they can to make bridges with employers and “outside opportunities” for when their students graduate. Both Paul and I were so impressed with this… when we went to art school neither of us were given any skills or help about how to negotiate the “outside world” after we had finished our degrees.

There is a pottery room, a hand-printing room, a digital printing room.. ooh I’m sure to have missed something out!



A woman in an apron hold out a jar of Raspberry Jam

Their farm shop’s Raspberry Jam, image from Derwen College website

There are three other departments at Derwen: Horticulture, Catering and Retail. And they all intermingle. They have a farm shop there where you can buy raspberry jam, for example. The raspberries have been grown by the students on site. The catering students have made the labels. The creative studies students have made the labels. The retails students sell the jam. And this model continues throughout the college.

There is a café, a restaurant, a garden centre there. The farm shop is filled with exciting, good value, cards, printed aprons, bags, artisan read, vegetables – all from the college grounds.

Paul and I were blown away by the fact the college managed to persuade Premier Inn to build a miniature version of one of their Inns at the college so that the college can train their students in reception and cleaning jobs before they head out to work in real Premier Inns.


We will be back to go to the farm shop and garden centre and to have some t shirts and maybe bags printed – long before and on many occasions – before our workshops start in May.

Nadia Kingsley

P.S. Derwen College, I noticed when I went on their website to find some images for this blog, has been shortlisted in two categories of the prestigious TES Further Education Awards 2018, regarded as the ‘Oscars’ of the further education calendar: for both the ‘Specialist Provider of the Year’ and ‘Employer Engagement’ award.

Arts Council England logo

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