Latin making a comeback at Milton Keynes Further Education College

    A Further Education college may not be the place where you’d expect Latin to be on the curriculum, but at Milton Keynes College that’s precisely where it will be from September.

    The College recently decided to offer A Levels to its students, which have been cleverly designed into specific “pathways” most likely to lead to acceptance to places at top universities or entry into good careers.

    Marc Hulbert is the man tasked with launching the programme.  Parts of Milton Keynes are among the most deprived areas in the country, but Marc says students from those districts can compete with the best, and Latin will help them.

    “People say, Latin’s a dead language, but in truth it’s just having a long nap.  Students of ours studying biology, law and English, for example, will all benefit from having a basic grasp, and it looks good on their UCAS forms.  We’re not having them conjugate, ‘amo, amas, amat’ by rote.  We’ll be doing word puzzles with them or reading Harry Potter in Latin or translating the latest pop lyrics – making it useful but fun.”

    Since the new A Level programme was announced, applications to the College have been arriving in very high numbers.  Marc believes this is partly because of the way they’ve been organised into pathways, targeting particular degrees or jobs.

    “There’s a Green Pathway including environmental science and biology; a Social Science Pathway with psychology and sociology; the Creative Pathway features English Language and Literature and media studies while the Digital Business Pathway has computer science and business.  Students will choose a third A Level from English, maths, business, psychology or law.”

    Latin isn’t the only element of added value being offered to students taking their A levels at the College.  They’ll be working in partnership with the Action4Youth charity (https://www.action4youth.org/) enrolling learners in the Grow your Ambition programme. 

    “It's all about developing young people as individuals rather than just learning machines,” Marc explains.  “There are three elements to it. One around life skills involves a two day residential stay aimed at developing resilience, teamwork, leadership etc.  It’ll also help with things like cooking and budgeting, the kinds of skills at which new university students are notoriously bad.  There’s a section around employability and lots of the companies we deal with say college students already tend to be better in this area than school leavers.  It focuses on things like CV writing, interviews, presentations and the like.  The third element is community-based.  We want them to get involved in a project which actually benefits people in the city, but isn’t just about volunteering for volunteering’s sake.  If they’re on the Green Pathway they might be restoring a river or canal.  If it’s digital they could be using their computer skills to help a local charity or community group and so on.  It’s all positive for them, for their communities, and for prospective employers or university admissions departments.”

    If that weren’t enough to keep them occupied, A Level students at Milton Keynes College will also be given a taste of what university work is like through the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ).  Recognised by UCAS, the EPQ is a project chosen by the student around which they have to conduct research and eventually produce a 5,000 word dissertation.  “They can make it about absolutely anything they like,” Marc says, “but I will encourage them to choose a subject directly related to their chosen A Levels.  They’ll each have a supervisor, just as an undergraduate would, and the final dissertation is graded, A* to E, like any other public exam.  The great thing about the EPQ is it gives the student a taste of the rigour required at university but also allows them to show relevant research skills and passion for a subject.  From an employer perspective, it also evidences an ability to write a complex and comprehensive report to a high level.  In both cases, it also gives them something they can talk about with confidence in an interview.”

    A Level applicants at the College will have to achieve good grades at GCSE to be successful, so there’s an ambitious element from the start.

    Marc says, “There’s a challenge in Milton Keynes to provide genuine equality of opportunity, but there’s an even bigger amount of potential, which we want to tap into and develop.  We want to have students who are genuinely looking at Oxford and Cambridge or Warwick, Durham and St Andrews.  We want them looking at some of the high-paying, aspirational businesses in the city, where they can forge impressive careers. These extras we’re offering are aimed at developing them as individuals, but also to help them stand out from the crowd.  We actively want universities or employers to look at their applications and say, ‘Latin?  EPQ?  Action for Youth?  From an FE college?’  We want to help them make a big impression; because they deserve to.”

    CEO and Group Principal, Sally Alexander, says, “At Milton Keynes College our driving goal is to provide Fairer Futures for all.  That means showing the world that our students are as bright and capable as anyone else, and that they can aim as high as their ambitions take them.”

    To register your interest in studying A Levels at Milton Keynes College, please visit https://mkcollege.ac.uk/a-levels/ 

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