Farnham College

The ever-growing Nepalese population in the UK is no news bulletin and with a bigger community settling in, especially within a culture quite unlike themselves, comes bigger changes, bigger requirements to facilitate and most importantly, the need for bigger efforts to integrate. Such is also the case at Farnham Sixth Form College where approximately 20% of all full-time students currently enrolled are Nepalese.

Here, Terry Horner, the college’s Head of Learning and Standards-Learner Attainment shares a few words on this matter.

A brief introduction to Farnham College, please, Terry.

Farnham Sixth Form College, situated just outside the town, currently has 600 students studying a range of courses. The majority of the students are aged 16-18 years old and will look to progress to University or into employment. The examination results of the college has proved to be the best in the area with 100% pass rate at A level and 99% for BTEC examinations in 2012

The college has become increasingly popular and successful in the area with a growing number of Nepalese students who come from local schools and direct from Nepal. There are currently over 100 Nepalese students studying at the college with many progressing on to Higher Education. The college employs a dedicated Nepalese support worker, Diya Gurung, who is involved with students, parents and the wider Nepalese community.

Quite a big number of Nepalese students enrol at Farnham College every year. How has this turned out?

If you were to ask the Nepalese students, they will tell you that being smaller, Farnham College can better meet their needs.  They are very much a part of the college and actively contribute to the daily life of the college, helping with Open Evenings and visits to local schools.

Diya, our support worker, has first-hand experience of the English education system and progressed through school system to study English Language at the University of Kent. She is therefore an ideal role model and can help to advise the students.

Courses in Business Studies, ICT and Health and Social Care have proved to be particularly popular. The college also encourages all students to build upon their English and Maths qualifications.

How is the cultural integration between students?

We do encourage all students to work together and get involved in the range of extracurricular activities on offer at the college. The Nepalese students also take pride in annually presenting their culture with dances, songs and food as well as displays around the college.

Regular events such as Parents Evenings are held at the college. What happens during such events and in what ways are they helpful for parents as well as the students?

It is important that all parents are kept informed of the progress of their sons/daughters. Parents’ Evenings are held twice a year usually between 6.30pm – 9.00pm in the evening. Students make appointments which usually last about ten minutes with each teacher to discuss their progress. Targets are set and students and parents are offered advice in order to help to improve grades and progress at college and beyond.

Having so many Nepalese students here, some of them, especially who are not familiar with the UK education system, may require additional support regarding qualifications, language etcetera. How does the college cater to this and what sort of facilities and services are available?

We recognise that with so many Nepalese students at Farnham College, it was necessary to employ a Nepalese support worker to act as an advocate for students and an invaluable link between the college and home as well as the wider Nepalese community. We have been able to offer additional language support in lessons as well as targeted support for students wishing to apply for University.

Regular meetings are held with the Nepalese students and more recently we have tried to encourage parents to attend evening sessions to explain the English education system, expectations of the college and progression routes.

Additional learning support and more general advice and support is available to all students to help them in their subject areas or with any issues or concerns they may have. These are publicised throughout the year.

Communication is key and one of the college’s main aims is to develop and maintain good relationships not only with the parents and guardians but also with the wider Nepalese community. How do you intend to do that?

With the help of Diya, we feel that we are in a much better position to help and support Nepalese students, communicate effectively and help staff to understand the cultural differences. As well as phone calls home, letters are now sent out in Nepali.

We are keen to develop our links with the wider Nepalese community and any suggestions of possible links would be welcomed.

Lastly, any messages for the Nepalese readers, parents or students reading this?

We, as a college, are keen to develop the potential of all of our learners and to help them to realise that potential. We have benefitted from the diversity that the range of students that start at Farnham brings, especially our Nepalese students; they are part of the life of the college. We are a small but successful college and we feel that they are very much part of that success. Do not take my word for it, ask the students!

The writer chose to remain anonymous.

PS. Thank you for your contribution

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