North East Connected

Luminate Education Group celebrates its alumni after reaching half million milestone

As part of Colleges Week 2021, Luminate Education Group is celebrating its half a millionth student to come through its further education (FE) colleges since 2009.

Merged 12 years ago, the group has become one of the largest education organisations in the country and brings together a number of secondary, further and higher education institutes in Yorkshire, including Leeds City College, Keighley College, Leeds Sixth Form College, Harrogate College, University Centre Leeds, Leeds Conservatoire and White Rose Academies Trust.

The FE colleges within the group launched a campaign earlier this month aimed at celebrating the positive destinations of their alumni and the contributions they have made to their communities over the last decade. As part of the campaign, the group also identified one of its first students, along with its milestone half a millionth student.

Steven Bickerdike was one of the first learners to come through the doors of Leeds City College, while Seth Millward is the group’s half a millionth student currently studying music at Quarry Hill Campus.

Steven quit his full-time job and returned to college to study procurement as a mature student and credited his tutors for understanding his learning style and helping him progress. He is now a strategic buyer at Nestle. He said: “It was really hard going back to college and finding a job that suited me while I was studying. There are some tutors from my time at college that stand out, such as Dave Dearing, who was good at identifying the strengths of different students.

“I don’t think you truly appreciate education when you’re younger. When I started my very first module, I found it very difficult and failed my first exam. At that point, I thought I wouldn’t get through the course, but I persevered and eventually found my rhythm, finished my Level 2 and moved on to the next level, eventually obtaining my degree in procurement.

“I found that employers were impressed with the initiative I had taken to study off my own back. If you’re considering it and really want to give it a go, or if you’re facing barriers at work like getting promoted or progressing, or you’re not in the job you enjoy, back yourself. Even if you feel like it is going to be difficult.”

The group’s half a millionth student, Seth Millward, completed his GCSEs earlier this year and decided that he wanted to pursue a more practical course that would prepare him for his future career in music.

Currently studying Music Production, Seth said he hopes to become a music producer one day.

“I have always had a passion for music, particularly the technical side of it and this course is perfect for me. The college has great facilities, and the tutors are very supportive.”

Bill Jones, Deputy CEO at Luminate Education Group, said: “The achievements of our alumni cannot be understated. They epitomise what we stand for, and it is remarkable to hear about what they have been doing since they left college.

“We’re striving to be the region’s first choice for accessible, inclusive, and innovative education where our students are able to go further and achieve their academic goals, and we’re looking forward to supporting the next half a million students on their routes to success.”

Find out more about Colleges Week here.

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