A learning company which sees students studying for qualifications by pitching for real-life commissions has been launched by a Norfolk college.

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Creative Toast is the first of its kind at City College Norwich but principal Corrienne Peasgood hopes many more will follow.

Part of an initiative being led by the small group of Gazelle entrepreneurial colleges, it aims to ensure students emerge with more than just a certificate.

Ms Peasgood said: “A learning company is more than a qualification for young people. It’s almost taken as read that young people need to come to us to get the right qualifications they need to move on with their chosen career. But a learning company helps them to practise that in a real-life working environment.”

Creative Toast was officially launched at an event at the college last night.

The course began in September and, by July, the seven students will have earned themselves either a level three – equivalent to A-level – or a level four – equivalent to a foundation degree – diploma in media production.

They will do it by gaining the skills and knowledge required through a series of practical projects.

After setting up the media company themselves – including coming up with the name, branding and even room design – the learners then began pitching for work.

Hannah Brodie, 19, said: “Since we started in September, we have split our time into projects. Project two was working on the three-day Norwich Sound and Vision festival. We interviewed some of the conference members, filmed those and had to upload them to the Norwich Sound and Vision YouTube site on the day.”

Other commissions have included producing safeguarding videos for the college and an ongoing brief from Norfolk County Council. With the brief running throughout the year, the students are coming up with an advertising campaign aimed at the county’s young people.

Ria Stiles, 18, added: “At the moment we’re working with Norwich Fashion Week. For that we’re designing all the promotional materials, tickets, posters and programmes. We’re also filming the designer show on March 12. There’s going to be a live feed of that. We’ve already pitched to the head of Fashion Week for the designer show. We put together a whole concept for her and she liked it.”

The college hopes more and more students will begin working towards their qualifications through learning companies. Already those studying fitness and drama are looking at how they could incorporate running the campus’ gym and theatre into their courses.

Principal Ms Peasgood said: “Learning companies are quite new. City College Norwich is a Gazelle college and, for us, they are one of the key drivers for our entrepreneurial agenda. They are one of the key vehicles that will help our students be different.”

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