Newly-refurbished learning centre opened at Lowestoft College

Re-Launch of Lowestoft college foundation centre. Matthew Farquer, Nick Webb (deputy mayor) and pri

Re-Launch of Lowestoft college foundation centre. Matthew Farquer, Nick Webb (deputy mayor) and principal Jo Pretty. - Credit: Nick Butcher

A newly-refurbished learning centre for young people with mild to complex needs has been opened at a Suffolk college.

Re-Launch of Lowestoft college foundation centre.Centre users Matthew Farquer and Chelsea Wherry.

Re-Launch of Lowestoft college foundation centre.Centre users Matthew Farquer and Chelsea Wherry. - Credit: Nick Butcher

The former foundation studies department at Lowestoft College has undergone a complete 18-month makeover and has been renamed the Foundation Centre after a competition was held.

The students, who are aged between 16 and 24, chose the carpets, paint and even the chairs during the design process, along with the facilities they would like to use within the centre.

And as a result, they are now able to enjoy a new computer suite, sensory room and independent living area.

They are also using the restaurant kitchens to host bake sales and improve their catering skills.

Staff at the college are keen for the students to develop their social and employability skills, with the new centre seen as stepping stone to vocational areas.

The area, which was formerly known as the G-suite – as it is situated on the ground floor – was officially opened by deputy mayor Nick Webb with family members, carers and friends of the students also attending to walk around the facility and enjoy a presentation.

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Some of the students could be heard describing the new facility as 'amazing'.

The next stages of the refurbishment will be to improve the outdoor sensory garden and introduce a new polytunnel linked to the horticultural area.

Rachel Bunn, director of curriculum and quality, said: 'Our overall statement is that the students are being supported to develop their emotional, social and employability skills to aid their progression.

'We wanted to make sure it was for the students, so they picked the colour scheme and design.'

Group tutor Doneva Davidson described how the students 'were really excited to get everything prepared' for the official opening.

She is keen to run a range of activities and trips including arts and crafts, bowling, cinema visits and sessions to improve interviewing skills.

'Before the refurbishment it was quite old and dated but now we have brightened up the whole area,' she added.

Deputy mayor Nick Webb said: 'It's a real privilege for me to be here at this phenomenal facility. For the students themselves to have taken ownership of the space is a real tribute to them.'

The centre adopts the three key values of possibilities, preparation and progression.

Do you have a Lowestoft story? Email joe.randlesome@archant.co.uk