My name is Bradley James Towe and I’m on the Protective Services Level 3.1 programme at City of Oxford College. I started on the level 1 in 2016 and I’ve been on this course since then. I hope to move onto Level 3.2 after the summer holidays, then study Level 4 at university.
After university, I’m split between two decisions at the moment: I’d like to go into security work, but I’m also considering the Marines. I’ll see how I feel after finishing uni and make a decision then. Also, if I have a degree, I can look into joining the police force as, as of 2020, you’ll need a degree to join the police.
Before I left secondary school, I was thinking about staying in sixth form, but I thought I would have a look around anyway at different sixth forms and colleges. I saw that there was an Open Event at Activate Learning, City of Oxford College and went along to look at Gaming, Art and Music programmes. I was interested in Public Services, but I wasn’t too sure about it, but after I spoke with one of the tutors at the Open Event about the course and the college, I decided I wanted to join and had my application interview there and then. I soon heard that I’d got a place on the course.
I decided to come here as, compared to my old school, the tutors here are more polite and more open and honest. They care more about their students and seem to be more enthusiastic about what they’re teaching. That drew me in. The atmosphere of the college did too: you’re treated more like an adult here, whereas at sixth form I thought I’d still be treated like a child.
On my programme, we have a kind of icebreaker trip with the college. We go to Hill End in Oxfordshire and do what we refer to as a “boot camp”. It’s a way for students to see if they like the course and the physical aspect of it, as our courses are quite physical. The Level 3.2 students run the trip; they plan it and all the activities. We arrive at college in the morning and then we walk to Hill End and the 3.2 students have to lead us there. There are activities throughout the day, such as icebreakers and problem-solving challenges. We did something called Nightline: we are all blindfolded and hold onto a rope. The person at the front then had to lead us through a course and relay important information about what’s coming up for the people behind them, such as a tunnel, tree or a dip in the ground. Also, this year, representatives from the police force and NCS came in to speak to us. It’s a really good way of getting everyone bonding and getting involved in the course.
I really enjoy the practical work that we do. Sometimes in lessons, we have to do a practical, problem-solving task; something where we are not just sat at a desk. This week, our tutor made a minefield in the class and we had to navigate our way through it while answering questions about the protective services and the royal family. It was a fun way to involve everyone in the class. Our tutors try to make the programme less about written work and more practical work to keep it fun and engaging.
I would strongly recommend this course and college to other people. It’s such a welcoming environment and there’s a wide range of activities for you to take part it. The college helps you build the confidence to motivate yourself and work hard. It’s also focused towards finding work after college. If you’re not good at sitting down at a desk and learning through looking at presentations etc and you prefer hands-on work, then this is the place for you. Me personally, I like to learn by doing; I remember things better if I physically do it rather than sitting down and watching a teacher tell me about it.
There’s also a lot of support here as well: we have the counsellor, the college nurse, and the tutors are always here to help as well.