Norwich City College - not just about lessons

College life is not all about lessons. As our special series on City College Norwich draws to a close, SARAH BREALEY looks at some of the extra-curricular activities, plus the award-winning facilities for students with autism.

College life is not all about lessons. As our special series on City College Norwich draws to a close, SARAH BREALEY looks at some of the extra-curricular activities, plus the award-winning facilities for students with autism.

A homework club is the latest addition to a range of activities on offer to City College Norwich students.

The college runs a free 'enrichment' programme to give students support and advice, develop skills which will help them get jobs, and enjoy themselves.

There are free sports sessions from archery to yoga, as well as the college gym. But the newest element is a homework club where students help others with coursework, job applications or university entrance. It runs four days a week in the college's Information Store. The student mentors are mostly on more advanced courses such as higher education or access to higher education. For many it is a way of getting experience for later careers in teaching or management. The mentors all receive training in leadership, team building, child protection and communications.

Those who go to the club often want support with how to write a formal essay or might be international students who want help with their English.

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Tom Egleton, 22, who is also chairman of the Students' Union Student Council, has been a homework club mentor since last month. He is studying an access course in humanities and social sciences and hopes to go on to PE degree at the University of East Anglia, with a view to being a sports teacher.

He said: 'I am quite a confident person, so they asked me to help with presentation skills. We help students of all ages with presentation skills, advice for job interviews and university interviews. We also help them with coursework and we work with Connexions so they have advice about what routes to take.'

Tom, who lives in Bungay, added: 'I like the college and what it has done for me. The enrichment has helped me to find a path which is to be a teacher, and I feel it is time for me to give something back.

'It is all good for my teaching. It is fantastic.'

There are also several mentoring schemes run by the college, from current students acting as student guides on Open Days, to students supporting year 10 pupils in schools across the county, as part of the Aim Higher scheme.

The International Student Society meets once a week and brings together students of different nationalities. It is led by Vicky Karabilo, 19, an A-level student who lives in Norwich but is originally from Kenya. She said: 'We do quizzes and games, talk about our cultures, watch films.

'In March we are organising an international food fair with food of different nationalities and also different cultures of dance such as capoeira.'

Sporty students can try everything from yoga to rock climbing, mountain biking and canoeing, or use the college gym (which is also open to the public). The sports hall is open to all students from 3pm to 5pm every weekday. Students on NVQs in Sport Recreation and Allied Occupations organise and run sessions in different of sports.

Meanwhile the events and communications society organises events such as club nights, paintballing, half-term trips such as to Alton Towers, and a winter ball.

There are also some more unusual societies, including a Dr Who society and a Scrabble society.

Are you a college student who has an amazing tale? Contact Sarah Brealey on 01603 772485 or email

City College Norwich has the regional centre for learners with autistic spectrum (AS) disorder.

The Rug (Really Useful Group) room was opened in 2007 after being converted from a former staff room, and was designed with input from young people. It can be used as a refuge or as a place to work. The college's success in supporting people with AS is shown by the fact that three years ago it had 18 such students, and now has more than 130.

Danusia Latosinski, foundation studies programme manager, said: 'The Rug room is a space in which people with AS feel comfortable.

'People with AS can become overwhelmed by crowds and clutter so the Rug room is a space they can use if they need a respite.

'We have a lot of ICT equipment, because often people with autistic spectrum disorder have an aptitude for IT. We have pods so learners can escape into their own space but at the same time we have kept an open feel to the space to encourage social interaction and communication.'

The college runs a course called Phoenix Purple which is based around the needs of people with AS, providing individually tailored learning. Students can do it as a standalone course or combine it with mainstream college courses.

The centre also provides activities such as restaurant visits to help learners acquire social skills. It helps people prepare for independent living as well as move on to higher qualifications.

The Rug room has won several national awards, most recently a Star award for Response to Learners' Needs from the Learning and Skills Improvement Service.