• Applying To College: What Courses Do I Choose?

    Choosing the right Level 3 courses for you…

    It can be a difficult task! We’re here to help you choose the right college courses for you throughout the application and enrolment process.

    You need to pick THREE subjects to study at Bilborough, at least one of these has to be an A Level (we have some great BTECs too!). Some uni courses will ask for two or more of your choices to be A Levels so make sure you take a look at the entry requirements if you have a particular course in mind!

    Students studying around the table.
    It can be really hard to decide which courses are right for you when you’re applying to college! Here are 3 tips on helping to pick your courses….

    1. Come to an Open Day!

    This may be obvious but there is really no better way to find out about each course than by seeing the classrooms where it’s taught and chatting to the teachers who teach it. You can ask anything at our Open Days and many people come away with a much clearer idea of what they want to study.


    Open Days at Bilborough College

    2. Think about your future!

    If you’re not sure about the next step, think about the end goal. If you’re thinking about uni, make sure you look at some uni courses you might be interested in on the UCAS website and see what the entry requirements are. This can help make sure you’re on the right path to where you want to be! Some university courses will accept a  maximum of one BTEC, others might accept 3 A Levels only or have specific courses that must have been studied (e.g. Medicine courses usually require Chemistry A Level and other specific requirements).

    An A Level business class at college

    3. What do you enjoy?

    Think about what subjects you are naturally motivated and do well at! A Levels require hard work both in and out of the classroom so make sure you’re doing subjects that you want to spend a lot of time studying! You will always do your best when you’re enjoying yourself, that’s not to say it won’t be challenging but give yourself the best chances by choosing your best subjects.


    If you need anymore guidance on how to choose your college courses, you will have the opportunity to discuss them at enrolment with a member of staff. If you are given a provisional offer, you will also be invited to our Taster Days in the summer, when you will be able to try out all of the subjects you have applied for to see if they are right for you.


    For more information about applying to college, please email admissions@bilborough.ac.uk.

  • Strep A and Scarlet Fever

    We are aware of reports of an increase in the number of cases of Strep A and Scarlet Fever across the country in recent weeks. Below is some useful information from the Department for Education.

    Scarlet Fever and Group Strep A Infections
    The Secretary of State for Education, Gillian Keegan, is closely monitoring the increased cases of Group A streptococcus (Strep A) and scarlet fever. As a Department, we are working closely with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), who are leading on the response.
    UKHSA is reporting an increased number of cases of Group A streptococcus (Strep A) compared to normal at this time of year. There is no evidence that a new strain is circulating, and the increase is most likely related to high amounts of circulating bacteria and social mixing.

    What are scarlet fever and Strep A?
    Scarlet fever is caused by bacteria called Group A streptococci (Strep A). The bacteria usually cause a mild infection that can be easily treated with antibiotics.
    In very rare occasions, the bacteria can get into the bloodstream and cause an illness called invasive Group A strep (iGAS).

    What are the symptoms of Strep A/scarlet fever?
    Strep A infections can cause a range of symptoms that parents should be aware of, including:
    Sore throat
    A fine, pinkish or red body rash with a sandpapery feel
    On darker skin the rash can be more difficult to detect visually but will have a sandpapery feel

    If a child becomes unwell with these symptoms, please advise parents to contact their GP practice or contact NHS 111 (which operates a 24/7 service) to seek advice.
    If a child has scarlet fever, advise they stay at home until at least 24 hours after the start of antibiotic treatment to avoid spreading the infection to others.
    Encourage parents to trust their own judgement and if their child seems seriously unwell call 999 or go to A&E if:
    a child is having difficulty breathing – you may notice grunting noises or their tummy sucking under their ribs
    there are pauses when a child breathes
    a child’s skin, tongue or lips are blue
    a child is floppy and will not wake up or stay awake.

    Managing confirmed cases
    Early years settings and schools should contact their UKHSA health protection team if there is an outbreak of 2 or more scarlet fever cases within 10 days of each other and the affected individuals have a link, such as being in the same class or year group.
    Further information for staff on how and when to do this can be found here: Managing outbreaks and incidents – GOV.​UK (www.gov.uk)
    If there are confirmed or suspected cases in an education or childcare setting, there is no reason for children to be kept at home if they are well.

    How to help prevent Strep A?
    To prevent the spread of Strep A, UKHSA advises children, young people and staff to implement good hand and respiratory hygiene practices.

    For more information please visit the UKHSA website

  • Alumni Spotlight: Languages, Geography and Taking Opportunities

    Where can languages take me? Ex-Bilborough student, Matt, used his Geography and Language A levels to kickstart a career in the charity sector as well as travelling around the world. We caught up with him recently to find out how he got there!


    1. Can you tell us your name and current job role?

    Matt Cooke, Supporter Engagement & Income Generation Officer at Framework Charity.


    2. What does an average day look like in your job?

    It’s a job where no two days are truly the same. I work as part of a small and amazing team and our primary goals are to increase the profile of the charity in the areas within which we work, raise awareness of homelessness and raise funds so that we can continue to provide the vital and lifechanging services that Framework offers.

    I primarily look after our relationships in the community and so spend much of my time working with schools, youth groups, colleges, universities, faith groups and other community groups to facilitate opportunities for them to support our work.

    I also help organise events and work with individual supporters to make sure they are happy and feel included in what we are doing, especially those who choose to make a major donation to Framework or to leave us a gift in their Will.


    Matt gives a talk in Nicaragua.


    3.What subjects did you study at Bilborough?

    I studied Spanish, German and Geography at Bilborough from 2011-2013.


    4. When you started at Bilborough, were you planning to go down this route?


    Having studied languages at Bilborough and continued these at University, I always intended to pursue a career in which I could use my language skills on a daily basis. I did do this for a few years whilst at University and after graduating, spending time living abroad in Germany and in Central America and working for large multinational corporations where I was able to put my language skills to good use. This was really fun and a great experience, but for personal reasons I wanted to try something a bit different and ended up making a move into the charity sector.

    Whilst I am not using my language skills directly in my current job, studying languages taught me so much more than just the language and has allowed me to develop some really important skills and build my self-confidence. It is only because I studied languages that I have been able to have all the experiences I have had to-date and am able to do such a good job in my current role.

    Matt receiving an award from Bilborough.

    5. After Leaving Bilborough, what was your next step?

    After leaving Bilborough I went on to study Translation Studies with German and Spanish at University and spent time working and volunteering in Germany and Nicaragua. These were some of the best experiences of my life so far, but it was studying at Bilborough that gave me the confidence and belief to go out there and grasp these opportunities.


    6. What advice would you give your college-age self?

    Take every opportunity that comes your way and keep an open mind. There are so many paths you can follow when you leave Bilborough – not just in terms of the working world but in terms of life as a whole – and if you work hard and dream big at Bilborough, you could find yourself walking down any of them. You’re incredibly lucky to be studying in such an amazing environment, so enjoy it and have no regrets.

    I would also say that, when it comes to the world of work, find a job that makes you happy and don’t be afraid to experiment and try different things. There is nothing worse than not wanting to get out of bed every morning to go to work. Find something you are passionate about because, when your job becomes a passion, you’ve won.



    Matt graduates from Aston University with a degree in translation studies with
    German and Spanish.


    7. Is there a highlight of your time at Bilborough that helped put you on the path you are on?

    I don’t think I have a particular highlight or moment that I look back on. I just loved my two years at Bilborough and would say that, by taking every opportunity available to me, I was able to get the very best out of my time at college.


    8. What’s next for you?

    Who knows – I am loving working in the charity sector and for now am looking to make a career out of it. But life takes you to unexpected places and I know there will be other opportunities and different paths that become available. I plan to keep an open mind and enjoy the ride!


    With thanks to Matt Cooke for sharing his career story with us!

    If you are an ex-student of Bilborough and you would like to share your story, please email admissions@bilborough.ac.uk.

  • Alumni Spotlight

    5 Years on since leaving Bilborough, we caught up with Sara to chat about what she’s up to and find out how Bilborough, particularly Music Technology, played a role in her journey to studying her PhD in Artifical Intelligence and Music.

    Could you start by telling us your name and what you do?


     Hey! I am Sara Cardinale, I am a PhD Researcher in Artificial Intelligence and Music at Queen Mary, University of London. Specifically, I am researching and inventing new ways to use AI to generate music for film and videogames.


    What does an average day look like in your job?


    There is no average day! One of the benefits of the job is that I set my own schedule, so I can work on what I like when I like (unless a paper deadline is looming!). This brings its own challenges, I have to efficiently manage my time to keep on track but the freedom I have to explore such an interesting area is worth it.

    My time is usually split into reading papers to make sure that I am aware of other research in my area, sending/replying to emails and other admin tasks, attending seminars and research group meetings, and… doing research! I have my own research projects that will end up becoming my PhD thesis, and side projects. When I spend time working on my research project, it usually starts with reading some interesting papers in my area that inspire me and give me ideas for a new project or an insight on how to improve something that already exists. When I am excited by a new idea, I start thinking about the details such as what is the motivation for this new tool or improvement I am making, and how will it work.

    Not all ideas work! Sometimes I have to find ways to overcome problems, and sometimes it’s back to the drawing board.  Not every step is forward, but that’s the nature of research. Then, after a few weeks (or months), the project starts taking shape. When I’ve finally solved my problem, it’s time to write. I submit research papers to all sorts of venues, journals, conferences, and workshops to share my work with other researchers.

    I love how creative yet scientific this job is. Although it is hard and mentally tiring at times, I love being a researcher and wouldn’t change it for anything!

    Sara Graduates from Bilborough in 2017


    What subjects did you study at Bilborough and when?


    I attended Bilborough college from 2015 to 2017. The subjects I chose were Music Technology, Psychology and Ethics and Philosophy. I had just moved to the U.K. from Italy, where the education system is very different. I had studied music theory and performance for most of my life, so I wanted to try something new that Italy’s education system did not offer.


    When you started Bilborough, were you planning to go down this route?


    Absolutely not! I knew I wanted to go to university and that’s about it. I remember thinking that I wanted to take a break from music and maybe consider a career/degree in something else. After taking music technology at Bilborough, I decided to stay in the music world, but I would have never thought I would end up where I am now!


    After leaving Bilborough what was your next step?


    I studied Creative Music Technology at the University of Surrey, then straight onto the PhD. During my time at university, I was exposed to academic research and realised how much I enjoyed it.


    What advice would you give to your younger (college age) self?

    I would probably tell college Sara to be more confident in herself and her skills.


    Is there a highlight of your college experience that you think helped you to take the path you did?


    Absolutely! I owe a huge thank you to the Music Tech 2015-2017 staff. Before attending Bilborough College, I had never done any music production or composition, and they made me fall in love with the subject. I had the best time attending lessons and working on my projects. If it was not for them, I probably would not have chosen music technology as a subject at university, and maybe would have continued with music performance, or even chosen a completely different field.


    What’s next for you?


    Right now, I am in my second year, out of four, of my PhD. After I graduate, I plan to become a lecturer,  teaching  AI and music techniques and creative computing to undergraduate music students.


    We’d like to say a huge thank you to Sara for sharing her story and taking time from her busy research schedule to talk to us. 


    If you are an ex-student of Bilborough and you would like to share your story, please email admissions@bilborough.ac.uk.

  • Bilborough College outperforms private sector for first class degree performance at university

    Newly released figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) show that former Bilborough College students who graduated from university last summer went on to achieve a higher proportion of first-class degrees than the average for those who had previously attended private schools.


    A total of 43.4% of Bilborough College students from the most recent cohort to graduate from university achieved first class degrees compared to an average of 40.7% for the independent sector and 37% for the state sector.  Of those who went to Russell Group universities, 97.4% achieved either a first or a 2:1, compared to 94.3% for the independent sector and 92.1% for the state sector.


    Of that Bilborough College cohort, 120 students came from areas with the lowest HE participation rates, who also outperformed the national averages both for first class degrees and for firsts and 2:1 degrees combined.  The entire independent sector only sent 570 students from areas with the lowest HE participation rates in total out of over 30,000 students who went to university from this sector.  This demonstrates that Bilborough College is a true engine of social mobility for the region.


    Dave Shaw, Principal at Bilborough College, said: “This is a significant achievement for those Bilborough College students who go on to university.  We are extremely proud of our outstanding examination results, and in many ways these figures represent an even bigger success as they show that we have helped our students to develop the necessary independence, resilience and perseverance to succeed beyond the age of 18.  These are skills that will serve them well in the workplace and in wider aspects of their lives, as well as in exams.  We are proud that Bilborough College, which serves students from Nottingham, Derby and beyond, provides such a positive benefit to the local community.”


    This latest positive news follows on from Bilborough’s recent successful bid to build a new teaching block to cope with the increase in student numbers that the college has seen over the last few years.  A new 10-classroom building housing Maths, Physics, Electronics and Esports is scheduled to open in September 2023.


    For more information contact David Shaw on 0115 8515843

    Notes to editors: Bilborough College is a specialist, publicly funded sixth form college located on the west side of Nottingham in a purpose-built study campus. It has approximately 1900 16-18 year old students on individual programmes of study centred around A Levels and Applied General Qualifications.  The large majority of students go to university, including many to Oxbridge and the Russell Group, where data suggests that are more likely than average to complete and achieve first class and upper second class degrees.  The remainder go into higher level Apprenticeships, employment or further training. The college is part of Better Futures Multi-Academy Trust (BFMAT) which is sponsored by Coventry University and is the only MAT to have Sixth Form Colleges and sixth form education as its focus.



  • Bilborough students impress local leaders and feature on BBC East Midlands Today

    A group of five Bilborough College A-level Geography students played a key role at the recent Young People’s Green Growth Assembly event at East Midlands Conference Centre, organised by the Midlands Engine. The students presented their ideas to a group of local business leaders, politicians, and experts. They found the event exciting, empowering, and challenging, and a great opportunity to make their voices heard. The students were enthused and energised by the event and even featured in a piece for the TV on the BBC East Midlands Today programme.

    Simon Holland, Course Leader for Geography at Bilborough College said, “We are passionate about offering our wonderful students opportunities to go beyond the basic exam specification and prepare them for life. In Geography we have developed a wide range of such projects and links. I also think the experts, politicians and business leaders also got a crucial insight into the views and concern of young people about the future and how this can be made brighter, greener and more sustainable for all.”


    Sir John Peace, Chairman of the Midlands Engine who organised the Assembly said, “Our region is already at the forefront of delivering world-leading low carbon innovation. The Midlands Engine Young People’s Green Growth Assembly has demonstrated the huge appetite, of our Midlands Engine partners and our region’s young people, to go even further and take steps right now to shape a greener, cleaner and better future. The discussions we’ve had here today will be essential to inform how we mobilise and deliver this plan – a vital milestone in our region’s journey to net zero.”

  • Bilborough College to get new state-of-the-art building to meet growing demand.

    We are delighted to announce that Bilborough College has been successful in its bid to the government’s Post-16 capacity fund for a new £3.2 million extension to the current site to provide additional teaching and study space for students. This national fund was established to help manage the additional 260,000 16-19 year olds anticipated to be in education in the coming years. Demand to the Capacity Fund was high, and the £83 million pot was significantly over-subscribed, so it is testimony to the strength of Bilborough’s bid that the college was selected.


    Since Bilborough College moved onto its current campus in 2005, student numbers have continued to increase and in the last 3 years alone, the college has grown by more than 150 students. The college is consistently over-subscribed, with students from around 90 feeder schools, and has had to establish waiting lists over the last few years to manage its numbers. Whether it is the excellent results, the exceptionally wide range of courses on offer, the nationally-recognised extra and super-curricular opportunities, or the mini-university feel of life on campus, it is clear that Bilborough College offers an aspirational opportunity for young people in our region.


    The college’s Principal, David Shaw, was delighted to announce the news. “Securing this new build means that students who wish to access our excellent provision over the coming years will not be turned away due to high demand. It allows us to put in the new classrooms, specialist equipment and additional study spaces which will boost the life-chances of our local students and create more pathways to high-quality university and apprenticeship destinations. Now that the bid has been formally approved, we are moving forward with our plans to get the new build up and running as soon as possible.”


    Skills minister Alex Burghart said: “Every young person should have the opportunity to gain the skills they need to reach their goals and go on to have successful careers. This investment will boost capacity so we can make sure there is a place for every 16 to 19-year-old, giving them access to the high-quality learning facilities they need to succeed.”


    Notes to editors: Bilborough College is a member of Better Futures Multi Academy Trust located on the west side of Nottingham. It has approximately 1900 16-18 year old students studying either A Level programmes, BTEC Level 3 Diplomas or a combination of the two. Approximately 75% of its students go on to university – a large proportion to research-intensive universities such as the Russell Group – and the remainder into higher level Apprenticeships, employment or further training.


  • National recognition for Bilborough College super-curricular programme 

    We were delighted to be recognised in the national media as a leader in super-curricular activities.  “Super-curricular” activities develop and further extend learning in a subject area.  These might be competitions and Olympiads, online courses and MOOCS, work with visiting practitioners, and trips which bring the subject to life. It’s all part of Bilborough’s excellent preparation for university. Find out more about making the most of super-curricular activities here.



  • Congratulations to the Class of 2021!

    Students at Bilborough College are celebrating outstanding results, rewarding the huge effort they have made since the start of the pandemic. Students have had to adjust to learning by live-remote lessons during lockdowns to complete their courses while still demonstrating high levels of learning and understanding. As well as having to cope with the pressures and stresses of a pandemic, there have also been bubbles, self-isolation and Covid-testing to contend with, and the disappointment of cancelled exams – all of which have contributed to two challenging years of education.

    All schools and colleges have used the Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGs) methodology this year to reward students for their holistic performance over a range of pieces of work. Bilborough College students achieved the highest A-level ever pass rate this year of 99.8% and the highest ever proportion of A*-C grades of 82.6%.  We also saw 100% pass rates on all our BTEC courses, rewarding the hard work and assignments completed by all our BTEC students.

    David Shaw, Principal at Bilborough College, congratulated students on their results.

    He said, “Along with the rest of the staff team here at Bilborough, I’m delighted that once again so many of our students have performed so well.  This is one of the most important days of the year for us and when everyone has worked so hard in such challenging circumstances, it is great to see all the effort, dedication and hard work rewarded with excellent results.  No one however should believe stories that UK students achieving grades in 2021 somehow had it easier this year than in other years.  Teacher assessed grades offer us a much more accurate and substantial reflection of what students are capable of achieving rather than the snapshot of exams where sometimes people just have a bad day.  As a consequence, overall results are up but there is no doubt that the grades achieved have been earned and there is solid evidence for them.

    The college now has key staff available every day right through to the start of term for advice and guidance around results, UCAS, and next steps for students.  We wish all the best to our students for their futures at university, on apprenticeships and in the workplace and are confident they are well equipped for a bright future.”




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