Llandrillo College

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Llandrillo College

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Review of "Llandrillo College"

published 24/09/2002 | Sarah_Louise
Member since : 26/07/2001
Reviews : 188
Members who trust : 106
About me :
Excellent
Pro Good teaching (well Science, maths, geography and environmental science is!), great views, great student facilities
Cons They spend their money on IT, art and business students - GRRR!
very helpful

"It aint half bad 'ere"

Yes, I’m back at college again! I first started at Coleg Llandrillo in September 2001 after doing my GCSEs. For the past two years I’ve been studying A-level physics, chemistry and biology along with the Veterinary Nursing course in my AS-level year and a GCSE Astronomy in my A2 year (last year).

I attend the main part of the college, which is in Rhos-on-Sea, North Wales. There is the college network though which means that you can also study at the other (smaller) colleges in the Llandrillo netweork in:
Rhyl Community College,
Denbigh Community College,
Abergele Community College,
Canolfan Elwy Centre
or the CyberSkills Centre.
There are numbers of other centres dotted up and down North Wales, they can be found in local schools and libraries.

The College is the largest in Wales attracting more than 20,000 applicants this year. The college also tends to win plenty of awards. In a recent inspection the college came top in nearly all its departments.

In a recent survey (sorry, make that surveyS!) the following results were obtained:

96% stated that they were highly satisfied with their college experience.
96% would recommend their programme to others.
96% would encourage others to attend the College.
99% of students surveyed were enjoying their programme.
98% were satisfied with the quality of teaching.


Don’t just take my word for it though; the college achieved a 99% A-level pass rate this year, which beats all of the local schools (including the prestigious Eirias High and Rydal Penrhos (the latter being a public school).


So from personal experience….

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TEACHING QUALITY
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I filled in the YES box on the recent surveys to recommend the teaching quality at the college. Obviously I can only comment for my own teachers though.

The quality of the teaching I’ve received though is very high. The teachers that I’ve had over the past 2 years and in this first week of the new term have all been helpful and not too pushy (unlike school teachers). College really does make a nice transition between school and University. The teachers tend to push you a little to read the text books, do your homework, research your subject, etc. but unlike school teachers, they don’t nag you for it. If you don’t put the work in you get chucked out of the class, it’s as simple as that.

The teachers are all well qualified to teach their subject(s). For chemistry I had one main teacher but we were taught on occasion by someone with a PhD in Chemistry. The biology teacher used to be some form of high-up nurse, not sure what his exact qualifications are though. The physics was split between the normal teacher and a maths teacher. Having more than one teacher is useful because you tend to get a bit of overlap of teaching methods, it definitely helps you understand things.
This year I get two maths teachers. One teaching us one module on a Tuesday and the other teaching us another module on Fridays.


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WHAT’S LLANDRILLO LIFE LIKE?
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In your very first week at college you get assigned a personal tutor. You generally have to attend most of the tutorials (some are more lenient than others, mine tends to just let me turn up as and when I want to ask/know something). This year is slightly different than the previous two years though. They now hold two tutorial hours. One on Tuesdays and one on Thursdays. Last year I just had one hour per week. I’ve had quite a range of personal tutors so I can vouch for the fact that they are helpful and friendly. I’ve now had 3 different tutors (one teacher left to work in the Rhyl college and the other changed her lesson plan so couldn’t fit our tutorial group in any more).

It’s not all work, work, work though. There are plenty of activities to keep you busy whilst not in lessons:

· A fully equipped Sports Centre, Fitness Suite, sports clubs and competitions.
· Student Lounge - relax with some food and listen to live music, you can play pool if you wish too.
· Arts and Media Centre - an up-to-the-minute training resource, but also the venue for concerts, performances and shows. It’s also funny to watch people in the music technology department practising (especially when they’re singing and then editing it to make their voices sound weird!)
· Hairdressing and Beauty Studios with a range of professional treatments on offer.
· Orme View Restaurant, Self Service Restaurant, Destinations Bistro (the catering students learn to do the cooking and silver service serving here so it is rather posh!) or the refectory (much more popular with us poor students!).
· Travel Office


More on the study side of things:
· IT workshop contains plenty of PC’s, all with access to a printer, scanner and the Internet.
· Library with over 50,000 books to choose from. Unlike the local library in Colwyn Bay, this library is well organised into subjects!
There is also a huge selection of journals, which you can use in the library. These really do cover everything from nursing to motor vehicle repairs. Of course they cater for people like myself with the likes of New Scientist, Biologist, Physics and Nature.
· There’s a learning supports centre to get extra help with maths, English and study skills. It’s all free. I’m not sure what this service is like; I’ve never used it.

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WHAT’S ON OFFER?
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There is a huge range of courses on offer at Llandrillo. In fact you can choose from over 3000 courses!
You can choose from E-commerce to Engineering, A-Levels to Aromatherapy. Choose from entry-level courses (where you don't need any qualifications) to Degrees and Post Graduate courses. You can study part time, full time or at work. Or you can study some courses online.

I’ll stick to the more popular qualifications in this though, if you want more information you can check out their website.


~ AS/A-levels ~

There’s about 30 subjects offered, all the ‘normal’ subjects that you’d be able to do at school, e.g. maths, geography, biology, chemistry, physics, English, I.T., R.E., P.E., etc.
There are also more unusual subjects that only a few schools offer, e.g. accounting, electronics, government & politics, law, media studies, performance studies, psychology, sociology, photography and critical thinking, to name just a few!


~ International Baccalaureate ~

What’s that? That’s actually a course which runs along side A-levels in some classes. You choose to do 6 subjects in your first year (sort of equivalent to AS levels) and then you take three on to the second year (again, sort of equivalent to A-level).
This is ideal if you wish to study at University abroad. It also attracts many students from abroad. My chemistry class last year had 3 students from Sweden and one from Greece.


~ Vocational qualifications ~

You can choose from NVQ’s, AVCE’s, BTEC, etc. There really are a huge variety of vocational subjects on offer ranging from motor vehicle repair to reflexology.


~ GCSEs ~

You can choose from all those offered at schools with a wide variety not offered at schools. Some are done over two years while others are done over one year. A prime example being that of the astronomy that I did last year. I did that in a year attending one night class a week.


~ Higher education ~

You can study HNC/HND’s, foundation degree’s, degree’s and postgraduate degree’s. I must just add now though that ALL of the foundation degrees, degrees and postgraduate degree’s are in the business and management areas. The only courses in the HE department at college are a HND in Engineering and a HNC in Environmental Services.


If you decide to do AS levels or go down the more vocational route but still in academic subjects you now also have to do Key Skills. You do them in Communications, Numeracy, IT and ‘Improving own learning and performance’ (you do the latter in the tutorial hour most weeks).
Within Key Skills you have level 1, 2 and 3. There is also a level 4 but most people just go up to level 3. In fact I don’t know of anyone ever doing a level 4.

Level 1 = below GCSE,
2 = GCSE
3 = AS
4 = A2/first few weeks of degree level.

You are put into the appropriate groups that cater for your standard in each subject. If you failed or didn’t sit a GCSE in say maths or IT then you will go to the level 1 or 2 (depending on your ability), then you can, if you wish, progress to level 3 in your second year. If you already have a GCSE pass in the subject and are confident in the subject then you can go straight to level 3.
A level 3 pass in key skills gets you an extra 20 UCAS points (level 2 gets you 10 UCAS points). You get assigned lessons of 1 hour durations. Sometimes though, if you are lucky, you can get your key skills lessons as part of your other lessons (for example, I did Communications as part of my physics course). I’m glad I have it as part of physics - as people that aren’t so lucky have to do a 5-10 minute presentation about "their hobbies" etc. Whereas when we have to do discussions and a presentation at least we HAVE to talk about Physics!

If I was to say that there was one fault with the college over schools and that is that they generally make you do 4 AS levels (or more if you wish). I was originally doing AS IT along with the Science's - purely because I had to make my hours up. However I decided to drop it and take Vet nursing instead (not an AS but there we go!). Whereas my friends who stayed in school were not pushed into doing 4 AS levels if they did not wish. They were allowed to do just 3 AS levels if they wanted to. To be classed as a full time student though at college you need to have a certain number of hours in your timetable. If you are part time you no longer get a bus pass (not applicable to me), you don’t get a students ID card so you can’t take books out of the library and many don’t get a username and password with which to use the IT facilities.


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OTHER ADVANTAGES
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· Great views! This may seem like an odd thing to put but Llandrillo must have nicer views than most colleges. To the North across a golf course there is the sea and the Great Orme, and then to the south there is fields followed by some mountains. What more could you want?

· One other advantage about the place has to be small class sizes. Again, I can only speak for my subjects here. When speaking to people who stayed on in school (one of which did the three sciences), the class sizes range from 14 in chemistry to 10 in physics (in the A2 year). Class sizes at college for the A2 year were as follows:
7 in biology,
5 in chemistry
and 3 in physics.
So as you can see, it’s more like having your own private tutor except this way you don’t have to pay for the privilege!

Other classes are however of average proportions (e.g. English, IT, art and humanities).
The AS classes tend to start of with decent amounts of students, usually ranging from 10-20. This year there are 18 in maths (I hasten to add that I’m the only girl!), 17 in geography and 8 in environmental science. No doubt the A2 classes will be considerably lower. This years A2 physics class has just 2 people in it. It’s not the teacher though; I never had a problem with her!

· The college’s location makes fieldtrips really accessible. Geography is an ideal subject. You can go in one of the college minibuses to the Snowdonia national park in about an hours' drive and be surrounded by evidence of glacierisation. You can collect countless rock samples from up in and around Snowdon.
You can nip down to the coast, which is about a 10 minute walk away, and then you can study the coastal region, either in a geographical sense or you can go and do a biology experiment down there.

· You get free graph paper in the maths department!


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DISADVANTAGES
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· There really is only one problem I have with college. They spend most of their money in other departments. For example, a new building for the art and music students, brand new computers, keyboards, and optical mice in the IT department, new facilities for sports students and beauty students. Yet us poor students who pick ‘normal’ subjects who aren’t as popular as the humanities, I.T. and the more vocational courses have to make do with rubbish Windows 95 PC’s in the labs!
They’ve also spent about £15 million on a new ‘heart space’. What’s one of those? You may be thinking. Well it’s actually a new entrance to the college. Yes, that’s right. £15 million on an entrance! Wouldn’t just a nice patio door from Homebase do?!
The area at the front of college is undergoing this makeover at the moment and is due to be completed September 2003 so obviously they’re not just fitting a new door! In the local paper its shown computer images of what it’s going to look like. They’re going to be chopping the tree’s down outside the refectory and putting tarmac over the grass. Personally I think it looks nicer as it was. Besides, now we’ve all got to put up with the noise levels being considerably higher than desirable!

· The HE courses only cater for the most popular courses, namely business studies, I.T. and management. This is a real shame because I’m sure if they offered a wider range of HE courses they’d get the applicants.

· Just something trivial. About the surveys I mentioned earlier. We get them every year (or at least I’ve had them for the past 2 years). The problem is, all the questions are the same but you get a survey in every lesson you go to. Of course part of the questionnaire is linked to the subject you are in (e.g. quality of teaching in that course, feedback about homework/coursework, etc), but 90% of the questions could be just answered once, e.g. “would you recommend the college?”. You really don’t need to fill it all in time and time again!

· None of my teachers let us know when they are off. Obviously they do if they know in advance but they will obviously phone college on occasions when they’re ill, surely college could let the students know? It’s not too bad for me because I walk to college but for those who live 20 miles away and catch a college bus, if they only have that lesson that day their trip is a complete waste of time. Last year they tended to just leave a note on the door. This doesn’t help much until you get there!

· You have to pay 2p per sheet of graph paper in physics! What a con! I must admit though, if you go to WHSmiths and work out the cost of per sheet it comes to about 3.5p! But if maths can give it out free then why not physics?!


The advantages definitely outweigh the disadvantages though. I’d recommend it and all of my subjects 100%. Keep your eye’s peeled for A-level guides to my new AS levels… coming soon!

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Comments on this review

  • Moogiekupo published 13/02/2006
    A great review. I was there between 1996-1999 ( abit older than you then) and did A-level in Media Studies, Performing Arts, Art & Design and Sociology. I absolutely loved the lecturers and the courses but felt Rhos-on-sea is so in the middle on nowhere. Anyway, I think I was educated well by them as I am now a Head of Dance and Drama teacher in Portsmouth - Kupo x
  • MissSurfer published 21/05/2004
    Sounds like a good place, 'critical thinking'? I see what you mean about a wide range of courses! MissSurfer
  • sue.51 published 09/04/2004
    Comprehensive op - it may be the largest college in North Wales but I think you will find Coleg Gwent is the largest college in Wales. Sue
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Product Information : Llandrillo College

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Listed on Ciao since: 24/09/2002