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New training aids for Hair and Beauty students at Northern Regional College


Male student practising shaving on training flat head

Northern Regional College has introduced new training aids to enable Hair, Beauty and Barbering students to complete the practical training elements required for their qualifications despite the current social distancing restrictions. Hair, Barbering and Beauty are considered close contact services. Students would normally complete the practical elements of their course by practising on their peers and clients however, as Hairdressing lecturer Vikki Smyth explained, this is currently no longer an option.

“Practical experience is an integral part of all Hair, Barbering and Beauty courses offered by the College but because of the social distancing restrictions imposed as a result of the pandemic, we had to look at alternative ways for our students to complete this element of their courses,” she said. 

Vikki, who is based at the College’s Magherafelt campus, continued: “Instead of looking at the difficulties caused by the pandemic, we decided that the restrictions presented an opportunity for us to be creative and think outside the box, so we sourced additional training aids to give our students the best possible practical experience in the current challenging circumstances.”

The new training aids include additional salon mannequin heads, flat heads, bearded heads and multi-use training hands and feet.

Hairdressing students can use the salon mannequin heads to try out colour, cutting and styling techniques while barbering students can used the bearded gents’ training heads to try their hand at cutting, beard shaping and colouring services. They also been able to use the flat training heads to practice massage and cut-throat shaving services.

Beauty students have been able to use training heads for facials, electrical facials, make-up and eye treatments and they can improve their manicure and pedicure techniques on the multi-wear training hands and feet. The specially designed movable training hands are been suitable for application of nail extensions, while the training feet have been a success for Complementary Therapy students studying reflexology.

Vikki said that both staff and students have adapted well to the new way of practical training and have given the ‘thumbs up’ to the new training aids.

“The initial lockdown earlier this year resulted in the closure of hair and beauty salons across the UK and the most recent ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown in Northern Ireland forced them to close again, making it almost impossible for our Hair and Beauty students to get ‘salon’ experience outside of College.

“These training aids have been a great investment and the feedback has been extremely positive. It has encouraged the students’ motivation and confidence in these uncertain times. If and when things get back to normal, they will still be very useful in the classroom.

“Even with all the difficulties caused by the pandemic, we’ve managed to keep the disruption to students’ practical learning routine to an absolute minimum and they’ve still been able to have ‘face to face’ contact, which is an extremely important aspect of our vocational area. We must adapt if we want to progress” added Vikki. 

The College offers a variety of hair and beauty courses at its campuses in Magherafelt, Ballymena, Ballymoney and Newtownabbey. These include NVQ Level 2 and Level 3 qualifications in Hairdressing, Barbering, Beauty Therapy, Nail Technology and Complementary Therapies as well as Apprenticeships in Hairdressing and Barbering.