“Practical experience is an integral part of all Beauty, Hair and Barbering 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 the practical training elements of their courses,” she said.
Claire, who is based at the College’s Ballymena campus, continued: “Instead of concentrating on the difficulties posed by the pandemic, we decided that the restrictions offered an opportunity 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 multi-use training hands and feet, additional salon mannequin heads, flat heads and bearded heads.
Beauty students have been able to use training heads for facials, electrical facials, make-up and eye treatments, whilst their can improve their manicure and pedicure techniques on the multi-wear training hands and feet. The specially designed movable training hands are suitable for the application of nail extensions and the training feet have been a success for Complementary Therapy students studying reflexology.
Hairdressing students can use the salon mannequin heads to try out colour, cutting and styling techniques while barbering students can use the bearded gents’ training heads to try their hand at cutting, beard shaping and colouring services. They have also been able to use the flat training heads to practice massage, and cut-throat shaving services.
Claire said that both the staff and the 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 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,” Claire added.
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.