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Students at Northampton College have recorded a ‘virtual cover version’ of a classic feelgood song to highlight their hopes for the future as they look to emerge from lockdown life.

Musical Theatre and Dance students compiled their version of the Judy Garland song ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ from their own homes during the COVID-19 restrictions, each sending in videos of them singing and performing. The recordings were then stitched together and laid over an instrumental track to form a full music video.

The ballad was originally written for the Wizard of Oz film in 1939 but has become synonymous with being a beacon of hope in difficult times. It was most recently covered by Ariana Grande in the wake of the Manchester Arena bombings in 2017.

The track was the brainchild of musical theatre tutor Suzanne Lewis and arranged by music tutor Natalie Evans, who said: “It’s been a very tough few months for everyone and we wanted to put something together which reflected the uncertainty and difficulty we have all experienced, but also something which hinted at the prospect of better days to come.

“The song we chose, ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’, seems to encapsulate that perfectly and the students really brought into it. I uploaded the harmony onto Google Classroom and they all filmed themselves performing their parts and submitted them for the team to knit together.

“We’re thrilled with the end result. It’s been a real team effort and the students now have something they can treasure forever which will serve as a reminder of what all of us have been through throughout the lockdown restrictions.”

The choreography was put together by dance tutors Jess Smith and Tracey Stanton and included some elements of students’ own work from the previous year.

Pat Brennan-Barrett, Principal of Northampton College, said: “The restrictions put in place to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic have affected all of us, but the response from our staff and students has been nothing short of incredible.

“From sending food parcels to vulnerable neighbours to 3D printing shields, masks and face coverings for frontline healthcare staff, the college community has stood up and met this crisis head on. We have a lot to be proud of and this wonderful recording perfectly captures the mood of the whole college.

“Yes it’s been tough, yes we’ve made sacrifices but we are now starting to look ahead. There is a glimmer of light at the end of what has been a very long tunnel, and we are all looking forward to the future once again."

virtual open events stock girl

Prospective students searching for a new start once the COVID-19 lockdown is over can experience what it’s like to study at Northampton College from the comfort of their own home, thanks to a virtual open event.

Next month’s online sessions have been arranged to replace the College’s usual open event, which has been cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

It is the first time the College has ever staged a digital version of the event, and all those logging on will have the chance to view facilities through subject-specific video tours, watch presentations and hear from a panel of speakers, get careers advice and learn more about courses by asking questions during a Q&A session.

Students will also have the chance to find out more about bursaries, travel and learning support, talk to experts using an online chat facility and apply immediately online, with the College’s Enrolment team on hand to fast-track applications.

Pat Brennan-Barrett, Principal of Northampton College, said: “We understand it is a very worrying time for people looking to study at college but, despite the current uncertainty, we will always be available to answer any questions you have and help you prepare for your future.

“All of us are having to adapt to the situation we find ourselves in and Northampton College is always looking to innovate. By switching our ‘traditional’ open event to a digital version we will still be able to showcase the incredible facilities we have here at Booth Lane and demonstrate why we are one of the top 10 colleges in the whole country.

“Modern technology gives us the opportunity to discover new ways of doing things and this session will ensure that nobody needs to miss out on the chance to see the possibilities on offer to them here at Northampton College.”

The virtual open event will be held across three days, from 1.30pm to 4pm on Wednesday, 3 June and Thursday, 4 June and from 10am to 2.30pm on Friday, 5 June. Prospective students can apply to attend by registering at

sod cutting for website

The building of a state-of-the-art Digital Academy at Northampton College is now underway, with the first spades going in the ground during a virtual sod-cutting ceremony carried out via a live video conference call.

With current social distancing guidelines rendering it impossible for all partners in the project to be at Booth Lane for the ceremony, it was decided to embrace the digital technology the building will offer by staging it over the internet using Microsoft Teams.

The £6.3million project has received 50 per cent funding from the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership’s share of the Local Growth Fund. It will see a 1,300 square metre extension built onto the existing main college building at the Booth Lane campus and aims to attract more than 5,000 additional learners by 2030.

Students will have access to a state-of-the-art learning environment that includes an Esports arena, a TV studio, digital workshops, a Mac suite and a digital design studio plus a whole range of specialist facilities and equipment.

Pat Brennan-Barrett, principal at Northampton College, said: “We live in a world where new technologies play a vital role across the economy and society, from the basic digital skills people need to maximise life’s opportunities and the general digital skills now needed in almost every job, to the specialist knowledge for particular technical roles.

“Technology is rapidly transforming the nature of work and increasing the demand for new types of digital skills. These digital skills are likely to be even more important to the economy as we emerge from the current COVID-19 crisis.

“The Digital Academy will offer a range of courses and apprenticeships, allowing individuals to explore digital career opportunities and progress through a pathway of qualifications leading to higher education, apprenticeships and real-life job opportunities. We will be working closely with employers to address the skills gap in the region and ensure that our offer suits their requirements.

“Our Digital Academy courses will help to fast track students into digital careers and improve their professional IT skills. We offer pathways that lead to ‘in demand’ digital jobs in software development, cyber security and digital marketing.”

Northampton College will engage with the South Central Institute of Technology at Bletchley Park in Milton Keynes and employer partners to develop a bespoke new digital curriculum for students using the facility, which will be built by construction company SDC.

Judith Barker, Director of Programmes and Governance at SEMLEP, said: “We are delighted that the Local Growth Fund is able to support Northampton College’s new Digital Academy. This facility will offer a world-class centre for digital technology and provide students with improved digital skills vital to future employer needs in the South East Midlands. These digital skills are likely to be increasingly important to the economy as we emerge from the current crisis.”

The Digital Academy will welcome its first students from September 2021 onwards.

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Erihs Janovskis

Erihs Janovskis

When Erihs Janovskis arrived in Northampton from Latvia nine years ago, barely able to speak the language, he wasn’t sure what the future held.With no real idea of a possible...



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