Oasis Academy hair and beauty pupils to continue BTEC course thanks to Sheppey College

Hair and beauty students who’d been told they wouldn’t get a qualification after their course was scrapped will be able to sit their exams after all.

Around 40 pupils at Oasis Academy’s Minster campus, on Sheppey, were left stunned after previously being told to spend more time focusing on their English, maths, and science GCSEs rather than their chosen option.

The Isle of Sheppey Oasis Academy Minster campus
The Isle of Sheppey Oasis Academy Minster campus

The news came after it was announced the school was being taken over by the Leigh Academy in Minster (LAM) in September.

Parents of the year 10 children were furious – especially as the youngsters had already completed the first year of their learning.

LAM’s decision at the time meant pupils would be unable to take their BTEC exam for the course in Year 11, unlike every other child studying GCSEs.

Parents argued the academy’s decision made it seem like their children studying the course were “thick”.

One father even threatened to withhold his daughter from the extra core subject tuition classes after her course was dropped.

From left: Wren Charman and her mum Davina Savage, from Minster. Picture: Davina Savage
From left: Wren Charman and her mum Davina Savage, from Minster. Picture: Davina Savage

However, on Thursday, June 13, the parents and carers of the pupils in the scrapped class received a letter from Andy Booth, the executive principal at Oasis Academy.

He said: “I am pleased to inform you that Oasis Community Learning in partnership with Sheppey College have arranged for your child to continue their hair and beauty course in Year 11.

“Sheppey College experiences hair and beauty tutors will deliver the course using their hair salon and facilities until the completion of the course.”

It was confirmed that these sessions will take place on a weeknight, likely Tuesday, from 4.30pm until 5.45pm at the Sheppey College.

Following the announcement an invite and visit to the college was organised for Wednesday, June 19.

Davina Savage with Tara Hughes, then from left to right, hair and beauty pupils Savannah Russell, Brooke Doree and Wren Charman. Picture: Davina Savage
Davina Savage with Tara Hughes, then from left to right, hair and beauty pupils Savannah Russell, Brooke Doree and Wren Charman. Picture: Davina Savage

Davina Savage, of Oak Lane, Minster, and her daughter, Wren Charman, attended the meeting and said they are “really excited by the new opportunity.”

Wren, who wants to become a theatrical makeup artist, was left “really unhappy” following LAM’s decision in April.

The 15-year-old feared her career path would change if she was unable to secure her BTEC hair and beauty qualification.

But now her mum says her “future is looking fantastic”.

Speaking after the meeting, Davina said: “The head of the college, Alexandra Syrotiuk, gave a talk and we met with her and the deputy head.

The hair and beauty salon at Sheppey College. Picture: EKC
The hair and beauty salon at Sheppey College. Picture: EKC

“We were taken into the salon at the college and it was amazing. It is brand new and even has GHD equipment.

“Wren is really excited; when she and her friends were shown the salon they all gasped. The teachers are lovely as well.

“The college is committed to running this course and this time next year all the pupils will be taking their hair and beauty exams and will get the GCSE they feared they wouldn’t.”

The mum-of-three explained that during school time Wren and the other pupils who were in the hair and beauty class will still have to use their new empty periods to focus on their core English, maths and science revision.

However, she says this isn’t a problem.

The Minster Road campus of Oasis Academy will be shut and taken over by LAM
The Minster Road campus of Oasis Academy will be shut and taken over by LAM

She added: “Oasis and the college have worked together to make this wonderful decision.

“I’m really excited for Wren and the other pupils. They’re getting the best of both worlds, not only are they getting the extra core lessons but they are also able to finish their hair and beauty course.

“I’m so pleased for them, I really am. Wren’s future is looking fantastic now. If this didn’t happen, she may have had to have changed her whole career path.

“The girls will really benefit from this.”

A spokesperson for the East Kent Colleges Group, which runs the Sheppey College, says the Oasis Academy pupils will now be able to finish the qualification in a full salon training environment under the tutelage of highly skilled staff.

Oasis Academy principal Andy Booth
Oasis Academy principal Andy Booth
Alexandra Syrotiuk, Principal at EKC Sheppey College. Picture: EKC
Alexandra Syrotiuk, Principal at EKC Sheppey College. Picture: EKC

Principal Alexandra Syrotiuk said: “Our group’s mission is all about the communities that we serve, so when we saw how upset so many young people were that they had no opportunity to complete their qualification, we knew that we needed to do the right thing and invite them to study with us.

“We held an open event for the pupils and their parents who were affected by the decision to end the provision for hair and beauty and are pleased to say that we had an incredible response.

“Within our planning, we are also ensuring that we don’t affect their learning in school, so are offering the lectures outside of school hours.

“It’s wonderful to know that our Ofsted ‘outstanding’ college on the Isle of Sheppey will be able to welcome a new community of learners, and we wish them every success as they join us.”

The hair and beauty salon at Sheppey CollegePicture: EKC
The hair and beauty salon at Sheppey CollegePicture: EKC

A spokesperson for LAM explained that in November 2023, the Leigh Academies Trust “reached out” to EKC Sheppey College to explore the possibility of accommodating its hair and beauty students.

They said: “Unfortunately, at that time, Sheppey College was unable to provide the necessary support.

“However, we welcome EKC Sheppey College’s recent decision to now facilitate the optional continuation of the hair and beauty BTEC course as an additional evening course.

“We fully support this arrangement and are grateful that a solution has been found for students who want it.

“This solution not only allows the students to complete their hair and beauty studies but also frees up valuable curriculum time so they can receive additional core curriculum support with maths and English whilst at school which will be necessary if they choose to continue into further education.

The Minster Road campus of Oasis Academy will be shut and taken over by LAM
The Minster Road campus of Oasis Academy will be shut and taken over by LAM

“We are delighted that our students will benefit from the experienced tutors and the professional salon environment at the college as this is not something that we could have offered.”

The old hair and beauty course facilities at Oasis Academy is to become a “state-of-the-art” library and study centre that will open in September to support students across the academy.

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