Savvy IT students surf off with web competition win

In an innovative scheme designed to showcase their creative talents, 42 students were given the task of project managing, designing and building the websites for Colegate Community Primary School in Gateshead and not-for-profit domiciliary care provider Homecare North East.

The students were judged individually on the quality and creativity of their work and Jack Scorfield, 27, was declared winner of the Homecare competition. Meanwhile, Sean Atkinson, 18, and 24-year-old Nick Strife scooped joint first prize for their work on the Colegate site.

The winning students were each given a £40 Metro Centre voucher to reward them for their efforts. Both websites are due to go live at the end of this year.

Sean said: “It was quite stressful making the website as we did it all by ourselves. However, the project enabled us to learn a lot of skills and seeing the end product was really rewarding.”

Matthew Tweedy, who came second in the Homecare competition, said: “I learnt many new skills and although I struggled at the start, once I got my head around it I was fine. I was happy with the end result.”

The scheme is the latest in a string of initiatives by the college to boost the employment prospects of young people.

Jackie Dowling, curriculum leader at Gateshead College, said: “It has equipped students with valuable skills which they can apply in the workplace when they find a job.

“Through the scheme they have acquired vital project management skills and learned to hit challenging deadlines. These essential qualities are required and valued by employers. 

“The scheme has been so successful that other companies have come forward and expressed an interest in getting involved.”

Colegate Community Primary School said it had been impressed with the high standard of the students’ work.

Matthew Younger, head teacher at the school, said: “We were looking to refresh the content and style of our website and this scheme by Gateshead College gave us the perfect opportunity to do that.

“The students came up with some interesting concepts and on the evidence of their work they will be an asset to any employer.”

Sophie De Vere, Homecare North East joint managing director who set up the business with Helen White, added: “We wanted to create a new look for our site and didn’t have the in-house resource to carry out the task.

“It made perfect sense to use the talent available at the college and give the students valuable work experience at the same time.”

The web development scheme is the latest in a string of employer engagement initiatives launched by the college.

Recently the college hosted the judging of a pie design competition run by South Shields family pork butchers Dicksons to educate school children on food production. The college also organised a dedicated jobs fair at its Action for Health conference to allow employers to tap into a skilled pool of talent, which included past and current students from the college