Clothing inspired by Sixties' fashion is the theme for a spring collection, designed by 14 year-old school students who study fashion at CONEL.

These promising designers from Haringey schools spend one day a week as the College of North East London, taking a two year BTEC First Diploma in Art and Design on the Young Apprenticeship scheme.

The students were responsible for every aspect of the spring collection and the show. They designed the textiles, made patterns, cut the fabrics, sewed the garments and modelled the clothes at the show. They made the clothes working under the guidance of working artists, whilst on work placement at Cloth of Gold in Kilburn. Their catwalk presentation was accompanied by funky Sixties' music, at the Stratford Circus arts centre.

At the College, these young people do a vocational curriculum in which they study all aspects of fashion and design. Students also gain hands-on experience in industry, as work placements are part of the Young Apprenticeship curriculum.

In their school studies, the pupils follow the GCSE curriculum in a range of subjects, including maths, English and science. This means that their future opportunities remain open, if they decide to apply to university. The Young Apprenticeship scheme works alongside the school curriculum but provides a strong grounding in work experience and learning that is tailored to a specific career, in this case, in the fashion industry.

The fashion project was carried out in conjunction with working artists and professional designers. The students were set a brief by Jessica James, a freelance designer working for Topshop and other high street fashion retailers. Their project was to produce a collection of clothes inspired by their research into the 1960s. They set about researching this revolutionary era of 20th century fashion with a visit to the V&A to look at Sixties' fashion designers, including Mary Quant, Ossie Clark, Courrèges and Biba's Barbara Hulanicki.

The scheme is now recruiting from local schools for next year, for a two -year course, resulting in a BTEC First Diploma (as well as the usual school subjects). The course is targeted at students who are expected to do well at school and achieve five GCSEs at A to C. CONEL's work placement manager, Jessica Pickard, said, "It's a very exciting course for school students. They're attracted by the idea of fashion - young people love to be fashionable - and then they find that they're really learning about all aspects of the industry. With our established links to industry, CONEL is able to add interesting work placements, which makes it very different from the experience of learning at school. Our strong links with the fashion industry opens doors for these young people and gives them ideas for a variety of career paths that they may want to pursue."

Young Apprenticeship students have all their travel costs paid and they receive a lunch allowance. They are given extra tutoring by industry professionals and this in-depth contact with people who make their living in the art and design industry gives students a genuine picture of a range of career options. CONEL is running a similar scheme for young people who are interested in a career in the computer games design industry.

The Sector Skills Council for Creative and Cultural Industries is the organisation that supervises the scheme and it rates CONEL's Young Apprenticeship in Art and Design as one of the top courses in the country. It is funded through the Learning and Skills Council for North London.

Next year's fashion students are being recruited now! Contact The Course Information Line on 020 8442 3055.

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