A NEW initiative to promote education in Swindon was officially launched at the Oxford Brookes campus on Saturday.

Swindon Learning Town, launched by Swindon Borough Council, brings together Swindon's colleges, libraries, and educational settings to promote learning, higher education and training to help individuals, young and old, succeed in a chosen career.

Anish Harrison, Swindon Learning Town lead at Swindon Borough Council, said: “We want to celebrate learning in its widest sense. There’s an awful lot going on in Swindon, maybe you have to scratch beneath the surface, but it’s there. You don’t have to look far to see all the wonderful learning opportunities out there.

"Learning is good for individuals and good for the communities in which they live.

"Swindon Learning Town is a portal to advertise all the learning opportunities in the area, but it's also about exploring our rich cultural and intellectual history in terms of learning.

"We’re really trying to promote Swindon’s heritage in terms of learning, what’s happening now, and where we want Swindon to go in the future and how learning can help that."

An open day at the Oxford Brookes campus, on the Delta Business Park, aimed to promote non-traditional routes into nursing and other careers in healthcare.

Rachel Skittrall, the programme lead for nursing at the campus, told the Adver: “There’s lots of different pathways to get into nursing, it’s much more flexible now.

“It has traditionally been a low transition for people in Swindon to higher education so it is really important that we think about these pathways, especially for mature students, which is where lots of our students come from, many of whom didn’t have those opportunities when they were younger and they’re looking to come back into a career through a non-traditional way.”

Erika Garrat, from West Swindon, in her second-year training as an operating department practitioner (ODP), told the Adver: “I didn’t have any previous healthcare experience, so they really built me up in the first year, helping me to get used to being in theatre. As an ODP you are very one-on-one with the patient, it’s a very important role in the operating theatre."

Carol Absalom, 50, a third-year adult nursing student, added: “There’s so much variety on the course, we have opportunities to go into a hospital, a nursing home, or health visits. They’ve been really supportive and it’s open to everybody."