CAPS and gowns were the order of the day at the Waterside Arts Centre, in Sale, last week as family, friends, tutors and guests celebrated the successes of more than 60 Trafford College students graduating from their university level and professional courses.

Students achieved an impressive number of firsts and distinctions at HND and foundation degree level across a range of subjects including business and accounting, hospitality, childcare and teaching.

One student celebrating her graduation with a Foundation Degree in supported teaching & learning was 53-year-old Carol Valentine.

Having left school with no GCSEs, Carol returned to education when she was 49, which she described as being 'very scary' having been away from the classroom for so long.

Despite fearing she would feel out of place, her children had grown up and she felt the time was finally right to prove she was capable of achieving her qualifications.

Enrolling on a GCSE Maths and English programme, she completed her course before moving on to a diploma in supported teaching & learning to further the skills she had gained while working in a school.

She said: "Although I was sceptical at first, and couldn't help feeling too old or maybe a little ashamed that I had not received any previous qualifications, the college was extremely helpful in making me feel valued and took the time to work with me, and talk me through my concerns.

"The tutors really care about you and you develop a close relationship. This change has made a huge difference to my life.

"I would definitely recommend the college to anybody who is thinking of going back into education."

The college's HE provision is accredited by some of the country's leading universities such as The University of Salford, Sheffield Hallam, and Manchester Metropolitan University.

Principal, Sir Bill Moorcroft said: "I'm extremely proud of our graduating students, along with their tutors.

"The ceremony again highlights the value of local and affordable HE provision and our graduates are a shining example of how college can be the ideal alternative to develop future careers and skills, without the expense of university."