Sussex Downs College utilises its relationship with businesses nationwide to support the local community and give students a unique learning experience

Courses are vast at Sussex Downs College with students choosing to study academic A-Level subjects alongside vocational-based courses. Part-time courses for adults and re-engagement programmes target beyond the usual 16-19 age demographic, offering something for everyone.

With campuses in Eastbourne, Lewes and Newhaven, Sussex Downs College works with businesses to provide students with a learning experience like no other. Sussex Business Times looks at the College’s partnership with companies in supporting charities and how students are getting a foot on the career ladder through industry relations.

Charity endeavours

In 2016, the College has worked with a number of companies to help raise the profile of charities.

SDC 3 MV work on the ClioLast month, students repaired a car donated to the ‘Soldiers off the Street’ charity by local fireman and ex-serviceman, Rick Plumber. Local businesses, Hankham Motorworks, Euro Car Parts, Hobbs Recovery Service and Brown Brothers Ltd provided the parts, MOT and bodywork paint. Five SDC Level 2 Motor Vehicle Bodywork & Repair students then restored the Renault Clio to its former glory. In total, the car received £2.5k worth of work and 35 hours workshop time was spent on its repairs.

The car was presented to ex-serviceman, Dean Roberts, in a handover ceremony held on campus at SDC, Eastbourne. Representatives from Soldiers off the Street drove from the charity’s head office in North Wales for the event. Ex-serviceman, Dean Roberts – the chosen recipient of the transformed vehicle – travelled by train from Bournemouth.

Shaun Read from Hankham Motorworks had the vehicle road tested and provided its MOT. “We’re happy to help out on an amazing project like this,” he commented. “The students have done a fantastic job in making the car road worthy.”

SDC 2 Prince's Trust Team Lewes complete YMCA garden projectCollege projects like this take place throughout the year and support various charities and individuals within community. Over in Lewes, young adults on The Prince’s Trust Team Programme offered through Sussex Downs College transformed the garden at the local YMCA for young children to enjoy. The three-day project was part of the Team’s 12-week programme and culminated in a garden party following its successful completion. The garden was landscaped and re-fenced, with the addition of seating and play equipment. The group raised over £550 for the project by holding cake sales, packing groceries for shoppers in the local supermarket, busking in Lewes train station and washing cars.

Emergency response

SDC 4 SafeGuard Armour donationThe College’s relationship with companies benefits students in all subject areas. Public & Uniformed Service students have recently gained hands-on experience in their subject thanks to the support of East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service and Safe Body Armour UK.

Uckfield Community Fire Station welcomed students from Sussex Downs College in June, giving them the opportunity to experience wearing breathing apparatus, climb ladders and undergo fitness tests required to make it in the service.

Bob Shoesmith, course co-ordinator for Sussex Downs College, said: “We actively encourage our students on the Public and Uniformed Services course to engage with all the emergency services and we are really grateful for this.”

That same week, SafeGuard Armour donated a bulletproof vest to the Eastbourne campus, giving Public & Uniformed Service students an experience of life in the forces.

“Sussex Downs is committed to providing students with cutting-edge educational experiences and we’re pleased to announce that we have begun work with SafeGuard Armour, an international manufacturer and distributor of body armour,” commented Bob Shoesmith. “These samples allow us to provide hands-on learning experiences for our students, and these bulletproof vests give those on our Public Service courses an example of the protective clothing they may use later in their career.”

Accounting adds up

It’s not just students studying practical courses who have benefitted from the College’s links to employers. Five A-Level Accounting students who receive their results this summer have secured apprenticeships with top firms, both locally and nationally.

“Our Accounting students are focused and hardworking with a clear career goal in mind,” said course leader Sam Alvarez.

Luke Pannett, 17, has been offered a place with Advanta; Ellen Gee, 18, has been offered a place with Price & Co; Eleanor Griffiths and Josh Cottingham, both 18, are headed to Humphry & Co.

“We also have a student who has secured an apprenticeship with KPMG, which is fantastic,” enthused Sam. “It’s notoriously hard to secure an apprenticeship with this global firm, with around 150,000 applications made and just 150 taken on worldwide. Sussex Downs College has has a student accepted every year for the past five years, a real testament to the course here and the drive and determination of these young adults.”

For more information on the courses available at Sussex Downs College, please visit

If you are an employer looking to work with Sussex Downs College in supporting charity events or taking on apprentices, please contact the Employer Engagement Team on 030 300 39474 or email