Course opens up creative opportunities in Wester Hailes

WHALE Edinburgh College Access Course

A free course is giving adults in Edinburgh the chance to develop skills in creative media and access further education, helping them change their lives.

The Wester Hailes Arts for Leisure and Education (WHALE) Centre and Edinburgh College are running an 18-week course to introduce students to a range of digital media, giving them the potential to begin a new career or hobby. The Access to Creative Digital Media course includes units that develop skills in video, radio, photography and animation.

This course is aimed at adults who have had a gap in their education and are keen to get back into study within the framework of small classes held in a supportive environment. All they need is a proven interest in creative media and an ability to demonstrate effective communication in written English.

The course, which has been running since 2000, is currently recruiting and will start in January at the WHALE Centre, delivered by Edinburgh College staff, with some classes taking place at the college’s Sighthill Campus.

The classes are fun, there are no course fees, students can be registered as part time and benefits are not affected. The current students come from a range of backgrounds, and include a former US army medic, a DJ and a music video director.

If students on the access course decide that they would like to pursue their studies further in the area of creative industries, they can apply for another course based at the college campus and build towards Higher-level qualifications.

Many past students from the course have progressed to further study at Edinburgh College, choosing to develop their skills on courses on Television and Photography at HN level, the college’s Pre-Degree Foundation Film and Television course, or on NC Broadcast: Media.

One ex-student is now a lecturer at a centre for higher learning in Hong Kong, and another graduate from WHALE is working professionally in the video industry.

Jo Whelan, a lecturer on the course, said: “The WHALE Arts Centre may be unassuming from the outside, but inside is a factory of ideas, fun and creativity. Students may begin the Access course feeling that they have lost confidence in their abilities or are directionless after spending time outside education. The course is designed to give them the guidance and support they need to develop exciting skills in digital media and start the process of turning an interest into qualifications.”

One former student, Carol Hoff, said: “Up until September 2012 I was working as a carer. I wanted to change my career and was given the opportunity to go on the WHALE course. It was fantastic. I had zero confidence in myself, came out of my shell, and realised there was things that I was good at. I really enjoyed the variety of the course and discovered my love of photography. I went on to do a diploma in digital photography and I am now in year two of my HND in photography. If it hadn’t been for the staff and the fact it was a small group I would still be caring and being miserable.”

Another former student, Kerry Santo, said: “I’d like to stress how important this course was for me as I hadn’t thought going to college was an option for me. The help and support I got from this course enabled me to go on to study further and I am now on the HND 1 in Computer Arts. I dread to think of what would have happened had I not found the Access course – it was brilliant!”

The next course starts in January and applications are open now. If you are interested in studying the Access to Creative Digital Media (WHALE) course, you can find details at

Photo Caption
The current students Denes, Karim and Gregory work together on a radio project.

Submitted by Fraser Shand


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.