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MEET THE LECTURER - Susan Cassidy

18 June 2021
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She’s better known as the Curriculum Manager for Hairdressing, Beauty and Barbering, at NWRC’s Strand Road Campus – but Susan Cassidy actually started her hairdressing career when she enrolled at the college as a student in 1992. She’s now been working at NWRC for 24 years since accepting a lecturer’s post in 1992.

Today in the first of a series of features in which we meet some of the Industry Experts at NWRC we find out more about Susan, an award winning hairdresser and lecturer.

Susan says: “Many of our students comment on the difference of being at NWRC than school, firstly undertaking a subject that you love immediately increases enjoyment and passion for the subject, coming to college every day to learn what you love and be given the opportunity to develop this further into lots of progression qualifications and areas of expertise, fuels the passion for an amazing career in a fantastic industry.

Realistic working salons, motivated learners and staff, opportunities for competitive work and real live briefs such as photoshoots and events.”

Name Susan Cassidy

Job Title Curriculum manager in the area of Hair, Beauty & Barbering – Strand Road/ Foyle Campus

Years spent at NWRC – I began my Hair & Beauty career in 1992 as a student at Strand Road Campus – I began working in NWRC in October 1997- 24years this year!

Describe your job. I am currently CM in the area Of Hair, Beauty & Barbering at Strand Road Campus. As curriculum manager and team leader I identify and develop the curriculum by preparing courses that provide high quality learning opportunities for individuals, employers and the community. I have demonstrated a direct input in various developments and have managed and led the programmes, supporting coordinators and course teams within the beauty therapy curriculum (NVQ Level 2 & 3, VTCT ). I have also led and managed the development of new programmes including; HE provision, VRQ and industry specialist qualifications and new curriculum pathways. I continuously monitor and actively progress the development of Hairdressing, Barbering & Beauty therapy within the Strand Road Campus raising standards and achievements. I have continued to have a direct input in identifying and developing the liaison with the hairdressing & beauty industry. I have been directly involved in research and consultancy relating to the development of specialist hairdressing & beauty therapy qualifications as secretariat of H&B Sectoral Partnership leading qualification development for Northern Ireland

What was your path to becoming an educator? I began my Hair & Beauty career in 1992 as a student at Strand Road Campus undertaking Level 2 Hair & Beauty, I then progressed to level 3 Hairdressing which included at the time assessor and demonstrator units, during this time I was working in a salon, building my clientele and experience, when I completed my Level 3 Hairdressing a short time later a PT Lecturer job came up in both NWRC Strand Road and in then Limavady College ( different colleges at that time). I was very fortunate to be successful at both interviews and began working in both colleges alongside the salon. In 2002 I became an Associate Lecturer in Hairdressing at Strand Road and reduced my working time in the salon. During the period of 2005-2008 I completed a degree in Hairdressing & International Spa Management with the university of Derby ( Online – probably one of the first online learning type programmes that existed!) completion of this HE course led me to becoming a FT Lecturer- Hairdressing- Strand Road in 2008 and subsequently Curriculum Manager in 2011 – managing the Beauty Therapy curriculum in Strand Road.

Most rewarding part of your job.

Working with a fantastic team of industry and educational specialists lecturers in supporting students in their journey to an amazing career in Hair, Beauty and Barbering. The most rewarding part of the role is seeing confidence increase, learners inspired to learn and impact this has on individuals. The impact of seeing this professional relationship between students and staff and those within the industry supports my belief that FE is so much more than a facilitator of qualifications, we build staff and students in reaching their full potential both professionally and personally

How does FE in your subject differ from education at school?

Many of our students comment on the difference of being at NWRC than school, firstly undertaking a subject that you love immediately increases enjoyment and passion for the subject, coming to college every day to learn what you love and be given the opportunity to develop this further into lots of progression qualifications and areas of expertise, fuels the passion for an amazing career in a fantastic industry.

Realistic working salons, motivated learners and staff, opportunities for competitive work and real live briefs such as photoshoots and events

Tell us about some of our student successes.

I actively promote the inclusion & benefits of competition work within the curriculum and across the sites and we have had amazing success over the years. For every competition we ever entered students where always placed in Top 10 – with may gaining gold, silver and bronze medals in the areas of hairdressing, barbering and makeup Student Richard Lynch was placed 2nd in European Hairdressing Championships in Paris and 7th in the world hairdressing championships in Korea. I myself hold the following titles

• UK hairdressing championship silver & bronze medallist

• NI hairdressing championships silver & bronze medallist

• All Ireland silver & bronze medallist.

• All Ireland Bridal champion gold medallist

• All Ireland gents hairdressing silver medallist

• All Ireland Avant Garde Champion

• All Ireland Senior Ladies High Fashion – Bronze medallist

The Hair and Beauty team also are actively involved in Erasmus opportunities and have hosted H&B students & staff here at Foyle from Finland, Cyprus, Denmark Italy and Portugal.

I have taught in Cyprus ( was even on Cypriot TV) and Malta through Erasmus – students have gained valuable work experienced in Malta, Cyprus, Portugal over the years

Best moment at NWRC?

It’s so difficult to choose this – as I have had many incredible moments here – personally – working with an amazing team, sharing tears, laughter and our journeys together for over 20 years – professionally – working with student Richard Lynch in competition work and supporting him to achieve his very best, which he undoubtedly did, and being with him in Paris when he received a silver medal for Avant Garde hairdressing, placed 2nd in Europe, is certainly a moment I will never forget.

In addition, being part of student journeys through their career and seeing them succeed professionally makes me immensely proud, even years later meeting students who sincerely thank you for helping them, or giving them guidance, even the smallest of gestures, meant the biggest thing to students and I’m so happy to have been part of that

And last but not least – the Cross Campus competition, seeing an opportunity to link assessment to creative work (project based learning) and seeing that vision come to life in the CCC running successfully over 10 years giving students an additional opportunity to shine – but also gain assessment for their qualification in a creative way.

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