Learning companies

Our learning companies are at the heart of the Activate Learning colleges, giving our learners the opportunity to gain professional experience, skills and qualifications.

Learning companies are real businesses, so our learners can put their new skills into practise and learn from the experience. This model helps students gain a better understanding of the skills and attitudes that employers value in their staff, and how best to exceed customers' expectations. Being part of a learning company helps students boost their confidence, knowledge and employability skills, giving them a headstart in their career.

Current learning companies include:

The Oxford Lifestyle Centre

A purpose built £6m centre located in the heart of Oxford, the centre is open to the public and features a health and fitness gym, hair and beauty salons and a cafe. In its first year alone, Oxford Lifestyle Centre will create over 250,000 hours of life-changing work experience for our students. 

StudioX1, City of Oxford College

StudioX1 is a professional media production company, providing video solutions to clients in the not for profit, sport, business and education sectors. Services include public information videos, adverts, events filming, animation, wedding videos and more.

The Cherwell Restaurant and Bistro, Banbury and Bicester College

The Cherwell is a contemporary restaurant offering food and hospitality from Banbury and Bicester College students. The restaurant is open to the public and run as a commercial business, helping students gain experience in aspects such as food ordering, budgeting and pricing, front of house customer service and marketing.  

The Shop, Reading College

Run for and by our LLDD (Learners with Learning Difficulties or Disabilities) students in Reading, The Shop provides a range of college campus essentials. Students run the shop, including ordering stock, managing visual merchandising and completing transactions, as part of their preparation for work units.


Our hair and beauty salons across the Activate Learning group are run in partnership with Francesco Education, one of the largest, award-winning hairdressing companies in the UK. The salons are run as commercial businesses, and all students working at the salons benefit from the Francesco's training programme, graduating with ready-made employment skills.