March 2019 - Capital City College Group
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CONEL Nominated For Top Award By Students

The College of Haringey Enfield and North East London has once again been voted one of the country’s best higher education colleges by its students. CONEL has been nominated in the FE College category of the prestigious WhatUni Awards. Unusually for such an award, it is based entirely on reviews that have been submitted by students to the website, which ranks the UK’s universities and those colleges that offer higher education too.

The college offers a range of higher education qualifications, from Access to Higher Education courses, work-related Higher National Certificates or Diplomas, and Foundation Degrees. It is this provision which made CONEL eligible for the award.

Commenting on CONEL’s nomination, Principal Kurt Hintz, said: “It is very satisfying to have been recognised once again by our higher education students as being a great place to learn. We are well-known in London for our free courses and our excellent provision at entry level and levels 1 and 2, so to be shortlisted for a higher education award is fantastic and a testament to the dedication and skills of our HE tutors.”

The college was ranked 4th out of the 10 shortlisted colleges, with an impressive average score of 4.4 out of 5.  We are the only college in London to have been shortlisted and on 25 April, we will find out if we have won at the WhatUni Student Choice Awards in central London.

Here’s a selection of students’ reviews from WhatUni:

“I have really enjoyed my time at CONEL – the teachers are wonder and supportive; and there’s so many courses available. I’m learning things I never thought I could learn.” – Gemma

“This is a really a fantastic course. My teacher is really good and I have so many skills from their classes.” – Pauline

“The course is very useful. Teachers are very helpful. The college is a very good environment for study.” – Maria

Students become #StarsForADay

Last week we turned some of our students at our Victoria Centre and King’s Cross Centre into models, making them over and turning them into a #StarForADay.

The chosen students were given the opportunity to be made up, shot by professional photographers and interviewed about their time at the college, background and aspirations. Look out for them across London, online and in print, this summer.

In the meantime, here are a few highlights from our time last week:

CONEL Student Competes at National Junior Indoor Rowing Championships 2019

CONEL student Lee Driscoll competed at the National Indoor Rowing Championships last week, on Friday 15 March 2019. Lee competed in the first race of the day, male year 13, 2000m race finishing with a time of nine minutes, thirty one seconds.

The National Junior Indoor Rowing Championships is held annually by London Youth Rowing, where schools and colleges across the UK compete in races of different age groups and distances. NJIRC took place in the Copper Box Arena in the iconic Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park for the very first time this year.

Here is what Lee had to say about CONEL and the NJIRC:

Robert Murphy, College Sportsmaker at CONEL said: “This was a great event run by the London Youth Rowing organisation. This was a great opportunity for all of the students that had been training all year to compete. The students that did attend thoroughly enjoyed the event and it is great that we can take our learners to events like this as an extension to the enrichment sports programme that we run at the college.”

CONEL also had a promotional stand at the event where, this year, some Sports students were carrying out health checks and giving our information, advice and guidance on CONEL sports courses.

WestKing students compete to design London hoarding

A group of Digital Arts and Photography students from Westminster Kingsway College will soon have their designs seen by hundreds of thousands of people on one of London’s busiest streets.

15 first-year students on our Digital Arts and Photography – Level 3 Extended Diploma course are competing to have their design printed on a 10-metre stretch of hoarding at 150 Holborn, in the heart of London. The hoarding surrounds the site where Dar Group – a leading global professional services company – are building their new London Headquarters. Working to a detailed project brief from Dar Group, the students, who are being supported by their Lecturers Paresh Parmar and Marta Velasco, have split into 5 groups and are working on their designs.

This project is the first in a wide ranging and two-way engagement between our students and Dar Group. Dar Group are a leading global employer and we hope that this partnership will lead to more opportunities for students to further their knowledge and gain experience in built environment professions such as engineering, design and planning.

To get some advice and inspiration, the students recently visited the offices of architects Perkins + Will, a Dar Group company. And on Monday 11 March, representatives from Dar Group and Perkins + Will came to the college’s Kings Cross Centre to give their feedback on the students’ first draft designs. The students’ final designs will be judged by members of Dar Group companies and the winner will be announced at an event at the beginning of April.

Christopher Christophi, Senior Associate at Perkins+Will told us: “It was great to meet the students again today. We’ve been really impressed with the quality and imagination of the draft designs that we’ve seen today and we are looking forward to seeing their final designs in April.

“We are very excited about working with the Westminster Kingsway College. Our new 150 Holborn headquarters is very close to the college’s Kings Cross Centre and we hope that this competition is the start of a long-term relationship with the college and those who study there.”

Lecturer Paresh Parmar said: “The students are in the first year of a two year course and this is the first time they have worked to a client brief.  I have been very impressed with the students’ hard work and creativity – especially as they are also working on other projects on their course.  The brief from Dar Group was very exciting and inspiring and it has been great working with Amir Abdul and his colleagues from Dar Group on this project.”

Sixth Form College Students Work on UrbanPlan City Hall Project

On 11 March, 23 students from City and Islington Sixth Form College participated in UrbanPlan, an urban regeneration project designed to give students industry understanding working with the experts.

The free programme initially found success in the USA, originating in High Schools and more recently expanding to support UK schools and colleges. The programme now represents an established ‘enrichment’ option for students at the Sixth Form College – an opportunity for students to work on a course-relevant extra-curricular project or interest.  

Students are expected to create plans focused on the redevelopment of an urban area, working through challenges of design, finance, ethics and environment to build a viable project in the city centre. The project is particularly relevant to A Level Geography students but also offers valuable skills to students studying Business Studies. 

In teams, students work as a member of a property development company to create and present a tender proposal for redeveloping a city-centre site.  A team of facilitators and industry experts help students understand the many complex factors, often in tension with one another, which shape their creative and financial response to the tender brief. 

The project is tied together with a final presentation to a specialist panel of built environment experts. Students receive feedback based on their ideas, and also have the chance to practice their public speaking, selling their ideas in a competitive, public setting.  The winning team must clearly demonstrate they can redevelop the site, offer the City Council a good price to buy the land and achieve all the City Council’s aims. 

Following the workshops, students are offered individual mentoring from the experts, helping to shape clear and comprehensive schemata that can better inform their studies back in the classroom. 

The final celebratory event for the winning team is held at City Hall in Southwark.  Students were able to tour the iconic City Hall, learn more about the London Assembly and hear from property experts including the Architect that designed City Hall.

UrbanPlan organisers told us: “Our industry experts loved working with City and Islington College students. They were very impressed with the professional approach the students took, and the way that they used their initiative and problem-solving skills to come up with some of the most creative plans our experts have ever seen.”

Coordinator of Careers at the Sixth Form College, Joanne Bishop, added: “We always look forward to Urban Plan. The students really enjoy it and the energy in the room is fantastic when they visit. Students learn so much from property experts. They are often surprised at the wide range of professionals involved in the property industry. So many refer to their experience of Urban Plan in their university personal statements. It’s a great chance for students to feel their way around the industry and to start asking the right questions.”

Through UrbanPlan, the college has been able to work closely with other property development specialists such as Allsop, who attended the Careers Fair last month. Such a venture presents the college with exciting new opportunities to develop its enrichment activities, giving students key experience and contacts in niche industries.

Business students attend Emirates stadium

Tuesday 14 March was a big day for our Business students, who finally put into practice months of hard work.

Our Centre for Business, Arts and Technology is working closely with local businesses and has found success in a partnership with Arsenal in the Community (AitC). Based at the Emirates football stadium, AitC provides young people with opportunities in sport and education. This month, our Level 2 Business students presented their best entrepreneurial ideas to Arsenal staff Jack Ferguson and Freddie Hudson on an away day at the famous stadium. The panellists were also joined by City and Islington’s Interim Vice Principal Tracy Stuart and Head of School for Enterprise Jo Cairns.

Jack told us: “Arsenal in the Community has a longstanding relationship with City and Islington College, particularly with Business students and supporting students on sports programmes. In the last two years, we’ve built a relationship with Business teachers who set students coursework based around real existing problems faced by the club. Students have six months to come up with a solution to that problem and present in front of us.

“What we’ve seen today is 80 students, 14 presentations, delivering their response with a new product or service that Arsenal could look to use in the future. We’ve sat here today and listened to 14 very different presentations, all very varied ideas, full of things that are actually quite viable – things that we could actually see being used in and around the stadium.

“It’s been a great day for Arsenal listening to these presentations and learning something from the marketers of the future.”

Students presented a range of ideas from Diamond Club ice-cream and Arsenal-branded gaming chairs to half-time delivery services and all-season refreshments.

At the end of the presentations, Tracy Stuart acknowledged the improvement made by students in the last six months, adding: “We’ve seen some stunning ideas, great presentations, clear evidence that they have worked so hard on this. We believe that the work that we do and that they do is game changing.”

Head of School for Business at the centre, Yvonne Layne, added that “these are students whose GCSE years were disrupted for one reason or another. For many of them, this will have an effect on their confidence. It’s a really big deal for us to put them on stage, let alone in a stadium of this size, in front of people they have never met and ask them to have faith in their ideas.

“In terms of the work that has been done and the progress made leading up to this day, I think everyone needs to be commended.

“City and Islington College is determined to prepare people for the world of work. Whether students take the classic academic route through to university or prefer the vocational pathway, soft skills are key to success in the competitive workplace.

“We want students to show a natural progression within their development, not limiting them to a few niche skills but creating rounded human beings who know how to talk to people and present their ideas properly. So that’s where the idea came from to work more closely with local employers.

“We’re offering students more work opportunities, and as a result, attendance has risen, students are more engaged in their classes, and they don’t feel like the work is being done in isolation. Group work seems to be a big motivator in building the confidence to stay on, especially for our Level 2 students.”

Students seemed pleased with the outcome of the away day, taking much from sharing their ideas in a new, constructive environment. Teachers Lee Kennedy, Anne Farrell, Prem Waatess and Godwin Adeji were vocally proud of the development made by students over the last six months, expressing plans to expand the project through new courses and partnerships, likely to be realised ahead of the new academic year in September.

CONEL Hosts Mental Health Workshop for Students

As part of the college’s commitment to tackling mental health issues, The College of Haringey Enfield & North East London held a ‘Question Time’ style event at the Enfield centre yesterday, Wednesday 13 March.

The event was run by an interactive panel of mental health professionals from the NHS, who answered questions from students and dispelled the myths and stigma around mental health issues.

Rebecca Burkoff, Senior Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner, opened the discussion by asking the group questions about mental health statistics, imparting knowledge while illustrating common misunderstandings around mental wellbeing. The conversation remained local, focusing in on problems relevant to Enfield.

Rebecca said, “I really love coming to speak to college students; I think there is a lot of interest but a lack of knowledge. Being able to teach these students is very rewarding – seeing them leave knowing more about mental health.”

This video was shown to the students:

The World Health Organisation estimates that one in four people will suffer from a mental health condition at some point in their lives; currently, around 450 million people have an active diagnosis. While measures are being put in place to facilitate people into appropriate treatment plans, stigma reduction is the first step towards recovery. Staff at the event stressed the importance of opening up the conversation around mental health more generally.

Louise Webber, Enrichment Coordinator and Pastoral Lead for CONEL, said: “Events like this are definitely raising awareness and informing students on what mental health is and how it is affecting their community and the people around them. Even if they only take one thing away from this discussion they are still leaving here better equipped than when they came.”

The event follows on from a previous visit from 5asidechess. 5asidechess is a nationwide social enterprise “determined to reconnect people in a disconnected world.” The company aims to combat loneliness and social isolation by bringing people together with chess. 5asidechess visited both our Tottenham and Enfield Centres on 5 February 2019.

If you are personally affected by mental health issues – or know somebody suffering from a mental health condition – please contact one of your Safeguarding Officers.

Award-Winning Computing Alum Returns to CONEL

CONEL’s Computing Access to Higher Education Diploma students take their study seriously. Seriously enough to request a mentor to support them with structural programming units and help them build their Java skills. And recently they have got a fantastic mentor, Stanislav Ivanov, a CONEL alum.

A 2017 CONEL Excellence Award winner, Stanislav is now in his second year at King’s College University studying for a Computer Science degree. Despite his extremely tight timetable, Stanislav comes in every Friday to run programming workshops and support the students. As he explains: “I enjoyed my time while I was at CONEL and really appreciated the help that I received from all the teachers and the staff here. I just wanted to return the favour and help other students.”

Coming back to college has advantages for both Stanislav and the students who he supports. “I bring my perspective as a student who has been to CONEL, so I know what their course is like. But I can also share some of the knowledge and skills that I am learning at university, and I think it help the students prepare better for university.

“University is a serious jump from college. At King’s you have far less time with tutors as the classes are a lot bigger and you also have to be able to manage your time more than at college.”

The Java workshop that Stanislav runs, covers Java programming. It includes a basic introduction to Java, why it is important and how to install the required software. Stanislav I work alongside the class tutor to makes sure my workshop fits with the main teaching and the main concepts in Java which we do in our first year at university.

Java is a useful programming language for students to learn, not just because it is used in around 3 billion devices around the world, from desktop PCs and supercomputers to gaming consoles, mobile phones, but because it is a route into learning other, newer and future programming languages. As Stanislav explains: “Learning the skills to programme a language like Java enables you to develop your grasp of logic and it helps you to learn other programming languages more quickly and efficiently.”

The students are very appreciative of his support. One student, Ashley told us: “Stanislav’s workshops have helped a lot. He brings a different perspective, as he’s been in our shoes himself. He tends to skip over some of the simpler concepts, so the workshops go at a faster pace, which is good. They are giving us a lot more confidence for our main lessons with our tutor.”

National Apprenticeships Week 2019 – Q&A with Gert Hoxha

To round off National Apprenticeship Week 2019, we spoke to former Business Administration Level 3 Apprentice Gert Hoxha, who is now employed full-time with Capital City College Training as an Administrator. We spoke about his apprenticeship and how it has helped him get on the career ladder…

What Apprenticeship did you study and how long did you do it for?

I did Business Administration Level 3. I started in April 2017 and finished in June 2018.

Why did you choose an Apprenticeship?

I was thinking “What else can I do other than University” because I didn’t really want to go uni. I thought I can do some training, work experience and get paid at the same time while also getting the qualification. I also asked before I started my Apprenticeship here if there was progression after and they said if they were happy with my progress then I could have a full-time job after which I now do.

Why didn’t you want to go to university?

I have friends at university who have finished their degrees and they haven’t got a job. With an apprenticeship, you can still be in work and do a level 5 or 6 which is equivalent to university. It’s the getting paid and working at the same time while getting the qualifications that I like.

How did your Apprenticeship help you with your role now?

I chose specific units in my apprenticeship which are very relevant to the role that I now do here.

What was your favourite thing about your apprenticeship?

I had two favourite things. First was learning new things all the time. The second one was that it was also good not doing the same repetitive tasks every day. You can be doing six things at the same time keeping me on my toes and not getting bored.

What would you say to someone thinking about doing an Apprenticeship?

I think it is a good chance to get a qualification, experience and money at the same time, so yes I would strongly suggest it. And there are so many apprenticeships to choose from, so whatever you are interested in, there is probably an apprenticeship out there for you.

Apprenticeship staff receive Freedom of the City of London

To mark National Apprenticeships Week, WestKing’s Hospitality Apprenticeships Programme Manager Sharon Barry and Chef Lecturer Nick Gunyon have been granted an ancient and coveted honour – the Freedom of the City of London – for their services to apprentices.

Sharon and Nick received their Freedom parchments in a ceremony at London’s historic Guildhall, on Monday 4 March. They had been put forward) by the Worshipful Company of Cooks, for their dedication and service to culinary apprentices.

Each year Sharon and Nick run a programme for 28 apprentices, which is sponsored by the Worshipful Company. Sharon teams up the young apprentices who apply, with suitable employers in the hospitality and culinary industries. The employers are from right across the industry – from top hotels like the Shangri-La at the Shard in London, to private members clubs, and contract caterers like Cook & Butler.

Sharon told us: “I was surprised and delighted to be honoured in this way. The college has run the programme for the past 7 years.  It has been great to see so many young people move on from their apprenticeships into careers in hospitality.”

What is a Freeman?

The status of Freeman is believed to have first been presented in 1237.  In those days, being a ‘freeman’ was an essential requirement for anyone who wished to carry on business and trade in the Square Mile of the City of London. Freemen were also allowed to bring livestock (yes, sheep) and tools into the City without paying tax.

Nowadays the award is entirely ceremonial and all historical privileges that Freemen once enjoyed have been removed, so sadly, Sharon and Nick will not be able to drive their sheep up Ludgate Hill or across London Bridge!

However, as Freemen, they are in good company. Notable Freemen include Angela Burdett-Coutts (the first woman to be awarded the honorary Freedom in 1872); Winston Churchill; Florence Nightingale and Nelson Mandela.

Queen's Award for Enterprise