Accessibility & Translation

Students Celebrate Their GCSE Results – ‘It’s a Wonderful Feeling!’

Students at the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London are celebrating another successful year of GCSE exam results. This was the first year CONEL has used the new 9-1 grading system that replaced the old A*-G grades, with grades 9-4 recognised as high grades.

Many of those who took GCSE English and Maths exams also completed vocational courses this year while others are looking to study further at the college or go on to university.

Among this year’s top performers was Luotong Huang, 19 who achieved a grade 9 in GCSE Maths while also attaining an A grade in Core Maths, a Level 3 qualification equivalent to an AS Level.

Her teacher Mahdi Radmehr said: “Luotong was a committed, attentive and a very focused learner who always submitted the homework on time. She was also keen to do extra activities after completing the class work.”

Also among those students achieving high grades was Neville Palmer, 48, who gained a grade 8 in GCSE Maths and a grade 7 in GCSE English.

Akiva Kaufman, 22, attained a grade 8 in GCSE Maths and is now set to study an Access to Higher Education Diploma in Science.

He said: “I worked hard but I was nervous this morning. I thought the exam went pretty well and I was hoping for a good grade, but it’s nice to actually to get the result. I feel really good.”

Mehmet Alakirik, 20, gained a grade 6 in GCSE Maths and grade 4 in GCSE English, as well as a grade A in Core Maths and is now looking to complete an Accounting Level 4 Diploma.

He said: “It’s a wonderful feeling. I’ve have a few sleepless nights, particularly over this past week. It’s be a stressful year, the constant revision every night. I’m just glad it’s now over.”

Mohamad Fadi Abou Swid, 18, attained a grade 6 in GCSE Maths and is going on to study for an Engineering Level 3 Extended Diploma.

“I was expecting a grade 5 to 7 so I’m really happy,” he said.

“Over the last week I was so nervous because the thought crossed my mind, what if I get a 4 or 5, but now I’m so grateful.

“We got all the help we need. Even at half-term we got extra lessons so we can improve our maths knowledge, which was really helpful.”

CONEL hairdressing tutor Denise Hall, 46, attained a grade 5 in English, which has enabled her to secure a place at university to study a degree Health and Social Care Management at London Metropolitan University.

She said: “I am very grateful and just relieved because I took my time and I didn’t finish the exam, but it’s still worked out in my favour.

“The teaching was superb. At one point I was doubting myself but the teachers were very willing and patient to make sure we reached our target.

“I now have a place at university. Everything is falling into place, and I am just so happy.”

CONEL saw outstanding maths results for adult students, those aged 19 or over, with 77% achieving high grades.

Interim Principal Kurt Hintz said: “I am very pleased to see another great set of GCSE results, particularly the high grades in GCSE Maths among our adult students.

“I would like to congratulate all of our students on their achievements and wish them every success in the future.”

Surviving Clearing – it’s not too late!

By Charlotte Hoets, Careers and Progression Lead at Westminster Kingsway College

If you’ve missed the grades you need for university, you can still apply for another course through UCAS’ Clearing system. You can also apply for a new course after you receive your results if your grades exceed the conditions set in your firm offer – use UCAS Adjustment for this and you don’t lose your original place while you consider new options.

Clearing officially continues until 22 October, but many courses fill up rapidly as available places are allocated from results day onwards. Referring back to your original research into potential options can help speed things up, but it’s also a good time to keep an open mind and speak to someone about other pathways to your goals.

You can use Clearing if:

  • you didn’t receive any offers (or none that you wanted to accept)
  • you didn’t meet the conditions of your offers
  • you’ve declined your firm place using the ‘decline my place’ button in UCAS Track

Keep your details together and apply ASAP

Although in theory, you have until 22 October to secure a place, you will stand a better chance of getting onto the course you want if you act quickly. Don’t wait as each day more course places will be taken by other students.

When speaking to universities about a place through Clearing, you’ll need your UCAS Clearing Number in addition to your UCAS ID number. You will find this on your Track page. You’ll need the full title of the course(s) you’re interested in, and its course code ideally (from UCAS or the university course information page). Make sure you tell the university all of your grades, Level 3 (A Level, BTEC/UAL/City & Guilds vocational course, etc.) and your GCSEs. Every piece of information can make a difference.

Know how you’re suited to this new course

For your own confidence in making this big decision, you should know why this new course is a good match for you. Make sure you read all the course information thoroughly and don’t just rely on a course title to choose it. When phoning universities during Clearing you may have to justify your Clearing application over the phone, so be ready in that phone call to give a clear reason for your new choice. Courses in a few subject areas will also need you to be interviewed in advance – Nursing and Social Work, for example – so you need to be well prepared and available at short notice.

Your next steps

If you are a WestKing student, our team of Careers and Employability Advisers are on hand to support you through the process of applying to university. They supported a lot of our A Level students on results day and they can help you too. 

There are also a lot of useful resources and information, as well as on the Clearing process, at UCAS.

Finally, don’t forget to consider alternatives to the traditional full-time degree at a university. Many colleges, including WestKing, offer higher education courses, including Foundation Degrees, HNDs and even full Bachelor’s Degrees. You can pursue higher education through the workplace too, part-time or through an apprenticeship. A change in direction can really open up new opportunities. Good luck!

Capital City College Group offers a range of Higher Education qualifications that could be just right for you. Our career-focused courses have lower tuition fees than university and offer highly supportive, expert teaching with small groups and one-to-one support. Take a look here or speak to the college’s Careers and Employability Advisers.

How to… Write Professional Emails

Whatever your next step after studying at City and Islington College, dealing with people is a key skill that requires practice and attention. It may take some time to find your online identity in words, but here are our top tips for firing off a good email.

Know what you want to say

Before starting to write your email, know how it’s going to end.

An email to a tutor or a potential employer should have a clear purpose and spell out a clear action as soon as possible. A good place to start is the subject line. Assume your recipient is ten times busier than you are. If they are expecting an email from you, what can you say to convey that ‘this is the email that you are looking for’? If they aren’t expecting an email from you, how succinctly can you put what you want to talk about?

Know who you want to talk to

Directly emailing somebody is one thing, but adding more people into the message via CC (Carbon Copy) comes with its own challenges. To include somebody via CC suggests that this email is for their information, but that you don’t necessarily need a reply from them. Be careful, though: flagging an email up with a superior might come off a little aggressive if your tone is critical of the recipient.

Be clear on your relationship to the person

Next to letter writing, with an email, you may be forgiven for relaxing your tone a bit. Use Hello and Hi when you know the person well, and Dear for anybody between an acquaintance and a total stranger. If you are unsure of your relationship with a person, you are probably in the Dear category.

When writing to somebody you don’t know, finding out their name and preferred title is a good start. If you can’t find this, rather than assume someone’s gender, use Dear Name Surname.

If you have absolutely no idea who you are talking to (info@email.com, general@email.com), adopt a professional, neutral tone and err on the side of caution. To whom it may concern may be a little outdated, but Good afternoon still does the trick.

Introduce yourself

If you know the person, this is the point at which you express how much you hope they enjoyed their weekend, or hope that they are well. Leaving it to the end looks like an afterthought.

If you don’t know the person you are writing to, instead leave a line to introduce yourself. You don’t need to provide an autobiography but should aim to give a bit of context as to what you do and its relevance to the purpose of the email. For example:

Dear Ms X.

My name is David and I am a current student at City and Islington College. My student number is _____.

If you have been directed to the person by somebody else or from a website, follow up by linking the relation back, as in:

The Head of Department for History advised I contact you with regards to the Module 220 assignment this term.

Get to the point

Write your email to answer the six key questions (where appropriate): who, what, where, when, why, how? Make the body of your text easy to interpret so that your recipient can work out what they need to do with the information you’ve given them. Be clear if you need this done by a certain time, and try to facilitate the process as much as possible. Include the full names and relevant contact info for anyone you mention that needs to be followed up with.

Proofread

Make sure everything is spelt correctly before sending it over. You look a lot less credible if your level of attention to detail doesn’t even cover four lines of text. If you’ve referenced an attachment, make sure you really have attached it – and that it’s the right one! Make sure your links work and read what you’ve written out loud before pressing send.

Know how to sign off

For people you know, there’s a whole range of informal endings to an email, but Kind regards and Best wishes are your safe bets. Many thanks and Regards bridge the gap into formality, and Yours faithfully and Yours sincerely retain the most professional tone.

Yours faithfully should be used if you are addressing somebody you don’t know the name of. Yours sincerely is appropriate for an audience that you are at least familiar enough with to know their name, but not enough to have a chat with.

If any of your endings feel a little cold or abrupt, it’s perfectly polite to preface them with Thank you for your consideration/time/input or a Please let me know your thoughts. Slowly, as the written word starts to converge on spoken language, we see the courtesies of yesteryear fade out, and text looks less and less formal.

Still, when you find yourself typing out an email devoid of gesture and intonation, it’s best to ensure you do the best you can with the tools you’ve got, presenting yourself in the best possible light through these simple steps.

Take a moment today to check through your work before pressing send and ask yourself if this is something you would be happy to receive.

Students Reach Top Destinations on A Level Results Day

City and Islington College students performed above and beyond this year, improving significantly on last year’s A Level grades at the highest level. Top achievers have seen the number of passes at A* improve 33% on last year’s figures, helping more students into some of the country’s most prestigious universities. 

Across the board, a 94% pass rate for the 16-18 age bracket is a fantastic result on par with 2018’s numbers. This comes in spite of harder exams, with excellent progression opportunities in store for City and Islington College students.

Director of the Sixth Form College Peter Murray said: “Congratulations to all our students and their teachers for the hard work that went into today’s results.

“City and Islington Sixth Form College is London’s major A Level centre and hundreds of our students will be making plans for university this morning and looking forward to a new chapter in their lives. This was the first year where all our A Level students sat the new, more challenging, linear exams so I’m pleased that the grades are similar to last year’s, with a 94% pass rate.

“More of our students achieved the highest A* grade this year and we know that our highest achieving students have gained entry to some of the most competitive universities such as Cambridge, King’s College and the London School of Economics.

“Students in 13 of our subjects achieved 100% pass rates and I’ve been particularly impressed with the results in Performing and Visual Arts; we know lots of our students will now be progressing to some of the best Art schools in the country.

“University isn’t the only option, however, and I’m delighted to see students also progressing to some really exciting apprenticeships this year. We have a fantastic careers team here at the Sixth Form College and they will be busy today supporting students and helping them make the best decisions, whatever grades they have achieved.”

Vice Principal Tracy Stuart went on to say: “We are delighted to celebrate our student success today – it is a recognition of their hard work and commitment, along with the passion of our staff to teach and support them.

“Many of our students across the college will be embarking on new career paths at some of the best universities in the country. Others will be starting Apprenticeships or entering the workplace, having experienced some of the best preparation possible for their careers. We are incredibly proud of all our students.”

Among the top performers in this year’s results Aaron Cuthbertson, 18, who will be going on to do a degree apprenticeship in Software Engineering with Queen Mary University of London after achieving three A*s in Maths, Further Maths and Computer Science.

He said: “I’m very pleased with my results. It doesn’t get much better. I felt as confident as you can during the exams. I just tried to stay focus on the content and worry about the results later.

“I’ve probably done more revision than most students like to, but it’s clearly paid off. I had already been through the apprenticeship assessment process and got a place as long as I got A, A, B, so I was perhaps a little less nervous than some other people today.

“I chose CANDI because it gave me a lot of independence. It was very flexible and let me pursue a lot of projects and extra-curricular things outside of lessons, which were very enjoyable.”

Also among the students attaining high grades was Chakira Alin, 18, who is heading to the University of Cambridge to study English after getting two A*s in Sociology and History and an A in English Literature.

“I’m so happy because all the stress has paid off, and I got my grades for university. I felt really apprehensive over the past few days but it’s all done now and I’m delighted,” she said.

“I chose to come to CANDI because it seemed really bigger and more inclusive than my old sixth form, and the environment here seemed fun and I’m glad I came.

“The lessons were really good and interactive. They make sure you understand and checking on you all the time, which is what you need as a student.”

Another student, Gian Sanghera-Warren, 18, is heading to Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance after gaining three A*s in English, History and Philosophy and an A in Drama.

He said: “I’m feeling great. I wasn’t expecting it, so I’m pleasantly surprised. The pressure really came this morning.

“I really enjoyed my time at CANDI. I’ve enjoyed meeting all the new people and I found the more in-depth study really enriching. The relationships I had with all my teachers were really positive.”

Camay Davis-McCauley, 18, attained two As in English and Media Studies and a B in Psychology and is heading to the University of Sussex to study Journalism.

“My exams went okay but I never thought I would get an A in Media Studies. I thought a C because that exam was hard. I thought if I got three Bs I would be happy, so to get these results – I can’t believe it!

“I remember at the start of the year I spoke to my teacher and said, ‘Imagine if I get an A in English,’ and she said, ‘Don’t imagine, you can do it.’ English was the hardest subject and the one I cared about most, and I got an A.

“If you have a passion for your subject you will enjoy it. I had good teachers as well and they really supported us.”

WestKing celebrating A Level and Vocational success

Students of central London’s Westminster Kingsway College are celebrating the end of their vocational and A Level studies today, on A Level results day.

In this, the first year that the college has run the new, linear A Levels, students have achieved 100% pass rates in: Maths, French, Spanish, Film Studies and the Extended Project Qualification (part of the Baccalaureate qualification), as well as pass rates of over 90% in subjects such as English Language and Literature; English Literature; History; Media; and Sociology.

The college has a strong reputation for its vocational (work-related) qualifications and hundreds of students have taken vocational courses in a wide range of subjects, from Applied Science; and Engineering; to Performing Arts; Digital, Creative Media; and Health and Social Care. For example, many students achieved three Distinction* grades – equivalent to three A Level passes.

The college’s Principal, Kim Caplin said: “This year more students than ever have taken A levels and vocational qualifications with us and I’d like to congratulate our students and the staff who have supported them over the last two years on their successes. It’s an exciting day – as well as a nerve-wracking one – for everyone.

“It’s wonderful that so many of our students have travelled to our Kings Cross campus for A Level results day, to receive their results. We’re celebrating with them today and helping them make their next step – whether that’s to university, to college or into an apprenticeship or a job. Some students have overcome really difficult backgrounds to get some excellent results and we’re really happy for them.”

And, for any who haven’t achieved the grades they wanted, our dedicated staff are also on hand to support them through university Clearing and help them explore their options, whatever their grades.”

Georgia Sullivan

One student celebrating today is Georgia Sullivan, who achieved an A* in Psychology, an A* in Sociology, an A in Media Studies and an A in her Extended project Qualification (EPQ).

“I’m over the moon!” she told us. “I honestly wasn’t expecting this and I’m ecstatic!” Georgia wants a career as a Psychiatric Nurse working with young people and is off to study Mental Health Nursing at the University of Nottingham.

Another delighted student is Chiron Haynes-Lynch who achieved A* in English Literature and Language, A in History, A in Politics and an A in his EPQ. Armed with these amazing grades, he is off to Leeds university to study Liberal Arts.

“I wasn’t totally sure I was going to get the grades, so it was nice to wake up to this. I’m celebrating with family and friends later.”

Zoe Dupas-Hoult was one of our many successful vocational course students, gaining D* D* D* grades – equivalent to three A Levels – in her Business Enterprise – Level 3 Extended Diploma.

“I am taking a year off and travel now,” she told us. My course included Marketing, Law and Finance and I want to work in music. The Marketing part of my course will really help with this getting into the music industry. So I’ll apply for internships and apprenticeships in 2020.

“I’ve enjoyed my time at WestKing. It was really good fun.”

The media always take an interest in A Level results day and one of our past A Level students, Fatemeh Roshan who is now studying Dentistry at Sheffield University, was interviewed by Sky TV. Sky had originally interviewed her on results day back in 2015 and caught up with her to see how she had got on since then. Fatemeh talked about her feelings on the day and what her ambitions are for the future.

Unexpected results

Many students get unexpected A Level results. Often these are better than they’d expected but sometimes they get worse grades and worry that their won’t get either their first or ‘insurance’ university places. So, on results day and in the days afterwards, our Careers Team offers vital support for students who have questions following their results. This could include queries about Clearing, but also Adjustment (for those who did better than expected) and anyone who may have had a change of heart about what they want to do next.

Charlotte Hoets, Careers and Progression Lead at Westminster Kingsway College, manages the college’s team of careers and employability advisors who support students throughout their time at the college. She explained: “Our role is to always ensure that students are making informed decisions that are right for them and their personal circumstances.

“We do this all year, but on results day – which is a particularly emotional day – we want to make sure our students are not making panicked decisions. If someone is very upset, we refer to our welfare team if emotional support is needed first and we provide reassurance and guidance.

“The first student I spoke to today immediately after getting unexpected results, has been on the phone to universities and gained two verbal offers that he’s really happy with. He is planning to visit them tomorrow and make a decision about his new pathway. We’ve also had thank you messages from students who were panicked this morning, and that having someone at college to calmly talk through the options with, has really helped clarify the positives and get them quickly onto a great path.

“There isn’t one right answer for anyone, it’s a very personal choice and there are lots of potential options for people to choose from. We have helped students that maybe dropped only one grade. For example I had a student who got three As, but wanted A*, A, A and he has been weighing up whether to seek a clearing place with 3As or re-take to get that A* and go to his dream university.

“Often students are too focussed on worst case scenarios. This is completely understandable, but in fact there are a lot of fantastic opportunities out there, many of which can be secured with a very short turn-around, and we can help students work through these options logically. Sometimes these involve lots of administration and reassurance of how to get through the process. It can be especially complicated changing university through Clearing, but we can help students navigate these processes when things may seem overwhelming. As well as a listening ear and support, we also provide a calm and quiet space to think and to make phone calls.”

Some students are from poor backgrounds or are care leavers – some don’t have reliable internet access or even their own phone – and they often need extra support. Charlotte’s team are here to help: “We can provide the vital tools that they need to check Clearing and contact universities; things that most people take for granted. We’ve also been helping students today who need to get a scholarship or a bursary to make their university progression possible. There can often be additional queries to resolve, such as finding accommodation and looking at the excellent packages for care leavers that many universities offer, which can include additional personal and financial support. It can seem very complex and daunting, but we’re here to help.”

WestKing offers a huge range of academic and vocational courses for school leavers – including A Levels and courses in hospitality, construction, engineering, childcare and many more.

The CANDI Guide to Summer

School’s out, and you’ve probably got a load of time on your hands. Before the new term starts, here are a few suggestions for things to do in Islington and the local area this August.

Archway Market

Back in May, Islington Council worked with a number of City and Islington College students to help put together a stand for the new Archway Market in Navigator Square. The new market opened at the end of June in Navigator Square and hosts a quaint mix of stands including organic veg, deli, French desserts, cosmetics, second-hand books and European street food. A must-see for anybody who likes quality food, quirky knick-knacks and artisan craft products.

Our students worked hard to help with the branding and marketing of a vinyl record store on the market, making it a little slice of Islington that sits close to our heart.

Lauderdale House

Up in Highgate, you’ll find Lauderdale House, an arts and education centre offering performances, workshops and exhibitions to the public.

Between 7 August and 2 September, make the most of the opportunity to see the Gerry Laffy Art Collective, a selection of visual arts put together by City and Islington College Learning Support Assistant Gerry Laffy. With his name in lights, Ronan O’Regan is one artist you really won’t want to miss, currently studying Art with us at the Centre for Business, Arts and Technology.

Artistry Youth Dance

If dance is your thing, you might want to check these guys out. The Artistry Youth Dance group describes itself as “a vibrant youth dance company that showcases and celebrates aspiring performers of African and Caribbean descent, aged 14-19 years.” A blend of jazz and contemporary dance, the troupe will be ending their year with ‘Belonging’, a performance led by a selection of choreographers, including Karama Gray, Heather Benson and Sean Graham.

On Monday 12 August and Tuesday 13 August, the collective will be performing at our Centre for Business, Arts and Technology. Tickets are available at the reduced price of £8.00 for students.

B Creative

You may have already noticed B Creative advertised across our student intranet this summer. With support from Islington Council, the B Creative Summer School is offering young women aged 15-25 the opportunity to be a part of ‘Arts Activism’.

Between 29 July and 25 August, the organisation is running five projects, all of which are free of charge and fully accessible.

To book your place or register your interest, call 020 7689 4646 or email projects@allchangearts.org

Prepare for college

If you’re going into Year 12 this September, you might benefit from our summer activities. A Levels are a big step up from school, and our Careers team has put together a few fun transitional tasks to help ease the move. These activities vary from course to course and aim to provide a gentle introduction to what you can expect to be studying over the next two years.

Levelling the playing field for students and taxpayers

Almost half of people under 30 now go into higher education and, for many, they do this by taking GCSEs, A Levels and then on to university. However, for some people, this route isn’t practical – perhaps they didn’t get the grades they needed, or were ill during their studies and couldn’t take exams, or maybe they came to the UK from abroad and don’t have the right qualifications to go to university.

That’s where Access to Higher Education (HE) courses come in.

Access to HE courses (or Access courses as they are often called) are for people aged 19 or over, who wish to return to education to prepare for studying for a degree course. As well as being a valuable alternative route to university, learners can also apply for an Advanced Learning Loan to cover the cost of an Access courses, and, even better, Student Finance England will ‘write off’ any Advanced Learner Loan balances you owe for an Access course once you complete a relevant Higher Education course – this means you don’t have to repay it!

But these courses face unfair competition from universities who offer a rival but often more expensive type of course. In this blog, first published in Tes magazine, Tulay Rashid Grant (our curriculum director for HE, access to HE and adult vocational learning), explains more about the value of Access courses and the threat from universities.

Aaah summer. School and college have finished for another year, exams are done and dusted, and for many of us, the long summer break means some well-earned time off work. Thoughts turn to holidays and all that that entails, from what books to take to the beach, to what on earth to do with the kids for the next six weeks. It also marks the graduation celebrations season, where up and down the country, graduates have been donning robes and mortar boards to celebrate the end of their studies and (hopefully) the start of their careers.

As an FE college, you may think that WestKing would have little to do with graduations, but you’d be wrong. We are one of London’s largest providers of one-year Access to Higher Education Diploma courses – in subjects from Engineering to Midwifery to Business. These provide a valuable route into a fully-fledged degree course for hundreds of people of all ages every year. They help students develop key study skills, as well as including vocational modules that give them the grounding they need to cope well at the next levels. Access to HE Diplomas are widely accepted by universities and are equivalent to full level 3 qualifications that have UCAS tariff points. Indeed our courses serve Londoners from all boroughs, and our students are accepted to study at a broad range of universities across the UK, including those from the Russell Group.

Recently, we held our annual graduation celebration for our Access students. As the college’s Curriculum Director for Adult learning, I have met many of those who graduated this year and have been struck by the different paths that brought them to the college. For example, one student had been seriously ill when she was supposed to be taking her A Levels and had to drop-out of school, while another had come to the UK later in life and found that their educational qualifications from their home country weren’t sufficient to get them onto a degree course here. There are other tales I could tell, but the thread linking almost all of them is that the ‘traditional’ GCSEs-then-A Levels route into Higher Education was not open to them and an Access course was their only viable option.

By enabling more people to access a university degree course, Access courses run by FE colleges are therefore a vital piece in the educational jigsaw and have helped thousands of people from disadvantaged backgrounds to improve their social mobility. However, as the recent Augar Review highlights, they are under threat. Colleges are facing serious, and arguably unfair, competition from the better-funded university sector, which offers one-year “Foundation years” courses. These one-year courses typically cost the same as each year of a full degree – universities can charge up to the maximum tuition fee of £9,250.

By contrast, a college-run Access to HE course costs just £3,500 per year (learners can also take out an Advanced Learner Loan to cover the cost, which is wiped when they have completed their Foundation Degree). However, having benefited for years from being able to charge over £9,000 per student per year, universities have the financial muscle to out-compete FE colleges for these students… to the student’s financial detriment.

We have close and excellent relationships with many universities, including Middlesex University, London South Bank University and others, where staff and students from these universities visit the college to speak to our learners and support them with their transitioning to Higher Education. We consider ourselves partners of the university sector, but would love to see more Access students learning in FE’s supportive environment. As a result, we welcome the Augar Review’s recommendation, to withdraw student finance for the foundation years attached to degree courses, as this would level the playing field between FE and universities, as well as providing better value for money for students and taxpayers alike.

We would welcome the opportunity to work in partnership with universities to deliver Access to HE Diplomas, to even better prepare students for university. In working closely with universities we can ensure that we are preparing learners for their higher level programmes.

As another academic year ends and students and staff head-off for their summer breaks, let’s see if we can work together to enable even more people to achieve their dream of an affordable degree.

Helping to Tackle Knife Crime in the Capital

Knife crime is a huge worry for the UK’s young people and their parents. In the 12 months ending March 2019, there were 43,516 knife crime offences across the UK with young black and minority ethnic teenage boys and men being disproportionately affected, as both victims and perpetrators.

The issue is especially important to people who live in urban areas. Sadly, far more knife crimes are committed in London than in any other part of the UK. Further Education colleges like ours are working hard with students to raise awareness of the dangers of carrying knives and of knife crime and so we know that this work can make a difference to many students’ lives.

Leaders Unlocked are a specialist social enterprise that helps organisations engage with young people. They recognise the vital role that colleges play and so have partnered with 30 students from across eight London colleges (Westminster Kingsway CollegeBarnet and Southgate CollegeLondon South East CollegesNewVic Newham Sixth Form CollegeLewisham CollegeNew City CollegesSouthwark Collegeand West Thames College) to create the Student Commission on Knife Crime in London – a pioneering new model for engaging students in conversations which focus on solutions to end knife crime in the capital.

Our learners repeatedly tell us that they feel safe at college, but we know that their need for safety extends beyond our walls, so we are also ways looking for ways to keep them safe wherever they are. We host talks from community groups and the police and, in July, we hosted a conference that brought together Leaders Unlocked, the Metropolitan Police, WestKing students and students from seven other FE colleges, to directly engage with and work alongside the Student Commissioners to discuss the issues and to develop and create solutions to tackle knife-crime in London.

The conference also featured a Question and Answer session, where Superintendent David Moorhead of Camden and Islington Police asked for five key points that he can take back to his officers. Ideas mentioned included re-opening of youth centres, more sporting activities and closing shops earlier (the students felt that not having so many 24/7 shops open for young people to hang out at means that some will choose to stay at home instead).

One of the many reasons cited for the rise in knife crime has been the steep decline in the use of ‘stop and search’ by police forces across England and Wales – from around 1.4 million searches in 2010 to around 300,000 in 2018. Recently in London, ‘police officers are starting to use stop and search more, partly in response to the spike in knife-related injuries and murders in the Capital. But misuse of stop and search can alienate young people from the police officers who are there to protect them – during the Q&A, one WestKing student (Joshua) asked: “As a young person who has been stopped and searched many times, I feel that when police officers have approached me they have been aggressive and it’s like a ‘a one way thing’. It would be better if they were calm and conversed with the youth.”

In response to this, Superintendent Moorhead said that he has been working on this with his team and has been looking to engage a young person to interview a Police Officer and ask them questions about why they are stopping and searching them. Joshua has agreed to volunteer to take part in this research.

As well as participating in the conference, the student group are working to identify causes and influences of knife crime and on recommendations for new innovative interventions for colleges. Leaders Unlocked have been training the 30 Student Commissioners in leadership skills so that they can deliver the project to other students. Leaders Unlocked have also developed this film:

In addition, they have created a workshop for students and have trained over 500 college staff to deliver them – Leaders Unlocked hope that over 10,000 London students will experience a workshop.

ESOL Students Work With Health Watch Islington On ‘The Revolution’

As part of a local initiative to improve wellbeing services, City and Islington College students were recently invited to share their voices with commissioners of the Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust in Angel.

Between April and May, City and Islington College lecturer Sarah Lee took a cohort of ESOL students aged 16-18 from the Centre for Lifelong Learning in Finsbury Park to experience the different mental health provisions of the NHS. Taking their discussion to wellbeing centre, The Lift, in Angel, student responses garnered online attention this month for their involvement in the healthcare conversation in North London.

Sarah, who also works for independent healthcare organisation Health Watch Islington, was keen to give students the opportunity to see the inner workings of the NHS as part of ‘Options’, an aspect of the course programme for ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) students at the centre that teaches recently settled learners about social geography, including healthcare services.

She explained: “The adult mental health service at Islington are interested in moving from their old King’s Cross, St Pancras space to the Whittington Hospital in Archway. They have worked closely with Health Watch Islington, giving out a number of questionnaires to health professionals, and are now looking to speak to young people about what they would like from a mental health service before the move. Working with Health Watch Islington, our students had the chance to get involved and discuss what an ideal service would look like to them.”

Published on 29 July 2019, the corresponding article revealed students wanted services that supported mental health to be delivered in community settings alongside other services and activities that young people need. They also wanted a service that was comfortable, honest and professional.

The ESOL classes presented their ideas to NHS commissioners at The Lift, giving further insight into what would be needed to fully realise their plans.

The Health Watch Islington article notes: “The students learnt what commissioners and providers of services felt about a young person’s wellbeing service. In particular they learnt that providers do best when they focus on what they are good at. It is also important to work with partners.”

Alice Clark, Joint Commissioning Manager for Adult Mental Health for Islington Council and Islington Clinical Commissioning Group, told Health Watch Islington: “It was a real pleasure to take part. I really enjoyed the discussion, they are a lovely group and it was very refreshing to hear their thoughts and ideas on wellbeing services.”

Taking the conversation to other young people, the students tied up their work in the big city with an Instagram video, asking other young people for their thoughts on wellbeing.

Commenting on their work, Sarah went on to add: “When the students fully understood the purpose of the project, it was clear it had gone very well. They were great. I took them to environments that they perhaps wouldn’t have been to previously, and it gave them a genuine insight into what they were learning in the classroom. The 16-18 bracket for ESOL mainly consists of refugees and unaccompanied young people. It was great to see these young people get involved, and to engage in the community this way.”

You too can share your views on health and social care services with Health Watch Islington at the end of the original article here.

WestKing launches unique new degree for the ‘chef of the future’

Westminster Kingsway College has launched a ground-breaking new degree course in Culinary Health and Nutrition, developed in collaboration with employers and industry professionals, and starting in September 2019.

A first for the UK, this degree merges the principles of human nutrition with clinical biology, culinary arts and lifestyle medicine. Available as a BSc (Hons) degree, FdSc foundation degree and top-up degree, the qualifications are quality assured by Middlesex University and students will receive a Middlesex award on successful completion.

With the health of the nation always in the public eye (consider Michael Buerk’s recent highly controversial comments about obese people), it is vital to ensure that people who want to become chefs, as well as chefs already working in hotels and restaurants, have a mastery of nutrition and its effects on people’s health. As nutritionist Amanda Ursell, who worked with the college on the design of the course, said: “It’s crucial that chefs understand about nutrition, how it affects how we feel and our long-term health. You have to start with the chefs because they are the people creating and shaping menus – they have the health of so many in their hands.”

Gary Hunter, Deputy Principal of Westminster Kingsway College said: “The worlds of culinary practice and nutrition are changing. Advances in food manufacturing, increased co-working between food technologists and chefs, and growing demand for skilled nutritionists in the health and public sector, as well as the emergence of sectors such as the gut microbiome and the impact of lifestyle medicine on General Practice, are all demanding a new approach to culinary training, and we are delighted to be leading the way with this innovative new course for chefs.

“As well as working with Amanda Ursell on the programme, we have developed it in collaboration with a range of employers and industry professionals, including Restaurant AssociatesFood+ by CompassGoogleUnileverReynolds FoodsNestlé Professionaland Footprint.

Ben Creek, Director of Operations UK & Ireland, Food+ by Compass for Google said “The content of this degree will set the benchmark for the ‘chef of the future’ and this is the exact type of qualification that we want our employees to have.”

The programme leads to careers in a range of fields, including health food and commercial product development, supplements and healthy eating, sports nutrition, corporate wellness and public health.

It is suitable for those both with and without work experience, as developing employability skills and experience is a central theme. As well as preparing students for roles within organisations, it also provides the enterprise skills to start a business, enhancing career prospects with transferable and commercial skills in business development and product launching.

The programme provides the opportunity to examine the impact of nutrition on health and disease, as well as developing culinary arts skills. Students will:

  • Develop knowledge and skills in a range of scientific and emerging techniques, facilitating sound judgement with regards to scientific evidence and health claims about food and nutrition
  • Explore the principle of nutrition and the underpinning scientific knowledge of cellular biology, human physiology and pathology, including diabetes, hypertension, Syndrome X, and pre and post-exercise nutrition, including competition preparation
  • Investigate the effect of macronutrients and micronutrients on human health and disease, and discuss ‘superfoods’, diet trends such as flexitarian, ketogenic, veganism, and technology such as 3D food printing
  • Learn how to screen and identify people at nutritional risk by assessing the size, shape and composition of the human body using anthropometric assessments together with nutritional assessment of diet
  • Develop knowledge and skills relating to culinary theory and arts, kitchen organisation and food management from various cultures – promoting diversity and inclusion
  • Develop an understanding of prebiotics, probiotics and microbiology, their importance in the human body and their relationship to disease, in line with Food Safety legislation
  • Examine the role of nutrition within public health and society and appraise the impact of overnutrition and undernutrition on health
  • Investigate pillars of sustainability and the importance of professional development, accountability, conduct and ethical standards

Find out more about the new courses here – we have spaces available to start this September through Clearing – call 020 3429 7676 to apply.

Queen's Award for Enterprise