September 2019 - Capital City College Group
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Reaching 240 Vulnerable Londoners Through the Young Londoners Fund

Following a successful bid at the end of 2018, The College of Haringey, Enfield, and North East London was awarded £150,000 from the Mayor’s Young Londoners Fund. Over the next three years, CONEL will be using this money to invest in a range of initiatives that will support over 700 vulnerable teenagers across six London boroughs who are at risk of falling into a life of crime.

The programme is currently working with a total of 240 young people aged between 14 and 21 years old. Through the programme, our aim is to provide education, support and activities for participants that will deter them from getting involved in criminal activities and help them to make better life choices.

Six London boroughs refer people to the programme – Haringey, Enfield, Barnet, Islington, Camden and Waltham Forest. “The young people who are on the programme have been identified as ‘at risk’”, explains Jonathan Silman (Head of School for Key Stage 4 at CONEL). “This means that most of them have been repeatedly suspended, or even expelled, from secondary school. Many have experienced things that no child should have to see – they need support and a safe space, as well as an education.

“Many of the students on the programme (the gender mix is approximately 50:50) have experienced a traumatic incident or incidents, such as seeing a friend stabbed or killed, or they live in abusive or dysfunctional households – maybe with no parents or a single parent who is finding it hard to cope.” In addition, many of them have been involved in gang activity and some have been forced to work in ‘county lines’ drug dealing operations, where gangs and organised crime networks exploit children to sell drugs.

Because the young people’s needs vary by their age and ability, there are two parts to the programme: one that works with 14-16 year olds and the other that supports 16-21 year olds.

Support for 14-16 year olds

For the 90 14-16 year olds (Key Stage 4), there are two pathways in the programme – both of which provide full-time education and support to the students:

  • The GCSE pathway, where the main objective is to enable students to take 5 GCSEs and achieve grades 5-9 in those subjects – setting them up for taking A levels, or progressing into work, an apprenticeship or study a vocational course like a BTEC or NVQ (National Vocational Qualification). The students take lessons in the core GCSE subjects including English and maths, as well as Level 1 vocational qualifications in sport, construction and hair & beauty.
  • The Functional Skills pathway, which is for students who need more support – here the objective is for participants to improve their basic English and maths skills to a level where they can take some functional skills exams or enrol at a Further Education college, like CONEL. Subjects taken can include English, maths, catering, music, sport, construction and hair & beauty at Level 1.

Mental Health Support

Many of the programme’s participants are also living with mental health problems as a result of the traumatic things they have experienced in their young lives, so it’s vital that the programme can help students address these issues too. As Jonathan Silman explains: “Mental ill-health is a massive issue in the UK, but especially among less well-off young Londoners. Funding for children’s mental health services has been cut across London and waiting lists for accessing the specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services that they need, can, in some cases be over a year.

“In the meantime, we need to help the teenagers on our programme start to understand, process and come to terms with their experiences, so we have brought in a Psychotherapist who is working with the 14-16 year olds initially to support them. She has been talking to the teenagers, assessing the nature of their trauma, and grades their skills (how good they are at listening, speaking, reading and writing), to see if they are suitable for the GCSE pathway or the Functional Skills one.

“We’re already seeing a big difference on the teenagers’ engagement and attainment. The psychotherapy is working and the students are receptive to the support they are getting from CONEL. For many, it’s the first time that someone has really tried to understand what they’ve been through.”

Support for Older Students

The other strand of the programme is supporting 150 16-21 year olds. Typically they are students of the college on other courses, but they may be struggling with their studies and have been referred onto the programme by their tutors.

These students attend six weeks of one-hour group mentoring to help motivate them and help them stay on track with their studies. It also aims to deter students from getting involved in criminal activities by showing them the likely outcomes of doing so.

As Anthony Robinson (CONEL’s Head of Learner Experience and Industry Placements) explains: “A lot of the students on this programme have made bad life choices in the past and we want them to have opportunities to step off that path. The mentoring sessions are really useful for the students. Different sessions address different aspects including peer pressure – the role of the students’ friends and peers in pressuring them to act in certain ways – the importance of having an education on their life chances. It’s all about getting the students more engaged and motivated with their courses and reduce their risk level of getting into criminal activity.”

So far, 184 students have now completed the mentoring programme. Student Eraycan Karaks, said: “It was enjoyable, it teaches you a lot about not getting involved with gangs. It has shown me what will happen to me if I join a gang or follow people I think are my friends.”

The programme’s mentors are Royston Johns and Nyki Clark, vastly experienced mentors with over 30 years’ experience of working with young people from challenging backgrounds. They are experts on gang intervention and motivating young people to change their lives around.

In addition, students have heard from inspiring speakers from similar backgrounds to their own, including Amani Simpson, who was stabbed seven times in 2011 and who now speaks to young people about his experiences before and after the attack.

The Scourge of Knife Crime

Knife crime is a huge concern for young Londoners and many of the students on our programme have experienced this too. So, we’ve been running engaging knife crime events which offer an environment for students and staff to discuss and learn about the issues. Public Services Level 3 student Syed Salam, was on the programme and attended one of these events. He said: “This was an excellent event for us to hear about the effects of knife-crime on families and the wider community. Hearing from various organisations that are involved in tackling knife crime at a grassroots level was good, as I now know what they are doing, and how I can get involved in helping to reduce knife crime in my community.”

Anthony Robinson said: “We aim to expand our mentoring programme to help more young people and put on a range of different events and workshops that tackle the issues young people face and keep them away from crime.”

Start Up, Step Up London Launches to Encourage Entrepreneurship

A new ESF and London Growth Hub initiative, Start Up, Step Up London, launched on Wednesday 18 September 2019, to help open pathways and support enterprise skills for Londoners currently under-represented in entrepreneurship.

Delivered by Visionnaires, part of Capital City College Group, the pioneering programme will give participants access to workshops, targeted skills training, coaching and mentoring.

Deputy Mayor for Business, Rajesh Agrawal said: “I know first-hand the power of entrepreneurship to transform lives. But we need to do more to ensure that Londoners – and especially women – from diverse backgrounds have the opportunity and the know-how to start and grow a business. Step Up, Start Up can make a huge impact, and I’m proud we’re launching it today.”

Start Up, Step Up London is part of the Mayor of London’s commitment to improving diversity and representation in London’s entrepreneurship and follows extensive consultation held by the London Growth Hub over the last 18 months.

It is built directly on the recommendations of current and budding entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds not traditionally represented in start up businesses, including women, people with disabilities and from BAME, and low income backgrounds.

Jackie Chapman, Operations Director at Capital City College Group, said: “This is an exciting opportunity to change the face of entrepreneurship in London and harness the talent of London’s next wave of budding business leaders. We are delighted to be working with the London Growth Hub to deliver this exciting initiative.”

The new programme will help create a new generation of entrepreneurs and businesses through two streams – ‘Start Up’ and ‘Step Up’.

Participants will receive training, access to co-working spaces and support from an entrepreneurial mentor to inspire and advise on challenges and solutions when launching a new business.

To find out more about the programme and register your interest, visit the London Growth Hub. Start Up, Step Up London is presented by the London Growth Hub and the European Social Fund.

The London Growth Hub is an initiative of LEAP, London’s local enterprise partnership and is supported by the Mayor of London and HM Government.

Naveena’s Journey from CANDI student to Local Politician

Twenty-year-old Naveena studied the Level 3 Extended Diploma in Business with us for two years before going on to study Marketing and Management at the Queen Mary University of London.

Hailing from the islands of the Caribbean, Naveena was quick to make her mark upon arriving in London, taking an active role in the local council and the governing of the college. As a City and Islington College student she wasted no time, taking on dual responsibility as a Student Rep and Ambassador, making genuine, tangible changes around the college.

In March, we sat down with the young politician to talk about her time at CANDI and her plans for the future.

“Being a Student Rep helped me build the skills I need for my career. I asked students what needed to change and the college listened and actually made those changes. I met with the principal and head of schools to talk to them about the changes that should be made and it worked. Last year we made a lot of changes. When you come into the entrance to the college, we never used to have space to sit down so we put forward an idea and now we have the benches.

Naveena also found time to work as a Rep for Equality and Diversity across the college. “The college does a lot to support people who need extra help and I’ve learned many things being a part of that. If someone is disabled, the college has meetings with them to work out what changes they can make for it to be more accessible. If you’ve got an idea for change and reason behind it, the college will do what it can to make it work.”

Naveena does not speak much about her former life and seems firmly grounded in an ambitious future. It has been a big change, she says, namely for the sudden abundance of opportunities to specialise and carve out a role in the local community. Naveena is happy to have stayed in London having progressed onto University this year. She recently told us:

“Queen Mary is exciting and a great new experience. I still miss the Centre for Business, Arts and Technology, though. University is a good opportunity to make friends. There are many internships and mentoring opportunities, which will help in the world of work after.

“I was a mentor with Expedia and also worked with Contino while at City and Islington College. That gave me the best experience to know what to do. Attending various trips and meeting the Royals at CANDI made me active and bold. Now, I’m planning to run in the political elections at university.”

Naveena’s drive has found real focus over the last few years, starting with her election onto the Islington Youth Council in 2017. Never staying still, she made a name for herself around the college through boxing and football extra-curricular activities, later going on to win the Jack Petchey award for collegiate excellence two years in a row.

“The Jack Petchey award comes from a charity foundation that gives a grant to people who perform well in education. The award can be used to fund trips with your class. When I came to the UK I went straight for the Student Rep position and made it clear I wanted to make changes. It let me have an impact around the college. It’s nice that I had those opportunities.

“The staff helped me in many ways. They knew I wanted to do well and were very supportive in giving me extra time and help. My experience at City and Islington College was very successful. It’s a friendly environment that allows you to get what you need to succeed. I’m looking forward to the future.”

CANDI Student Wins Fashion Futures Final for London Fashion Week Display

City and Islington College student Maria Silva, 17, was named as the joint winner of the 2019 Fashion Futures final at the end of last week.

On Friday 13 September, eight months of hard work culminated with twenty finalists showcasing their fashion designs at Victoria House, Bloomsbury, focusing on the theme of sustainability and our relationship with the natural world. Sponsored by Natwest and ASOS, the winners were chosen by a panel of senior designers and influencers from the fashion industry. 

The initial programme, organised by educational charity FAD, ran from January until March and saw 70 young Londoners work closely with industry leaders to hone their skills in research and fashion fundamentals, developing a portfolio of work over the course of three months. From there, twenty finalists built upon their work to prepare garments for the final exhibition, commencing with London Fashion Week last Friday.

Maria Silva joined other City and Islington College finalists Ana Sofia Rodríguez Fajardo, Mariamawit Hailemichael Teshome, Alicia Vetrano and Joao Fernandes Silva in taking the brief to the next stage last weekend. Maria eventually went on to share first place with George Howie, 19.

Maria said: “My design is about sustainability 100% – that’s why I’m using scrap materials and hope to encourage people to use less and stop buying more, as the fashion industry is one of the worst contributors to pollution.

“FAD has helped so much with exploring my creativity and learning more about the technical side of fashion design. Their support is amazing.”

Staff at FAD described Maria’s entry as a “vibrant menswear outfit that took inspiration from the zero-waste movement, focusing on reusing and re-purposing materials so that nothing is sent to landfill.

“Her 1990s inspired ensemble incorporated thrifted denim garments and coloured yarn created from discarded t-shirts which were used for knitted panels and braided trims.”

FAD have run their Fashion Futures programme since 2005, “helping foster key professional skills” for young people looking to make it in the industry. City and Islington College has worked with the company for the last ten years, with students passing through the ranks to kickstart a career in fashion.

CANDI to Join Global Climate Strike on Friday

City and Islington College will enable students to attend the Global Climate Strike this Friday, says Capital City College Group CEO Roy O’Shaughnessy. In a recent conversation with education magazine Tes (formerly the Times Educational Supplement), he set a bold precedent ahead of this week’s strike.

The strike will run from 20 September until 27 September and invites young people all across the country to join in protest of “the age of fossil fuels”. In their words: “Our house is on fire – let’s act like it. We demand climate justice for everyone.”

The nationwide event is inspired by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old activist making headlines for challenging governments around the world to acknowledge their environmental impact.

In support of the strike, Mr O’Shaughnessy told Tes: “Climate change is the main environmental issue today, and we are committed to exposing our students and staff to the democratic process and creating internal debate on how to be a responsible citizen when diverse views are involved.

“The modern study programme for learners aged 16-19 goes well beyond studying the core academic materials: we feel that students should take involvement in youth social action, finding ambitious ways to act and reflect on the issues of our times. This is one way we can help students to relate their studies back to the broader society they’re working for and are part of.”

City and Islington College is no stranger to the issue of sustainability, trailblazing a new scheme with the Green Schools Project this year to help improve facilities at the Angel site. Starting in October, students at the Centre for Applied Sciences will have the opportunity to work with university students to perform an audit of the college, identifying challenges across the centre and providing green alternatives.

Programme leader Lucy Chapman said: “It’s an opportunity to develop a culture of enrichment at the centre. Students care about sustainability, so modelling that into a formal project-orientated programme is the goal.”

Capital City College Group is comprised of City and Islington College, Westminster Kingsway College and the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London, as well as employer and apprenticeship training provider Capital City College Training. Across the three colleges, the Group encompasses 37,000 students and around 1,750 staff, all of whom will have the opportunity to attend the walkout later this week.

Students will be permitted to attend the strike on the condition that lost class time is made up later in the term. All colleges will remain open as usual for students not wishing to attend. Read more about the Global Climate Strike.

A Summer to Remember with Career Ready

By Anthony Bruton, Lead Regional Manager (London) for Career Ready

Jasmine is still just a teenager, but she’s already had a tougher life than most of us will ever experience. Born in the Philippines to dual-nationality parents, Jasmine moved back to the UK in 2017 with her mum and brother – who has Down’s syndrome – after her father had died.

Shortly after arriving in the UK, Jasmine and her family had to move to a hostel. At the same time, she was studying for her GCSEs, as well as caring for both her brother and her mum, who suffers from depression. She says: “The first year in the UK was the toughest. I cried almost every night, sometimes regretting coming back to the UK. But at the end of the day I challenged myself and believed that I can overcome this for my mum and brother.”

Jasmine enrolled at Westminster Kingsway College to study A Levels in Chemistry, Biology and Psychology – as well as taking a part-time job. While at college, the staff spotted her drive and potential and she was introduced to the Career Ready programme, a new employability programme that was being piloted at the college during the 2018/19 academic year.

Career Ready works with disadvantaged young people aged 16-18 to prepare them to the world of work. We believe that every young person should have the skills, confidence and opportunity to enjoy a rewarding future. So, we help to unlock young people’s potential and level the playing field for them, by connecting them with employers and volunteers.

Career Ready, Westminster Kingsway College and a network of employers have come together to offer an intensive year-long programme, consisting of three main parts:

  1. Mentoring, where students are paired with an experienced professional
  2. A series of masterclasses, where employers deliver sessions on vital employability skills.
  3. A summer internship, where young people do proper and useful work, and by doing so gain the experience and knowledge required for their future success.

At WestKing…
Last year we worked with 30 students. Of these students, 40% had received free school meals in the last 6 years, 57% would be the first generation in their family to go to university and 96% are from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.

The students applied for a place on the programme, and were selected by the college’s Careers and Employability team at its King’s Cross campus led by Carlo Liu. As often is the case, students start the programme feeling under confident about their abilities and under-estimating their value and resilience. Most of them lack the networks that would otherwise open doors for them or give them a helping hand, and many have difficult home lives than also impact on their outcomes.

As Jasmine herself says: “My daily routine was, I woke in the morning to get me and my brother ready for school, then dropped him off before I rushed to college. After college, having less than 40 minutes, I would rush to the station to get to work on time.”

Jasmine isn’t alone in having difficulties to overcome. Another student – Nataly – completed her GCSEs in the UK, but then moved to Columbia (where her parents are from) and found it hard to adapt to life there. Coming back to the UK, she found it was then too late to apply for sixth forms or colleges and ended up being two years behind her peers and in need of support.

Summer internships
Westminster Kingsway College students had internships with a wide range of industries across London (including Citibank, BP, Camden Council, Aviva, Ofcom, Peabody Housing and Comic Relief). Every placement went extremely well, with the students impressing their host companies with their knowledge, skills, drive and enthusiasm. But you don’t have to take my word for it: two students Catia and Omar have written blogs about their experiences.

Image of a Tweet about Career Ready intern Omar Miah

What does all this mean for the programme’s participants?
Nationally, 98% of students on the programme progress to a positive destination (education, employment or training) afterwards, compared to the national average of 86% of students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

But beyond the statistics are countless stories of lives transformed. Empowered by her progression through the programme and emboldened by her 6-week paid internship with BP, Jasmine is looking at a Degree Apprenticeship. Catia now wants to study International Relations at university and said: “The best thing about my internship was that I got a proper insight into what I wanted to do in the future, it has expanded my knowledge of the industry and put me on the right path towards where I want to go.”

And at Arcadis, students Nataly and Andreea capped-off their internships by leading an impressive presentation to a room full of colleagues.

Photo of Career Ready interns at Arcadis, with Carlo Liu from Westminster Kingsway College

Building on the first year’s success

The team at Westminster Kingsway College have run the programme for just one year and we already recognise them as a “centre of excellence” across our London region. The programme is growing and this year we plan to have 50 or more students on the programme.

To achieve this though, we need more employers (big and small!) to join our structured programme and provide as many high-quality experiences of work.

As Catia – who completed the programme in the summer with a paid 4-week internship with the British Standards Institution – told us: “Learning in school can only give you so much of an idea about the world after education. Real work experience mentally prepares students for the challenges they might face at work and how to tackle them. Career Ready opens up so many doors and opportunities that we wouldn’t have otherwise thought about. The most important thing is, it can really open your mind to all of the paths available in the future, things you may never have thought possible before.”

I couldn’t have put it better myself.

Westminster Kingsway hosts Portuguese Students on NEW Programme

Westminster Kingsway College recently welcomed a group of 19 students from Escola Comércio Lisboa – a Commerce school based in Lisbon, Portugal – to take part in a 2-week international student mobility programme focusing on Social Science, Business and English skills.

The students took part in interactive classes delivered by Westminster Kingsway Collge staff covering entrepreneurship, business management, the rise of E-commerce and media. They particularly enjoyed the business class where students had the opportunity to create their own perfume and business model for their product and to pitch their creation to the rest of the group. The group also had the chance to view the end of year exhibition work of WestKing’s Media students.

The students visited the world-famous Ritz Hotel where they were given a tour of the grand dining rooms and secret garden bar, and enjoyed a talk with the head concierge about his 45-year journey in service. Westminster Kingsway has a strong partnership with the Ritz, where our hospitality students have the opportunity to gain work experience.

Portuguese students on trip
Portuguese students outside our Kings Cross centre

As part of the programme, students also took part in a retail design walking tour of London. On the tour, students learnt about individual retailers in the West End whilst discussing their marketing strategies and positions. These activities provide a unique experience for students to network with industry representatives, learn about current trends and hot topics in the sector and witness first-hand the coordination and management required to run a high-end business.

Overall student feedback was very positive with many students commenting on the strong teacher engagement and expressing a wish to study further in London in the near future.

This is the second time Westminster Kingsway College has worked with Escola Comércio Lisboa and we are looking forward to hosting similar programmes in the future.

Freshers’ Fair Welcomes Class of 2019

Newly enrolled students attended the first of two Freshers’ Fairs at the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London’s Enfield Centre on Wednesday 11 September 2019.

The event had a variety of different information stalls, showing the opportunities – both inside and outside the college – that students can enjoy in the coming year of study. The Sports department were showcasing their Football, Basketball and Mixed Martial Arts academies, the Careers Services team explained the services they offer, the Student Ambassadors team were recruiting and the new CONEL E-SPORTS group displayed their games and schedules.

We also had companies and local organisations in attendance, including: Bywaters, Enfield’s local youth centres, Project Rugby, Middlesex FA, Chance to Shine [Free street cricket], Citizens Advice (Enfield), HSBC, Healthwatch (Enfield), NHS Lets Talk, and Speak like a Native.  The Middlesex FA ran a competition in which participants guessed the number of chocolate footballs in the trophy.

Abed Elkurdi Won 161 Chocolate Footballs

Winning student, Abed Elkurdi, from West Lea School, a special educational needs school which works in partnership with CONEL, was very pleased to win the 161 chocolate footballs. He said: “I am going to share them all with my friends.”

Sports Development Co-ordinator, Robert Murphy, said: “The Fresher’s Fair is a great opportunity for us to let the students know about all the amazing sports and enrichment opportunities we offer at the college. We also had competitions going on in standing long jump, sit and reach flexibility test and a grip strength test for which the prize was a week’s gym membership at the college. It was great fun.”

Students with Goodie Bags
Students with goodie bags at the fair

Khaled Ahmed, from Middlesex cricket, said: “It has been great to be here today and recruit so many students. We have been promoting our new Free Street Cricket – it’s a fast-paced version of the game played with a tapeball – a tennis ball wrapped in electrical tape – in small enclosed spaces. With six players per team and 20 balls per innings, it’s cricket’s answer to five-a-side football! We will be at CONEL’s Enfield centre from 6pm-8pm every term time Monday in sports hall.”

A Tale of Two Cities: Merlin’s Time in the Capital

Back in March, we sat down with a number of past and present students across our five centres to get a better sense of what it means to study at CANDI. The City and Islington College cohort hail from all over the world, creating a real melting pot for ideas, styles and approaches to life. This week, we look at the story of Merlin Bernardini, whose studies with us were his first experience of the English education system.

Passionate about film and media, Merlin came across City and Islington College while looking for a post-16 course. The comprehensive curriculum along with opportunities outside of class saw Merlin join the college in 2018 from a leading French-speaking school in London.

“There are so many things that are different, such as the hours that you do in college. I’m doing three days a week. At my school I was doing every day eight till six, sometimes seven if we had enrichment activities after class. I think that at college you are more independent. Teachers don’t need to help you necessarily in the same way as they help you in school: a lot of it is down to you.

“It’s not that they don’t mind, but coming here is your choice. If you don’t come to class, it’s you that suffers. At school, if you don’t come to class you get a detention and that’s it. You learn quickly that your life is your responsibility at college. You’re here to learn, and the opportunities are there if you want to take that seriously.”

Merlin’s study programme is built around a Level 3 Creative Media course, which offers insight into all the different dimensions of working in the Media: “We don’t just do filming; it’s also photo-shoots, radio.” For Merlin, the main thing is that it is never a routine. There is always another approach, always another aspect to consider.

When he’s not in class, Merlin works for the college’s internal agency, CANDI Creative. Set up at our Centre for Business, Arts and Technology, the extracurricular activity helps students from the centre’s three disciplines share and combine ideas to provide creative solutions to modern business problems.

“I think CANDI Creative is preparing me for the final major project at university. I’m going onto the next step with a feel for how these big projects work. The thing about studying here and the CANDI Creative path is that we are not just preparing for university, but also for afterwards in the future. Sometimes you have to go behind the scenes and gather more information. Sometimes you have to think outside of the box. That’s what I’m learning to do.

“Aside from that, I’ve been able to work with the Tate Modern through a collaboration with the college. A director told me he liked my work and wanted me to work with them beyond the college project, to film part of a huge event that happened at the museum.”

We talk a little bit about Merlin’s move from a traditional, formal school, and his jump into the English education system. City and Islington College has modern resources for student support and offers students with learning difficulties to sit down and make adjustments that can ensure they get the most out of college.

Merlin said: “I am dyslexic, and I think before my school didn’t know how to help people with dyslexia. It was an inconvenience. At this college, whatever problem you have, the teachers care and give you the time and opportunity to succeed in what you want to do. I now get 25% extra time on exams, which has helped me to finish on time and get better grades. It’s about giving everybody fair and equal chances to get it right.

“For me, City and Islington College is welcoming. I think it’s a place where you can feel like you’re in the right place – not just for studying, but being with other like-minded students and teachers.”

Queen's Award for Enterprise