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All our best bits from 2019

With the new year – and new decade – almost upon us, we thought it would be nice to look back on the last 12 months at Westminster Kingsway College. So, here are all the best bits from 2019….

January

We are central London’s leading further education college in the exciting field of visual effects (VFX) for TV and film, so it was fitting that the year kicked-off with us winning a contract – with Capital City College Training (the specialist training arm of the Capital City College Group) – to deliver a new Visual Effects (VFX) Apprenticeship, beating-off competition from universities.  The two Apprenticeships are being delivered in partnership with the NextGen Skills Academy.

Visual Effects

February

During the February half-term holidays, many of our students do work placements, to gain new skills and experience the world of work. For some, it will prove to be vital experience for their CVs.

Business student Victoria Freitas Tineo, spent a week at the leading London think-tank Centre for London. The week was lined-up by Victoria and Wendy Breakell from the college, working with an organisation called S4S: NextGen.

Student Image
Victoria Freitas Tineo

Victoria really enjoyed her week, saying that “I learnt so much during my week at the Centre for London. I met all the team and they gave me training every day on a new skill to help develop my skills for a career. I learnt Excel which is proving to be useful in my studies as well as in a future job.” Presenting in front of different audiences is a key skill that will prove invaluable in developing Victoria’s confidence, cooperation and communication, so her week ended with her presenting a research proposal, with some of the Centre for London team.

March

March was a bumper good news month, us marking National Apprenticeships Week with WestKing’s Hospitality Apprenticeships Programme Manager Sharon Barry and Chef Lecturer Nick Gunyon being granted an ancient and coveted honour – the Freedom of the City of London – for their years of service to apprentices.

Sharon and Nick

We also had a group of 16-18-year-old students participate in – and win – a Digital Career Colleges challenge at the London offices of Amazon Web Services, the global cloud computing and cloud services giant. The students had undertaken an eight-week challenge to develop an innovative digital solution to promote the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of young people.

And our students won! Their ‘Hope Box’ idea beat off competition from three other colleges (Barking & Dagenham College, BMet and Coleg Gwent). Hope Boxes would be placed at public places like train stations – giving people a space to talk about their problems with someone on a screen. As Renata Cann, Lecturer in ICT and Computing, who supported the students through the challenge said: “A lot of people tend to shut themselves off from communicating with others when they are suffering from any problems so the Hope Box is a great way for people to anonymously talk about themselves face-to-face without being in person. The innovative design impressed the judges, as did the group’s genuine desire to give hope to people who may be struggling with mental health issues.”

At the end of March, our thoughts turned to planning our big summer push to encourage lots of students to enrol with the college. We decided to make the students the stars, so we turned some of them from our Victoria Centre and King’s Cross Centre into models, making them over and turning them into #StarsForADay.

The student stars have been everywhere – on our website, on bus stops, bus-sides, in adverts on social media, in emails and even on the odd leaflet – and they helped us hit our targets for new students, helping the college provide more great courses for more people.

April

April was another busy month for good stuff, including:

Digital Arts and Photography students Charlotte Allcock, Patricia Medina and Annie Koyce won a student competition to design a 10 metre-long bespoke hoarding, for the construction site at 150 Holborn in central London, where Dar Group – a leading global professional services company – is building its new UK headquarters.  The college ran the competition with Dar Group and the winning design, on the theme of Connection, was finally installed in October and the students visited the site to see their hoarding in place.

A picture of staff and students from Westminster Kingsway college and dar Group staff at 150 Holborn

Over at our School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts in Victoria, We collaborated with leading think-tank The Centre for London on their ground-breaking report, Kitchen Talent, on the future of London’s culinary and hospitality industries. On the morning of the report’s launch, BBC London News filmed at our Victoria centre and an interview with student Kyla Bertrand featured on the News that evening.

Our School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts’ training kitchens and Escoffier Room fine dining public restaurant recognises international cultures with ‘themed weeks’ throughout the year. April saw Thai Week, so we hosted Thailand’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, HE Mr. Pisanu Suvanajata, and the ambassadors to the UK of Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines and Myanmar.  Senior chef lecturer Jose Souto conducted the group on a tour of the college’s kitchens and workshops, explaining the cultural history of the centre (we have taught culinary and hospitality skills on the site for over 100 years), before the group sampled the students’ Thai cuisine skills over lunch in our Escoffier Room restaurant.

May

In a first for the travel industry, Westminster Kingsway College ran a conference in May that brought the industry and college students together, to boost recruitment and enhance students’ understanding of the trends and issues facing the travel and tourism sector. At the conference, held at our Victoria Centre on 2nd May, travel and tourism students from Brooklands College, the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London and Westminster Kingsway, heard from speakers from ABTA, Tui, BA, Royal Caribbean Cruises and Virgin Holidays. The students, who all aspire to work in travel and tourism roles, got invaluable insights into the hundreds of exciting jobs available to them.

The end of May saw an annual favourite – our School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts’s annual Sponsors and Business Partners Lunch at the Brasserie in our Victoria Centre. Four years ago, this event welcomed 30 guests, but this year the Brasserie was buzzing to the sound of 175 eager industry professionals.

June

In June we met a truly inspiring student: Santiago Fori. When he was just 15, Santiago fell from a climbing frame in his local park and smashed the C4 cervical vertebrae in his neck – an accident that left him a quadriplegic: in a wheelchair, struggling to breathe and with no use of his arms or legs. Since then, his recovery has astounded his doctors and when we met him in June, he had just completed the Travel and Tourism – Level 3 Extended Diploma course at Westminster Kingsway College.

Armed with new skills and confidence from three years’ studying with us, Santiago is really positive about the future, and, most importantly, he has choices and options for what he will do next. “I am looking for work at the moment” he told us. “I would love to work in accessibility or disability jobs – I looked at a job at Tottenham Hotspur FC – and I am going to start volunteering at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, where I go for some treatments and work out at the gym there.”

July

WestKing BTEC science student Denislava Andreeva couldn’t even order a McDonald’s when she arrived in the UK just two years ago.  In the summer she scored top (D* D* D*) grades on her Science – Level 3 Extended Diploma course and in July, she won a silver award in the final of the prestigious Pearson BTEC Awards national student competition.

Photo of BTEC student Denislava Andreeva
Photo of BTEC student Denislava Andreeva

Also in July, our Kings Cross campus hosted our first–ever employability ‘thank you’ event. WestKing has relationships with more than 100 companies including ITN, Salesforce, Havas, Property Developers Argent, The Ritz, Harrods, Dar Group and FrameStore (the Bafta and Oscar-award-winning creative studio).

Throughout July we ran our first social media competition – the #WestKingCulinaryWorldCup – a series of public votes on our WestKing Twitter and Facebook pages.  In it, we pitted 16 of our famous culinary alumni, including Sophie Wright, Ben Murphy, Jeff Galvin, Ruth Hansom, Ainsley Harriott and Jamie Oliver, against each other in a series of head-to-head winner-takes-all ‘battles’ – where the public decided who went through to the next round by voting for their favourite former student.  After 3 weeks and over 2,500 votes from fans and the public, our clear winner was Ben Murphy, the Head Chef at Launceston Place restaurant in Kensington. 

August

School was out for the summer, but we were still very busy!  We:

September

September is the start of the academic year and it’s our peak month for starting new courses Thousands of new students joined the college on a course in September and we held Welcome Fairs, Freshers’ Fairs and other activities to say ‘Hello’ to them all.

October

October sees the start of the awards season and we had two good ones to celebrate:

Our Careers and Employability team won the ‘Most Progress from a School or College’ category at the Careers and Enterprise Company Awards. We are the first-ever further education college to win at the awards, which recognise and celebrates the work of colleges, schools, businesses and careers professionals.

The team won the in a ceremony at the end of September at the Royal Society of Chemistry in Piccadilly, London – beating-off competition from 30 other schools and colleges to bag the award.

Not to be outdone, student Enrico Rizzi won the Most Outstanding Young Person in Business category at the inaugural Westminster Business Council Awards. Enrico – with fellow student Alan Manni – won the award for their work to devise and create a brand new crispy snack called Polenties, which mixes polenta with a secret blend of Japanese Nori seaweed and other flavours to create a healthy snack.

And, right at the end of October, we hosted A Taste of ASEAN – a celebration of South-East Asian culture and food. The 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam – were represented and over 200 guests were treated to musical and dance performances from ASEAN nations and a selection of delicious Asian dishes that were devised, cooked and served by our culinary students – ably supported by their chef lecturers.

Among the guests were Ambassadors and Heads of Mission from many countries, staff and friends from the ASEAN nations, and staff from the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) including Heather Wheeler MP, the UK’s Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific.

November

During November we encouraged our students to register to vote in the General Election. And in the run-up to the election, we held hustings events at Kings Cross and Victoria, where students could hear from – and grill – the Parliamentary candidates. A group of our politically-engaged students also appeared on the BBC talking about the election.

December

We value our place in our local communities, and in December we wanted to do something to help those who are far less fortunate than us.  So, at all our centres, we arranged collections of clothes and hygiene products for Crisis – the national homelessness charity. Thanks to the generosity of our staff and students, we collected over 40 bags-full of stuff which will be going to people in need this Christmas.

A photo of Westminster Kingsway College staff sorting piles of donated clothes for Crisis
Westminster Kingsway College staff sorting the donated clothes for Crisis (L to R): Gigi di Santi, Laura Elliott, Carlo Liu, Mike Magras, Esther Dahan and Lorraine Acton

And finally… over Christmas – like in previous years – our King’s Cross campus will be a place of refuge, safety and warmth for London’s homeless, as it will be one of the Crisis at Christmas London centres. Stay tuned to our website and social media in the new year for an update on how Crisis at Christmas went, and to keep in touch with us next year

Have a great holiday break – see you in 2020!

Bereket Wins Learning Achievement Award

Haringey Virtual School and Tottenham Hotspur hosted their Annual ‘Education Achievement Awards of Haringey Children in Care 2019’ in November. Student Bereket Assaye, 17, won the Learning Achievement Award and so he and his Curriculum Manager from the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London were invited to the London Academy of Excellence to receive their award.

The award ceremony recognises students’ hard work, dedication and commitment to their studies, despite sometimes having to deal with personal obstacles that other students do not. CONEL’s ESOL Curriculum Manager, Melike Asan, nominated Bereket for the award.

Melike said: “Bereket is a young person from Eritrea. He came to the UK as an unaccompanied minor and despite his young age and not having his family in the UK, he is aware of his own responsibilities. He always motivates himself and is determined to achieve in the UK. He is very kind, well-mannered and supports his peers. He always shows respect to his tutors and classmates.

“He started with very low language skills and worked hard and passed all his exams in Entry Level 2. His achievement is due to his determination and hard work. He has set a very good example to all other learners including those who have a more privileged life in London. We are very proud of his achievement in his exams and how his confidence has developed during his time with us. He is currently studying ESOL Entry 3 and Level 1 Functional Skills in Maths.

“Bereket told me he enjoyed the award ceremony and felt very proud of his achievements.  This is a reward for all his hard work.”

Here at CONEL we aim to help all students gain the skills and qualifications they need to progress to their next step, whether this is further education or into a career. We are dedicated to helping our students with their personal lives too, which is why we have a specialist safeguarding team to help students with any issues they may be facing in or outside of college.

“This is a great award for CONEL to receive,” Director of Employment Skills and Support, Hilary Moore, said. “The ESOL team run a really tight ship. This award is a great testament to the hard work of the tutors and learners that leads to so many gaining the language and employability skills they need.

“We pride ourselves on preparing students to progress into jobs or other training opportunities and integrate into the local area.”

We’re Helping Homeless People Stay Warm and Safe this Christmas

Staff and students from Westminster Kingsway College have pulled together for London’s homeless – collecting 42 bags of warm winter clothing and hygiene products like soap, deodorant and shampoo – for Crisis, the national homelessness charity.

Crisis aims to rebuild the lives of people affected by homelessness. Offering support, advice and courses across England, Scotland and Wales, the organisation’s Crisis for Christmas campaign asks the public to find ways to support their mission during the coldest months of the year.

Mike Magras, Learning Support Manager at Westminster Kingsway College, organised the collection of clothes and hygiene products. He said:

“I am really delighted that so many of our students and staff took an active role in making our Crisis for Christmas collection such a success.

“It must be terrible to be homeless at any time, but especially at Christmas when it’s cold outside and families and friends are celebrating, so we were happy to do whatever we could to help. Our staff and students collected over 40 bags of warm clothing and vital hygiene products for London’s homeless and it’s wonderful that people’s generosity will make such a big difference to so many homeless people’s lives this winter. Our friends from Crisis will be here in the next few days to help us sort all the donated clothes and make sure that they go where they are needed most.

The college doesn’t just support its communities at Christmas. As Mike explained: “We have been working with our students since the start of term in September, on various social action projects to raise their awareness of the needs of their wider communities and we’ve been blown away by how engaged and enthusiastic they’ve been.

“I’d like to thank everyone at Westminster Kingsway College who donated, for their generosity.”

A photo of Westminster Kingsway College staff sorting piles of donated clothes for Crisis
A photo of Westminster Kingsway College staff sorting piles of donated clothes for Crisis

Westminster Kingsway College is one of three further education colleges in the Capital City College Group. The Group’s Student Ambassador Team Leader Thomas Blundell has worked with all three colleges to coordinate the collection of winter clothes for Crisis. He said: “We are delighted to be able to help Crisis out this Christmas. Having 37,000 students across 11 sites puts us in a unique position to make a real difference to London’s homeless population this Christmas.

“The original idea came from Mike Magras at our Kings Cross Centre. We spoke about doing something at the Westminster Kingsway College site and soon realised we could replicate the initiative across the Capital City College Group.

Last year, deaths among homeless people rose 22%.

“Last year, deaths among homeless people rose 22%. This is a really important, pressing issue, and we’re very grateful for the enthusiastic response we’ve had from staff so far.”

But that’s not all. The college will also be opening its doors to London’s homeless over Christmas, as it will be one of the Crisis at Christmas London centres. Commenting on this and our clothes collection, Ian, the Head of Christmas at Crisis said:

Crisis at Christmas is only possible because of the incredible support from thousands of people who volunteer and donate, united in a belief that we can end homelessness. We would like to thank Westminster Kingsway College for allowing us to use their building as one of our centres and providing us with a generous collection. With their help we provide homeless people with vital support at Christmas and a way out of homelessness for good through Crisis’ year-round services.”

Employer Partner Wins Apprentice Employer of the Year

One of Capital City College Training’s employer partners, The Pension Protection Fund (PPF), recently won the Apprentice Employer of the Year category at the Croydon Business Awards. We caught up with employees Sharon Godfrey, Talent Development Manager, and Rishma Poojara, Commercial Apprentice, who were at the awards and told us what this meant to them and the PPF.

“Winning this award is great recognition for all the work we have been doing,” said Sharon. “The awards were a really nice evening and we took all our apprentices. As levy payers, we want to do the right thing and develop future talent. We create opportunities for young talent and often recruit from the local community so this external recognition at the Croydon Awards means a lot to us.”

Levy paying companies make a yearly payment of 0.5% of their total payroll bill, which they then use to pay for apprenticeships in their company. This is a government initiative to increase the quality and quantity of apprenticeships in the UK.

Sharon continued: “Rishma was our first apprentice back in 2018 and following her success in the company, we now have 12 apprentices working at the Pension Protection Fund (PPF). They work in a range of areas and at a number of different levels (from 2 right up to level 6). All our apprentices get to do ‘real work’ because we really want to make sure that what they learn is real and relevant to the career they want to build. Everyone within this business understands this which is what makes it so valuable for our apprentices.

“As well as new employees who are on apprenticeships, we are also up-skilling our current employees. This gives them an opportunity to learn new skills and gain sector-relevant qualifications. What we like about apprenticeships are they give all involved relevant career qualifications and knowledge on the job.”

Rishma was PPF’s first-ever apprentice when she started her Level 4 Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply in 2018. Rishma studies at college one day each week and works the rest of the week at PPF. One year into her two-year course, Rishma only has one exam, a project and a Q&A to complete until she will be awarded her well-deserved pass.

Rishma said, “I was looking for a fresh start. After studying at university-level, and now with two kids, I wanted to kick-start my career. CCCT and PPF offered me a great opportunity for something new and challenging.

“I am in a team of 10 and we all work really closely. It is great working end-to-end in every process, it means I fully understand what the business is doing and how it is done, rather than being stuck on one small part of the job like some other apprentices. The theory I learn in class, I then put into practice at work.”

I have enjoyed everything about it so far. This career offers me the opportunity to travel around the world and learn so much. All in all, it is a brilliant opportunity for me to grow both in my career and as a person.

Working with Capital City College Training, The Pension Protection Fund plans to employ 10 new apprentices each year.

RISHMA POJARA: “Why I chose to do an apprenticeship – my journey”

“I completed school like everyone else, went on to do my A-levels and then to university.  It wasn’t easy as I had my son to look after as well, but I got through it with the right support.

The path I wanted to take was in life sciences, but I just couldn’t find a way to get into the industry.

“It is tough when just completing a qualification is not enough. Back in 2009, I was looking for an apprenticeship but the opportunities were just not there. To make the situation even more difficult, I suffered from a rare form of brain injury which took me almost 3 years to recover.

“Fast forward, in my early 30s I had to re-evaluate which career path I wanted to take, and have a balanced home/working life.

“I came across the Commercial Apprentice role at the Pension Protection Fund and decided to do a bit of research on Procurement and Supply and the CIPS Level 4 qualification. The more I looked into it, I knew that this wasn’t just a job but a fantastic career opportunity, to learn and train on the job. I was able to transfer the skills and knowledge I have gained over the last two years whilst volunteering.

“I met my Account Manager Luke Mills at college, he advised me on how to approach the job interview and he supported me throughout the process. This gave me a lot of confidence and self-belief.

“I attend college once a week for my weekly workshops which gives me the opportunity to meet other students and network and to get the support I need to complete my two years of training. You do have to put the extra time in to study and practise exam questions, but it is manageable and my home life has not been affected, with the support network around me I get the time to study, work and spend time with my family, which has been amazing.

“My line manager and the Commercial team have been absolutely amazing, supportive and patient, and have put time aside to work with me to go through what I am learning at college and put it into practice and my day-to-day activities. 

“I have learnt and developed a lot of new skills and I look forward to completing my apprenticeship and developing my career in Procurement and Supply. What I want from this apprenticeship is to take the knowledge, skills and behaviours I have learnt in theory and to apply it to my role and to understand the processes and best practice. 

“My advice to anyone looking to do an apprenticeship is ‘go for it!’ – I thought I was too old and wouldn’t fit in, but it does not matter, as long as you put in the work and set yourself objectives and goals and show your employer that you have what it takes. 

“Doing an apprenticeship has given me the opportunity to learn valuable skills, earn a salary and gain independence, jump-start my career and has opened many doors to my future.”

CONEL Launches Employment Programme for Young People with Disabilities

The College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London has partnered with Tottenham Hotspur Foundation, North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust and Haringey Council to support young people with learning disabilities into employment.

The programme, which is run in partnership with Project SEARCH, a charity that works with organisations in the UK to help people with learning disabilities find a job, will provide the young people with a year-long supported internship at North Middlesex University Hospital while they complete their academic studies at CONEL.

The students, aged between 16 and 24, will work in various departments across the hospital and will be given tasks designed to build their self-confidence, teambuilding and communication skills.

In addition to hands-on work experience, they will receive mentoring and attend additional workshops organised by Tottenham Hotspur Foundation to help further develop their career potential and prepare them for the workplace.

At the end of the academic year, the students will have an opportunity to apply for a full-time job at the hospital. Anyone who isn’t successful will be supported by Tottenham Hotspur Foundation to find alternative employment.

According to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics, only seven per cent of people with a learning disability are currently in paid employment and these people face the most significant barriers to getting a paid job and a sustainable career. This figure increases to 65 per cent for those that have been through Project SEARCH programmes.

Robin Hindley, Interim Deputy Principal at CONEL, said: “CONEL is very pleased to be working on this programme with Tottenham Hotspur Foundation and our local hospital, with the support of Project SEARCH. By working together, the young people will receive a greater level of support, allowing them to realise their potential and to be ready to compete with all other applicants for roles at the hospital and beyond.”

Gareth Jones, Equalities and Inclusion Manager, Tottenham Hotspur Foundation, said: “Tottenham Hotspur Foundation has been working with Project SEARCH for the past couple of years to help identify work experience placements and employment opportunities for people with learning disabilities living in the Club’s local community. We are delighted to be working in partnership with North Middlesex Hospital and CONEL to support a new group of young people find meaningful, long-term employment which will help them live independent and fulfilling lives.”

Alfredo Thompson, Director of Workforce Programmes, North Middlesex University Hospital, said: “We are thrilled to welcome the young people to our hospital and look forward to working with them and supporting them throughout the academic year. Project SEARCH is important to us as it’s aligned to our commitment to our local communities, ensures we are an inclusive organisation which provides opportunities for young people across north London.”

Jack’s journey from college to Coutts

Westminster Kingsway College alumnus Jack Rawlings was just 16 when he enrolled at the college in 2006. Studying for three years in our renowned Victoria Centre, he now works in an exclusive fine-dining restaurant in the London headquarters of Coutts, the leading private bank. Jack sat down with us recently, to reflect on his time at college and the world of cooking for a living.

Growing up in North London, Jack heard about Westminster Kingsway College and its culinary school through his dad: “My dad is a chef and my mum was a hotel manager, so I have always been around the hospitality and culinary world. Dad said to me: ‘If you want to do it, do it properly’ and of course everyone knows about WestKing and its culinary school.”

“When I first joined WestKing I was not only a different chef but a different person. I took part in work experience across all three years of my course which really helped me.

“College wasn’t just about Monday to Friday. It gave me experience in the industry to make me a better chef. In my first year, I went to a contract catering unit in Moorgate. In my second year, I went to Claridges and in my third, I went to a Michelin-starred restaurant in Mayfair.”

Westminster Kingsway College works with a large number of industry professionals, which allows the college to tailor work experience to the career ambitions and natural talents of each student. Work experience is often discussed between staff and students, making it less ‘take what you are given’ and more an opportunity to get involved and play an active role in carving out your path.

Jack went on to talk about his time at the college and the extra-curricular activities he participated in: “I took part in a lot of competitions while at college and one tutor in particular, Vince Cotton, was my mentor for these events. To have someone there for me during quite a stressful time, someone who was so experienced not only as a chef but also as a competitor was amazing to have.

“I travelled around the country and was even lucky enough to go to the USA after winning the Escoffier competition [a competition in which the top five third-year students design menus and then compete against each other in a week-long finale] and visiting the Institute of Culinary Arts for a week in North Carolina. To experience this while at college was great and isn’t something you get everywhere.”

Just two months after completing his course at Westminster Kingsway College, Jack started a full-time job at Coutts Bank. Founded in 1692, Coutts is one of the oldest banks in the world and looks after some of the most prestigious clients in the UK. Jack got a one-day trial at the bank’s restaurant while working at the college and, nine years later, is still a permanent member of staff.

Jack said: “When I first started at Coutts I was on the stove cooking meat and fish within my first two weeks. This is a massive role in the kitchen and it made me feel great that the head chef had faith in me to do it. I was thrown in at the deep end, but this helped me progress into the position I am in the business now.

“In my nine years here I have learnt so much and progressed through six job roles. I started as a commis chef, then went up to demi chef de partie, chef de partie, junior sous chef, sous chef and now senior sous chef. I now have a great relationship with all of the chefs and this is because we have all been there so long. This is quite unusual for any Michelin-starred restaurant and the culinary industry in general. I think this is because of the sociable hours, Monday to Friday, so I get my weekends. We do evening work but you get paid overtime for that. Normally, if you want this work/life balance in the industry you either have to compromise on pay or quality of food. Here at Coutts, you don’t.”

“I am very happy with my job. I have always said if I am learning then I will be happy and I am still learning every day.”

Jack’s culinary excellence has been allowed to blossom on stages beyond the Coutts restaurant floor. In 2013 he took part in Professional Master Chef. Jack said “One of the highlights of my journey so far, I would have to say, would be taking part in Professional Master Chef after my head chef asked me to apply. After passing the phone interview and the face to face interview I made it onto the show and to date, I am the youngest chef to ever make it to the quarter-finals. It was a good experience and I learnt so much. I just wish I had waited till now in my career to go on the show as I have learnt so much since and think I could go even further.”

The relationship between Westminster Kingsway College and Coutts extends much further than Jack; in fact, Baroness Burdett-Coutts, of the Coutts family, funded the building of the college’s Victoria Centre and the restaurant is also home to many other WestKing alumni.

“I am not the only one from Westminster Kingsway College here at Coutts. At one point we had seven people from the same year in the Coutts kitchen, we still get international students coming from WestKing and we also have regular students from the same diploma course that I studied.

“My executive chef has always had college students in his kitchen on work experience and many of them come from Westminster Kingsway College due to the standard of chefs they produce. There is still one chef at Coutts who was in my year at college, our head pastry chef was one year below me at college, one of the junior sous chefs did the part-time course at WestKing – you really see a difference. We even have lecturers from WestKing coming in during their students’ rotations in the kitchen. They get to sit down with the student and us, and have a chat about how the student is doing.”

Creative Careers Week includes Ministry of Sound Event

On 26 November, a group of City and Islington College Sixth Form students attended the Ministry of Sound studios as part of a nationwide initiative for work experience.

As part of the broader Discover! Creative Careers week-long event, a number of industry leaders opened their doors to students across the nation to provide insight into the true inner workings of some of the country’s most dynamic and glamorous sectors.

Discover! Creative Careers Week was run by young people’s charity Creative & Cultural Skills. The organisation aims offers relevant work experience opportunities via the National Skills Academy’s network of industry and education supporters.

Facilitated by the Careers team at our Sixth Form Centre, City and Islington College students were invited to “engage, explore and network” with industry professionals at the Ministry of Sound HQ.

Ministry of Sound Group is a multimedia entertainment business, hosting a nightclub, workspace and members club. Founded in 1991, the organisation has slowly expanded to provide opportunities for creative businesses in London, welcoming in the next generation of performers and artists.

Sixth form student Evangeline said: “The trip was so great. We got to learn about not only the Ministry of Sound and how it changed music for so many people, but also about the industry it’s in. We talked to so many people helping in so many ways showing the great variety of careers we can choose from and we got to have a lot of fun learning.”

A Level student Ella-Rae added: “The trip was really interesting and informative as we got to learn about all the different jobs at the Ministry of Sound, as well as getting involved in all the aspects such as trying out the turn-tables — not just in the music but also the lighting and planning of an event.”

The event followed on from a tour of the Warner Brothers head office the previous week, also part of the Discover! Creative Careers schedule.

Head of Careers, Jo Bishop said: “We’re very happy to be able to offer our students these opportunities; for many it’s their first time relating their education back to work, which is a crucial part of carving out a meaningful career.

“Students are often surprised by the many careers open to them after A Levels. We try to give all students the opportunity to learn from employers, which we couldn’t do without the help of our local partners. It is rewarding to be able to show students how creativity can be used in so many exciting career options.”

Group to collect clothing for charity over Christmas

Capital City College Group is pleased to announce its collaboration with charity Crisis UK to collect warm clothing for the homeless over Christmas.

The initiative, dubbed ‘Winter Wear Drive’, is a Group-wide project arranged by the professional staff at our Regent’s Park Centre in aid of homelessness charity Crisis. Capital City College Group encompasses City and Islington College, Westminster Kingsway College and the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London.

Students at City and Islington’s Centre for Business, Arts and Technology can donate in room G.01, and Sixth Form College students can find their box in the main foyer.

Westminster Kingsway College students can find bins near reception at all sites.

CONEL students at the Tottenham site can contribute in reception.

Organiser Thomas Blundell said: “We are excited to be able to make the most of the great opportunity we have working for London’s largest college group.

“Having 37,000 students across 11 sites puts us in a unique position to make a real difference to London’s homeless population this Christmas.

“The idea came from Mike Magras, Programme Manager for Additional Learning Support at our Kings Cross Centre. We spoke about doing something at the Westminster Kingsway College site and soon realised we could replicate the initiative across the Capital City College Group.

“Last year, deaths among homeless people rose by 22%. This is a really important, pressing issue, and we’re very grateful for the enthusiastic response we’ve had from staff so far.”

Crisis is a UK based charity aimed at helping to rebuild the lives of people affected by homelessness. Offering support, advice and courses across 12 areas in England, Scotland and Wales, the organisation’s Crisis this Christmas campaign asks the public to find ways to support their mission during the coldest months of the year.

If you have any spare clothing to donate this Christmas, please visit your centre’s collection point before 13 December with any:

  • Winter jackets and coats
  • Men and women jeans or warm trousers
  • Warm jumpers and sweaters
  • Thermals
  • Scarves
  • Men’s shoes (sizes 9-11)
  • Women’s shoes (size 5-7)
  • Men’s socks (size 9 to 11)
  • Women socks (size 5-7)
  • Blankets
  • Towels
  • Winter sleeping bags
  • Personal hygiene items, e.g. deodorant (roll-on) and shaving foam

We’re London’s Number 1 for school leavers!

According to data recently published by the Department for Education (DfE), Capital City College Group are number one of all colleges and college Groups in London, overall and for positive 16-18 progression. We are also very highly rated among London providers for getting adults into work, and for both learner and employer satisfaction.

The DfE data, which covers all England’s further education colleges, was aggregated by FE Week magazine for its annual FE ‘league table’ called NICDEX. This year’s NICDEX was published in November and gives the Group a score out of 10 for four measures:

  1. Percentage of 16-18 students with positive progression – we scored 9 out of 10 with 81%
  2. Learner satisfaction – we scored 8 out of 10 with 84%
  3. Employer satisfaction – we scored 9 out of 10 with 86.4%
  4. Percentage of adult students moving into paid employment – we scored 4 out of 10 with 37%.

Using these measures, NICDEX also gives an overall score out of 40. Not only is Capital City College Group rated first in London for positive 16-18 progression, we also scored highly compared to other London providers for the other three measures. In addition, our overall score of 30 ranks us highest out of London’s colleges and college groups, and joint 16th nationally – out of 171 colleges and college groups.

Commenting on the figures, Roy O’Shaughnessy, Group Chief Executive said: “This data is very pleasing. I am delighted that the Group and our three colleges have been rated so highly by our learners and those employers that we work in partnership with.

“Our excellent ratings for 16-18 and adult progression also reinforces my own view, that we are transforming the lives of so many Londoners and helping them to achieve their ambitions and dreams.”

To see the full NICDEX including their methodology and including links to the source data, click here: https://feweek.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/NICDEX-2019-supp-digi-v2.pdf

CONEL Excellence Awards 2019

On Tuesday 3 December 2019, the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London held its annual Excellence Awards. 

Once again, Nims Obunge – Pastor at Freedom’s Ark Church in Tottenham and member of the CONEL Local Advisory Board – was the compere for the evening. He said: “Tonight is about celebrating the fantastic achievements of many of CONEL’s students and apprentices who have worked exceptionally hard over the past year to get the qualifications that they rightly deserve.

“We will also be honouring some of the incredible staff who work tirelessly in the classroom and support our learners, and recognise those who have worked at the college for many years.”

“Alongside our student and staff awards, we will be thanking several of our employer partners who have worked with CONEL to provide hundreds of apprenticeships and work placements each year.”

The awards include the Paul Head Excellence Award (in memory of our former principal), which recognises a learner who has overcome a significant barrier to their learning to succeed. This year’s winner was Creative Media Production Level 3 student, Joe Watson.

Joe Watson being awarded the Paul Head award by Sarah Ebanja
Joe Watson, being awarded the Paul Head award, by Sarah Ebanja

A truly inspirational student, Joe has overcome a number of barriers in his life to successfully pass the first year of his Level 3 Diploma. Brought up in care and living independently at a young age, he has shown huge commitment and enthusiasm during his studies. He demonstrates a real flair and ability to communicate, pitch and develop creative ideas. Joe recently appeared in a video for BBC Bitesize about moving from care into college, and he is also set to feature in a BBC documentary.

CONEL Principal, Kurt Hintz, said “I am enormously proud to be Principal of CONEL, and share in the fantastic achievements of our students, staff and employers tonight, after another truly outstanding year for the college.

“The college has gone from strength to strength since its merger into Capital City College Group, with year-on-year increases in enrolments and an overall pass rate of 94.2% in 2018-19. This year included outstanding results in GCSE Maths where 77% of our adult students achieved high 9 to 4 grades, what was previously A* to C, in their summer exams.

“Since we became London’s First Free College, offering all of our full-time courses at Entry Level to Level 2 free, regardless of someone’s age or income, we have seen more and more people applying and enrolling. Such is the success of this initiative, that it has now been emulated by our sister college, The College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London.

“At CONEL, we have also continued offering free short courses across much of our curriculum. These have been a massive success with 48% of students taking these courses going on to study at higher level qualifications.

Musical Performance from The College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London, Balloon Sculptures by Capel Manor College
The College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London student performs a musical number in front of balloon sculptures by Capel Manor College

“This year the college reached the finals of the Association of Colleges’ Beacon Awards, for its work to support the mental health and wellbeing of its learners and staff. This is fantastic recognition for the work we have been doing here at CONEL.

“CONEL has also recently been awarded £150,000 from the Mayor’s Young Londoners Fund, to invest in a range of programmes to support more than 700 vulnerable teenagers across six London boroughs over the next three years.

“Earlier this year CONEL became one of the first Mayor’s Construction Academy hubs, having been accredited for its high quality training by the Greater London Authority in July 2018. This has resulted in a £300,000 investment in construction training at the college to support the building of several huge multi-million developments across London.

“2019 saw us set up our new Start Up, Step Up London initiative, supported by the Mayor of London, to encourage entrepreneurship in the capital, including workshops, targeted skills training, coaching and mentoring with business and industry experts.

“In March, the college also held a Rail and Engineering apprenticeships and careers day for prospective students and apprentices to hear about what the college offers, and from some of the top employers we run programmes with, including NTAR, Siemens, Bombardier, Alstom, Thales and Eurostar.

“And in July, CONEL celebrated as more than 100 students graduated after successfully completing Higher Education, Access to HE and Teacher Education courses, as well as Advanced and Higher Apprenticeships.

London Ambulance Service receiving their award from Kurt Hintz
London Ambulance Service receiving their award from Kurt Hintz

“Outside the classroom, our Basketball Academy team came fifth out of six teams nationally in the Academy Basketball League and won the Association of Colleges’ National 3on3 Championship and the Community Basketball League, while Jan Szponarski from our Martial Arts Academy became Ultra MMA Boxing Welterweight UK Champion at the first attempt.

“With all these successes in mind, I would like to turn to tonight and congratulate every one of you receiving an award this evening.

“I would like to thank our staff and employers for your hard work, dedication and enthusiasm in supporting our students to fulfil their potential.”

“And of course, I would like to celebrate the success of our students and apprentices who have worked tremendously hard and produced excellent work and attained superb results over the past year. Whether you are continuing your education at CONEL or have now left the college for university or your chosen career, I would like to wish you every success in your future.

“I speak for the Principalship and Governors, when I say we are all immensely proud of your support and achievements.”

Queen's Award for Enterprise