June 2020 - Capital City College Group
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WestKing Hosts Diversity in Leadership Debate

Westminster Kingsway College students and staff joined education and business leaders for an online debate inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement.

Around 130 attendees joined the live event on Microsoft Teams called Diversity in Leadership: Can We Make A Difference? hosted by the college.

The discussion looked at what diversity should look like in 2020, the challenges businesses and sectors have faced, the importance of a diverse leadership and driving positive change.

Representatives from the University of Westminster, tech firm Cloudy Group and Friern Barnet School in north London made up the panel of guest speakers.

All three shared their own experiences of diversity and what needs to change including more positive role models and mentors from black and ethnic minority (BAME) backgrounds.

Dr. Deborah Husbands, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Westminster, said that while the number of BAME lecturers in higher education was increasing there were only 35 black female professors in the UK.

“We talk about diversifying and decolonising the curriculum, but we need to diversify and decolonise universities and that means bringing in teachers that represent the students they are teaching,” she said.

She described tokenism as “at best, a false gesture of support” and that there was no longevity to it if there was no real intention to make a difference.

Questioning whether organisations were truly woke, she added: “A lot of people feel compelled to be an ally right now, but what happens to that show of support once the George Floyd effect has waned?”

David Hall, Managing Director of Cloudy Group, was proud of what has been done to reduce racism in the UK but felt more still needed to be done.

He said: “The Black Lives Matter movement and tokenism is a complicated one. It all originated from a country with some serious socio-economic issues, a country that just four years ago had a two-term black president to the opposite side of the spectrum. We like think how advanced we are in the UK, but we are yet to have a person of colour lead the country.”

Kelly Gregory, Deputy Head of Mathematics at Friern Barnet School, said black people were still hugely under-represented among staff in schools.

She said: “My school has quite a diverse leadership and staff team. It’s so important for our students to see people that look like them in positions of authority. We are making progress, but there’s so much more to do.”

The Diversity in Leadership event was the latest in a number of enrichment events on diversity and equality at WestKing over the past year.

Carlo Liu, Employability and Progression Lead at WestKing, said: “The event raised many issues around racial inclusion and the need for change. The discussion was both stimulating and thought-provoking, prompting many questions from the audience and insightful answers from the panel.

“Now more than ever we need to equip young people with the skills and knowledge to boost their confidence and achieve their dreams.”

Find out more about Black Lives Matter here.

Students Praise CONEL for ‘Incredible Support’ in Lockdown

Students at the College of Haringey Enfield and North East London have praised their tutors for their ‘most incredible support’ during lockdown.

The college has been inundated with thank you messages to its teaching staff who have continued to provide lessons online during the coronavirus pandemic.

Engineering student Mohamad Fadi Abou Swid, 19, said: “Even though this pandemic meant I was away from your classes, I have learnt a lot from you and I’m sure that will allow me to be a good engineer in the future. Thank you so much.”

Business student Sherry Fernandes, also 19, said: “Thank you for acknowledging that all of us are going through a hard time one way or another due to this virus.”

Julie Bromwich, 65, who recently took a free short course in Creating and Publishing Webpages, said: “I learnt so much in your class, and under the most difficult of circumstances with Covid lockdown, you still managed to give the most incredible support.”

Teachers have been presenting classes on Microsoft Teams and coming up with innovative ways to give online lessons during the crisis.

Construction tutor Paul Oatham has overcome the difficulty of teaching practical lessons by giving video demonstrations around his own house.

In one lesson he showed how to fix the guttering on his garage and in another he explained how the levers on his boiler affected different taps.

Paul said: “The transition from the classroom to the remote desktop has posed some interesting challenges, and I have had to really think long and hard about what is the best approach to benefit the learners.

“The students themselves have embraced it and on the whole have been engaged. It has just been a matter of getting used to it.”

Creative and Media students have used the Covid-19 pandemic as inspiration while developing their skills in photography and videomaking.

Student Jose Bravocuno, 32, said: “Art is the best medicine for this situation, so during lockdown I’ve prepared my own studio. The virtual lessons are good. I`m learning how to use new technologies and methods of learning.”

In Sport, teachers have devised fun, physical and interactive lessons and workout plans to keep students learning and active.

Sports diploma student Pierrette Simuene, 18, said: “The online classes have been incredibly good, and the experience has been better than I expected. It’s as if we were in college.”

Our free short courses are running online throughout the summer – take a look at the full range on offer here.

Fashion and Textiles Student Creates Stunning Coronavirus Face Coverings

A fashion and textiles student has designed her own unique collection of Covid-19 face coverings during lockdown. Lia Penelope, 26, made them from her own fabric designs that she printed at home and then ironed onto the material, and even decorated one with fake pearls.

She said: “The whole coronavirus situation is quite incredible. My main motivation for making the face masks was not to give up in lockdown. I wanted to keep up my creativity and make something positive out of this situation.”

Face covering

Lia produced the designs while studying at CANDI and taught other students how to make their own during a class on Microsoft Teams.

Lia, from Haringey, north London, said: “I want to be a textile artist. I like to play with fabric and apply patterns and textures. It’s a way I can really express myself and make a statement.

“My teachers have been amazing. Without their feedback and support I would not have been able to do everything I wanted to this year. They worked with me on ideas, helped me develop my projects and built up my confidence.”

Face Covering - Evening Standard Newsprint and Pattern

Our one-year Art and Design: Fashion/Textiles Pathway – Level 3 Foundation Diploma is validated by the University of the Arts, London (UAL) and covers fashion illustration, colour work, design development, contemporary art, traditional skills and innovative techniques.

Students also participate in an end-of-year exhibition of their work.

Isatu Taylor, Curriculum Leader for Visual Arts, said: “Lia produced the masks as an extension of her normal studies, and has been so successful she is now making them for other people.

Face covering

“She is a wonderfully talented student with a real flair for design, and I am sure she has a huge career ahead of her in the art and fashion industry.”

Windrush Day 2020

Today, Monday 22 June, marks the 72nd anniversary of the arrival in the UK of the ship Empire Windrush, which brought hundreds of people from the Caribbean to start new lives in the UK. Known as Windrush Day since 2018, it’s the perfect time to get a better understanding of the experience of people from the Caribbean who were called by the British government to help rebuild the country in 1948, and the terrible injustice that many of them and their families face, even now, with the ongoing Windrush Scandal. 

What is Windrush?

The Empire Windrush is the name of the ship which brought around 500 Commonwealth UK Citizens from the Caribbean to the Tilbury Docks in Essex in 1948.

Why did they come over?

Thousands of buildings had been bombed and houses destroyed in World War Two. As Britain was recovering, it needed help to rebuild the economy. Under British rule, many young men and women from the Caribbean had served the British armed forces. Adverts were placed offering an array of different jobs (in the coal and steel industries, public transport and in the NHS) and inviting them to come over for a better life. In 1948 Many young Caribbeans took up the opportunity and made the long voyage by ship across the Atlantic. Around 550,000 people from the Caribbean arrived in the UK between 1948 – 1971 and are referred to as the ‘Windrush generation’.

What happened when they arrived?

Once in Britain, many of this generation did not get the welcome they had anticipated. They were confronted with racism, discrimination with many of them were unable to find homes or work. Many companies said they didn’t want black people working for them and their children were bullied at school.

What is the Hostile Environment Policy?

The Hostile Environment Policy came into effect in October 2012 by then Prime Minister, Theresa May. Her aim “was to create in Britain a really hostile environment for illegal migration”. The Home Office had destroyed the Landing records which gave the Windrush generation the right to live legally in the UK. Without any documentation they could not work, a number were sacked, they were no longer entitled to NHS treatment and were faced with deportation. One of the most notable cases was Anthony Bryan who had lived in England for 52 years and was wrongfully imprisoned. His story has been turned into the BBC’s feature length film ‘Sitting in Limbo’.

What happened next?

The government faced huge a backlash and protests took place in response to the racist way that UK Commonwealth citizens of colour have been treated. It has now been dubbed the ‘Windrush Scandal’. 

Then Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, was forced to resign and was replaced by Sajid Javid. After a review of 11,800 cases in August 2018, he stated that 18 members of the Windrush generation had been wrongfully removed and would get an apology from the government. He also stated that those who had left the UK would get help to return.

Theresa May apologised to Caribbean leaders and reassured them the none from the Windrush generation would be forced to leave the UK.

The government also announced that a day celebrating the contribution of the Windrush generation and their descendants – Windrush Day – would be held annually on 22 June.

For an update on the Windrush Scandal please visit The Guardian’s website here.

From Unemployment to a Dream Job

The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t stopping Capital City College Training student, Sherif Sheble. Recently we helped get him a job as a Security Officer which allows him to work full-time, even during the lockdown. He is also still studying with us (remotely) pursuing his passion of becoming a counsellor. 

Sherif was at ‘rock bottom’ and unemployed when he found out about CCCT at his local ‘back to work’ organisation. He spoke to one of our advisors and expressed a passion for counselling. We got Sherif straight onto one of our counselling courses, but he also needed a job and income quickly, so we signed him up onto our Employability/Door Supervision course – this gave him the skills needed to secure a job at Danhouse Security, one of our partner employers. 

Sherif started his security job the very next day and has been working at the Unison Centre on Euston Road for the past three months, where he is a Supervisor.

Sherif’s tutor, Monique Howard, said: “Sherif was on Universal Credit when he joined the course and had been unemployed for a while. He had lost quite a lot of his confidence, but he really got into the Employability/Door Supervision course and loved his interaction with the other students who were in the same boat as him.

“I watched his confidence grow and when he successfully completed the course and applied for his licence, he felt confident enough to apply for a job with Danhouse.”

Sherif told us: “My tutor Monique helped shape my course to help me. She added an English tutor to improve my customer service levels.  I really really enjoyed it. I owe the college and Monique a lot. The courses have been great and CCCT have even helped me find a job. With it currently being so hard to find a job, CCCT made it easy. And it is all thanks to my course.

“The course helped build my confidence.  What I love about your college is the excitement for learning. It’s great. The teachers are amazing. The support I got from all of my tutors was amazing, they helped change my mental health for the better.”

Sherif loves his job, but his passion is still with counselling, so while working, he continues to be a remote student on our Counselling for Young People and Children course. Sherif said: “After completing one more counselling course with CCCT, I want to go to university to study Counselling and one day do it as a full-time job.”

Overcoming Barriers to Learning English as a Second Language in Lockdown

Learning English as a second language is not easy but during the coronavirus pandemic it is even more challenging.

We sat down (virtually, of course!) with Chloe Jacobs, one of our English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) lecturers to find out how she has been supporting and motivating 16-18 students in these difficult times. She also told us about a creative writing project to encourage them to look into a future post Covid-19 world.

“Around half of my 16-18 students arrived in the UK as unaccompanied children seeking asylum having fled countries in fear of their lives. 

“Many of them have suffered with trauma from the devastation of war and atrocities in their own countries and feel stressed and anxious. They feel lonely and isolated and in many cases do not have an established support network of friends or any family here or at all.

“They are unlikely to understand all the government rules around coronavirus, and many live in hostels where they do not have a lot of personal space during lockdown. 

“They are generally in low spirits and feeling anxious having migrated to a place of education and safety, and now it turns out that that is not the case. Some received little or no education in their home countries and are worried that they will not be able to get the education that they have struggled so hard to reach. 

“A lot of the non-asylum seeking 16-18 ESOL students who arrived with family as economic migrants are also worried about getting even further behind in their education, having arrived in the UK before completing their GCSE-equivalent year in their countries. 

“I was concerned that this could lead to many of them feeling they might as well give up.

“At CANDI, we have provided financial support to help all students access online learning during the coronavirus pandemic. Switching to remote learning has been hard for many ESOL students, particularly at entry level. Using the group chat in Microsoft Teams has enabled them to react and respond even more during online lessons.

“Pair and group work are pivotal to language learning, and these have been replicated by running smaller groups simultaneously on Teams and jumping between them to monitor students’ progress. This has been combined with self-study, including websites such as BBC Learning English and the British Council’s ESOL Nexus, as well as help with course progression and preparing for job interviews.

“As ESOL teachers, we have explained the Covid-19 legislation in a way they can understand, updating them about any changes and how they can keep themselves safe in lockdown. One of our online class projects I used to keep them motivated came from asking them what they had been up to during this time. 

“The discussion led to a lesson on the present perfect continuous tense (eg I have been working, we have been chatting, etc). Students were asked to find out what their classmates had been doing at a fictional reunion in 10 years’ time and then write articles for a 2030 college alumni magazine.

“Reading the students’ articles was so incredibly heart-warming, and it was so good to hear them sounding so happy in an alternative reality, which hopefully will turn out to be their actual reality in 10 years’ time.

“The whole project felt so pertinent where there is a need to keep aspirations high at this difficult and unprecedented time.”

Although our buildings are currently closed, we are still open for business and are accepting applications for courses starting in September. Click here to find out more and to apply for ESOL courses for 16-18s and adults.

Blog: Hospitality & Culinary Arts – a student and teacher perspective

The third month of lockdown restrictions is well under way and we have all had to make changes and adapt to this new way of life.

At Westminster Kingsway College, our hospitality students and teachers have had to find clever and creative ways to stay on top their game with this very hands-on subject whilst the college buildings are closed.

In this blog Hospitality lecturer Marc Whitley and Culinary student Phoebe Berry share their unique experiences of teaching and learning during the lockdown.

Marc Whitley, Lecturer in Hospitality, Food and Beverage

“The lockdown has been a huge challenge for teachers across the country, but particularly for those teaching hands-on, practical subjects like hospitality and culinary arts. It’s been a steep learning curve for me and my students. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the response from students, which has been better than I anticipated, and they have really bought into what we are trying to achieve, which is continuing education.

“I have had to think outside of the box while remaining within the curriculum (set by City and Guilds). For example, one assignment was for my students to set up a table at home, as they would in our award winning training restaurant in Victoria, The Escoffier Room. They had to go through the steps of taking an order, serving the food and clearing the table, as well serving and presenting a bottle of wine. For this front of house assignment, I asked them to video or take pictures of the different stages of the process, so that I could assess them and give immediate feedback. It was fun to see how they improvised on the equipment that they had at home from the starter through to the coffee service.

“We had an interesting array of guests, including dogs sitting in chairs, teddy bears, little brothers and sisters and grandparents. Some worked alone taking orders and holding conversations with stuffed animals! Others made it a family affair, enticing family members to play the role of customers. One student even had her front of house uniform, on which shows the level of commitment. The feedback I received was that our students were very proud to be showing off their skills to their families.

“We did this all through our Microsoft Teams software which is an apt name considering teamwork has never been stronger. I’ve found all the students are really pulling together during this time and helping each other out, which is great to see. I have also spoken to parents who are really supportive of how we are handling the current situation and the tools available to their children, especially the funding for laptops provided by the college.

“For the next four weeks I’ll have a new group of students who I have never met and who haven’t met me. This will be a new challenge but also a rewarding one. It’s an opportunity to prove exactly what you can achieve and what past life experiences you reach into to make this situation work. We are all working together in a way we haven’t before, which I know will carry on when we all return.

“This had been a learning and development exercise for us all and the lecturers in the Culinary Arts have been a great support to each other in making this work. WestKing may be closed but the teaching is continuing in the heart of the student’s homes.”

Phoebe Berry – Level 1 Professional Chef Diploma

“When the lockdown started, I was three weeks in to work experience at Lords Cricket Ground. It was such an amazing opportunity and I was really enjoying what I was learning in their three separate professional kitchens. Just before lockdown started, I was working in the pastry kitchen creating fine dining desserts for up to 300 people at a time. There is also the Committee Dining Room Kitchen, where the players eat during the cricket season and the Main Kitchen where the staff of Grounds eat. I was having a great time and learning a lot, so I was really disappointed it had to come to an end so abruptly. However, I’ve been offered a summer placement when this is over. It will be during the cricket season which is really exciting.

“Since the lockdown started our tutors have kept us busy with a range of learning methods, from online tasks to quizzes which has been interesting and fun. I’m quite confident on the theory and couldn’t wait to get back in the kitchen so when I was set the food sustainability task I jumped at the chance.

“The brief was to create a meal with only the ingredients that I had in my cupboard at home. In light of the pandemic, it’s difficult for people to make quick and regular trips to the supermarket. Making frugal meals with limited ingredients and food sustainability has never been more important. I then did a live demonstration of making the recipe which was filmed and uploaded to YouTube.

“I decided to make three separate meals using one whole chicken. Firstly, a classic roast dinner to feed a family. I boiled down the chicken carcass to create a stock and from this made a chicken risotto and an Asian chicken soup using the chicken leftovers. I was given technical support from my tutor and convinced my mum to film it!

“I was really surprised with the response to the video. I’ve had a ton of positive feedback. It was my first time in front of a camera and I really enjoyed doing it. I will definitely be creating more recipes and uploading them during the lockdown. My teachers have been really supportive during lockdown and the thing I miss most is the camaraderie of the kitchen. But his has been a great way to keep creating and keep honing my skills.”

Printer’s plumbing pipe dream becomes a reality after studying at CONEL

A printer furloughed during the coronavirus pandemic from the job he has done for more than 20 years has told how he is looking forward to a new career as a plumber.

Father of three Tim Mansfield, 38, from Woodford, north London, returned to college in March 2019 having been concerned about the future of the printing industry.

He initially enrolled on a free Plumbing for Beginners short course and is set to complete a Plumbing Level 2 Diploma at CONEL this summer.

The diploma was also free – CONEL is London’s First FREE College, and all courses from Entry Level to Level 2 are free to students, regardless of their age or income.

Tim said: “I’ve spent 22 years in printing and the demand for paper-based products has been decreasing.  I was concerned about my job situation, and thought it was time to make the jump.

“CONEL’s free short courses were exactly what I needed. They gave me the opportunity to try different trades without having to overcommit until I knew what I wanted to pursue more seriously. If they hadn’t been free, I’m not sure I would have taken the chance.

“The teachers are well-qualified and approachable, and always on hand with advice and support. I’ve made some great friends at CONEL and learnt some great skills that I fully intend build upon in my future career. I’m excited about starting a new chapter.”

CONEL has been offering free short courses for more than two years with many students going on to study at higher levels to get the skills they need for further study or employment.

Courses are available in accounting, business, construction, hairdressing, beauty therapy, healthcare, childcare, English, maths, IT, engineering, hospitality, culinary arts, science and sport.

All courses at CONEL are available through online distance learning during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Paul Oatham, Curriculum Manager for Construction, said: “The free short plumbing courses have proved very popular with those looking at new careers, or just wanting to learn a new skill that can help them with jobs around the house.

“Tim is one of the many success stories that we have had. He applied himself well during his studies and I wish him all the best in his plumbing career.”

Apprentice awarded distinction in lockdown against all the odds

The government lockdown has been a testing time for hundreds of thousands of people across the UK. For student Victoria Oki, it was the final hurdle, in a long list of setbacks, that stood in her way of achieving her Business Administration Advanced Apprenticeship.

Working at North Middlesex Hospital as a Ward Clerk, Victoria is studying her apprenticeship through Capital City College Training and the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London. By sitting her exam during lockdown after a series of setbacks and achieving an impressive Distinction, she proved that with grit and determination, not even a pandemic could hold her back from achieving her dream of becoming a project manager.

Like many people across the globe, the arrival of Coronavirus meant life as we knew it was put on hold as the world dealt with this unprecedented crisis. Student Victoria Oki had her heart set on completing the Business Administration Advanced Apprenticeship last year but due to unforeseen circumstances this was not to be. A three month illness meant Victoria was unable to study or work, setting her behind. Looking back at those months Victoria said, “It was a difficult time because I knew I was really falling behind and I had my heart set on finishing by September 2019. Sometimes things are just out of our control.”

On the road to recovery, Victoria worked night and day to catch up. However, in December she faced another setback when her handbag was stolen. Inside her bag was a flash drive holding her entire project to date. Devasted, Victoria sought a way to come back from this major setback. Realising that she’d sent a rough copy to her tutor a while back she was able to utilise her project management skills and piece her project back together.

“I have a good relationship with a fellow student who I worked closely with. We have the same drive and work ethic and we push each other. Together we set a goal to get a distinction and we went for it!” With lockdown now in place they set up study groups via Zoom, hit the books and practiced for the final assessment, a critique of her project.

The day of the assessment came and Victoria spent an hour face to face with an assessor on Zoom. “I was able to share my screen on Zoom and talk through my portfolio. It was tough and she asked a lot of in depth questions. I had worked really hard up to this point and after everything I’d been through, this was the final hurdle,” Victoria said.

Victoria passed with an astonishing Distinction. She is currently working a Ward Clerk at North Middlesex Hospital and has been throughout the lockdown. She said, “I am so pleased. All of my hard work has paid off and I never gave up. You can do anything if you put your mind to it. I’m really proud of myself. My end goal is to be a Project Management within the NHS and after everything I’ve been through, I know I can achieve it.”

Our Response to Report on London’s FE Sector

We have responded to a key new report from the London-based think tank, The Centre For London.

The report, issued today, finds that London is entering the recession brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic with a weakened Further Education system.

  • It is underfunded – spending on adult education, apprenticeships and other work-based learning for over 18s has fallen by 37 per cent since 2009/10
  • There are not enough learners – the proportion of working age Londoners in further education has fallen by 40 per cent since 2014
  • There are not enough new apprentices – London has half as many apprenticeship starts as the rest of the UK
  • It has not responded to employers’ needs – the number of learners and apprentices in areas with persistent skills shortages has not increased in line with employer demand

The report found that, without investment and strategic long-term thinking, the Further Education sector will not be able to support London’s recovery. It makes a number of recommendations to the government:

  • Introduce a support package for the further education sector, bringing funding closer to the higher education offer. This should include boosting teaching grants for subjects relevant to skills shortages
  • Make learning more affordable by offering free tuition for students studying for their first Level 2 or Level 3 qualification and a lifelong learning allowance for higher-level courses, available for adults without a publicly funded degree
  • Devolve the further education budget in full to London government, including funding for apprenticeships and 16-18 learning, to enable strategic oversight of the city’s skills provision and allow City Hall to set priorities that match London’s economic needs

You can read and download the whole 24-page report here.

As London’s largest Further Education college group, with over 28,500 students we know the immense role that FE colleges play in transforming the life chances of students. We feel strongly about this issue and so we have responded to the report. Our Group Chief Executive, Roy O’Shaughnessy, said:

“This report illustrates the effects of well over a decade of neglect and cuts on Further Education, painting a picture of underfunding, falling student and apprentice numbers and a complex thicket of funding rules which blunts both effectiveness and innovation.

“There is so much energy and passion in our sector – I see it every day in the actions of our leaders and teaching staff – and we will need this to dig ourselves out of our current situation.  For example, we in the Capital City College Group are looking at our own resources – our buildings, our course offer and our relationships with local and regional employers – to help secure our longer-term financial future and to ensure that our courses equip Londoners with the skills they need for the jobs they will do in the future.

“With the Government focusing its attention and spending on the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we cannot assume all of our funding requirements will be met. It is right that we call for more funding and less complexity, but we must also lead by example and show that we are worthy of additional investment. We owe it to the people of London.”

Queen's Award for Enterprise