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Visionnaires marks 100th start-up with fashion and lifestyle business

A new eco-friendly fashion and lifestyle brand has become the 100th start-up to be helped by Visionnaires, a pioneering social enterprise for aspiring entrepreneurs. Kiind has a strong ethos on protecting the environment and encouraging better health and fitness and will initially make and sell a range of stylish, recyclable bags for people with active lifestyles.

Founder Jacquie Lindsay is the latest entrepreneur to join Visionnaires and get help and support through its Start Up Step Up London programme funded by the London Growth Hub and the European Social Fund.

She hopes to launch her business within the next six months having run her own PR and marketing agency Amazing Media and worked in the industry for more than 20 years.

Jacquie, 50, from Brockley, south east London, said: “My business is about fashion, lifestyle and product innovation. It’s completely new to me and not something I’ve dealt with before, but it’s very exciting.

“Visionnaires has been invaluable and more than exceeded my expectations. I have learned so much on the course and networking with people. It’s helped me with my proposition and bringing it to life.

“It’s given me structure, helped me understand customers’ needs and values and get my product to a point where I am ready to move forward.”

Visionnaires was founded in July 2019 and is part of Capital City College Group. It has seen the number of people wanting to join its programmes double since lockdown.

Those on the programmes receive expert mentoring, advice and resources, along with practical workshops to get new businesses started covering topics including marketing, selling, finance and business planning.

Budiono Bin Sukim, formerly Head Chef at The Langham Hotel in London, also joined the Start Up Step Up London programme to help him open an Indonesian restaurant. He is being supported by one of Visionnaires’ mentors Michael Ingemann, Chairman of Think Hospitality Group, which advises the restaurant and hospitality industry globally.

Lenique Louis also joined the programme to develop her luxury, bespoke jewellery brand, which has been worn by celebrities including Ella Eyre, Ellie Goulding and Lauren McCrostie.

Pablo Lloyd OBE, CEO and co-founder of Visionnaires, said “In light of the current pandemic people are anxious about their jobs and the job market in general. Creating your own job is now more attractive and we have seen a doubling of demand for help with start-ups.

“We are also delivering all of our workshops and mentoring as live webinars, which makes them accessible to anyone.”

Click here for more information on Visionnaires.

Students ‘Feel Safe and Reassured’ During Enrolment

Students enrolling at Westminster Kingsway College say they ‘feel safe and reassured’ ahead of their studies in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. They join the hundreds of students that have already enrolled at WestKing and our sister colleges, City and Islington College and the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London, with many more expected over the next month.

Throughout the summer, the college has been putting measures in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 and is encouraging students to come to its centres to enrol, to give them the reassurance they need for when their course starts in September.

WestKing is also offering free courses for 16-18s and up to Level 2 to adults and free short courses up to Level 3 as the country looks to recover from the impact of COVID-19.

Carlet Biyeya, 16, who is looking to study a Business Level 3 Diploma, said: “I feel safe in this environment. All the staff are keeping their distance when you enrol, and when we go to college we’ll have online classes, which gives us less chance of getting coronavirus.

“I’m excited to be studying here because I’ve never felt the vibe of being at college. I’m looking forward to exploring that new part of my life.”

Sadia Mobasshir, 18, who is returning to study a Health and Social Care Level 3 Diploma, said: “I think everything is going to be alright. The college is doing everything it can and hopefully it will be a bit more normal now. I feel safe and reassured about coming back.

“I’ve missed coming to college and my friends, and my teachers as well, they’re so nice.”

To reduce the number of people in buildings at any time, lessons will be given through a mix of online and classroom learning, with the proportion of online and classroom learning varying depending on the course.

When in college, students and staff will follow social distancing rules with one-way systems in place and staggered start and finish times. Classrooms have been reorganised and there will be limited access to lifts and other public spaces in the building where people could congregate. Hand sanitisers are also available, and an enhanced and more frequent cleaning regime is in place at all sites.

Staff and students will also receive a COVID-19 handbook that gives information about the safety measures in place, as well as a guide on what to do if they get any symptoms. 

They will be required to check in and out of college using their ID card and all visitors will be required to complete a ‘track and trace’ form before they can enter a building.

Roy O Shaughnessy, CEO of Capital City College Group, said: “We are proud of our long record of educating Londoners of all ages, but this year has been a very different and exceptional one in many ways.

“We have followed the Government advice along with that provided by the World Health Organization and others, and have taken timely decisions to ensure that the health and safety of our staff and students are always at the forefront of our minds.

“Infection rates in London have reduced considerably, but we cannot be complacent. Our priority is always to ensure the safety of our staff and students, while ensuring that students can continue to learn.”

As well as supporting students’ safety for the new academic year, we are also helping hundreds get online so they can learn effectively at home as well as in college. 

Since the lockdown started in March, CCCG has provided more than £188,000 to help provide 577 students purchase laptops and 3,500 get equipment to get internet access, but wants to do more.

The Group has launched a Laptops4Learners campaign to provide 2,500 laptops and raise £250,000 to help buy more equipment to enable them to study at home. Click here to find out more and support the campaign.

Unloc Partners with WestKing To Launch ‘Changemaker Studios’

Unloc has teamed up with Westminster Kingsway College and Visionnaires, both part of the Capital City College Group, to launch a brand new innovation hub located at the front of Westminster Kingsway College’s King’s Cross Centre. 

The space is dedicated to the advancement of entrepreneurship and leadership skills in the students that attend the college, local feeder schools and the wider community. The hub is a physical and visual commitment to developing young people’s aspirations, ambitions and skills, whilst also creating a platform to engage with the wider community. 

The space, which will soft launch in September 2020 and fully open in January 2021, has three key functions: 

  • A flexible events space, for up to 30 people, hosting workshops on entrepreneurship, leadership and social action
  • Hot desking for Westminster Kingsway College students who are starting up new businesses, charities or community projects
  • A collaborative office space to host Unloc staff and partners working across London

The Changemaker Studios brand is debuting at our King’s Cross Centre. It was designed to incorporate the vast range of methods by which young people can be change makers and innovators; including through student voice, social action, charity-projects, businesses, social enterprises and volunteering. 

The space will host various Unloc training programmes, including the Enterprise Short Course and Leadership Academy, alongside start-up programmes delivered by Visionnaires – a Capital City College Group social enterprise that supports and incubates new businesses. 

Unloc will grow its provision on offer in London, as part of their ambition to expand their reach and offer programmes in all English regions by 2023. In the 18/19 academic year, Unloc’s programme reach increased by over 40% on the previous year, to 10,910 young people. 

Hayden Taylor, Unloc’s Managing Director, commented: “This is an exciting project that will see students at Westminster Kingsway College and the young people of Camden benefit from a space dedicated to widening their horizons and offering support to those that wish to set up their own business. This is a truly collaborative effort with Unloc, Westminster Kingsway College and Visionnaires all working together to create something really special”. 

Jasbir Sondhi, Vice-Principal of Westminster Kingsway College, added: “At Westminster Kingsway College we believe in the transformative power of education and are committed to supporting learners into positive destinations. One of our key priorities is to provide learners with access to high quality opportunities that are aligned to meeting the needs of employers and the workplace. 

“We are excited to be working in partnership with Unloc and Visionnaires. Changemaker Studios gives us an opportunity to broaden learner horizons and inspire them to achieve their full potential. Through Changemaker Studios our aim is to provide all of our learners with access to a wide range of opportunities which lead to positive destinations.” 

Pablo Lloyd OBE, Chief Executive of Visionnaires, said: “More than ever, our communities need energetic support to shape their social and economic future. Changemaker Studios brings together proven, innovative expertise, helping emerging leaders make positive change for everyone’s benefit.”

Students Overcome ‘Toughest Year’ to Achieve High Grades in GCSE English and maths Results

Students are celebrating high grades in this year’s GCSE results despite the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL) saw 33 per cent of students pass with 9-4 grades in English and 34 per cent in maths. This year’s results were based on the calculated assessment grades (CAGs) awarded by schools and colleges, after exams were cancelled due to Covid-19. Lessons continued virtually during lockdown so students could complete their course and will be taught through a mixture of on-site and online learning from September.

CONEL’s high achievers

CONEL’s high achievers included Yusuf Korkmaz, 18, who achieved a grade 9 in maths and is going to study an IT Level 3 Diploma and for a GCSE in English at CONEL.

He said: “This makes me so happy. It’s perfect. The online teaching was good. I’d have preferred to go to college, but I managed to learn everything the teachers taught me.

My teacher was very good. If you didn’t understand a topic, he would go through it again and made sure you wouldn’t forget what you’d learnt.

He was also really supportive. If there was something wrong on your course or in your life, he would always give you advice.”

Yusuf Korkmaz, 18, achieved a grade 9 in maths

Leopoldo Luccardi

Also among this year’s top performers Leopoldo Luccardi, 51, who gained a grade 8 in maths and a grade 5 in English.

Leopoldo took the course after becoming concerned about his career in the aerospace industry and was recently furloughed.

He said: “I am very pleased with my grades. I did not expect these results, and it just shows the hard work I put in. I cannot believe it! It’s amazing and wonderful.

“Online learning was strange at the beginning but became more normal. The teachers were fantastic and they provided a lot of material and information.”

Fiorentina Agachi,

Fiorentina Agachi, 33, is going to study an Access to Higher Education Diploma in Biosciences at CONEL’s sister college, City and Islington College, after achieving a grade 7 in English and maths.

She quit her job as a dental practice manager to return to college and hopes to go to university next year to study dentistry.

Fiorentina said: “After all the A Level results I wasn’t sure what to believe. I was feeling anxious and tried not to worry about it, but it was a nice surprise this morning.

“Learning online wasn’t much different to being in the classroom. The teachers were all very professional and had a lot of experience. They were very patient with us and explained what they had to well, and I would like to thank them in person some time.”

Fiorentina Agachi, 33, achieved a grade 7 in English and maths.

CONEL offers GCSEs in English, Maths and Combined Science as well as functional skills and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses.

CONEL Principal Kurt Hintz said: “This has been one of the toughest years I have known in education, and I want to praise our students for their hard work, commitment and resilience to keep on learning throughout lockdown.

I congratulate them all on their achievements and wish them the very best of luck as they progress to the next stage in their lives, whether they are continuing their education or starting a career.”

Click here to Enrol Now for English, Maths and ESOL courses.

WestKing Students Receive Their A Level Grades in a ‘Unique Year’

Over 1,000 young people at Westminster Kingsway College – one of central London’s largest colleges – have today received their A Level and vocational course grades, in what has been a unique and very challenging year for them and their teachers. 

Since the college had to close in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the students – who have been taking a wide range of A Level subjects, as well as many who have been studying on practical, vocational courses with exam boards such as BTEC, UAL and City and Guilds – have completed their studies online. 

For the first time ever, students were unable to sit A Level exams in May. Instead, their grades were assessed by their teachers and submitted to exam boards, which then standardised the grades for each subject. 

Victoria Howarth, Curriculum Director for A Levels, Engineering and Science at WestKing, said: “We are always proud of our students’ achievements, but I am particularly proud of them this year, as it has been an exceptionally difficult one for them. When the Covid-19 pandemic forced us to shut our doors in March and teach all lessons online, the students responded magnificently and have really buckled-down to complete their studies. 

Our Students’ Stories

Nikola Banton is 18 and is celebrating achieving As in Business Studies, Sociology and Media Studies – better grades than she needed for her place at the University of Essex where she will study Social Work. 

She had been confused about how the grading process would work, but after she’d spoken to her teachers about it, they helped her to understand it. Nikola is full of praise for her teachers, telling us: “The teaching was good, especially sociology. As soon as we went to remote lessons, the teachers were quick to provide the resources for us to revise just in case we couldn’t access online lessons.  And on my Media course we were ahead of schedule when we went into lockdown, which helped too. 

Like thousands of young people today, Nikola was nervous before she got her results email from us. “I was OK until this morning, but woke up feeling anxious and nervous.  Now I’ve had my grades, it’s a relief. My mum was happy and has been calling everyone!!” 

Nikola Banton on A Level results day

Mykhaylo Koshutskyy is one of our older A Level students. Aged 22, he’s taken two 1-year A Level Intensives and achieved an A* in Mathematics and an A in Physics. He’s hoping to go to Cambridge University to study Engineering. 

Like many students, Mykhaylo had been concerned about the grading process, but was expecting the grades that he got. He told us: “I knew I did well in Maths and that Physics would be moderated, and I had been reading about the grade changes in Scotland, as well as the information released by Ofqual.  

“I had a brilliant teacher in Maths who has a very personal approach with every student, treating everyone as an individuals which was fantastic. Teaching was well planned too.” 

“I’ve worked hard. I did 12 hours studying a day and it was worth it despite my grades because of the knowledge I gained – for me, the grades don’t matter as much as what I have learned.” 

Pawa Shakir achieved A* grades in Politics and Sociology, and an A in Law.  She’s off to study Politics at City University in London. She told us: “My grades were as I expected. My mock exam grades were As and Bs. 

Student Pawa Shakir

Pawa is really happy with the support she received from the college through the lockdown. “I found studying online quite difficult, but we had great support from the college. It was a difficult time; we were in the middle of a pandemic and I missed my friends. I prefer face to face classes and the classroom environment. 

“Two weeks before we went into lockdown the college started preparing us. They provided everything that we needed, from papers to applications. They made sure that we had all downloaded Microsoft Teams and knew how to use it. By the time we went into lockdown we were fully prepared. They were very supportive.  

The unique way that students’ grades have been assessed this year has created uncertainty for many students. Victoria Howarth said: “We are an improving college and this year’s A Level results reflect the significant progress that we’ve made. We are delighted that more of our students received A*-C grades this year and we feel that WestKing is a really good choice for students who are looking to take A Levels or vocational courses in a large and vibrant sixth form in the heart of London. 

“While we are pleased with this year’s results, it would be fair to say that the grading and standardisation process has been a controversial one.  But regardless of this, our primary task is now to ensure that all our students can move on positively this year – whether that’s into another course with us, to university, or into a job or an apprenticeship. 

“That’s why we have had staff available online today and tomorrow to speak or live chat to any of our students who have questions or concerns about what their next steps might be.” 

The college also has a strong reputation for its vocational (work-related) qualifications, with thousands of students studying for qualifications across a wide range of subjects, from Applied Science and Engineering, to Hospitality, Performing Arts, Digital and Creative Media to Health and Social Care. Some students have already received their results, while others will be getting theirs over the next couple of weeks. 

But for our A Level students at least, the worrying and waiting about what their grades might be is over and many are in the mood for celebrating. As Pawa Shakir said: “I’m going to celebrate with cake!” 

More Information…

If you are a WestKing student and have concerns or questions about your grades, or if you want to contact us about your results, please visit our special results webpage

Note: this article was updated in late August, to reflect changes to students’ grades following the Government’s decision to accept Centre Assessed Grades.

CANDI Students Praise Teachers’ Support in ‘Most Challenging Year’ on A Level Results Day

Students at City and Islington College are celebrating their A Level results after overcoming the ‘most challenging year’ in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

This year’s results have been estimated after exams were cancelled due to Covid-19. Many of our students achieved A*-C grades and have gained places at many of the country’s top universities including Cambridge, Durham, UCL, Exeter and King’s College London.

Among this year’s top performing students was Alex Stanley, 17, who attained A*s in all three subjects History, Politics and English Literature, and is heading to the University of Exeter to study Politics, Philosophy and Economics. He said: “Personally, I’m delighted. In my assignments I was getting A* and A, so it was what I expected but there has been so much negativity in the news.

“Many students have been downgraded this year and a lot of my friends haven’t got the results they expected, so it’s a bittersweet feeling. I am one of the lucky ones. When lockdown started it was difficult adapting to online lessons and having to do more independent work than essays, but in a strange way it has been good preparation for what university will be like. My teachers have been brilliant. They’ve been so helpful and supportive. In December I was looking at a C in History, but they pushed me and now I have an A* which is fantastic. They really care about the students, and that is all you can ask from a teacher.”

Megan Oldham, 18, is going to Durham University to study Biosciences after attaining an A* in Psychology, Biology, Chemistry and an A in Maths. She said: “Not all of my results were quite what I expected, but I got the grades to get into my first choice. It feels good to have somewhere secure to go for the next few years. 

“I was happy at the start of the grading process, but then was more worried with centre weighting and the thought my grades would be affected. It felt like an eternity waiting for the results. Studying during lockdown was fine. I found remote learning with video calls really helpful, as I was able to ask questions and get answers from my tutors straightaway. The teaching was really good and we finished our Biology course really early, which gave me more time to revise.”

Mohammed Radwan, 18, gained three A*s in Computing, Maths and Further Maths and a A in Physics and is going to Kings College London to study Computer Science. He said: “Overall, I am happy with my grades. I had an extended holiday, which gave me time to relax and not stress too much. But when it finally came round to getting my results, I was a bit nervous because there was a lot of uncertainty about how the grades would be given.

“Online lessons changed the learning experience and I struggled to adapt at first, but by the end I was more engaged and used to it. The teachers were professional and well prepared in all departments for each subject, and had a plan to make sure we made good progress.” 

Throughout lockdown teachers have been giving lessons online and providing a range of help and guidance for students including mental health support.

Earlier this week several students appeared in reports for the BBC News and Evening Standard and shared their hopes and fears in the run up to results day.

Principal Kurt Hintz said: “I am enormously proud of the perseverance shown by our students in continuing their studies online throughout lockdown. In this most challenging year, they have demonstrated their resilience and maturity. There will always be students who didn’t get the grades they were hoping for, and we have staff on hand, both in person and online, for any students who would like advice and guidance or want to discuss their results.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our staff and congratulate our students on their A Level results and wish them every success for the future.”

Note: this article was updated in late August, to reflect changes to students’ grades following the Government’s decision to accept Centre Assessed Grades.

Qualification Results 2020 – Important Information

Update: 19 August 2020

Our A Level students have now been sent a copy of their Centre Assessment Grades (CAGs) via email.

Our GCSE students will receive their results tomorrow via email, reflecting the new guidance from the government.

We have been advised this afternoon by Pearson (the Awarding Body for BTECs) that they will be reviewing and regrading many Level 1 and Level 2 BTEC qualifications, as well as some at Level 3. We’re sorry, but we cannot issue any results for these BTECs until we have received new grades from Pearson. In the meantime, Pearson have asked schools and colleges not to issue results to students for the above qualifications. More detail is in Pearson’s statement here.

Here you can find some key information you may need to go alongside the results.

If you are unhappy about the grades you have received, please do not contact your teacher – please see below for further information:

Appeals

This year, results were provided based on the guidelines provided by the government’s ‘exceptional arrangements for assessment and grading in 2020’. You will be able to appeal if you wish. The grounds for appeal under these circumstances are restricted to:

  • administrative errors in processing your grades, or
  • procedural error

In the event that you want appeal, please send your appeals to ResultsAppeal2020@capitalccg.ac.uk accompanied with your results, stating your student ID, course of study and the grounds of your appeal within 5 days of tomorrow. Please remember to send your results slip or we will be unable to process your appeal.

We aim to get back to you within 5 days of receiving your appeal with an outcome detailing the next steps.

Exams

You will still have the opportunity to sit exams in Autumn 2020. You will not have to pay examination fees as we will pay the fees for you. The higher of the grades achieved in either the exam or estimated grade will be the final outcome.

If you wish to sit the Autumn exams, please register your interest by emailing postresults@capitalccg.ac.uk with your full name, student ID number and the subject(s) you wish to sit before 28 August 2020. 

Advice and Guidance

If you are looking for further advice and support about what to do next, please contact us – you can also get in touch using our Live Chat (bottom right of this page) or our Facebook page.

Paper Results Slips

All WestKing students will receive their results in the morning of results day by email. If you have applied to university through UCAS, your results will also have been sent to UCAS.

We will be posting a physical paper copy of your results to your home address as soon as possible, but this will be delayed due to social distancing and reduced numbers of staff in our college buildings – please ensure you use your attached digital results slip in the meantime. We can confirm your grades to a third party if needed.

Certificates

Awarding bodies will issue certificates, as usual, in the autumn. These are usually processed by late October and we plan to send certificates to home addresses as soon as we receive them from the awarding bodies. 

Quick Links

CCCG Offers Hundreds of Free Courses to Fight the Impact of Covid-19

Capital City College Group and its three colleges – City and Islington College, Westminster Kingsway College, and the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London – are offering hundreds of free online courses in response to the social and economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Students will be able to study for free up to Level 3, the equivalent of studying an A Level, regardless of their background, income or experience.

The move comes in light of the Covid-19 crisis and follows the success us becoming London’s First Free College, offering free full-time and short courses up to Level 2. Our sister colleges, City and Islington College and Westminster Kingway College will also offer all of its full-time courses from Entry Level to Level 2 for free from this September.

Thousands of people have signed up for free short courses at CONEL and 48 per cent of students progressed to full-time study in the first year of the campaign.

Tim Mansfield, 38, decided to train for a new career as a plumber after working in the printing business for more than two decades. He studied a free short course at CONEL and progressed to a free full-time Level 2 diploma.

He 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 to build upon in my future career. I’m excited about starting a new chapter.”

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic 

Research by the Learning and Work Institute shows that young people, women and those with low level qualifications are at greater risk from the impact of Covid-19.

It further revealed regions with low levels of employment before the crisis are facing the highest risk of job losses, leading to wider regional inequalities and reducing social mobility. Read the full report here

According to The Edge Foundation unemployment is set to rise further and faster than during any recession on record despite government measures to protect jobs. Read the full report here

Our response to the social and economic impact

CCCG is the largest provider of further education in London and the South East, with three colleges and an apprenticeship and training provider, Capital City College Training.

Roy O’Shaughnessy, CEO of CCCG, said: “The impact of Covid-19 has produced many challenges for London communities, but it has also offered a unique time for radical change within the education sector.

“The need for an education and training system that is better aligned with the local economic and social needs of our communities is more apparent than ever before. This is why we have developed a broad portfolio of flexible, part time, relevant courses to meet the changing demands of the local and regional economy.

“CCCG has now become the first college group to offer free courses up to Level 3, fulfilling the needs of communities all too often impacted by social inequalities.

“Our mission to transform lives means removing potential barriers to that transformation. Financial barriers often stand in the way of communities progressing to better paid employment with better prospects. CCCG has swiftly and without unnecessary bureaucracy, removed that barrier.”

The courses will be taught through online and blended learning and enable CCCG to reach a much wider cohort. Staff have been teaching using online technology since lockdown was announced in March.

Roy added: “Staff teams from all three colleges have worked tirelessly to ensure the success of online teaching, and their commitment to their students, especially those most vulnerable, has been unquestionable.

“As the country begins its recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, some industries may never be the same again. These courses are designed with career transition in mind, enabling students to start training for new careers either because they were furloughed or have concerns about their future employment. CCCG is integral to the local and regional economic recovery.”

Find out more and see all free short courses on offer – more will be added throughout the year.

From CANDI Sixth Form College to Government Economics

Lucia Slater studied at our Sixth Form College from 2012-14. After graduating from the University of Birmingham to study Economics, she is now working at the Department for International Trade as an Economist. We sat down with her to find out all about her time at the College, working in economics and her advice to our students.

What did you study at CANDI? 

I studied A Levels in Economics, Philosophy and Sociology.

Why did you choose CANDI?

I was drawn to CANDI because of the vast range of subjects on offer. A lot of sixth forms around London didn’t offer the subjects I wanted to take. It also offered lots of careers and higher education support. That really appealed to me as I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do post-college. It looked like a diverse, fun and exciting college, and I was proved right. I thoroughly enjoyed my years there.

What was your college experience like?

My experience was everything I could have hoped for. I made amazing friends, got along well with the teachers and really enjoyed the college lifestyle.

What did you do after college?

I achieved A*, A and B grades in my A Levels and went on to study Economics at the University of Birmingham.

What are you doing now?

I’m working for the UK Government at the Department for International Trade as an Economist where carry out analysis of data to provide strong evidence for developing public policy. I started this role straight after my undergraduate degree. My role is on a graduate scheme called the Civil Service Fast Stream. This means that I get to try out many different roles in government within my first three years, giving me a better understanding of how government works, increase my skillset and find out which role I’m best suited to. Another benefit of joining a graduate scheme is that you start working on quite a good salary straight out of university and have a lot of responsibility from the outset.

What do you typically do day to day in your role?

I work in the office of the Chief Economist. I support and advise him on the UK’s economic strategy for trade policy and brief him on meetings. I also discuss policy with academics from universities. My role has a mixture of independent working, collaborative projects and meetings. It is very varied, which is what I love about it.

My previous role was quite different had more typical duties for an economist. I worked in policy analysis; analysing investment data to feed into free trade negotiations for the UK and recommending which sectors the UK should be focusing on in negotiations for investment. I also worked with different government departments to discuss which investment treaties the UK government should be pursuing.

Do you feel CANDI helped with your career path? 

CANDI really helped me through their careers service, university outreach and regular emails with opportunities about careers. 

What advice would you give to students?

Take advantage of opportunities the college gives you. This stage in your life is the best time to try and get work experience through internships or volunteering. This gives you the opportunity to find out what you may be interested in and make connections with firms and industries for when you go on to further study or are looking for a job. 

Think about what you want to do post-college, keep an eye out on the careers emails the college sends and chat with the college’s careers advisers. Be proactive, create a LinkedIn account and reach out to employers in industries you are interested in. This can open up opportunities to shadow people or get work experience. 

Get in touch with organisations such as SEO London, Rare Recruitment and Bright Network, who connect young people, particularly those from working class backgrounds or ethnic minorities, with employers from competitive industries such as finance, law and accounting. Through these organisations, I was offered work experience, given interview advice and got to meet representatives from a countless number of firms. This helped me get to where I am today, and I don’t know whether I would have got here without them.

WestKing’s Chef and Hospitality Training Restaurants Among Top 10% Worldwide

Westminster Kingsway College’s chef and hospitality training restaurants The Vincent Rooms have been named among the best restaurants in the world.

Travel review website Tripadvisor announced the restaurants were among the winners of its Travellers’ Choice 2020 awards on Twitter.

The win places The Vincent Rooms in the top 10 per cent of restaurants worldwide.

The Vincent Rooms at the Victoria Centre include the Brasserie and the more exclusive Escoffier Room. Both the kitchens and front of house are staffed by hospitality and culinary arts students.

Each year Tripadvisor pulls together reviews and ratings from travellers around the world to determine the best hotels, restaurants, attractions, airlines, destinations and experiences.

The Vincent Rooms have received 300 reviews and an average score of 4.5 out of five on Tripadvisor, with the restaurants currently ranked 114th out of 16,757 in London

One impressed diner described the food as “absolutely delicious and beautifully presented” adding “all the students who served us were very professional and attentive”.

Others have described the restaurants as “a real gem” and a “really perfect dining experience”.

One wrote: “If our tasting menu in the Escoffier Room was anything to go by, the college attracts real talent – and trains it beautifully, so plaudits to the teaching staff as well as the students.”

WestKing offers a wide range of vocational courses, apprenticeships and degrees in all aspects of hospitality and culinary arts, including its renowned Grand Escoffier Diploma.

Many famous and established chefs have learned their craft at the College including Jamie Oliver, Ainsley Harriott, Antony Worrall Thompson, Sophie Wright and Ben Murphy.

Hospitality lecturer Marc Whitley said: “I’m extremely proud of the hard work and dedication the students have put in to achieve such an outstanding accolade, especially for a college restaurant.

“This award is fantastic because it’s essentially voted on by the guests that eat at our restaurants and will help us continue to prepare students well for the hospitality industry. It’s also a real inspiration for our students and team as we head into the new academic year.”

Gary Hunter, Interim Principal of Westminster Kingsway College, himself a trained chef, said:For the past six years we have received awards from Tripadvisor, but this is absolutely brilliant. To be in the top 10 per cent of restaurants globally is a huge achievement.”

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Queen's Award for Enterprise