October 2020 - Capital City College Group
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Students Get Inside Story on Journalism with Young Reporter Scheme

Budding journalists at City and Islington College have been putting their newswriting skills into action on this year’s Young Reporter Scheme. The scheme, run by Newsquest, the second largest regional news publisher in the country, gives students the chance to experience what it’s like to work on a real newspaper.

Students are given deadlines to produce one article a month between September and April each year, which are published on local newspaper websites. At the end of the scheme, they can submit three of their articles to be judged by Newsquest with winning reports also featuring on the Young Reporter Scheme website.

Ten A Level students from CANDI are taking part in the scheme and their reports have already started appearing on the This is Local London website.

Fatima Blakemore, 16, has had an article published on Child Action Poverty Group’s Don’t Zap the Zip campaign to keep free travel for young people in London, and another on the importance of Black History Month. She said: “Journalism is a career I’ve been interested in for a while. The experience I’ve had on the Young Reporter Scheme has been great. I’ve had the freedom to write about things happening around me and raise awareness of important issues.

“Save the Zip is something I’ve been raising awareness about on my social media for a while now. So, when this opportunity came around I knew straightaway this is something I’d want to write about. For the article on Black History Month I wanted to find a local angle. It occurred to me that Diane Abbott is MP for North Hackney and Stoke Newington and was the first black woman to be elected to the House of Commons, so I decided to focus on her life and the need for more education on black history.

“It’s quite strange to see my name next to these articles, but it’s great to have a platform to write about things I care about.”

Khadijah Kaher, 16, who wrote a report to raise awareness of mental health, said: “I have written one article and another one is soon to be published. I’ve been able to express my opinions, improve my writing skills and share information about events that not all people have knowledge of. 

“The idea for my first article came from World Mental Health Day. Mental health is an issue that many people face nowadays, and I wanted to create an article that would spread awareness about it. It’s exciting seeing my article online.”

The Young Reporter Scheme has been running for 12 years and is open to all students aged 14 to 18 and each year thousands take part in the scheme. A selection of students’ articles will also be published on Newsquest’s website.

The scheme was one of a number of student activities arranged by our Careers Service to help further develop their skills for university and boost their job prospects.

Our Response to Independent Commission on the College of the Future report

The Independent Commission on the College of the Future today (28 October) launched its report on the future of UK colleges. The 76-page report (which can be found here looks at what colleges want and need and how they can get there, and sets out a number of recommendations.

In a joint statement, CCCG Chief Executive Roy O’Shaughnessy and Chair Alastair Da Costa said: “This report sets out an exciting, bold and ambitious vision for further education colleges.

“It places colleges where they belong – at the heart of their communities, working with employers, Government, students and each other, to deliver the training and skills support that their communities need to succeed.

“Through our own initiatives, including our free courses for everyone up to Level 2, and our wide range of free online courses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we, like many other colleges are already innovating and making it easier for economically-deprived people to learn.

“We stand ready to do much more, and look forward to working with other London educators, businesses, the GLA and out local authorities to turn this bold vision into reality.”

Summary of the recommendations in the report

  • A statutory right to lifelong learning, so that people can train, and retrain, throughout their lives. This must be backed-up by financial support (the report describes it as “grants and loans that allow college students to live well whilst studying”), so that someone’s background or economic circumstances don’t affect their life chances.
  • Radical, long-term education and skills reforms and investment is needed – to address current and future skills gaps and transform every adult’s life chances. Colleges educate 1.4 million adults every year and must be at the heart of these reforms.
  • Backing business, driving innovation and addressing skills gaps, by establishing a unique service for employers at their local colleges for training and upskilling future and current employees, including through sector-focused “employer hubs”.
  • Overhaul, rebalance and integrate the whole post-16 education and skills system in each nation with a 10-year strategy for how colleges will work with schools, universities and all other education and training providers, to deliver what each nation’s economy and society needs, redressing funding inequity where it exists.

CANDI Alum Edgard Kalambani Joins the Central African Presidential Race

Edgard Kalambani is one of sixteen candidates running for presidency of the Central African Republic (CAR) in 2020. Having started his career at City and Islington College studying Business Administration and Management, he imagines a future for his country in the global economy arranged around principles of cooperation and a clear, forward-facing vision.

The Central African Republic finds itself at a crucial moment in its history. This year, the country celebrated sixty years of independence from France, though its journey has seldom been straightforward. Religious and political violence will be the main focus of the general election, having defined the country in world news since the 2003 coup led by François Bozizé.

“I was born in 1977,” Mr Kalambani said. “Growing up, there was not always water and there was not always electricity in some parts of the country. Today it is the same.

“I entered the competition for presidency this year because we see the repetition of the same problems since independence in 1960. It is the same people running the country. It is not a matter of bad politics but of ego. Developed countries form a system to move forward. They may move slowly or quickly, but they improve. Where there is ego, you are always trying to pull somebody else down.”

This year, Mr Kalambani will be up against a number of familiar faces, including Mr Bozizé and current president Faustin-Archange Touadera. The winner of the general election in December will have to wrestle with several pressing issues exacerbated by COVID-19, including widespread hunger, illiteracy and corruption. Still, Mr Kalambani is optimistic.

“I studied Business at City and Islington College and I am pleased because I had a good education there. I am now able to do what I am doing because CANDI gave me that base. I have learnt that when a company is not doing well, the board must look at the strategy and make a change. When you change the strategy several times and the company is still not doing well, you think about changing the CEO to bring in somebody with new ideas.

“For the Central African Republic, we know it is time to adapt the company and make some reforms. Today, the branding is not working. It is the right time for reform.”

One of the major challenges facing whoever wins in December will be education. According to UNESCO, the literacy rate in the Central African Republic among 15-24 year olds is 38.3%, though young people are steadily becoming more literate than their parents. The most recent data available showed that the country spends 7.8% of its governmental expenditure on education – roughly half of what the UK manages.

Education has seemingly always played a role in Mr Kalambani’s idea of structural and personal development. After graduating from CANDI, he moved to Scotland and set up educational charity Scotland CARES, which stands for Central African Republic of Education and Sport, to coincide with the rebel overthrow of Bozizé in 2013.

“I think that the education system is one of the most important things. In the Central African Republic, 70% of the population is under 35. That’s enormous. Without proper schools, universities and a proper system, it is difficult because young people do not understand what is going on. You have to create the basis for young people to have a vision of the future. Without that vision, people end up trying to have an easy life with no work, but that guarantees you will have trouble.

“CANDI helped me get to the right places. I wanted to learn how to run my own business. But only after completing my course was I able to go on and try to run a business. Schools are one third of the solution. You have to like to learn as well. The aim of Scotland CARES is to help children who do not have the resources, computers and materials to go on and learn themselves. It is very important to have a teacher in the first place to help develop that aspiration to achieve, but after that it is important that people innovate and create goals for themselves.

“Our priority is to put the old generation aside and to bring in a new generation with a new vision who want to move forward together. It is about becoming credible in the eyes of the world.”

Should Mr Kalambani win in December, he will be in the prime position to negotiate ongoing peace talks with the 14 rebel factions warring across the country. Since 2013, talks have taken place eight times with limited lasting success. This year, the general election has been tainted by talk of political violence and intimidation. Speaking to The Herald, Mr Kalambani stressed that challenging corruption, fostering positivity and creating a fairer economic system would underlie his “new approach” to reforming the country and ending sectarian violence. 

Behind Mr Kalambani’s system, though, is a broader message of focus and persistence. He urges that should he lose the campaign this is only the beginning of the journey to help “transform” the country.

“We are learning day by day. We are making a disturbance, which gives me the power to continue. If I were to advise CANDI students anything, it would be: ‘don’t be scared and try things out. Whatever you want to do, if it does not work, continue to try and to learn. When things go wrong, take a step back and keep learning.’”

Mr Kalambani is optimistic for the future of his country. Next year, the Central African Republic is set to run its first local elections since 1988. The City and Islington College alum feels that citizens recognise the “inefficiency” of in-fighting and that this is the right time to move forward together. The story of the Central African Republic has long been reported as a tragedy. Edgard Kalambani offers himself as the new face of hope.

Learn more about the campaign at Edgard’s campaign page on Facebook.

Financial Incentives Available For Businesses to Employ an Apprentice

CCCG is urging businesses to take up a new financial incentive to boost apprenticeships and fill their skills gaps during the pandemic.

Under the Government scheme run by the National Apprenticeship Service companies can receive up to £2,000 for each new apprentice they employ.

The extra funding follows a 50 per cent drop in the number of apprenticeship starts in the UK, with health and social care and business administration among the worst hit.

CONEL’s apprenticeships are run by Capital City College Training. Both the college and CCCT are part of Capital City College Group, London’s largest college group, which also comprises City and Islington College and Westminster Kingsway College.

Jackie Chapman, Managing Director of CCCT, said: “It has never been more important to create opportunities for young people.

“With unemployment rising, job vacancies that used to be open to inexperienced and young people are now receiving high levels of applicants from older and more experienced candidates who are attractive to employers as they come with skills.

“At CCCT we know the demand is there, as for every apprenticeship vacancy we advertise, we receive around 100 applicants, however there are simply too few vacancies to meet the demand.

“This threatens to leave this year’s school and college leavers with no opportunities to gain real work experience and start their careers.”

Businesses can claim up to £2,000 for each new apprentice aged 18 to 24 and £1,500 for those aged 25 or over who start their training before 31 January 2021.

The money is available to businesses of any size and from any sector It can be used on anything to support the company’s costs, from facilities and travel to uniforms and salaries.

Businesses are also being urged to join the Government’s Kickstart Scheme, which provides funding to employers to create job placements for 16 to 24-year-olds on Universal Credit.

Jackie said: “Typically a new recruit takes three months to start to become productive and by six months is fully productive, so the Kickstart Scheme is a great way to help support the costs of taking on a young person, who can then progress onto a full apprenticeship.”

CCCT offers a wider range of apprenticeships in accounting, business, construction, hospitality, culinary arts, engineering, veterinary nursing, supporting teaching in schools and healthcare.

Jackie said: “The NHS has already recognised how important apprentices are, bringing youth and vigour to a challenging environment. 

“We support 10 different trusts with a range of apprenticeships including pharmacy, healthcare and business administration. Most of these apprentices are new entrants to the sector, who turn into dedicated staff with 100 per cent loyalty and great career opportunities. 

“The engineering sector has recognised that its workforce is ageing  and continues to look to apprenticeships to provide the next generation of engineers.”

Click here for more information and to apply the financial incentive scheme.

Women building new careers in construction during COVID-19 pandemic

Women looking for work during the coronavirus pandemic have said how a training programme has helped them secure new careers in the construction industry. Fifteen women have been trained by CCCT and are undertaking work placements this month as part of the programme run by Women into Construction, in partnership with Henry Construction and The Guinness Partnership.

According to Women into Construction, just 13 per cent of workers in the construction industry are women and less than one per cent of those are working in the trades – such as bricklaying, electrical work, carpentry, plumbing, surveying, roofing and plastering.

The five-week programme provides participants with help to gain jobs in the industry, both on site and in the office. It includes 15 days’ work-focused training followed two weeks work experience with advice and support to get help participants get into work.

Jennifer Mensah, 25, found it hard to find work despite having completed a master’s degree in construction management this year. Since joining the programme she has been offered a job as an architectural designer with Lendlease.

She said: “I was applying for jobs, but it was very frustrating and I was getting into debt. My mum had had a stroke and I was having to look after my brother. It was a very worrying time for me.

“The programme helped me to connect with different companies and gain more experience and the confidence to get the job I have been working all my life for. Without this help it would have been 100 times harder for me and might never have happened.”

Jasmine Anthony, 37, secured a job as an electrician with BW Electrical Contractors after impressing on a placement at a new 1,000-home development in Bromley-by-Bow being built by Henry Construction.

She said: “Working as an electrician was always something I had a passion to do, but I never saw it through until now. I didn’t think I would be able to do it, but the programme gave me the confidence I needed. When I was told I’d got a job, I couldn’t stop smiling. I didn’t think it would happen so quicky. I’m just so excited.”

Urging women who may be unsure about entering a male-dominated career, she added: “I have been treated with a lot of respect on site. Don’t hold back, just try it!”

Participants on the programme undertake five days construction-related training leading to a Health and Safety Level 1 Award and a CSCS card test, which they need to pass to work on site. They also receive support with overcoming barriers to employment, writing CVs and interview skills. The programme also provides support with IT, childcare and travel.

Work placements and site visits have been provided by Henry Construction, The Guinness Partnership, Alliance Facades Solutions, Assael, Calford Seadon, Danescroft, EU JLL, DPC, BW Electrical Contractors, Hoare Lea, Kone, Metro, PRP, Turley and Waterman Group.

Helen Dobbs, Senior Regeneration Manager at The Guinness Partnership, said: “I’ve been very impressed with the women on the programme and their willingness to participate in meetings and site visits. They’ve all been very positive, enthusiastic and interested, and I am sure they will all secure employment in their chosen fields.”

Women into Construction is a not-for-profit organisation that promotes gender equality in the construction industry and supports women wanting to enter the sector.

Anna Walterskotter, Project Manager at Women into Construction, said: “We’ve had tremendous support from CCCT to continue this programme under COVID-19 regulations, including online training and speed interviews, which have really helped raising participants’ confidence levels. Each of the employers has adapted their work placements to incorporate online sessions and on-site meetings to find out how the women can fit into the industry.”

CCCT is part of Capital City College Group, which also comprises City and Islington College, Westminster Kingsway College and the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London.

Kate Child, Employability Business Operations Manager at CCCT, said: “This was the fourth programme we have run with Women into Construction and the first during the pandemic. It was great to see the women buzzing with enthusiasm after having met their work placement employers and some of them are already gaining employment.”

Click here to find out more about Women into Construction or email Anna Walterskotter at info@women-into-constuction.org

Student With ADHD Praises CANDI as he Starts Master’s Degree

A student diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has told how the teaching and support he received at college set him on the way to a master’s degree. Alex Napieralski, 25, graduated with a BSc (Hons) Finance from City, University of London this summer, where he now studying an MSc Games Programming.

Prior to university he completed an Access to Higher Education Diploma in Business and passed GCSE English and maths at City and Islington College in 2017.

ADHD is a condition that affects people’s behaviour. People with the condition often seem restless, have trouble concentrating and act on impulse. Alex, who also has dyslexia, began showing signs of ADHD when he was five and growing up in Poland but was not officially diagnosed until he attended CANDI. He recalled how the condition made him feel different to others still affects him today.

“Everyday tasks that come easily for others can be really overwhelming, such as simple decisions like what to eat or what to wear,” he said.

“This can be very frustrating when it comes to deadlines for coursework, exams or being on time to start work. It’s very hard for me and I often end up taking longer than others. I find it hard to focus on lectures or read when I want as my brain gets bored and I cannot concentrate for long periods of time.”

During his studies Alex received help from CANDI’s Additional Learning Support (ALS) team to overcome the conditions. He has continued to receive help at City, University of London, from former CANDI ALS co-ordinator Frances Anagnostou, who now works at the university.

Alex said: “When I joined CANDI I had various expectations for myself, although I was unaware of how much ADHD and dyslexia would affect my life and studies. It is one thing to have these conditions, but another to be diagnosed with it. No matter how hard you try, you do not feel Iike anyone else. I had to put in a large amount of work, not only at college, but in myself personally, to learn to cope with the things I struggled with.”

Alex, from Barnet, recalled how ALS staff at the college gave him the courage and strength to complete his studies to not give up when his mum was seriously ill in hospital.

He said: “I was working as a bartender at the time. My ALS teacher advised me to drop work and focus only on studies, as I have the ability to do so. I did not believe it at the time, but I followed her advice and found I was able to work much more freely on assignments and understand my lectures better.

“I used to be scared and think I was incapable of achieving anything, but through my studies I was able to consistently grow and felt more like everyone else. I firmly believe that I would not have reached my goals without the college’s help.” 

CANDI’s ALS Team provides support for students with a wide range of disabilities and conditions including help in the classroom, sign language, disability assessments, counselling and mentoring.

Theresa Hughes, Inclusive Learning Tutor at CANDI, said: “Alex faced a lot of challenges but on the plus side he had a lot of energy. He was not always patient, like a lot of people with ADHD, and found it frustrating when it came to hunkering down and getting on top of his work and co-operating with tutors and I would sometimes have to negotiate for him.

“By the time he was looking at going university he knew what his learning profile was and what he found hard. He became better at expressing what help he needed and was taking up challenges and sticking with things, which improved his study. He has done fantastically well since leaving CANDI. We’re all pleased as punch that he has gone so far. It’s absolutely brilliant to see.”

Click here to find out more about our support and wellbeing for students.

CANDI Alum Kenoly Mbele Shares her Student Experience #LoveOurColleges

Kenoly Mbele studied UAL Level 3/4 Foundation Diploma in Fashion Textiles at City and Islington College. Read on to find out how she found the course, overcoming grief and going on to pass her exams.

Why did you choose the Fashion Textiles Foundation Diploma at CANDI?

During my childhood I dreamed of a career in fashion. I would hand stitch clothes for my dolls, create collages, watch fashion runways and draw designs in a mini notebook which my dad gave me. My little imaginative and creative mind helped me to play around with different materials. As I studied art and textiles at Hornsey School for Girls, I learnt different creative techniques such as clay making, sketching with black pencils, abstract painting, seam stitches and constructing a skirt.

CANDI gave me the opportunity to try different aspects of fashion textiles to explore my own potential. I really enjoy trying new techniques to make my work appealing to an audience because I was born to be experimental.

What was your favourite subject within the course?

From the beginning I was interested in fashion on the whole, but as I learnt different techniques the quality of my work began to change. With the help of my tutor, Isatu Taylor, I began to explore fashion textiles and realized I had a passion for it, so I continued to produce drawings in my reflective journal.

What was your best experience at CANDI?

During my foundation course I had the confidence to create my own Tate Exchange project. ‘The Power of Storytelling/Childhood,’ was interactive for the public; toddlers, youths, adults and the elderly. I had a collection of childhood books on a bookshelf, toys on the table and a box of sweets. Creating a nursery atmosphere, I wanted the adults to feel like a child because as an adult with responsibilities we don’t have time for self-care.

How did you find lockdown?

My God-Grandma died on 16 April 16 this year, due to COVID-19. I found it really difficult to cope. My tutor, Isatu, suggested I talk to a mentor and she was amazing. I spoke to her about my future goals, which university I’m hoping to go to and taking care of my health. Changing my lifestyle and taking care of myself helped me mentally. I met up friends socially distanced, and I felt free. It has helped me think about how important and precious life is. I’m so grateful to my mentor, I learnt a lot and I’ll continue to take her advice on board.

How did you feel when you received your exam results?

When I got a distinction for Fashion Textiles, I screamed! My sister jumped on me, my parents hugged me with joy and I cried with happiness. I never knew that I would get a distinction. I texted my tutor and sent her a screenshot of my grade. She was so happy for me.

I hope to go to UAL Chelsea because the university has great facilities for fashion textiles and I look forward creating abstract pieces. I can’t wait for the next chapter of my life.

See examples of Kenoly’s work on her Instagram account here.

Our response to Government’s free courses plan in FE Week

Kurt Hintz, Interim Executive Principal at Capital City College Group, has responded to the Government’s new proposals to offer free Level 3 courses to adults in this week’s FE Week.

CCCG already offers free courses up to Level 2 and free short courses up to Level 3 across all its colleges – City and Islington College, Westminster Kingsway College and the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London.

Kurt explains how he had previously recognised the main barrier to adult education was cost, which led to the start of free courses at CONEL and the impact this had on enrolments.

He adds that further introduction of free short courses at CONEL became another driver for mainstream courses, and how the college’s success led to free courses being extended across CCCG.

Kurt also emphasises why the extra Government funding for the Level 3 courses is needed urgently and why the money should be devolved to local education budgets.

Click here to read the full article.

International accounting firm Mazars backs CCCG’s #Laptops4Learners campaign

Big-hearted staff at international accounting and advisory firm Mazars have been raising money for laptops to help London’s most disadvantaged students get online during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company has pledged its support to Laptops4Learners, a campaign run by Capital City College Group (CCCG), and saw staff join in various online activities as part of its Back to School fundraiser.

CCCG is the capital’s largest college group and comprises City and Islington College, Westminster Kingsway College, the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London and apprenticeship provider Capital City College Training.

Laptops4Learners is asking businesses and the community to donate laptops and raise funds to help students study online with many lessons having to be taught remotely.

Students have had to access online lessons and complete assignments at home during lockdown, with courses still requiring some remote learning this academic year. Many come from the bottom three bands of social deprivation with some having to watch lessons and do coursework on their mobile phones, while others have no technology at all.

WestKing student Jada Murray-Hutchison, 17, from Enfield, who received money for a laptop earlier this year, said: “I had to do presentations on my phone because I didn’t have a computer, and it was really hard and overwhelming as well.

“Now that I have a laptop, I’m able to research and complete all my assignments. It’s really made a difference.”

The Back to School fundraiser aimed to raise funds for schools and colleges who need extra help supporting disadvantaged pupils and students during the pandemic. The event ran from 12-16 October and saw staff host and participate in a wide range of activities such as baking, juggling, drawing, forensics and exercise classes

Harriet Walker, Sustainability Executive at Mazars, said: “It’s been great fun taking part in the Back to School fundraiser, learning how to juggle, draw and gaining an insight into the world of forensic investigations, all for a worthwhile cause.”

CCCG has already invested heavily in laptops and wi-fi equipment for students with the support of some Government funding but more money is needed.

Roy O’Shaughnessy, CEO of CCCG, said: “Throughout lockdown we provided laptops to students, and even though we have moved to classroom learning wherever possible this academic year there will still be a strong element of remote learning and a need for more laptops.

“This is a really big challenge for us, and we are delighted that Mazars has given its support to our Laptops4Learners campaign to help our students get online to complete their studies and get the digital skills they need for the modern workplace.”

Click here to find out more about Laptops4Learners and make a donation.

WestKing Nominated for Two Prestigious Awards

Westminster Kingsway College’s award-winning School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts in Victoria has been nominated in two categories at the coveted Cateys Awards 2020.

The Cateys are the ‘Oscars’ of the hospitality industry, and are run by the leading industry magazine The Caterer. The awards are one of the biggest events in the hospitality calendar and recognise the “most talented individuals, the biggest brands and strongest performers in the hospitality industry.”

WestKing has been shortlisted in two categories:

  • Deputy Executive Principal (and Master Chocolatier) Gary Hunter, is shortlisted for the Education and Training Award;
  • The college’s unique and innovative Culinary Medicine programme and degree course in Culinary Health and Nutrition, have been nominated for the Health and Nutrition Award.

Speaking about his nomination, Gary Hunter said: “I’m delighted and honoured to have been shortlisted for this year’s Cateys, alongside three other great culinary educators.

“I am fortunate to lead a wonderful team of professionals at Westminster Kingsway College, who inspire and educate our culinary students every day. This nomination is very much a recognition of their hard work, dedication and expertise.”

Westminster Kingsway College has over 100 years’ culinary expertise and we are at the forefront of the emerging science of culinary medicine. We help to run a culinary medicine course for NHS clinicians (in partnership with Culinary Medicine UK), and running our own Degree course in Culinary Health and Nutrition.

The culinary medicine course gives doctors and medical students a greater understanding of the vital role that nutrition plays in health, and enables them to speak to their patients about the dietary changes they could make based on their medical condition.

The course has recently been adapted to educate students about nutrition challenges that have been exacerbated by COVID-19, for example the difficulties that some – especially those from poorer households – have in getting good-quality and nutritious food to help them fight infection.

Our degree course in Culinary Health and Nutrition is the only one of its kind. It’s designed for trained chefs and gives them an in-depth understanding of the medical effects of food on health and wellbeing, and a grounding in the scientific principles of clinical nutrition. The degree is a stepping-stone into many careers in nutrition, including in commercial product development, corporate wellness, working with the health sector, public health, the supplementation industry and sports nutrition.

WestKing Chef Lecturer Vince Kelly tutors on both courses. He told us:
“It’s fantastic that the college has been recognised for our Culinary Medicine programme and our new Culinary Health and Nutrition Degree course. The link between nutrition and health is – thankfully – becoming better understood in both the hospitality and clinical worlds, and I am really pleased to be able to pass on my knowledge, passion and expertise to clinicians and my fellow professional chefs.”

The winners of the Cateys will be revealed in a virtual ceremony on Tuesday 24 November.

Find out more about all our culinary arts and hospitality courses.

Queen's Award for Enterprise