January 2021 - Capital City College Group
Accessibility & Translation

College Book Club for ESOL Students Continues to Thrive in Lockdown

A book club at Westminster Kingsway College for students whose first language is not English has continued to thrive online during lockdown.

Around 50 students from six classes taking English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses attend weekly book clubs that initially began fortnightly with two classes.

The club, which has been held on Microsoft Teams during the pandemic, mainly reads and discusses short stories adapted to the English level of the students in the class.

Tales with a twist are among the most popular with students, including works by Guy de Maupassant, Saki, Roald Dahl, Edgar Allan Poe, Frank O’Connor and Sara Paretsky.

Students read, learn about the vocabulary and take part in quizzes to reinforce their language skills. They also look at other texts including songs, riddles, tongue-twisters and newspaper articles.

ESOL student Amalia Castano, 47, from Camden, who was born in Colombia and came to the UK from Spain, said: “I really enjoy the book club. It’s really helped me to improve my English and develop my reading skills and vocabulary so I can understand more.

“The teachers on my course, in my opinion, are really good and the best I have had in my life. I feel very comfortable and want more classes like this.

“When I first came to the UK I could not express myself very well, but I can now. I’m really proud. For me the college is marvellous, it’s been amazing. I’m really happy.”

College librarian Josh Ramsden set up the club for ESOL Entry Level students at the college’s Soho Centre in 2009, which was later extended to include Level 1 students.

The club moved online at the start of the first lockdown in March 2020 and was extended to ESOL students at the college’s King’s Cross Centre at the start of this term.

Josh said: “Reading English is one of the best ways for ESOL students to enlarge their English vocabulary and their understanding of English grammar as well as to gain confidence in creatively using the language. The weekly book club plays a big role in that, and students who regularly attend the book club have noticed the beneficial effect on their English.”

Josh, who has a Master’s Degree in English Literature, also runs a classics book club for all students at WestKing with English at Level 1 or above. These students have read and discussed novels including Lord of the Flies, Fahrenheit 451 and 1984. Click here for more information on ESOL courses.

Click here for more information on ESOL courses.

ESOL student shares her lockdown experience and discusses book club

Our Comment on Government FE White Paper

The Government has published a white paper on the future of further education today. It runs to 77 pages and sets out changes that the Government wants to make to further education and skills training.

Now that it has been published (available to read in full here), the Department for Education will consult with the sector and others, with a view to implementing the things in it. We will take part in these consultations and look forward to helping shape our sector’s future.

Commenting on the white paper, Roy O’Shaughnessy, Chief Executive of the Capital City College Group said:

“The long-awaited further education white paper is finally with us. Its publication is a welcome acknowledgement of the vital role that the nation’s further education colleges, the 2.2 million people who study in them and the 55,000 staff who educate them, must play in the UK’s post-Brexit role in the world and our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“According to the CBI, our changing economy – fuelled by digitisation and automation – will mean that millions of us will need new skills over the next 10 years. Colleges are ready to provide these skills and we look forward to working with the government and others to help shape the future and turn the white paper into reality.

“We have students of all ages and all skill levels learning in our colleges, so it’s particularly welcome that the Government has restated their ambition to enable everyone to learn flexibly throughout their lives, as well as boosting the profile and reputation of further education. Like all colleges, we already work with local employers and other partners across London to provide valuable experiences and opportunities to our students in addition to their studies, and it’s pleasing that the white paper includes plans to further develop this work, through Local Skills Improvement Plans.

“We also welcome the desire to consult on simplifying the complex system for funding further education and to give providers more autonomy, and we’re delighted that the white paper acknowledges the key role that our teachers play, and that it wants to improve retention and encourage fresh talent into the sector. However, with college staff still paid considerably less than their fellow teachers in schools and universities, any discussion about recruitment and retention must also address the issue of staff pay and the viability of colleges.”

Student voice ‘more important than ever’ during COVID pandemic

Student voice ‘more important than ever’ during COVID pandemic

Two students say their peers’ voice is “more important than ever” during the COVID pandemic after joining the board of Capital City College Group (CCCG).

Luke Wilmoth and Precious Agyei Boateng will provide a student perspective to support the strategic planning for the Group, which has around 29,000 students and apprentices

CCCG comprises City and Islington College, Westminster Kingsway College, the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL) and apprenticeship and training provider Capital City College Training.

Precious, 18, from Enfield, is completing a Health and Social Care diploma at CONEL having been educated at schools in Italy and Ghana before moving to the UK last year.

She said: “I have a clear vision for the college and looking forward to collaborating with the other board members for the benefit of the students. It is important that the students have a voice and the board listens to every concern as they are at the centre of everything they do.”

Luke, 17, from Waltham Forest, is studying A Levels in Geography, Physics and Politics at City and Islington College and has aspirations to become an airline pilot or work in politics.

A London Youth Assembly member, he is also Youth Mayor for Waltham Forest and has shared his views on issues affecting young people through Waltham Forest Young Advisors.

Luke has also undertaken voluntary work for charities including the LVE Charitable Foundation and Royal British Legion.

He said: “It will be great experience to be able to contribute as a board member. The coronavirus pandemic, and the changes made to education nationally, mean it is now more important than ever to include a student voice at a strategic level.

“I hope to make a positive contribution to the leadership and direction of the Group, its three colleges and CCCT. It will be both a rewarding and educating experience discovering how governing bodies for education groups work and helping influence key decisions.”

As well as having student board members, students across the Group have other ways to make their voices heard. Each CCCG college also has a students’ union and class representatives to enable them to provide feedback on all aspects of college life. Surveys are also undertaken to give insight.

Graham Drummond, Director of Governance, said: “We are delighted to welcome Luke and Precious to the CCCG board. They were both excellent candidates and we look forward to them providing and contributing to discussions to help inform our strategic decisions.

“Their opinions and insights will be valued and listened to. They will play an important part in helping to develop and shape the content of our next three-year plan, which is due to be approved in March.”

Students ‘Completely Prepared’ to Help Knife Crime Victims after StreetDoctors Workshop

Students – including one who witnessed two of her friends being stabbed – say they feel better prepared to help knife crime victims after taking part in lifesaving workshops.

Around 25 students from Westminster Kingsway College have participated in practical sessions run by StreetDoctors over the past two years as part of the college’s Safer Learner Month.

StreetDoctors is a national charity based in Hackney that teaches lifesaving, emergency and first aid skills to young people at risk of youth violence to keep themselves and others safe.

A Level student Salma Dekhissi, 17, from Southwark, who wants to become a criminal lawyer, recalled how her schoolfriend was killed and another was injured in knife attacks.

She said: “A couple of times in the past I witnessed a friend being stabbed. They were situations that I had no control over. The pressure was overwhelming and made me feel extremely guilty and distraught as there was no way I could help.

“The StreetDoctors workshop was extremely helpful. In a society where knife crime is extremely common, I believe it should be something that all young people should take part in. I can now confidently say I would be completely prepared to handle a situation like this in the future.”

StreetDoctors works with schools, colleges, community groups and criminal justice organisations to provide training through a team of healthcare volunteers made up of university medical students. Sessions look at what to do when someone is bleeding or unconscious including cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training.

Nafiye Dervish, 18, from Enfield, who is studying Health and Social Care and also attended the StreetDoctors session, said: “Attending this workshop has helped me prepare for my future career as I have the intention of becoming a nurse.

“I learnt the basics of first aid with the emphasis on helping victims of knife crime. I now know how to support someone if they are heavily bleeding from an injury until medical help arrives. I have also learnt the importance of reacting quickly and communicating with the patient in order to reassure them and if they need anything.

“I definitely feel more prepared and aware of what I need to do in order to help save someone’s life.”

Since 2013 StreetDoctors has run 932 sessions in 17 cities across the country to teach more than 18,000 young people emergency and first aid skills.

Esther Dahan, Enrichment Officer at WestKing, said: “We are keen to provide our learners with not just lifesaving skills, but also promote awareness around the limitations of the human body and the implications of violence.

“Student reactions to the programme have been wonderful. They always leave with expanded minds, having explored some of the implications of knife crime, and feeling more confident in their ability to save a life should they ever find themselves in such a situation.”

Click here to find out more about student life at WestKing.

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