October 2021 - Capital City College Group
Accessibility & Translation

Our response to the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Budget announcement

Following the Budget announcement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer yesterday, Roy O’Shaughnessy, Chief Executive Officer of Capital City College Group, said:

“The Government has promised to build back better and level-up Britain through a skills revolution. Colleges provide the training which the country needs to achieve that, so – following a decade of chronic underfunding for further education – it’s good finally to see increased investment in post-16 education and skills in the Chancellor’s announcements.

“We welcome the additional adult skills funding through Multiply and the National Skills Fund investments. We pioneered free Level 2 courses in 2017 and introduced more at Level 3 in 2019, and we know they make a huge difference by enabling people, for whom the cost would be a massive barrier, to return to education and gain valuable new skills. We also welcome the additional monies for 16 to 19-year-olds in T Level funding and the pandemic recovery plan. This Group has experienced some of the most acute impacts through the pandemic and this funding will go some way to tackling these effects.

“We are also pleased to see the further capital funding for colleges outlined. This will be critical to allow us to improve our facilities and infrastructure to provide even better spaces for students to learn effectively. 

“Capital City College Group provides more apprenticeships in London than any other further education provider, so it is encouraging that the apprenticeships budget will increase over the next three years. Alongside this, we welcome the reforms to Universal Credit and DWP funding to help support more people into meaningful work.

“Overall, I believe the Budget and Spending Review announcements are a positive step for the Group and our colleges. However, on face value it only restores many of the cuts over the last decade rather than meeting the technical skills aspirations which have been articulated. More will be needed if the UK is to have a true skills revolution, level up and tackle the major challenges we face post Brexit and meeting our 2050 net zero carbon targets. We stand ready to work with Government to articulate how this may best be met.”

Black History Month – ‘We still have a long way to go to bridge the equality gap’

To mark Black History Month this October, Isatu Taylor, Curriculum Leader for Visual Arts, shares her experiences of life as a black person and what can be done to eradicate racism in society and make colleges more inclusive.

Tell us about your background.

I was born in Portland, Jamaica, and moved to the UK with my sister when I was 14. My mum lived in London as a child and went on to study a degree in Slavonic Studies. She later burnt her British passport in protest at how black students were being treated and came back to Jamaica before returning to England.

Is Black History Month important to you?

It’s sad indictment that we need Black History Month, but I’ll take a month when blackness is on the agenda than not at all. I’ve had people ask why we don’t have a white history month, and I tell them every month is white history month. If you grow up in schools in England you learn European history, and obviously that’s important, but as a black child I didn’t learn anything about black history. Part of the way we unlock our differences is by showing that we’ve all faced atrocities and had moments in history where we’ve done each other great disservice. Black History Month should not just be talking about the issues, but about identifying the challenges to make sure history doesn’t keep repeating itself. We need to get past the ‘here we go again’ mentality and token gestures.

What was it like for you growing up as a black person?

I remember walking into my first classroom in London and everybody appeared to be blond. It was very different in terms of people’s mannerisms, expectations and how children viewed education. People had expectations of what I would be like, asking if smoked weed or if I had seen anybody killed. It wasn’t said in a malicious way, more out of ignorance from all ethnicities, not just white students. I was lucky to be living in London because it was so multicultural. I spent the first few years near King’s Cross where there was a big Bengali community. I connected with the food and culture as it was similar to the Caribbean.

Tell us about a time when you have experienced racism.

My worst experience of racism happened when I had part-time job when I was 16 in McDonald’s. There was large group of men and there had been a mix-up with their order and they thought it would be funny to pour a chocolate milkshake over us and make racially abusive comments. It was a bit frightening, but I manly felt that these guys were idiots. I was brought up to see people as people and think it’s very important that you don’t allow the actions of a few to shape your perspective.

How much has society changed in its attitudes to race since you were younger?

Unfortunately, racism still exists. A look, comment or just a feeling can make you uncomfortable. Racial profiling and stereotyping are still a problematic issue. Groups of black boys are often more animated than their white counterparts and wrongly perceived as more aggressive. More needs to be done to educate people in positions of authority to make them more aware of how these differences manifest themselves and how organisations can be more culturally sensitive. Most of our politicians are white and of a certain class and too many policies are driven by their experiences. We’ve made positive progress but still have a long way to go to bridge the equality gap.

Who are your black heroes and role models and why?

I’d have to say my mum. My son calls her a doctor because he says she knows everything. When she eventually leaves us, I can only hope to have a fraction of her knowledge and wisdom. She raised five children and at one point was also holding down two jobs and doing her master’s degree. She believes in hard work and is a great supporter of what I do. I always admire people who do positive things but always reserve hero status for those I know.

What can be done to stop racism in our society?

Representation is so important. We need more black teachers, especially in primary school, to reflect the pupils in the classroom. Often, if you are a black child, you can go through your whole educational experience without ever being taught by a black person. There is so much research on unconscious bias where people identify and favour with people who have shared experiences. If we’re able to educate people and offer students of all backgrounds the opportunity to be taught by someone of colour, then it will change their perspective. They are not just seeing black people in stereotypical roles, but as people in society.

How do you incorporate black culture into your teaching?

Growing up in the Caribbean I have had a very different experience to a lot of my students. I do reflect on my experiences, but don’t necessarily set about focusing on blackness. Instead, I set an example of promoting tolerance, love, acceptance and understanding. I’ve also discovered cultural similarities from my travels in Asia and talking to my students. By celebrating our differences and also recognising that we have more in common than we do not, our classrooms can be much more inclusive.

How can the further education sector become more racially inclusive?

BAME history and culture need to be much higher up the agenda. Colleges need to commit to planning innovative and meaningful ways to better integrate and put this at the heart of the curriculum. This should include more staff and student training, mentoring and support on diversity issues, and celebrating different cultural groups through workshops, networking and partnership work. In terms of teaching and staffing, FE is in much better shape in terms of diversity than other areas of education but more needs to be done in terms of leadership, how and where staff are recruited and internal progression. The sector has an abundance of teachers from different ethnicities, and we need more of them promoted to senior management roles.

Black History Month – ‘We need to enrich our students’ lives no matter what their backgrounds’

To mark Black History Month this October, Jacqueline Dyett, Head of School for Business, Accounting and Travel and Tourism, shares her experiences of life as a black person and what can be done to eradicate racism in society and make colleges more inclusive.

Tell us about your background.

I was born in the Eastern Caribbean on the island of Montserrat, a British Overseas Territory, and migrated to the United Kingdom after the eruption of the Soufriere Hills Volcano in the late 1990s.

Is Black History Month important to you?

I have mixed feelings about Black History Month. Although it is good to take time to reflect on the contributions of African and Caribbean communities to the UK, it saddens me that we still have to rely on a month to do so, after which these contributions are quickly forgotten until the next year. It seems to be a never-ending cycle where the inequalities faced by our backgrounds persist in everyday life. I look forward to the day when black history is integrated into the social, moral and educational fabric of today’s society.

What was it like for you growing up as a black person?

My experiences were eye openers of the wider societal issue of race and ethnic identity and only served to strengthen my resolve and character. It made me more determined to be successful in the UK regardless of my background. I have benefited academically from my migration to the UK and have enhanced my career as a result of the positive experiences I have had. I continue to be optimistic regardless of the challenges my ethnic background brings. It gives me hope seeing the many encouraging changes over the years. 

Tell us about a time when you have experienced racism.

I led a relatively sheltered life growing up in Montserrat and was not subjected to racism until I went to Vancouver in British Columbia to study Marketing in my early 20s. I distinctly remember boarding a bus and taking a seat next to a passenger who then immediately got up and took another seat at the rear of the bus. This left me feeling very uncomfortable at the time. I was also the only black female West Indian student in my class, and this made for a number of very difficult moments while trying to fit in and be accepted.

How much has society changed in its attitudes to race since you were younger?

There are more black people in positions of leadership and people tend generally to be less openly racist. However, I feel that attitudes to race have simply mutated into various forms, which are now more entrenched institutionally and so less visible and more difficult to eradicate.

Who are your black heroes and role models and why?

My inspirations over the years came from not one person but many people such as Maya Angelou, Michelle Obama and a former Canadian tutor of mine named John Porteous who started me on my accounting journey, as well as my parents and two former managers. Michelle Obama is a strong, black woman, passionate about changing the world and the fate of everyone, as was Maya Angelou. 

What can be done to stop racism in our society?

I agree with Michelle Obama when she stated that “race and racism is a reality that so many of us grow up learning to just deal with. It’s up to all of us – black, white, everyone, no matter how well-meaning we think we might be, to do the honest, uncomfortable work of rooting it out.” I would like to see black history included in the wider national curriculum in all state and public schools. Perhaps then, we will not require a Black History Month.

How can the further education sector become more racially inclusive?

The FE sector is well placed to become more racially inclusive as we have such diverse classrooms. At our School of Business, Accounting and Travel and Tourism, students are taught by staff who they can identify with and relate to, which enables them to feel part of the curriculum and aspire. Our students are today’s workforce, and we need to do our best to enrich their lives no matter what their backgrounds, so that they can individually fulfil their potential.

Black History Month – Inspirational black leaders share their advice with students

Six inspirational black leaders shared their advice and experience with students when they joined a discussion panel at Westminster Kingsway College.

Around 50 students attended the debate that took place at the college’s King’s Cross Centre to mark Black History Month, which runs throughout October.

The panel of speakers comprised:

  • Frankie Davies – Careers and Employability Advisor and owner of online retail business PixieDivine
  • Naz Deen – Head of Youth and Sport at children’s charity Coram’s Fields
  • Vanessa Holondo – Policy Advisor at the Home Office
  • Kehinde Ndede – Lead Business Analyst at the Home Office
  • Michelle Green, Self-employed motivational coach for young people
  • George Osei-Oppong – IT Engineer and CEO of tech firm HostHelp

During the debate, the panel were asked questions about the challenges they have faced, their role models and inspirations and biggest achievements, as well as offering students their top tips for success.

Kehinde, who has worked at the Home Office for three years, revealed how the issue of her race and gender was still prevalent in her career and how she had overcome challenges in the workplace.

She said: “I’m a senior manager in a male-dominated environment and a young, black woman. I find that challenging as I’m constantly having to prove myself. I’ve had to be quite assertive and say this is my point or perspective and this is why.”

Offering her advice to students, she added: “For me, it was about being able to do my job well and having belief in myself and that I am able to deliver, knowing I have the skills and capabilities to do this job and that’s why I’m here.”

“Have the confidence to speak out and voice your concern in a professional way. It’s the way you approach situations and circumstances that will determine how people react. It’s about being able to express yourself in a clear way that people understand and the reason behind it, and also going for whatever opportunities come your way irrespective of what anyone thinks.”

Michelle, who has 15 years’ experience working with young people in education, mentoring, youth offending, online protection and safeguarding, encouraged students to believe in themselves and what they can achieve.

She said: “One of the biggest challenges along the way is doubting yourself. Be clear about what you want. When you ask yourself that question it can be difficult to define and get that answer. I really looked at that, focused on it and wrote it down, and then said right this is what I’m going to go for.”

On the importance of good role models, she added: “They’re important because they mould your character and who you want to be. Find people who motivate and encourage you on your journey, and who you can look up to and imitate. Find someone you can aspire to, whether it’s a black person or not, and take what is good from them, and anything else leave aside.”

The panel also encouraged students to network and build experience through volunteering, try things out of their comfort zone, learn from other people’s experiences, take the positives from every challenge and be bold, authentic and themselves.

The discussion panel was one of many Black History Month events being hosted at WestKing, which also included:

  • Film screenings of Becoming, a documentary about Michelle Obama, and Rocks, a film about a black British teenage girl and her younger brother abandoned by their mother and facing being taken into care.
  • A book club focusing on Marlorie Blackman’s acclaimed novel Noughts & Crosses, which was recently turned into a BBC TV drama.
  • Themed debates including one entitled BAME Is Not My Name, which explored whether the term BAME should be ditched.
  • A poetry society celebrating black feminism where students were asked to share a verse and their thoughts and experiences.

The events were organised by the Student Services team, which runs a wide range of enrichment activities for learners throughout the year including employability workshops, curriculum events and national competitions.

Find out more about College Life here.

Rising stars from CANDI and WestKing up for UK Entertainment Awards

Rising stars Amel Rachedi and Babatunde Aléshé who studied at two of London’s top colleges have been shortlisted in this year’s UK Entertainment Awards.

The pair are up for Best Presenter and Best Comedian in the awards that celebrate and recognise talent in music, comedy, online media and film. The winners will be decided by a public vote on the UK Entertainment UK Awards website, which closes on 26 October.

Amel presents her show Brunch with Amel on Instagram from her home in Ladbroke Grove and has more than 30,000 followers, having previously been a presenter on London-based hip-hop and RnB internet radio station Pulse88.

During her presenting career she has been invited to red carpet events and interviewed big names including Emeli Sandé, Sean Paul, Keri Hilson, Shaggy, Mr Vegas and Beenie Man.

She said: “I am so flattered and shocked to have been nominated. I feel so humbled and grateful that my work has been acknowledged. There are a lot of creatives in the industry doing amazing things and to be recognised is absolutely insane.”

Amel initially wanted to become a fashion designer and studied Fashion and Textiles at City and Islington College (CANDI) from 2008-11.

She said: “At the beginning I was always into fashion and creating looks. I had a great teacher at CANDI. Her name was Isatu Taylor and she was so lovely and down to earth. I really enjoyed it at college, it was part of my journey. I think it’s okay to try other things in your 20s, there’s no right or wrong way.”

Amel built up a network of contacts in the creative industries when she left college and began working as a runner, researcher and production assistant for TV, radio and commercials, eventually booking celebrities for interviews.

She said: “The producers started telling me that I should be on TV or radio. I was close to a freelance producer who took me under her wing and started bringing me on to shows. I got my first slot on Pulse88 in 2019 and started presenting my own show on Instagram seven months ago.

“I have had guests come on I never would’ve dreamt I would be interviewing. Meeting Sean Paul in real life and having Keri Hilson on my show was surreal. I remember thinking, how is this even happening? It’s been a lot of hard working in pushing but I’m now the happiest I’ve ever been I never thought something like this would be possible. It’s crazy when I look back on what I’ve achieved.”

Babatunde studied Performing Arts at WestKing from 2002-05. He is one of the brightest stars on the black British comedy circuit and a past winner in the Black Entertainment Comedy Awards.

He said: “I’m overwhelmed to have been shortlisted. This is the first award nomination I’ve had in quite a few years and was completely out of the blue. I never expected it. Hopefully, I will win, but even if I don’t it’s nice to be recognised for my craft as a comedian.”

Babatunde, who grew up in Tottenham and now lives in Stevenage, is currently on tour with fellow comic Mo Gilligan who he appeared on Channel 4’s Celebrity Gogglebox last year.

He said: “It’s great to be back performing stand-up and supporting Mo. I’ve learnt so much from him and sharpen my act every time I’m on stage. I love making people laugh and being entertaining. It’s always been my passion. Seeing smiles on people’s faces is the best thing.”

Babatunde lists Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock and Dave Chapelle among his inspirations and appeared in the latter’s live comedy show The Process in 2018. More recently he was seen performing stand-up on Jonathan Ross’ Comedy Club on ITV.

After WestKing, Babatunde went on to study acting at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. His TV and film credits include Waking the Dead, Doctor Who and EastEnders.

 “I loved it at WestKing because I had a lot of freedom to express myself as an actor,” he said.

“I always sing my lecturer Rob Alexander’s praises because he was the best teacher I ever had.  He was a funny guy who saw my passion to make people laugh but also showed me I was able to do more serious dramatic acting as well. He saw there were more layers to me that just the comic.”

Click here to vote now for Amel and Babatúndé in the UK Entertainment Awards.

Apply now for Art and Design courses at CANDI and Performing Arts Courses at WestKing.

Hospitality Apprenticeships Week – ‘You cannot fail to be impressed by WestKing’s prestige’

To mark Hospitality Apprenticeships Week (18-22 October), we spoke to Craig Parsons, Apprenticeship Manager at Fuller, Smith & Turner, about apprenticeships and careers with the company’s 400 pubs, bars and hotels.

Tell us about your career in hospitality.

I’m a chef by trade but my job is to manage the apprenticeships for the whole Fuller’s estate.

Although I studied for a Sports Biomedicine degree, I loved cooking and wanted to pursue a career in the kitchen. At the time you couldn’t do an apprenticeship if you had a degree, so I applied for various jobs instead. I was given the opportunity to trial working in a kitchen, which eventually led to working for two AA rosette pubs.

I read a lot of books and developed my own style and role in restaurants, ski chalets and hotels. I’ve also been involved in food development for big supermarkets and worked for an apprenticeship provider. Because I couldn’t get on an apprenticeship myself, I wanted to give other people the education they deserve.

Tell us more about Fuller’s relationship with WestKing.

We began running Commis Chef and Chef de Partie apprenticeships with WestKing in 2019 and currently have 30 apprentices training. The college is renowned for being one of the best educational establishments for cookery in the world and we’re delighted they’re now in our network of education providers.

Whenever we look to work with a college, we always send our staff out to experience a class for themselves. You cannot fail to be impressed by WestKing’s prestige and ethos and we know the apprentices are going to be trained to the highest standards.

What skills will apprentices gain during their apprenticeship?

Our apprenticeships are about giving people the best education, not just for now but for later in life. At Fuller’s, we don’t always need to prep food from start to finish, but we still train our chefs with those skills because we know they’re going to use them in the future. It’s not just about what Fuller’s needs but about the whole industry.

The reason we use colleges is because they give students room to fail and that is often the best way to learn. From advanced pasta making to butchering, it’s important to have a safe environment where you can get advice and have room to improve.

What do you look for in an apprentice?

Ultimately, we’re looking for people with the right attitude, who want to get out of bed in the morning and have the drive to come to an interview and apply themselves at work and college. I don’t want anyone to feel they can’t join our apprenticeship programme.

Why is hospitality such a good career?

A career in hospitality can take you anywhere. I always had in my head that I didn’t want to stay in one environment for more than two years, although I’ve been at Fuller’s for seven years now.

At Fuller’s, you can move around and gain experience in many different environments and still have the security of a large company that offers great pay and benefits. You can earn from day one, add your own twist to dishes on the menus and become a head chef in four or five years.

What advice would you give to anyone considering a hospitality career?

Don’t just look at the name of the employer you want to work for, look at the training you’re going to get. Sometimes it’s not clear exactly what training is being offered. Make sure you know what you’re signing up for.

How is Fuller’s responding to the impact of the COVID pandemic?

COVID has had such an impact. The Government wants to push everyone into STEM careers. I can understand the motivation behind it but we’re starting to see big gaps across the hospitality sector.We need them to react to what’s going on and recognise the industry needs help to get people trained and into work.

There is going to be a new population of people looking for hospitality careers and there’s also a lot of untapped potential out there.At Fuller’s, we’re looking to expand our apprenticeship team and ways to increase awareness of apprenticeships across the sector.

We’re also planning further school liaisons to engage with young people.We’ve previously ran school events where we would teach the students skills such as how to fillet a fish and have had candidates coming forward off the back of that, so we know it works.

What are the benefits of being an apprentice with Fuller’s?

We started with a chef apprenticeship programme in 2016 because that is where we had a skills shortage. We started with 16 apprentices and now have more than 120 across the business. As well as chef apprenticeships we also run training programmes for our front of house and general managers. One of the biggest benefits is that we offer all our apprentices a permanent role upon completion of their programme. Fuller’s is also making big changes to its current pay and benefits package. We’re already industry leading with our apprenticeship pay and about to offer the highest national pay rate.

The learning opportunities are endless. Our apprentices can compete in our annual Chef of the Year competition, where past winners have had the chance to visit Michelin star restaurants in New York and Hong Kong. We also provide visits to our supply chain to see how our meat and produce is sourced and prepared.

Fuller’s has also won awards pre-COVID including Best Apprenticeship Training Programme at the British Institute of Innkeeping National Innovation in Training Awards and a silver award for Best Apprenticeship Programme at the Training Journal Awards.

How are our current apprentices doing?

They are all loving their apprenticeships and have remained positive despite COVID. They say it’s been tough but are seeing the positive impact the training is going to have on their future careers. There will always be cases where some people are struggling but we’ve got the support mechanisms in place to help them one-to-one and through the Licensed Trade Charity.

How do you see your partnership with WestKing developing?

I’ve been to an induction day at WestKing and plan to go and see some of the cookery sessions next year. I’m keen to get our general managers and head chefs along to the college and help co-train and co-assess learners, which will not only remind them of culinary techniques but also teach them about new trends and increase their skillset.

How do you apply for an apprenticeship with Fuller’s?

All apprenticeships at Fuller’s are advertised on our website and on job sites like indeed.co.uk. Successful applicants will be assessed by a college on their suitability for an apprenticeship.

WestKing runs Hospitality and Culinary Arts apprenticeships with many companies across the sector. Click here to Apply Now.

Celebrating Hospitality Apprenticeships Week 2021

This week (18-22 October) is Hospitality Apprenticeships Week, a celebration of apprenticeships in the culinary and hospitality sector. It’s also a chance to showcase the unique and diverse range of careers that are available.

This year we will be training almost 100 hospitality apprentices for a wide range of well-known hospitality companies, so we’ve taken a closer look at why so many great employers look to us to train their apprentices.

On 24 September, Westminster Kingsway College’s School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts in the heart of London celebrated the graduation of its classes of 2020 and 2021.

Around 200 students donned mortarboards and gowns and received their diplomas for completing courses and training in culinary arts, kitchen and larder, hospitality and events, patisserie and restaurant service.

For Sharon Barry, the college’s Head of School for Hospitality Apprenticeships, watching the ceremony and celebrations that followed also marked the end of another successful year for the college’s apprenticeships team.

Westminster Kingsway College (WestKing) is part of the Capital City College Group. Most of the Group’s apprentices are trained by its specialist training arm, called Capital City College Training. But uniquely, the hospitality and culinary apprentices are all trained at WestKing’s School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts in Victoria.

This is for a very good reason. The college has a long-standing reputation in the hospitality industry, earned over many decades, of providing the highest quality training for young chefs and other restaurant and hotel staff. So, it makes sense for the Group’s chef apprentices to be trained by Westminster Kingsway College’s expert chef lecturers, in the college’s industry-grade kitchens. And, the college’s reputation in the hospitality sector is so strong, that employers know and trust WestKing to train their apprentices to a very high standard.

So far this academic year, 76 apprentices have enrolled on WestKing’s Chef de Partie and Commis Chef apprenticeship programmes, with another 19 due to enrol in Nov, making 95 in all. And, as Sharon explains, there is a greater need than ever before for well-trained apprentices.

“Even before COVID there was a shortage of chefs in the industry; now there is a massive shortage of chefs, as restaurants, hotels and other hospitality venues open up after the pandemic.

That isn’t the only thing that has changed in the industry, says Sharon: “Many employers are looking at their recruitment more than they had before the pandemic. They want to upskill their staff and they need people who have got a wider skill set – people who can move around kitchens and take on a variety of tasks. Taking on an apprentice enables employers to do that.”

Like most apprentices, those studying at Victoria have a full-time paid job – typically in a restaurant or a top hotel – and attend college one day each week to learn additional skills. “Apprentices need to know a lot.” says Sharon. “Even in the biggest restaurants, someone won’t be doing all the things that they need to know to successfully complete their apprenticeship, so coming to WestKing – combined with the skills they learn in their jobs – makes them more rounded, highly skilled and employable. The feedback we get from our employers is that they like the way we do things.”

“The majority of our apprentices come to us direct. We know what good quality culinary and hospitality apprenticeship vacancies are available, so we sit down with prospective apprentices, get to know them, and point them in the direction of vacancies that might be right for them – trying to match them up with suitable employers.

“Then they apply for the vacancy and go for an interview with their prospective employer. And if they are successful, they get the job and come back to us one day each week for their apprentice training.”

So which companies trust Westminster Kingsway College to train their apprentices? It’s a who’s who of hospitality employers, including: Harrods; the contract caterers Compass; Hilton hotels; The Landmark Hotel; The Waterside Inn (Alain Roux’s 3 Michelin-starred restaurant); The Dorchester hotel; the Grosvenor House Hote; The Ritz; the pub chain Fullers; and Le Gavroche.

One such apprentice is 18 year old Guy Sherman, who last year was on a Commis Chef apprenticeship while working at The Dorchester hotel. In June, Guy was interviewed by the leading hospitality magazine, Chef, and he was full of praise for the college. He said: “The support from the college has been exceptional, always pushing me to enter new competitions. In the middle of 2020 I entered the International Salon Culinarie where … I managed to walk away with two medals.”

Guy is far from being the only apprentice to have gained from the experience. Everyone benefits from a hospitality apprenticeship, says Sharon. “The apprentice has a paid job, and they are learning all the time. They are learning while they are doing their day job, and they are learning those extra skills when they are here on their day-release. And the employer gets a highly-trained specialist with more knowledge and expertise than they would have if they weren’t on their apprenticeship. It’s a win-win.

“I truly believe in what we offer here.” Sharon concludes, as she looks ahead to the coming year with a new group of apprentices. “It’s nice to see the new apprentices progress, even after a few weeks, when I do lesson observations, I can see they are more confident already.

Apply now for Hospitality and Culinary Arts courses and apprenticeships.

Student’s pride at being shortlisted for Student of the Year for championing LGBTQ+ rights

A student who championed LGBTQ+ rights at Westminster Kingsway College has told of his pride after being shortlisted for Young Student of the Year.

Nilton Pimenta, 18, was thrilled at being named among seven students across the country to be in contention for the annual Association of Colleges’ award.

He was put forward by the college where he achieved an A and two Bs in his A Levels last summer, which secured him a place at the University of Manchester where he is studying for a BA Social Sciences.

Nilton received homophobic abuse when he came out as gay when he was 15 but has remained proud of his sexuality and campaigned on a wide range of diversity issues.

He said: “This is incredible! I’m so honoured and completely overwhelmed by this nomination. During my time at WestKing, I went from strength to strength with our student ambassadors to promote equality, diversity and inclusion through a wide range of societies, podcasts and LGBTQ+ resources across the college.

“One thing I’ll remember so fondly is the sense of belonging felt by the student groups and the promotion of a study friendly environment. The college will always have a special place in my heart, and I want to thank all the staff at WestKing for their fabulous work.”

In her nomination for Nilton, Laura Elliott, Head of Learner Services and Operations, wrote: “Nilton has fearlessly held his identity as a gay man with pride, using his experiences to fuel his desire for equality and awareness with a tenacity that is nothing short of inspirational.”

Nilton’s sheer determination saw him elected as a Student Governor, representing 10,000 students. He also wrote articles for student websites and helped create banners to promote inclusivity at the college.

Laura continued: “Nilton leads from the front, unapologetically sharing his views with others on how to improve a diverse range of issues within the college, such as the socio-economic divide, racism and LGBT awareness.”

While he was at WestKing, Nilton was awarded the Camden Spotlight Award in this year’s Camden Youth Awards, presented to a young person who has provided help and support to a group of people at their place of education or in the community.

He was also named among the recipients in this year’s Jack Petchey Achievement Awards, which each year recognise around 12,000 outstanding young people aged 11-25 from schools, colleges and youth organisations across London and Essex.

Finalists for the Student of the Year awards will be chosen by a panel of judges and named at the Association of College’s Annual Conference in November with the winners and runners up announced next spring.

Apply now to study at Westminster Kingsway College.

Degree students praise WestKing’s support during COVID as they celebrate graduation

Students from Westminster Kingsway College praised their lecturers’ support during the pandemic as they were awarded their degrees at this year’s graduation ceremony.

Assistant Principal Keith Turner presented the new graduates with their scrolls as they were announced by Maliheh Hamdollah, Programme Area Leader for Business, at St Stephen’s Church near the college’s Victoria Centre.

Both the classes of 2021 and 2020 were honoured at a joint ceremony after last year’s graduation was cancelled due to the COVID pandemic.

Deputy Executive Principal Gary Hunter announced this year’s student awards at the ceremony, which were presented by Culinary Arts lecturer Vince Kelly.

Valedictorian awards, for the graduates attaining the highest achievement in their year, were presented to Hospitality and Tourism Management student Heather Braveboy and Business Strategy and Enterprise Management student Kathleen Dean, who both gave speeches.

Awards were also presented to outstanding students in Business Strategy and Enterprise Management, Culinary Arts and Business Management, and Hospitality and Tourism Management.

Further awards were given to students who excelled in research, analytics, innovation, entrepreneurship, enterprise, teamwork, peer support and for best dissertation.

Katarzyna Uddin, 33, who graduated with a BA (Hons) Business Strategy and Enterprise Management and received the outstanding student award on her course, hopes to set up an organic café in the next two years.

She said: “I feel very happy that my hard work has been recognised. Getting the award has given me the confidence to know if I work hard and I’m determined I will be able to achieve my dreams.

“We’ve not been able to celebrate for a year, so it’s been nice to finally be able to get together. Most of us felt quite isolated from other students during COVID and it was difficult to finish our degrees at home, but the teaching was amazing. All the lecturers were very encouraging and supportive, and believed in us.

“I want to start my own business and feel I’ve now got the skills and knowledge to run it when it opens. My degree has taught me how to do a proper business plan, marketing and how to understand the finances. I enjoyed working and learning from other people, hearing different people’s views and realising the importance of working as a team if you want to be successful.”

Elizabeth McBride, 23, graduated with a BA (Hons) Hospitality and Tourism Management and won the student award for culinary entrepreneurship.

She said: “It feels too good to be true. I’m so happy to have finally completed my degree because there were so many points during COVID when I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to do it. It was more difficult and challenging with everything online, but we had one-to-ones with our lecturers if we needed help. You’d send them an email and they’d be there straightaway. It was never a problem, there was a lot of support. It went a lot smoother than most of us thought it would.”

Elizabeth previously completed a Patisserie and Confectionary Level 2 Certificate at WestKing and has been working as a pastry chef in restaurants in London for five years.

She added: “I realised I wanted to make my own cakes, but I just needed to know everything that needed to go into it. The course covered business management, law, finance and marketing – all the topics I needed to know, so it was the perfect course for me. It’s opened my eyes and given me a lot more confidence because now I know more about what goes into running a business.”

Petrena O’Halloran, Head of School for Higher Education and Professional Programmes, welcomed students, staff, parents and guests to the ceremony, which also included speeches by Executive Principal Kurt Hintz, Chair of Governors Alastair Da Costa and Vice Principal Jasbir Sondhi.

Special guests Deborah Homshaw, Managing Director for CH&CO, and Ralph Coulson, People Operations Business Partner at Food+ by Compass, also addressed the students.

Congratulating the students at the ceremony, Petrena said: “We have had an exciting yet challenging year of transition, and you have all demonstrated the amazing ability to overcome challenges and weather the storm while learning creatively.

“All your hard work, your educational journey, your incredibly strong pursuit in the quest for academic excellence, and your unquestionable commitment towards your goals has culminated in this moment. This is a big achievement for you, a first step on the road to success, and you will go on to achieve great triumphs and other prosperous accomplishments.

“Well done to all of you for putting in the necessary hard work to be included in the graduating classes this year.”

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New café for hospitality workers opens at WestKing to aid COVID recovery

A new café exclusively for hospitality workers has opened at Westminster Kingsway College to help boost the industry in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.

The PM Café, run in partnership with the PM Trust and Hospitality Action, is open three days a week at the college’s Victoria Centre, and provides a space to network, get advice and share ideas over a tea or coffee and a pastry or slice of cake.

The opening of the PM Café comes at just the right time for the hospitality sector. The Government’s furlough scheme ended on 30 September, but consumer spending on hospitality and the number of people employed in the sector are still below pre-pandemic levels.

Visitors to the café will have access to information on mental health and wellbeing and can arrange to meet trained mediators from the charity Hospitality Action to get further help and support.

Celebrity chef Brian Turner CBE, who is a Trustee of the PM Trust, said: “By opening this café today we’re recognising the needs of the hospitality industry and providing them with somewhere to go, find friendship and someone to talk to when the going gets tough.

“The mental health problem is much bigger than we ever thought it was. Now is the time to get rid of these problems that have particularly affected young people, but not solely, and provide as much help as we can. It’s a brilliant idea, which we hope will catch on and we’ll be able to open more of these places around London and the rest of the UK.”

WestKing is one of the UK’s leading colleges for Hospitality and Culinary Arts and already features two award-winning training restaurants The Brasserie and The Escoffier Room, known jointly as The Vincent Rooms.

The college’s Hospitality and Culinary Arts students will be overseeing the running of the café and making drinks, pastries and cakes as well as serving customers. Pastries will be available in the morning and cakes in the afternoon with larger bites available from the Brasserie menu during kitchen opening times.

Deputy Executive Principal Gary Hunter said: “The PM Café will create a place of sanctuary where hospitality workers can talk and seek guidance or support over a cup of tea or coffee served by our students.

“The café will also be a fantastic opportunity for our students to get real experience of working in front of house roles and perfecting their culinary skills in creating a selection of pastries and cakes for customers visiting the café to enjoy.”

The PM Trust provides financial support for young people aged 16-24 looking to work in the hospitality sector, to help support their training and development. It was formed in 1949 after the closure of the PM Club, a meeting place for young hotel and restaurant workers in the crypt at St Martin-in-the-Fields on the north-east side of Trafalgar Square.

Hospitality Action has been supporting the UK hospitality industry since 1837. The charity helps workers across the industry with physical or mental health problems and also prepares them for the next phase in their lives if they are no longer able to work.

Gary, who is also a Trustee at the PM Trust, said: “In my role with the PM Trust I have been involved in supporting young hospitality workers in London with advice and financial support, and during the pandemic it became very apparent how many hospitality workers needed more support than ever.”

Tim Jones, Trustee at both PM Trust and Hospitality Action, said: “I am delighted to have played a part in helping to create the new PM Café. In the last century the PM Club operated as a place for young hotel and restaurant workers to meet and relax during the afternoons between shifts. When the club was disbanded the PM Trust was formed to assist young people entering the sector.

“During recent times, it has become apparent that a social wellness hub is needed for those working in the industry, and one of Hospitality Action’s prime roles is to provide support to improve mental health. I am sure the café will be extremely beneficial to many and help the sector to be seen as an attractive career path as it bounces back from the pandemic.”

The PM Café is open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9.30am to 9pm. No proof of employment in the hospitality sector is required.

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Queen's Award for Enterprise