Former CANDI Sports Science student scores career goal as Turkey football coach

A football coach for the Turkey national team has told how studying at City and Islington College (CANDI) helped kick off his career.

Emre Aydemir, 36, joined the Turkish Football Federation in 2020 as an assistant coach and educator where he has worked under head coach Stefan Kuntz and his predecessor Şenol Güneş.

He previously worked as an assistant coach and educator for Arsenal in the Community, the club’s community programme for young people, after completing an Access to Higher Education Diploma in Sports Science at CANDI in 2013.

Emre developed his coaching skills at the Gunners, studying for a Foundation Degree in Football Coaching while at the club and gaining his UEFA B licence with the English FA.

He later progressed to BSc (Hons) in Sport Psychology and Coaching and graduated in 2016, and more recently he attained his UEFA A licence with the Scottish FA.

Emre, who grew up in Istanbul, played professional football for Küçükçekmece before coming to England in 2010 where he played and coached at non-league White Hart Rapids in Haringey.

“I could not continue with my playing career as a professional footballer due to a foot injury,” said Emre, who has since moved back to Turkey.

“I ended my football career as top scorer in a league in north London I played in and decided to focus on my education. I’d always had passion for football, and as I had played football I thought I could continue as a coach.”

Emre is a fan of Turkish side Fenerbahçe but adopted Arsenal as his favourite team in England while he was living in London and attending CANDI.

He names José Mourinho, who has managed two of the Gunners’ biggest rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea and is now at Roma, among the coaches he admires.

“I like Mourinho because he has been successful with teams at different levels. He is also a very disciplined coach with very good communication skills with the players,” said Emre.

“He is someone who constantly applies new strategies and different models and does not give up on himself.”

When asked what skills and attributes are needed to be a good football coach, Emre listed leadership, management, communication, observation, passion, positiviity, patience, imagination, self-motivation and a desire to do better to reach your potential.

“Coaching keeps me focused all the time. It’s important to me to establish good relations with the players and understand them and have good organisation skills and pay attention to detail,” he said.

Emre recalled how he was able to implement what he had learnt at CANDI into his university studies and this, along with his training at Arsenal and the FA, gave him the skills he needed for his coaching career.

He has particularly fond memories of CANDI where he started his journey and often mentions the college when asked about his career or when speaking at conferences worldwide.

“When I first started CANDI, I had a lack of self-confidence and thought I wouldn’t be successful,” said Emre.

“My teachers supported and pushed me to do my best. They were so helpful and believed in me. The course gave me better insight into sports science, theoretically and scientifically, which I was able to implement into my university studies.

“CANDI taught me to dream, gave me direction and encouraged me to set achievable goals. It is still a very special place for me.”

CANDI offers Sports Science courses from Level 2-3, which cover anatomy, health and safety, sports psychology, nutrition, fitness and practical sport.

Find out more and apply here.

Adult students shine as CONEL celebrates excellent GCSE results

Adult students excelled in this year’s GCSE results at the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL) with more than half achieving high grades in maths.

The college saw 56.8 per cent of students aged 19 or over pass their maths exam with high 9 to 4 grades while 46.1 per cent of adults were awarded top grades in English.

Students taking their GCSEs were sitting exams for the first time since the COVID pandemic with many studying them alongside full-time courses and some without English as a first language.

Overall CONEL saw 30.9 per cent of students achieve high grades of 9 to 4 in English and 30.5 per cent attain 9 to 4 grades in maths with many going on to further study or employment.

Hanieh Damer Cheli, 33, achieved a grade 9 in maths and a 5 in English along with a 9 in GCSE Combined Science. She now hopes to study A Levels or an Access to Higher Education Diploma.

She said: “I couldn’t sleep and woke up at 4am! I was so nervous that I asked my friend to check my results. I was predicted 8 or 9 in maths.  I was expecting a bit higher in English, but I’ve still got good grades.

“My English teacher was fantastic. She was so caring and kind and really paid attention to her students. I felt confident about my knowledge going into the exam. I’m so happy, and I can now plan for my future. This is the first step to university, but I know I can do it.”

Lwin McLay, Kamile Dilberoglu, Mahsa Moradaghay, Besjana Begaj and Habibeh Esmaeil Zadeh all attained a grade 8 in maths.

Lwin, 45, who also completed an AAT Accounting Level 3 Diploma and is now progressing to Level 4, said: “I was very excited when I got my result. My tutor was excellent and helped us prepare well for the exam. He knew his subject and all the topics that were going to be covered this year.

“He gave us all the information and laid out all the resources we needed, and we also did a lot of past exam papers in class. As long as you put in the work and study, you can achieve anything.”

Mahsa Moradaghay and Lwin McLay who both achieved a grade 8 in maths and Andy Brenya who attained a 6 in English and a 7 in maths.

Andy Brenya, 19, gained a 6 in English and a 7 in maths while also studying for the first year of an Applied Science Level 3 Diploma, which he is expected to complete next summer.

He said: “The teaching at CONEL was very good. In English my teacher broke everything down, which made it very easy. In maths they did everything to help me understand and we would have tests every week. It gave me the confidence I needed going into the exam.”

CONEL offers A Levels at its Enfield Centre through its City and Islington College (CANDI) Sixth Form Hub. It also offers vocational courses at its Tottenham and Enfield Centres in Accounting, Business, Construction, Engineering, Creative Media, Health and Social Care, Childcare, Hairdressing, Beauty Therapy, Computing, Music, Public Services, Science, Sport, Teacher Education and Travel and Tourism.

The college also offers a wide range of apprenticeships with top employers across London through Capital City College Training enabling you to earn while you learn.

Kurt Hintz, Executive Principal of Capital City College Group, which includes CONEL, said: “I would like to congratulate all our GCSE students on an excellent set of results this year.

“It is a tribute to their hard work and resilience and the dedication and support of our teachers and staff that they have achieved the grades they deserve. I wish them all the very best for the future.”

Places are still available at CONEL this September. Find out more about our courses and apprenticeships here and enrol today.

Joy and excitement as WestKing students get their A Level and BTEC results

Students and staff at Westminster Kingsway College have been celebrating success today, as students received their A Level and BTEC results.

Today’s results follow two years of disrupted teaching, online lessons and uncertainty caused by the COVID pandemic. And, because the pandemic meant their GCSEs had been cancelled in 2020, these A Levels were the first formal exams that this group of students had ever sat – making their achievements all the more impressive.

In all, 267 WestKing students received A Level results – in a wide range of subjects from Biology to Business and from Physics to Philosophy. 86% of students’ grades were passes, which is an improvement on 2019, the last time any students sat summer exams. In addition, 100% of the college’s students passed their exams in English Literature, Further Mathematics, Media Studies, and Spanish, and Intensive A Levels in English Literature, History and Politics.

One of the students who passed English Literature is 19 year old Vevina Weldu, who was delighted with her A in English literature and B grades in Psychology and Philosophy. She is off to the University of Southampton in September to study Marketing and has had a great time at WestKing. “I loved it. The teachers really help you to move forward and it’s been enjoyable here.”

Millie Croos from Edgware in north London was thrilled with her grades, getting A* in Psychology and Biology and an A in Chemistry. She said: “I want to work in neuroscience, so I am going to Manchester to do an integrated master’s degree in Neuroscience – it’s a four-year course. Neuroscience is all related to the brain and I will have different career options including in artificial intelligence or working with neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s.

“My teachers have been brilliant. Angela Stewart was my tutor and my Chemistry teacher and was the best teacher ever. Natalie Sanderson taught Psychology and I really feel that I owe her my grade!”

Another very happy student is Ossie Crick, who couldn’t have done any better than the three A* grades that he achieved in English Literature, History and Politics. His achievement is particularly notable because all three subjects were Intensive A Levels, meaning that Ossie studied for just one year. “It was hard work” he said. “I was too busy studying during the year to have a job, but I was still able to have a social life. But I stuck with it and am surprised with how well I did.

“I did a lot of self-learning, but my teachers – Andrew Edwards and Arifa Hafiz – were great and they really care for their students. I have a place at Manchester University to study History and Politics and my success is thanks to them.”

For many of our students, studying at WestKing is much more than learning the curriculum and preparing for exams. Many are the first member of their family to study A Levels or apply to university, so they and their families don’t always have the knowledge and understanding of how the system works, or how to navigate it.

So, the college’s form tutors and subject teachers, student support teams, careers advisors and enrichment staff guide and advise students and help them achieve their potential. This support takes many forms, and includes wellbeing, mental health advice and pastoral care, as well as study guidance, workshops, CV training, work placements with employers, talks from industry figures and employers, paid internships and – depending on the course – experiences like trips to businesses, art galleries and museums. These enrichment opportunities support students’ academic studies and really make a difference to their chances of success.

The Career Ready programme is one example of the amazing support available to students at the college. The programme helps students prepare for higher education and work, and includes a wide range of enrichment opportunities including workshops and advice, professional mentors, as well as internships and placements with blue-chip firms.

Saffron Devonish Wint passed her A Levels in Business, Politics and Psychology and took advantage of the opportunities available to her. As WestKing’s Carlo Liu explains, “Saffron worked incredibly hard. She was selected for the Career Ready Programme and did so well on it, that she was also nominated for their national Student of the Year award.

Saffron has been offered a degree apprenticeship with Unilever and told us: “I wouldn’t have got my degree apprenticeship without the support I had from the college and from my Career Ready mentor.”

Also getting their results today were the college’s BTEC students. In contrast to the mostly academic A Levels, a BTEC is a more practical qualification. It helps many young people gain vital knowledge and experience, as well as – for those who pass with a distinction – earning enough UCAS points to get into university.

18 year-old Orla McLaughlin aced her BTEC Level 3 in Music Performance & Music Production, achieving a Distinction. “The facilities are really nice”, she says. “There’s a theatre where you can do performances at the end of each term. We’ve got production rooms and studios. We also get talks and advice from people in the music industry – proper artists – who come in and give us talks.” Orla is off to study Music and Psychology with honours at Liverpool University and she is really excited for the future.

Behind these successes and many others, are often stories of triumph over adversity. Many of our students have overcome personal and emotional setbacks to keep studying for their A Levels and BTECs and – regardless of their final grades – just completing their courses and sitting their exams is a huge achievement.

As Shirley Wong, Curriculum Manager for A Levels, explained, “We have students who are living in care, or have been in care – one of whom is hoping to study Sanskrit at Oxford University. We also have young refugees and others who have caring responsibilities at home.”

“But one student in particular stands out for me. She has overcome extreme health issues over the past two years, undergoing several operations, suffering personal bereavement, moving home and working outside of college. She is hoping to get into university and is a remarkable young lady. Her positive attitude and diligence have been remarkable and it has been a pleasure to see her grow into such a capable young person.”

WestKing’s Vice Principal Jas Sondhi said: “So many of our learners have had to overcome huge challenges to get to this point and I want to congratulate all of them on their achievements in their A Levels and BTECs today.

“Our learners have been resilient and have worked very hard under extremely difficult circumstances, and I am particularly pleased with how they’ve faced the challenges of the last two years with a real sense of purpose and dignity. They have their whole lives ahead of them and I know they will go onto do great things and contribute to the common good.

“I also want to thank our students’ parents and carers, for the love and support they give to their children, as well as the wonderful group of teaching and support staff here at WestKing. They are a great team and they make this college such a fantastic and inspiring place to study.”

Westminster Kingsway College is part of Capital City College Group (CCCG), which also comprises City and Islington College, and the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London, as well as Capital City College Training – the Group’s specialist apprenticeships and training provider.

Kurt Hintz, Executive Principal of Capital City College Group said: “I would like to congratulate all our A Level students on an excellent set of results this year. Their studies were hugely impacted by the COVID pandemic, and it is a tribute to their hard work and resilience that they have achieved the grades they deserve and are now set to progress onto the universities, employers and apprenticeships they planned for.

“I would also like to thank our teachers and support staff for their dedication and relentless support to students in what has been the most challenging period to be a teacher in living memory.

“I wish all our students collecting their results today the very best for the future.”

It isn’t too late for you to enrol at WestKing for courses starting in September. Find out more about our courses and enrol here.

CANDI students celebrate A Level success as grades greatly surpass pre-COVID results

Students at City and Islington College (CANDI) celebrated A Level success as the college saw the number of students achieving top grades significantly exceed results prior to the COVID pandemic.

CANDI Sixth Form College saw 71 per cent of students attain A* to C grades – an 18 per cent increase on 2018-19 – with many going to Russell Group universities including Oxford and Cambridge.

Among this year’s top performing students were Isobel Rout, Keefe Choong, Amy Lay and Mohammed Yusuf, who all achieved three straight A*s in their exams.

Isobel, 18, who gained three A*s in Biology, Psychology and History, is heading to Oxford University to study Experimental Psychology.

She said: “I’m really happy. I couldn’t have done any better. The exams were quite stressful as there was a lot of content covered. I had a few nerves this morning, but I’m so relieved it’s now over.

“My teachers at CANDI were really supportive and would go beyond what was asked of them to make sure you understood their subjects.

“I’m looking forward to university. I want to get into neuroscience. It’s a very fast-moving field with finding treatment and prevention for conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia.”

Keefe Choong and Amy Lay who both achieved three A*s in their A Levels.

Keefe, 18, secured a place at Warwick University to study Computer Science after gaining A*s in Maths, Further Maths and Computer Science.

He said: “I wasn’t too stressed this morning as I left the exams feeling confident because of all the preparation and past papers we did.

“Having a good relationship with your teachers is important and I had that at CANDI. The teachers were very helpful and easy to talk to. If I had any questions, I could go straight to them and they would explain it, especially in maths.”

“I’m happy all the hard work’s paid off and I can now enjoy my summer.”

Amy, 18, gained A*s in Photography, Textiles and Graphics, and is going to UAL: Central St Martins, to study a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design.

She said: “I wasn’t nervous. I thought whatever grades I get will be a reflection of how hard I worked, but I am amazed at my results. It’s been a really tricky year as my mum moved out and I was living with a flatmate, but I think that made me work harder.

“My family made a lot of sacrifices to allow me to stay in London, and that made putting studying first really easy and especially when it’s something you love.”

“My teachers were incredible. I have never known teachers who are as passionate as the teachers at CANDI. They will go out of their way for you. Even though they had a lot on and a hundred other students they always made time for you. I wouldn’t have done it without them.”

Students who studied vocational courses such as BTEC diplomas also celebrated their results with many of those taking Level 3 qualifications, equivalent to three A Levels, gaining distinctions.

CANDI has one of London’s largest choices of A Levels with more than 30 subjects available to study along with a wide range of vocational courses and apprenticeships.

Colleen Marshall, Vice Principal of CANDI, said: “Our students have shown admirable resilience in very challenging and unprecedented circumstances during the COVID crisis, to still achieve fantastic grades and gain places on degrees at some of the country’s best universities.

“I would like to say a big thank you to our teachers who have been resolute in ensuring the success of each and every student, and all our support staff who often go unmentioned but whose work is invaluable to the college.”

Kurt Hintz, Executive Principal of Capital City College Group, which includes CANDI, said: “I would like to congratulate all our A Level students on an excellent set of results this year.

“Their studies were hugely impacted by the COVID pandemic, and it is a tribute to their hard work and resilience that they have achieved the grades they deserve and are now set to progress on to the universities, employers and apprenticeships they planned for.

“I would also like to thank our teachers and support staff for their dedication and relentless support to students, in what has been the most challenging period to be a teacher in living memory.

“I wish all our students collecting their results today the very best for the future.”

Places are still available at CANDI this September. Find out more about our courses and apprenticeships here and enrol today.

CANDI becomes first London college to offer new Access to Policing course

City and Islington College (CANDI) has become the first college in London to offer a new Access to Higher Education Diploma in Policing to support recruitment to the Metropolitan Police.

The diploma covers key topics for the modern police service, such as ethics, values, communication skills and evidence-based policing. The course also has a section focusing on the importance of community policing and includes additional units on criminology, law and sociology.

The course will give students the skills and knowledge to apply for a Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship or other higher education policing programmes.

Students who complete the diploma and successfully apply to join the Met though the apprenticeship may be eligible for reimbursement of a percentage of course fees.

Nigel Lewis, Curriculum Leader for Public Services, said: “London is one of the most exciting and diverse cities in the world and policing it is no easy task, but I know from my own experience as a former Met Police officer it is one of the most rewarding careers you can have.

“It takes a huge number of people from all sorts of different backgrounds with a wide range of skills and experience to police London. Many people have the potential to be great police officers but don’t yet have the entry qualifications to apply to be a police constable.

“As a police constable, you’ll have the opportunity to make a positive difference to the lives of Londoners every day. You’ll build relationships with local communities, reduce crime, support victims and keep people safe. No day is ever the same but every day you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that what you do has made a real difference to the lives of Londoners.”

Access courses are for people aged 19 or over who want to apply to university or other higher education courses but do not have entry qualifications such as A Levels or BTECs, or those seeking a career chance.

The Access to Policing diploma is a nationally recognised qualification and has been developed by the Met and awarding body OCN London.

There are no specified formal entry requirements but there is an expectation that students will have literacy, communication skills and numeracy at Level 2, equivalent to GCSE, or above.

Superintendent Tamsin Jones, Head of the Met Police’s Centre of Initial Recruit Training, who joined as a direct-entry superintendent just over five years ago, said: “London’s communities need more police officers who are as diverse as them, who understand them and who have a real desire to make everyone safer.

“Many people we speak to have a wealth of life experience and other skillsets that would make them fantastic police officers, but they don’t yet have the educational qualifications needed to apply for a career in policing.

“This course is designed specifically for them. The new diploma in policing was jointly developed by experienced Met Police officers and education experts, to help people gain the qualifications and confidence they need to apply to join the Met.

“I truly believe that policing is one of the most fulfilling careers in the world. Each day is different, each shift is challenging and every moment is an opportunity for you to change someone’s life for the better.”

Find out more and apply for the Access to Higher Education Diploma in Policing here.

For more information about Met Police careers click here.

‘This trip has changed my life’ – students inspired after visit to South Korea

Students immersed themselves in South Korean culture and discovered more about the country’s growing tech and green economy on an ‘unforgettable’ trip of a lifetime.

Thirty students from across Capital City College Group (CCCG) went on the three-week trip funded by the Turing Scheme, the UK’s global work and study programme, and found out there’s much more to South Korea than K-pop and Squid Game.

Staff and students from Keimyung College University (KMCU) in the southern city of Daegu welcomed the students who were paired with Korean ‘buddies’ to show them around and give them a chance to practise their Korean.

Before the trip students took lessons in Korean and visited the Korean Cultural Centre UK in London to discover more about the country’s culture, history and traditions.

The students continued to learn Korean on the trip and took part in activities including learning taekwondo and visiting the Gyeonju National Museum and surrounding national park.

They also tried many traditional dishes including dotori-muk, an acorn jelly, and chalbori-ppang, a barley bread, and later made rice cakes and tofu in the village of Danglin.

Students travelled to JEI University in Incheon and Kyungbuk College in Yeongju to see the latest advances in Industry 4.0, the development of automation using smart technology, and the green sector. They worked alongside their Korean peers to research and deliver presentations on how they and their colleges can tackle climate change and what can be done in the UK and Korea.

The trip also included visits to the Yecheon Astro-Space Center and Korea Radioactive Waste Agency.

Rania Abdi, 18, an A Level student at Westminster Kingsway College, said: “My three weeks in South Korea made such a huge impact on me. I’ve learnt more about the green agenda and climate action, how to understand and navigate an entirely new culture and formed friendships I will value for the rest of my life.

“I am extremely grateful for this experience and will forever cherish the memories created from my short yet sweet time spent in South Korea.”

The Korean Tourism Organization secured tickets for the students to watch Tottenham Hotspur’s pre-season friendly against K-League XI, a team of players from the Korean football league, and to see Cookin’ Nanta, the country’s longest running theatrical show.

Students also visited South Korea’s capital Seoul and took a bus tour of the sights. They were also invited to Korean Polytechnics’ artificial intelligence and engineering facilities in the city.

Sylvia Lafford, 18, a Creative Media student at Westminster Kingsway College, said: “This trip has changed my life. I always wanted to study an East Asian language and learn more about their culture. Over the next few years, I’m going to study Korean and potentially apply to a university in Seoul.

“I’ve made some amazing friends who made this trip unforgettable. Overall, it’s made me more confident in myself, but most importantly it has broadened my horizons for my future. It will stay with me for a very long time.”

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

Seungeun Chang, Head of International Development and Operations, said: “This was our first trip under the new Turing Scheme and was an incredible and fascinating adventure for all the students, who fully immersed themselves in the Korean culture, language and lifestyle.

“Our hosts at KMCU, JEI University and Kyungbuk College warmly welcomed us all. They arranged so many wonderful experiences for our students, from learning about Korea’s growing technology and green sectors to trying taekwondo and visiting museums and parks. I cannot thank them enough for their kindness and hospitality throughout our visit.

“Each and every one of the students on the trip has told us how much they enjoyed it and how much it will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

“We look forward to continuing to build our relationships with Korea and planning similar trips to other countries through this valuable scheme.”

How can Levelling Up help tackle the UK’s skills shortage?

The COVID-19 pandemic hit the UK hard – in London alone, unemployment rose to 7% in 2021. Through Levelling up and the skills agenda, the Government have announced a range of initiatives to help the UK recover, supporting people to up-skill and re-skill in the changing job market.

In light of the cost-of-living crisis, the talent-drain that has resulted from the UK’s departure from the EU’s single market and the after-effects on labour markets of the COVID-19 pandemic, boosting Britain’s skills is more important now than ever before. According to research by the accountancy firm BDO, some 26% of businesses say that finding staff with the right skills will be their biggest challenge over the coming months.

Levelling up can play a useful role in this process. Although it’s often categorised as a regional, ‘not in London or the south east’ issue, our experience as London’s largest group of further education colleges tells us that it doesn’t matter where ‘under-skilled’ people live – their needs, and the challenges that they face, are similar. Without key skills (be they, for example, basic literacy and numeracy; digital skills; or even more advanced technical skills to gain work in high-tech industries or the green economy), thousands of people face being left behind, excluded from the workforce and with only a lifetime of poorly paid and insecure work to look forward to.

What is Levelling up?

The Levelling up White Paper, released in February 2022, sets out how the Government plan to spread opportunity throughout the UK. While it is important to challenge geographical inequality in tackling the imbalance we see within the UK, the Government’s Levelling up plans do not take into account the fact that poverty and lack of opportunity is found even in wealthy areas.

The White Paper promises a “moral, social and economic” programme for the Government to follow, to improve opportunities and productivity for many parts of the country, but it does not address the needs of Londoners. London is used in the White Paper as a place of comparison – one with high levels of economic and social standards. Although this is true to a degree, many Londoners live (and learn) in some of the country’s most deprived areas – and this cannot be ignored. So, as well as improving regional inequality, levelling up must also help the most disadvantaged communities within our major cities and towns.

Cost-of-living crisis

The cost-of-living crisis, like Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic before it, highlights again just how important skills are for the people of this country and, if anything, makes the need and demand for new skills even more urgent. With rises in the cost-of-living and a predicted recession on the horizon, more people will lose their jobs and will need to re-skill or up-skill to gain sustainable employment. No community will go untouched.

So what’s to be done?

As well as their Levelling up White Paper, the Government have launched a range of ideas and initiatives in the last 18 months, including Local Skills Improvement Plans (LSIPs). Enshrined in law in the 2022 Skills and Post-16 Education Act, LSIPs are coalitions of education providers, local/mayoral authorities, local businesses and business groups, and other local stakeholders, which will set out the key priorities and changes needed in a local area to allow local post-16 technical education and training provision to be more responsive to the changing needs of the local labour market.

The Government are expecting the roll out of LSIPs to have concluded by 2023 and have set aside £20.9 million for 38 areas including 10 mayoral combined authorities, the Greater London Authority and 27 local enterprise partnership areas. We will see in the next year how these developments progress and if they succeed in helping local businesses fill their skills gaps.

Supporting Further Education colleges to plug the nation’s skills gaps

As London’s largest further education college group, Capital City College Group know the vital role that colleges play in re-skilling and up-skilling their students and the positive impact that this has on their communities, as well as the key role that employers play in our students’ success. We already have strong partnerships with well over 900 employers every year, both through our delivery of apprenticeships and through work placements, paid internships and other activities. We fully intend to work in, or with, London’s Local Skills Improvement Plan, to ensure that the skills we teach are in tune with the needs of London’s labour market – and so that our, and our students’, voices can be heard.

While these recent initiatives are welcome, further education colleges have long been an after-thought for Governments, falling behind schools and Higher Education, both in respect and funding. If the Government is committed in their pledge to level-up the country and improve skills, they must acknowledge further education colleges as a key partner in the delivery of these vital skills and fund the sector accordingly.

Stay-tuned: Party Conferences

In September and October, we will be hosting breakfast events at both the Labour and Conservative Party conferences, where we will continue these discussions, as well as exploring the role of apprenticeships in Levelling up. In partnership with BusinessLDN (previously London First), we have invited key political and sector stakeholders to join us, to share their views on Levelling up and the skills agenda. Keep updated with developments and discussions here, and on our Twitter and LinkedIn feeds.

Syrian war refugee secures place studying engineering at university

When Fadi Faroukh arrived in the UK after fleeing war-torn Syria as a teenager he had been deprived of education for five years and was unable to speak English.

Fast-forward another three years and the former Westminster Kingsway College student is now studying for a MEng Civil Engineering at the University of Bristol.

The devastation of the ongoing civil war in the Arab state has so far claimed the lives of more than 300,000 people including members of Fadi’s family and friends.

“If you went out of your house, maybe just to get food, you knew you might not come back. There were air strikes all the time,” said Fadi, 20, who now lives in Neasden, north London.

“You’d see the bombs coming down from the planes but don’t know where they’re going to land. That’s the scary thing. You cannot move, you just stare and think maybe I’m going to die.

“A lot of my cousins and uncles died and my friend as well. Thank God I left, and I’m here.”

The war ended Fadi’s school education in Syria when he was 10 and a year later he began working with his father in construction and then as a car mechanic.

After arriving in the UK, he started at The Crest Boys’ Academy in Neasden in Year 10 where he gained GCSEs in English, maths and science and an A Level in Arabic in 2019.

Fadi went on to achieve a Distinction on an Engineering Level 3 Diploma and an A* in A Level Maths at WestKing to secure his place at university where he has just completed his first year.

“Not all colleges offer you the chance to study a BTEC in Engineering and A Level Maths. It’s a very rare combination and the perfect way to get to university or an apprenticeship and the reason I chose WestKing,” said Fadi.

“Another good thing about this college, is that it brings in engineers every month or so, which is a really good opportunity to ask questions about their career and what you will be doing in the future.”

Fadi took A Level Maths because he saw it as “the foundation of engineering” but is a strong advocate of the BTEC in preparing him for university and his career.

He said: “With the BTEC you learn more about engineering and the subject you are interested in studying at university and what you are going to be doing in real life, rather than A Levels which only offer physics and chemistry for this kind of career. For me, it’s a better choice.”

Fadi welcomed the support he had from his teachers at WestKing both in developing his engineering skills and improving his English and helping him to apply for university.

“At the beginning I struggled with my English, but my teachers helped me so much. If I didn’t understand something, they would sit with me and explain it. They were all very supportive,” he said.

“Everything has changed since I came to the UK. Now I’m at one of the best universities in the UK doing what I love.”

Engineering is one of the UK’s largest sectors employing 5.5 million people and is also one of the broadest with careers in mechanical, electrical, chemical, and civil engineering as well as new green technologies.

Find out more about our Engineering courses and apply here.