Love Island star visits CONEL to raise awareness of eating disorders in new documentary

Love Island star Zara McDermott gave Creative Media and IT students an exclusive screening of her new documentary on eating disorders when she visited the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL).

The social media influencer, who appeared in the fourth series of the ITV2 dating show, shared her experience of making the film, which highlights the huge rise and impact of eating disorders among children and young people.

Zara, 25, acknowledged the impact social media has on young people and their body image, and shared how she had been trolled about her appearance after appearing on Love Island.

“When thousands of people are saying things about how you look it is hard not to believe that. My own fitness and health journey came from wanting to fit into that perfect body image,” she said.

“I’m in a good place now, but when I look back now and I think it’s sad that there is such pressure to look a certain way, and that is amplified so much when you come out of show like Love Island. It’s not natural to experience that. It affected how I feel about myself, and I am sure it would affect a lot of other people too unless they were extremely resilient.”

CONEL was one of five colleges chosen to get an advanced viewing of the documentary called Zara McDermott: Disordered Eating, ahead of it being broadcast on BBC Three and on BBC iPlayer.

WATCH: Zara McDermott: Disordered Eating

On her transition from reality star to TV presenter, Zara said: “Making a film like this was a really valuable learning process. I lived and breathed it for as long as it took to make. I feel so much more confident in myself than when I was 21 on Love Island, when I was extremely shy bizarrely. Now I’m doing things like this that I’d never have been able to do a few years ago.”

Disordered eating covers a wide range of complex problems including undereating or overeating, excessive exercise, focusing more on appearance and anxiety around mealtimes.

The documentary takes an in-depth look at the impact of social media, as well as speaking with young people who are living with disordered eating and those in recovery.

Elfreda Boateng, 19, who is studying for a Creative Media Production Level 3 Diploma, admitted that she had previously struggled with how she looked because of social media.

She explained how she felt conflicted between having a fuller figure favoured in Afro-Caribbean culture and the slimmer ideal of other ethnicities that she often saw online.

“The film shone a light on a topic that people don’t really talk about. I went through the same as one of the girls in the documentary, which helped me come to terms more with what happened to me,” she said.

“When I was younger, I felt the pressure to conform to what I saw on social media and force myself into an ideal that I could not fit into. I was already quite slim, but I felt I needed to be slimmer but at the same time I was being told to gain weight, so I was in a binge and restrict cycle.

“Social media affects how you think people perceive you in society. A lot of the content is pushed for you to watch, and that is something I now try to separate myself from a lot.”

After the screening, students asked several questions about eating disorders and the making of the of the programme during a Q&A session with Zara and some of the production team.

Giving his advice to the group, BBC Commissioning Editor Max Gogarty said: “There is no one route in, and the truth is a lot of it is based on your ability to hustle, knock down doors and get your first foot into a production company or a studio, or find a director or someone you look up to or aspire to be in the industry. As soon as you get that first runner job, even if it is making cups of tea, you’re in, and once you’re in there’s a path you can climb.”

He told students that it can be tough making TV programmes, which often require long days of travelling and filming, and explained that 65 hours of footage was shot for the one-hour documentary.

Zara urged students to look at the name of production companies on the end credits and contact them for work experience at evenings and weekends as well as college holidays.

The screening also provided an opportunity to introduce students to the BBC Young Reporter scheme, which helps young people develop content ideas, share their stories and find out about broadcasting careers.

Tamara Lesniewska, Curriculum Manager for Creative and Digital Media,said: “Our students were excited to meet Zara and get a preview of her new documentary. It was a powerful and emotive film that resonated with many of the students who took their chance to ask her about the making of the programme, as well as advice on working in the media.”

Apply now for Creative and Digital Media courses here and IT and Computing courses here.

A Level Media Studies student shares her experience on placement at Channel 4 News

A Level Media Studies student Kubra Arslan, 17, recently secured a work placement at Channel 4 News with the support of City and Islington College’s Careers Service. Here she shares how the experience gave her a fascinating insight into working in a fast-paced national TV newsroom.

As students we are at a stage of our lives where we are making decisions about our future careers and life. Wanting to aim high or do what we love in our lives is the main goal for many of us. I’ve always been interested in working in the media, so I booked an appointment with one of CANDI’s career advisers, Elizabeth Frimpong, who had previously helped to find out more information about future careers, universities and apprenticeships.

After finding a few media-related work experiences, she was able to guide me in writing a covering letter that I would later send to the various places to show my interest in them. A few days later I received exciting news from Jordan Jarett-Bryan, a journalist for Channel 4 News at ITN Productions, asking me to call him to arrange an insight of the post-production of journalism and live news. I was quite nervous as I had never before made a call like this, but Elizabeth was on hand to give me tips. The call was a success and I secured an amazing one-day placement at Channel 4 News.

On the day I arrived I received a visitors slip so I could enter the building, which was very tall with many floors hosting different news companies including ITV News, Channel 4 News and 5 News. Jordan briefly pointed out which companies were on what floor and showed me where the actual production of live news takes place. The studio and the production control room are shared by all the news companies, which have their own scheduled time to use the rooms.

As we entered the Channel 4 News office, Jordan introduced me to some of the people that work there. I was thrilled to be able to talk to some of the team including the programme editor, news editor and graphics editor. Jordan also has his own production company and website called Blakademik, which celebrates and elevates black culture through its shows and online content.

Meeting the team had allowed me to understand the importance of each role and how without one role the news would not be able to function properly. One of the most important roles in the newsroom is the programme editor. Programme editors organise the news and create an in-depth schedule that shows the timings of each programme that are to run that day. It is crucial that programmes abide by the time given for them to run. They cannot run over their given time.

Other roles such as a news editor and digital content creator are equally as important. Without the news editor it is much more difficult to gather news and make sure that the programme editors have not missed any important content. A digital content creator can appeal to a younger audience, so they focus on targeting certain demographics. Due to technology developments, the younger audience are less interested in watching TV. In order to relay news to a younger audience, the digital content creator creates content on social media platforms that are widely used by the younger generation, such as TikTok. Creating and sharing content on an app which is used by certain demographics is a clever way to grasp the targeted audience’s attention.

Another role at the news editorial department that I discovered was the graphics editor. Before my placement, I never thought that they would work quite so close to the news editing team. Graphics editors create visual images to anchor with the text or message that is being relayed to the audience. These are as important as visual images as they help audiences to understand the news being shown to them and keeps them interested in the news.

Later, I saw how a reporter works with an editor to bring together a report about the leadership contest for the next UK prime minster. I also had the chance to take a closer look at Channel 4’s filming studio. Seeing the studio where some of the biggest news programmes are broadcast. Something that seemed quite big was simplified to a room with only four cameras.

The final and most exciting part of the day was when I was able to watch an actual live news programme run from beginning to end in the production control room where there was the director, programme editor, production assistant, graphics editor and a sound technician. During rehearsals, and even on air, the director would frequently communicate with the news anchor to ensure everything was going to plan. It was amazing to observe and just be present in the control room.

I really enjoyed meeting with different people at Channel 4 News and getting to know more about their roles, which gave me a much better insight on a typical day working in television news.

Find out more about all our A Level courses at CANDI and apply here.

Aspiring aerospace engineer flying high at university after studying at CANDI

An aspiring aerospace engineer is proving a real high-flyer at university six years after he was predicted low grades in his GCSE results.

Rojhat Dere, 22, is studying a PhD Mechanical Engineering at UCL, where he is researching future hydrogen fuel technologies, having previously completed an Engineering Level 3 Diploma at City and Islington College (CANDI).

He grew up on a council estate in Hackney and was told in Year 10 that he could expect to mostly receive D and E grades after missing half the year due to ill-health.

It was quite demoralising, but it also motivated me to prove to myself and those around me that I was able to do better,” said Rojhat.

“I had a couple of teachers in my corner who helped me focus on my weaker subjects and I made a plan to get my grades up. That was the turning point.

“There was a lack of ambition where I lived. Not many people went to university or even thought about it. It seemed so out of reach.

“I was fearful of failure and regret if I didn’t do everything I could to get where I wanted to be.”

Rojhat pushed himself in his final year. He started school earlier and finished later, doing mock papers over and over. His hard work resulted in him achieving three As, four Bs and two Cs in his GCSEs.

His passion for engineering began at a young age and fixing his bike and building Lego models. He would regularly watch Top Gear and aviation documentaries on TV and his sister would take him to London City Airport to see the planes on her way to university lectures.

“I would spot planes using flight tracking apps and chart all the makes and models and see what engines they had. The technology intrigued me. I would look at the mechanics within the wing, and how all the components worked seamlessly together to get them up in the air,” he said.

Rojhat enrolled on an Engineering diploma at CANDI after meeting a lecturer with experience in aerospace engineering at his interview. He went on to pass with a triple-starred Distinction.

“The diploma a much different approach to learning. It was much more hands on, which helped me understand things better, rather than just taking A Level Maths and not understanding how it applies to the work you’re doing,” he said.

The practical side of the course involved using industry machinery and equipment in CANDI’s workshops and learning computer-aided design applications, which gave him a head start when he went on to study a MEng Aerospace Engineering at the University of Nottingham.

Rojhat was full of praise for his “inspirational” teachers at CANDI who gave students a realistic expectation of careers in engineering.

He said: “The teaching was great. Most of my lecturers were PhD engineers who knew what was required to study at a higher level and the system inside out, which was real plus in getting us into good Russell Group universities.”

During his course, CANDI arranged for Rojhat to undertake an engineering work placement with McLaren Construction Group at a new development in Hackney.

“I shadowed a civil engineer who let me use their CAD software. We also went onto the construction site to check the steel bars before the concrete was put in, and make sure everything matched the designs,” he said.

“Even though it was civil engineering, it gave me a real insight into what engineering is as whole.”

Rojhat was part of a CANDI engineering team that came first in a competition run by Transport for London (TfL) to make its services more eco-friendly and sustainable. The team was awarded two weeks work experience working in various departments within TFL.

“CANDI is where my dream became achievable. Until I went there, I didn’t think I would get into a specialist engineering university,” said Rojhat.

“I’m now on the way to a career I always hoped for. It means everything.”

Engineering employs 5.5 million people in the UK and offers a broad range of careers in mechanical, electrical, chemical, and civil engineering as well as new green technologies.

Find out more about our Engineering courses and apply here.

Former WestKing student Ben Murphy scoops National Chef of the Year

A chef who trained at Westminster Kingsway College has won the Craft Guild of Chefs’ prestigious National Chef of the Year competition.

Ben Murphy, who is Chef Patron at Launceston Place in Kensington, scooped the top prize at a celebratory dinner at The Berkeley in Knightsbridge attended by VIPs from the hospitality world, including Gordon Ramsay who won the competition in 1992.

April Lily Partridge, who also studied at WestKing and is Sous Chef at The Ledbury in Notting Hill, came third in the competition, which was celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Ben served a menu of butter poached pollock, radish and oscietra followed by Lake District young fallow, watercress, onion and batek pepper, and a dessert of clementine, honey, tahitensis vanilla and yoghurt.

In an interview with the Craft Guild of Chefs at the ceremony, he said: “Winning National Chef of the Year is crazy. Seeing the standard of food today, I didn’t expect to win at all. As I said to my friends and family, I’m going to cook the food I do daily, cook food I love to eat and hope for the best.

“I was confident and in my comfort zone and felt happy with what I did. I felt I did enough, but I wasn’t sure because afterwards we got the chance to view other dishes and I saw the calibre of the chefs I was against and the level of food they were cooking.”

Ben was presented with an exclusively designed winners plate framed together with the winner’s medal from Churchill Catering, along with £500 worth of products.

He also received a cash prize of £2,500 from Knorr Professional to support his career development along with a chef experience from Continental Chef Supplies including Michelin-starred restaurants, masterclasses and artisan food classes.

Each of the finalists have also been given the chance to enjoy culinary dining experiences with well-known Michelin-starred or award-winning restaurants across the UK.

The competition was judged by a panel of professional chefs chaired by Kenny Atkinson, Chef Patron at House of Tides and Solstice in Newcastle.

He said: “Wow, what a final, with an incredible winner! I’ve absolutely loved my first year as Chair of judges and seeing the calibre of cooking we’ve witnessed today has been the highpoint.

“The brief I set, purposely left the menus open to individual interpretation so that we could clearly see each chef’s personality, skill and talent so we’ve tasted some amazing food today. Congratulations to all the finalists and well done to Ben.

“To the other nine chefs, I want to see you learn from this experience and come back next year, more determined than ever.”

Competition organiser David Mulcahy, Food Innovation and Sustainability Director at Sodexo UK and Ireland added: “The reason this competition has spanned half a century is down to the way we have developed it year on year to address the industry’s biggest issues and attracted the highest level of talent to enter and judge this competition.

“I know that Ben is joining a long list of incredible chefs who have become real ambassadors for our industry.”

The Craft Guild of Chefs is the largest UK chefs’ association with members worldwide in food service and hospitality, from students and trainees to top management, working everywhere from Michelin-starred restaurants to school catering.

WestKing is home to one of the UK’s leading schools of hospitality and culinary arts.

Find out more and apply for our courses here and apprenticeships here.

Schools and colleges can work better together!’, CANDI Vice Principal Colleen Marshall tells FE Week magazine

The nation’s 16-year-olds have more choices than they think when it comes to what they do – and where they do it – after their GCSEs.

While A levels are most school-leavers’ first choice, the fact is that 16-year-olds have a multitude of options, whether that’s by staying on at their secondary school, going to college, or elsewhere. They can study from a huge range of vocational and technical qualifications, from BTECs to T levels. They can get on- and off-the-job training through an apprenticeship. And if they need to, they can even resit their GCSEs.

But many advisers in schools don’t understand all these options and as a result, some young people don’t always get the right advice.

City and Islington College (CANDI) is doing some great work with local secondary schools to help bridge this gap. They are showing Islington’s 16 year-olds – and their parents – that there is more to post-16 education than A Levels, and it’s opening their eyes to the options available to them.

To mark Colleges Week, which ran from 17-21 October, CANDI’s Vice Principal Colleen Marshall wrote an interesting and thought-provoking piece for FE Week magazine 

Read Collen’s full article here

Helping Londoners into great digital and hospitality jobs

On Wednesday 21 September, Capital City College Group (CCCG) and Central District Alliance (CDA) came together to celebrate the launch of the Mayor of London Academy Hubs in the Digital and Hospitality industries. The Hubs are a key part of the Mayor’s Academy Hub programme – a £44 million initiative to support the capital’s recovery from the pandemic.

They were joined by London’s Deputy Mayor for Planning, Regeneration and Skills, Jules Pipe, and employer partners who are working with the Group and CDA to deliver the Academy Hubs’ work.

Supporting Londoners into work for the first time or into higher paid and more secure work – especially from under-represented groups such as minority ethnic communities, women and disabled people – is a key priority for London’s Mayor, Sadiq Khan. The Digital and Hospitality Hubs will work with employers to train Londoners for work in those industries, helping them meet their staffing and recruitment challenges.

Having strong Digital and Hospitality sectors will be critical to London’s recovery. For example, the hospitality industry employs around 400,000 people in London, but the lack of suitable and trained staff means there are too many vacancies which is costing the sector billions in lost revenue.

CDA is the Business Improvement District for Holborn and Clerkenwell. Its footprint, which spans Holborn and Clerkenwell, is also home to a world-leading tech cluster, including household names such as Google, TikTok, Snapchat and LinkedIn. These employers – alongside hundreds of others in the CDA district and across the city – can provide a range of jobs and career opportunities for Londoners and so CCCG, working collaboratively with CDA, will establish partnerships to facilitate these new roles.

However, 210,000 people are currently unemployed in London and a further 1,080,000 adults – some 21.7% of the working age population – are economically inactive. So, the Academy Hubs’ role will be to unlock the valuable contribution that businesses can bring and enable more socially-excluded Londoners to gain employment.

As Jules Pipe explained at the event: “The inequalities that were already present in London were laid bare by the pandemic. Over 750,000 working people in London are still paid less than the London Living Wage and more than a quarter of Londoners are living in poverty once their housing costs are taken into account.

“We’re committed to using the skills funding that we have at our disposal to support Londoners – particularly the most disadvantaged and those most impacted by the pandemic – to acquire the skills they need to progress in life and get into good work.

“I’d like to congratulate all the partners for the leadership shown by the CDA and Capital City College Group for making this possible.”

Also speaking at the event, Alexander Jan, Chair of Central District Alliance (CDA) said: “We want to ensure sustainable and inclusive economic growth, which means delivering skills and employment opportunities for our communities.

“We need some big ideas and collective action, and we very much believe that connecting and encouraging people back into the labour market and to help people who are looking for work gain the skills they need to do so, is at the heart of that approach.

“We and our members are delighted to be working with Capital City College Group, to help provide long-term unemployed people with opportunities to gain good quality jobs and helping them gain the skills they need to do so.”

Westminster Kingsway College is part of Capital City College Group and already runs a wide range of courses in the hospitality and digital sectors. The Group is therefore ideally placed to support even more Londoners into these exciting industries. To illustrate the transformative effect that skills training can have, current and former students from the college also spoke at the event about their experiences.

Opeoluwa Odutayo studied Culinary Arts at Westminster Kingsway College, before setting up Ice Cream and Ting, which produces ice creams with Caribbean and African flavours, including Plantain, Hibiscus, and Avocado and Strawberry.

She said: “My teachers at Westminster Kingsway College helped me with advice and boosted my confidence. I worked at events and did internships at four different restaurants to gain experience and at the end of my course, I won the overall best student award. My mum was so proud of me!”

The college also exposes students to industries that they will be working in when they have qualified – helping them gain contacts and eventually secure good quality work.

Student in Hospitality Archie Smitton said: “Working at events with the college helps me get contacts in the industry and work out where in the industry I want to work.

“Last year I did work experience in a Peruvian restaurant in Green Park and a modern English restaurant in Soho and later this year I’m going to Lisbon for two weeks’ work experience.  I’m really looking forward to learning a different language and working in a different country.”

The Hubs have already started work – holding taster sessions and introductory courses hosted by industry experts. These have been in, for example, culinary skills, coding for women, digital marketing, cyber security and user experience (UX) design.

In addition, the Digital Hub will be running internship programmes which will come with additional support including employability training, ongoing support, advice, and guidance on getting the most out of the programme, as well as support for interns to build their network and prepare for their next steps.

And the Hospitality Hub is working with Westminster TalentServe (Westminster City Council’s new recruitment service for its hospitality and leisure businesses) to provide all the training to people who are referred to the service.

You can find out more about the Digital and Hospitality hubs and all our Mayor of London Skills Academies here.

Students celebrate success at first Capital City College Group Excellence Awards

Students and apprentices celebrated a year of outstanding achievements at the first Capital City College Group (CCCG) Excellence Awards.

Around 60 awards were presented to learners in recognition of their hard work, commitment and success over the past year at a glittering ceremony at Tobacco Dock in East London.

Students from City and Islington College (CANDI), Westminster Kingsway College (WestKing) and the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL), and apprenticeship and training provider Capital City College Training (CCCT) all received awards.

Awards were also presented to participants of entrepreneurship programme Visionnaires, which started within CCCG in 2019, and 01 Founders, a coding school launched with CCCG in 2021.

Organisations that work with CCCG were also honoured. Arsenal in the Community received a Community Recognition Award while Nominet and Building Heroes/Regal London were handed Employer Partner Awards.

The ceremony was compèred by Kamal Ellis-Hyman, Founder and Director of Aim A Little Higher, which runs personal development programmes for young people across the UK.

Alastair Da Costa, Chair of CCCG, welcomed the award winners and their families and presented the awards along with Jasbir Sondhi, Vice Principal of WestKing, and David Dangana, Director of Group Quality and Compliance.

He said: “Excellence is hard work realised. It takes dedication, perseverance, overcoming frustrations and doubts. Realising excellence requires support from friends and family, it requires picking up when you are down, and it is right to celebrate achievement and success with friends and loved ones.

“This evening, I want to thank you all for being excellent, whether you win an award, are supporting those who win an award or whether you have taught and helped those in this room to realise their potential.”

Awards were presented to students from across CCCG’s provision including many who had achieved success at college and overcome major challenges during their studies.

Among the award winners was Vivek Quissor who gained a triple-starred Distinction in his Public Services diploma at CANDI and was praised for the quality of his well-researched assignments and being an inspiration to other students.

Vivek, 18, who is now studying for a BA (Hons) Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Greenwich, said: “My lecturers provided an outstanding level of teaching throughout the length of my course. I credit my success to them. They left no stone unturned when it came to making sure that assignment work was completed to the highest of standards.”

Also picking up an award was Mariana Ghertan who completed her Healthcare Support Worker apprenticeship with CCCT despite catching COVID twice and suffering family bereavement.

Mariana, 36, said: “My tutor was the most incredible support. She encouraged me not to give up and offered me more time. I spoke to my husband and sons who had seen how much hard work I had put in. They said that my mum was proud of me and would have wanted me to finish, so I did.”

Tyler Minter, 24, wanted to start a Rail Engineering apprenticeship with Alstom and CONEL after learning he was to become a dad. He was described by his tutors as “an exceptional student” who produces a high standard of work and is a perfect role model to his peers.

He said: “I love the fact that I’m learning while also getting hands on experience. I’m gaining knowledge that is vital to the job and putting it to use in a practical sense. I’m also not getting into debt like a lot of people who go to university do, and I’m earning a good salary.”

The final award of the night was the CCCG Inspiration Award, which was presented to CANDI Art and Design diploma student Georgiana Guias, who was praised by her teachers for her dedication, intelligence and enthusiasm, as well as her support for her peers.

Georgiana, 18, who is now studying a BA (Hons) Architecture at Central Saint Martins, said: “It’s a big surprise to get this award because everybody on the course worked hard. The course was challenging but I got to learn new skills and techniques and the teachers were friendly and supportive of me and other students.”

The ceremony also featured live performances by Music Performance and Production students from CANDI and WestKing.

CANDI students Beth Cook, 18, Gloria Elubode, 17, and Ralph Heywood, 17, performed their own composition entitled Faith and Strength is the Key.

WestKing students Gabi Reece, 18, and Isabelle Linehan, 17, together known as The Park, performed their own work called She’ll Stay.

Hospitality and Culinary Arts students from WestKing served canapés at the event with front of house service run by WestKing’s Travel and Tourism students and CONEL’s Public Service students.

The ceremony was sponsored by Apogee, NCFE, OCN London, Gateway Qualifications, Dar Group, insight6, Learning Curve Group, Candor Professional Beauty Academy, ESB, GLL, SFEDI Group and 3Drakes.

Roy O’Shaughnessy, CEO of CCCG, described the evening as “absolutely incredible and inspiring” as he congratulated the award winners, staff, sponsors and organisers of the event.

He said: “I want to congratulate our staff, students, their families and friends and thank them for making this evening such a wonderful success. It is such a privilege to look around this room and see students, teachers and staff from across the Group, sitting here today and celebrating the hard, hard work of those that we’ve honoured, so really, truly well done.

“We wouldn’t have been here without our sponsors, and I would like to thank them on behalf of our staff, students, staff and governors.  Your work means that at CCCG we not only can offer courses and programmes, but we are able to work with employers to give opportunities for our students to create the future for London.”

Find out more about our wide range of courses and apprenticeships 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.”

Our political activity: a round-up

As one of the UK’s largest Further Education (FE) organisations and London’s largest FE college group, it’s important for Capital City College Group to work with politicians, and others in the education sector and in the wider economy. For example, MPs of all parties help shape public opinion and Ministers in Government make decisions that affect the funding of colleges and the lives of our staff and students – so meeting them and explaining to them the important work that we do, and asking them to consider changes to policy, is very valuable.

Over the last six months, we’ve built on the work we started last year – meeting MPs, hosting events and responding to consultations, as well as keeping up with the fast-changing post-16 education activity in Parliament. Here’s a summary of what we’ve been up to.

Back in November 2021, during Global Entrepreneurship Week, we hosted an event to celebrate the expansion of our innovative Visionnaires entrepreneurship programme. Visionnaires has already helped over 500 people start new businesses through its free programmes and earlier in 2021, we’d formed a community interest company with United Colleges Group, South Thames Colleges Group and NCG, to bring Visionnaires to eight more colleges around the country.

At the event, our guests heard from Small Business Minister Paul Scully, who said: “Visionnaires has already enabled innovative entrepreneurs to prosper through networking and support. These are initiatives that the Government strongly supports because being able to draw on the experience of others and connect with likeminded people is so invaluable whether businesses are starting up or scaling up. Projects like Visionnaires play a crucial role in complementing the support that’s given by the Government.”

2022 started on a high for us, as in January we were told by the Greater London Authority that the Group had been successful in its bids to run four new Mayor of London Academy Hubs. The Academies will fast-track Londoners into work by giving them the skills they need to drive the capital’s economic recovery from the COVID pandemic. CCCG won £1.5 million to run hubs in Digital, Hospitality, Creative, and Green industries after successful bids to the Mayor’s Academies Programme.

In February, during National Apprenticeships Week we welcomed Skills Minister Alex Burghart MP to our construction and engineering conference at our Westminster Kingsway College’s Victoria Centre. Mr Burghart mingled with employers and apprentices, before making a speech to the group where he spoke of the importance of apprenticeships to the current skills market.

Also during National Apprenticeships Week, the MP for Enfield North, Feryal Clark, visited CONEL’s Enfield Centre, where she had a tour of our facilities and met staff and apprentices on our engineering and construction provision. Feryal thoroughly enjoyed the visit and said: “Apprenticeships can make a real difference to young people’s future, and I’m delighted we have such a great provider with brilliant apprentices here in Enfield North.”

We’re doing a lot of innovative and important work with construction and engineering employers in Enfield and Feryal was very interested in how we are helping her constituents into great careers. She also asked us what she can do to help the Further Education sector in Parliament, and so we hope to continue working with her on this in the future.

February also saw the publication of the Government’s long-awaited Levelling-up White Paper. At the time, our Chief Executive Roy O’Shaughnessy commented on the White Paper’s failure to recognise London’s levelling-up needs. He said: “London is home to around 2.5 million disadvantaged people and a greater proportion of its population are poor than that of any other UK region. For example, some 67 per cent of our students are in the bottom three bands of social deprivation, but not one of the 55 new Education Investment Areas will be in the capital.”

Roy also urged the Government to acknowledge the vital role that FE colleges can play in upskilling the UK’s workforce, and called for the sector to have a sustainable and longer-term funding settlement, to enable colleges to support the Government’s levelling-up plans.

In March, during Food Waste Action Week, Jo Churchill, the Minister for Agri-Innovation and Climate Adaption, visited WestKing’s Victoria Centre, where she found out about what the college’s School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts is doing to tackle food waste. At the event – organised by the charity WRAP – our culinary students, led by Culinary Arts Lecturer Vince Kelly, treated the Minister and guests to a menu of delicious food made from some of the most commonly wasted foods in the home. The Minister was delighted with the food and enjoyed talking with our students about their experiences at WestKing.

We have also been busy keeping up with the changes to post-16 qualifications in parliament.

In January we briefed our local MPs on the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill, along with other MPs with an interest in education. In the briefing we highlighted important areas of interest for the CCCG and what MPs can do to help. Once parliamentary ping-pong concluded (where the Bill was passed between the House of Commons and the House of Lords until all amendments were agreed to) the Bill received Royal Assent and became the Skills and Post-16 Education Act on the 28April 2022. 

The last six months have also seen significant Government proposals to change the post-16 qualification landscape, so we have responded to the House of Commons Education Committee inquiries into the future of post-16 education and careers information, advice and guidance; as well as a Department for Education (DfE) consultation on review of level 2 and below qualifications.

Our colleges also run a number of access and degree-level courses, and so we responded to several consultations on proposed changes to Higher Education, including changes to student loans through the Lifelong Loan Entitlement and the Higher education policy statement and reform, and Office for Students (OfS) consultations on a new approach to regulating student outcomes and the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).

The work of analysing these consultations (which often run to over 100 pages each) and then writing our response, is complicated and time-consuming, but it’s important that our voice – and the voices of our students – are heard by those in power.

What next?

We are working with our staff and students on our response to the Government’s consultation on the SEND (special educational needs and disabilities) Green Paper, right support, right place, right time. Some 3,239 students (or 10.8% of our students) have some form of learning difficulty – including 595 who have an Educational Health and Care Plan (EHCP), meaning that they must have additional support to meet their educational, health and social needs and the proposals in the SEND Green Paper (to change both the SEND and alternative provision systems) will affect them directly.

Throughout the rest of the year, we will continue to engage with our local MPs and other important political figures and keep up to date with parliamentary activity.

If you would like to find out more about our political activity or would like to work with us, please contact Neil Cox, Head of Policy and Communications at neil.cox@capitalccg.ac.uk