WestKing and Central District Alliance host Careers and Enterprise Day

Jobseekers had the chance to find out more about new employment opportunities and gaining work skills when they attended a Careers and Enterprise Day at Westminster Kingsway College.

The event was run with the Central District Alliance (CDA) business improvement district, which is partnering the college’s Mayor of London Digital and Hospitality Academy Hubs that launched earlier this year.

The CDA represents more than 400 businesses in central London and has backed the hubs to help its members upskill their staff and recruit new talent in the aftermath of the COVID pandemic.

Mayor of Camden Cllr Nasim Ali was the special guest at the event at the college’s King’s Cross Centre, which was held to coincide with Global Entrepreneurship Week last month.

CCCG’s apprenticeship and training provider Capital City College Training and entrepreneurship programme Visionnaires, a subsidiary of CCCG, were also present at the event.

Among the other organisations that attended were Transport for London, Camden Council, Metropolitan Police, London Fire Brigade, DHL, Cutlass Security Group, Bidvest Noonan, London Communications Agency and Digital Influx.

There were also stands from several hospitality and entertainment businesses including Pret, Shaftesbury Theatre, Travelodge, Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, Imperial London Hotels, Kimpton Fitzroy London and Strand Palace.

Visitors had the opportunity to attend employability sessions with Samsung, LinkedIn and Edwardian Hotels, and have free professional headshots taken for their LinkedIn profiles.

Fashion and Communication Level 3 Diploma students modelled outfits for a fashion show sponsored by Dress for Success and Burton, which included advice on how to dress for a job interview.

There were also live demonstrations from students from the college’s School for Hospitality and Culinary Arts in Victoria.

Attendees also had chance to win a tablet or one of several mobile phones in a prize draw.

Find out more information and apply for courses and apprenticeships at CCCG here.

WestKing’s Hospitality school accredited by Craft Guild of Chefs

Westminster Kingsway College’s award-winning School of Hospitality and Culinary achieved another milestone when it was awarded accredited status by the Craft Guild of Chefs this month.

The Craft Guild of Chefs is the leading chef association in the UK. It plays a key role in championing the skills and talents of the people in the foodservice and hospitality sector and, as a part of this, it runs a prestigious accreditation scheme which universities and colleges that teach culinary skills can apply to join.

To be accredited, universities and colleges must meet stringent criteria set by the Craft Guild of Chefs, demonstrating that the faculty offers a high calibre of teaching. An independent assessor also inspects the college to ensure it meets the high standards required.

As Curriculum Manager Miranda Quantrill explained: “We are absolutely delighted that the college’s Hospitality and Culinary Arts provision has been accredited by the Craft Guild of Chefs. This is great news and it’s a massive endorsement of the work that we do here. A big thank you to all the staff and the students who made this possible.”

The Craft Guild’s independent assessor visited the college in early November and spoke to staff including Miranda and Restaurant Manager Marc Whitley as well as a number of our students.

He was glowing in his praise of both the quality of teaching and the attitude of the students, saying in his report: “It is clear that everyone excepts nothing but the best from each other and both staff and students understand that ethos, respect it and are more than happy to ensure the high standards requested are maintained by everyone.”

As part of his inspection, the assessor also visited the Escoffier Room, the college’s fine dining restaurant, where students cook meals for, and serve, members of the public, and was served a meal by students.

He also spoke to a couple of first year students, both of whom talked with excitement about the course and their desires to progress through the industry and what they wanted for their future. Both students spoke extremely highly of the course the tutors and the facilities they had the good fortune to be taught within.

The assessor concluded his report saying: “Westminster Kingsway College benefit from a committed and professional team of hospitality lecturers. The standards set by the faculty team is reflected in the appearance and enthusiasm shown by the students. It is clear that many students will have successful careers and the continued relationships with industry will support this objective.”

Terry Tinton, Assistant Principal Hospitality, Foundation Studies and Commercial, said: “We are over the moon that the Craft Guild of Chefs has awarded Westminster Kingsway College accredited status.

“This award has been well-earned and recognises the decades of skill and experience that has gone into the quality of our culinary teaching, as well as the way that we structure our courses to make them as industry-relevant as possible.

“It’s why students from all over the south-east of England come to us, and why so many of them graduate from here into great jobs in some of the country’s top restaurants and hotels.”

Do you want to be a chef or work in hospitality? Learn from the best at WestKing. Find out more about our Hospitality and Culinary Arts courses here and apprenticeship training here.

Capital City College Group set to launch T Levels from September 2023

Capital City College Group (CCCG) will be offering T Levels across its three colleges from September 2023.

Five T Levels will be available at City and Islington College (CANDI), The College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL) and Westminster Kingsway College (WestKing)

What are T Levels?

T Levels are two-year technical courses taken as an alternative to A Levels, apprenticeships and other 16-19 courses.

 A T Level is equivalent to three A levels and comprises a core component and an occupational specialism to give students skills for employment, higher education or apprenticeships.

Students spend 80 per cent of the course at college gaining the skills that employers need. The remaining 20 per cent is on industry placement where they put these skills into action.

They will spend at least 45 days in industry placements to enable them to gain valuable experience in the workplace and give employers an early sight of new talent in their industry.

Why choose a T Level

T Levels have been designed with leading employers and awarding bodies to give students the skills, knowledge and experience they need. More than 250 employers have been involved in their development to give students confidence they will take them to the next level.

What T Levels will be available?

The first T Level courses at CCCG colleges are listed below with more expected to start over the next few years.

T LEVELOCCUPATIONAL SPECIALISMCOLLEGECENTRE
Digital Production, Design and DevelopmentDigital Production, Design and DevelopmentCANDICentre for Business, Arts and Technology (including Health, Social and Childcare)
Digital Production, Design and DevelopmentDigital Production, Design and DevelopmentWestKingKing’s Cross Centre
Digital Support ServicesDigital SupportCANDICentre for Business, Arts and Technology (including Health, Social and Childcare)
Digital Support ServicesDigital SupportWestKingKing’s Cross Centre
Education and ChildcareEarly Years EducatorCANDICentre for Business, Arts and Technology (including Health, Social and Childcare)
Education and ChildcareEarly Years EducatorCONELTottenham Centre
HealthSupporting the Adult Nursing TeamWestKingKing’s Cross Centre
HealthSupporting the Adult Nursing TeamCONELTottenham Centre
HealthSupporting the Mental Health TeamWestKingKing’s Cross Centre
HealthSupporting the Mental Health TeamCONELTottenham Centre
ScienceLaboratory SciencesCANDICentre for Applied Science

Entry requirements

Entry requirements are the same as for A Levels and many other Level 3 courses, which require five GCSEs at grades 9-4 including English and maths. At least a grade 4 in GCSE Science is also required for science and health related T Levels. 

Grading and certification

Students completing their T Level will receive a certificate which will show their overall grade shown as Pass, Merit, Distinction or Distinction*. 

The certificate will show A*-E grades for the core component, and Pass, Merit, Distinction or Distinction* for the occupational specialism. It will also confirm they have completed the industry placement and met any other mandatory requirements

Students who do not pass all elements of their T Level will get a T Level statement of achievement that will only show the elements they have completed.

Find our more information about T Levels at CCCG and apply here.

Former WestKing Hospitality student named runner-up in UK Receptionist of the Year

A former Westminster Kingsway College hospitality student has been named runner-up in the AICR UK Receptionist of the Year competition.

Emily Gilson-Jones, 19, who works at the five-star Pan Pacific London hotel in the City, came second out of 10 finalists at a ceremony at Hotel Café Royal in Regent Street on 14 November.

She said: “It’s a huge shock to be named as one of the best receptionists in the UK, but one of the best achievements of my career so far.

“When they announced the second runner-up as the girl from Four Seasons, I thought I haven’t got a chance, but then they announced me as the first runner-up. Suddenly, they handed me a certificate and I was in tears. I’m still gobsmacked to be honest. It has only just started to sink in.”

Emily achieved a triple-starred Distinction in her Hospitality Level 3 Diploma at WestKing in 2021 and was one of two students to share the college’s Best Hospitality Student of the Year award that year.

She began her hospitality career working part-time in front and back of house roles at the Roslin Beach Hotel in her hometown of Southend-on-Sea while she was studying at college.

After finishing her diploma, Emily worked as a Private Events Waitress for The Connaught in Mayfair before joining Pan Pacific London as a Front Desk Agent in March this year.

“I loved my time at WestKing. Even when everything went online during the pandemic, we were still doing all our classes and working as a team and all of the college tutors supported us,” she said.

“By the time it came to the graduation ceremony I couldn’t believe it was over. I wanted to stay on for another two years and do it all again.”

Emily was among a group of students at WestKing who provided catering and hospitality for a schools’ event at 10 Downing Street to mark International Women’s Day just prior to lockdown.

“I remember thinking this is quite overwhelming but really cool, I’m 16 years old and I am having the opportunity to do this,” said Emily, who along with other students met then Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other political figures on the day.

“My connection at The Connaught was also through the college. If I hadn’t gone to WestKing I wouldn’t be where I am now, because if The Connaught wasn’t on my CV I wouldn’t have got the opportunity at Pan Pacific.

“I’m working at a five-star hotel, which wouldn’t have happened if I had just walked out of school with A Levels and then decided I wanted to work in hospitality. WestKing gave me my first real stepping stone on my hospitality journey. I wouldn’t change it.”

Emily learnt she was among the finalists in October following an interview with AICR UK committee members after she was nominated by Nicole Cechmann, Front of House Manager at Pan Pacific.

“The team I work alongside at Pan Pacific is one of the best teams I’ve ever worked in,” said Emily. 

“For a business to be successful you need to work as a team, and when you get on with the team you work with, it makes it so much easier.

“It’s also nice when guests are checking in and excited about their stay, and when they leave and they tell you their experience has lived up to or gone beyond their expectations. That is probably one of the most rewarding things. It’s the reason we work in the industry.”

The AICR (Amicale Internationale des Sous Directeurs et Chefs de Réception des Grand Hôtel) was founded by the receptionists of several hotels on the Côte d’Azur in France in 1964.

AICR UK was formed when the Association of Front Office Management (UK) joined the AICR in 1989, three years after the association was established in 1986.

Liane Bhalla, Lecturer in Hospitality, Food and Beverage and Supervision, said: “We are all super proud that Emily has finished as the first runner-up in the AICR Best Receptionist UK 2022.

“At college she showed huge potential. She was always bubbly and enthusiastic, going above and beyond what was required of her in her assignment and practical sessions in the training restaurants and happy to volunteer to take part in other events. She was clearly destined for a fantastic career in hospitality.”

Apply now for Hospitality and Culinary Arts courses here.

Young chef ‘humbled and proud’ to win Compass Group’s Apprentice of the Year

A “phenomenal” young chef from Westminster Kingsway College has been named Apprentice of the Year 2022 at Compass Group UK & Ireland’s Multicultural Apprenticeship Awards.

Dylan Patel, 25, who is undertaking a Chef de Partie Level 3 Apprenticeship at Compass Group’s head office in Chertsey, Surrey, won the award in the Retail, Hospitality and Tourism category.

The awards showcase the huge talent and hard work within multicultural communities that is made possible through the contribution and support of employers and education providers.

Dylan, from Hounslow, who started his culinary career on a Commis Chef Level 2 Apprenticeship, said: “I am so humbled and proud to being named the winner of this award.

“Taking on this apprenticeship has allowed me to follow my passion, balancing learning with practical work whilst getting paid. I love being part of the team here and learning from others around me.

“There is always something new to uncover and that’s what I enjoy most about being a chef and I hope to build my knowledge further, as I continue this exciting journey.”

Compass Group UK & Ireland is part of Compass Group, the largest contract catering company in the world employing 500,000 people and serving 5.5 billion meals to 55,000 clients each year.

Jonathan Foot, Head of Apprenticeships and Early Careers at Compass Group UK & Ireland, congratulated Dylan on his “wonderful achievement.”

He further praised Dylan’s “phenomenal efforts” as he has progressed in his career and described him as a great role model for anyone looking to start an apprenticeship.

Tom Damen, Chef Lecturer at WestKing, said: “Each week at college I see Dylan’s commitment to improving his culinary skills. Through his apprenticeship at Compass Group he has excelled to a new level of professionalism and confidence.

“I would like to congratulate him on wining Compass Group’s Apprentice of the Year, which is so well deserved. He is an outstanding young chef and destined to go far in the industry.”

Apply now for Hospitality and Culinary Arts apprenticeships 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.

Queen Elizabeth II: 1926 – 2022

Like a great many people here and around the world, we are saddened over the passing of Her Majesty The Queen.

During her long reign – the second longest reign of any monarch of a sovereign state – we were honoured to welcome Her Majesty to one of our colleges. And over the years, our colleges have been awarded Queen’s Anniversary Prizes, and colleagues and students were recognised in various Birthday and New Year honours lists.

Roy O’Shaughnessy, CEO of Capital City College Group said:

“It is with great sadness that we learned of the passing of Her Majesty The Queen and our deepest condolences go to the Royal Family.

“The Queen was a constant part of our lives for 70 years and her passing will affect our staff and students in different ways. We are offering support to those who may need it, for whatever reason, at this sad time.”

Visit to CANDI’s Centre for Applied Sciences

In 2011 The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh visited City and Islington College’s Centre for Applied Sciences. During the visit the Queen unveiled two plaques marking the official opening of the college’s Animal Care Centre and an accreditation by the National Skills Academy Process Industries which recognised the college as a Centre of Excellence for Biotechnology.

Her Majesty saw some of the animals at the centre and was given a tour of the college’s forensics, optics and sports science provision, which included a mock crime scene being investigated by students.

Queen’s Anniversary Prizes

Two of our colleges have been awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education. These awards are presented every two years to universities and colleges that have shown excellence in quality and innovation, in providing real benefits to the world through education and training.

In 2007, CANDI received the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education for creating Pathways to Employment and Higher Education in the Sciences. At the time, City and Islington was the only college to have received this accolade twice, having previously received the award in 1994, for widening access and progression to higher education.

Westminster Kingsway College has been awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education – in 2015, for collaboration and innovation in the culinary arts.  At the time, then Principal Andy Wilson said: “The award of the prize to Westminster Kingsway College is one of the greatest moments in the college’s long history. It is recognition of many staff, students and employers who have been involved with the college over the years.” In 2016 a plaque commemorating the award was unveiled at the college’s Victoria Centre.

Queen’s New Year and Birthday Honours

Here are some of our staff and alumni who have been honoured by The Queen over the years:

  • Garth Crooks – The former Tottenham Hotspur striker and BBC football pundit studied at CONEL and was awarded an OBE in 1999.
  • Timothy Spall – The Bafta-nominated actor, known for his many screen roles including five Harry Potter films, attended WestKing and received an OBE in 2000.
  • Audley Harrison – The British former super-heavyweight boxer and Olympic gold medallist attended CONEL and was awarded an MBE in 2001.
  • Trevor Nelson – The DJ and radio presenter on BBC Radio 1Xtra and BBC Radio 2 who attended WestKing, was awarded an MBE in 2002.
  • Jamie Oliver – The celebrity chef and restauranteur trained at WestKing and was made an MBE in 2003 for services to the hospitality industry.
  • Pablo Lloyd – The CEO of Visionnaires, a programme started within CCCG to help aspiring entrepreneurs start new businesses, was made an OBE in 2019.

Our deepest condolences to the Royal Family. HM Queen Elizabeth II 1926 – 2022.

‘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