Westminster Kingsway College has been shortlisted in this year’s Association of Colleges Beacon Awards for its careers education and guidance.

The Beacon Awards are one of further education’s premier awards. They celebrate the best and most innovative practice in colleges and the impact they have on the students and communities that they serve.

WestKing is one of just three colleges in the running for The Careers and Enterprise Company Award for Innovation in Careers and Enterprise.

The Careers and Enterprise Company is the national body for careers education in England and set the criteria for the award, which recognises outstanding careers leadership and practice.

Colleges were asked to give examples of effective careers programmes that demonstrate partnerships with schools, employers and other education providers, to help students make informed choices about their future education and careers.

WestKing’s Careers, Employability and Work Placements Teams were boosted by funding from The Careers and Enterprise Company’s Personal Guidance Fund in 2018, which has enabled the college to provide training for staff to ensure quality information, advice and guidance and to better align to industry needs.

Over the past 12 months WestKing has invested in new programmes and partnerships to support its students and the community. The college has developed strategies to drive high-level skills, mentoring and student progression to meet the needs of Londoners and London’s employers, as the capital recovers from the COVID pandemic. Highlights include:

• A tutorial programme linking labour market intelligence to relevant courses in Hospitality and Culinary, Digital Media, Business, Construction, Engineering and Science.

• A partnership with the Creative Careers programme at the Roundhouse in Camden to help students with Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) to get into the industry.

• A Nursing Insights Programme run with Great Ormond Street Hospital that has been embedded within the college’s Health and Social Care courses.

• Careers Clusters and Enterprise Adviser Network activities, such as virtual Skillz Up workshops and Insight sessions.

• Better communication with parents through an e-newsletter, virtual events and additional information, advice and guidance.

Carlo Liu, Head of Careers Education and Partnerships, said “We are thrilled to be commended this year for the AoC Beacon Awards. A huge congratulations to all at WestKing with special mention to the Careers, Employability and Work Placements Teams.

“Due to an unprecedented interruption in education coupled with the impact of COVID on the job market, young people are facing so many challenges. Here at WestKing, our focus has been improving the social capital of our learners, by boosting their confidence, helping to widen their career aspirations and their knowledge of the labour market, and by showing them the opportunities open to them.”

Jasbir Sondhi, Vice Principal of Westminster Kingsway College said: “I’d like to especially congratulate Carlo, Mike, Sharon, Dorota and Frankie in the WestKing Careers and Employability team. The team have been instrumental in providing our learners with a plethora of opportunities that raise aspirations and broaden their horizons.

“Each member of the team is committed to ensuring our learners are given access to employers, networks and careers guidance that informs their decision making allowing them to progress on to positive destinations.

“Well done and thank you for the work you do to transform lives.”

The finalists of the Beacon Awards will be announced at the Association of Colleges’ annual conference on 17 November.

An aspiring games designer at Westminster Kingsway College has been hailed as one to watch after her performance in a design competition against students from around the world. Zahra Tilling, 17, who is studying for an Animation and Games Design diploma, was the only student not in higher education taking part in this year’s Grads in Games Rising Star challenge.

She was recognised in Character Art category where participants had four weeks to create a fully animated 3D model of a games character on a choice of themes.

Zahra, who is from Newham, said: “I drew my idea from Mother Nature and came up with a stylised fairy character with healing properties. She has magical powers and a satchel of herbs and flowers to make potions to help people and the environment.

“I’m really proud of myself, and happy to have represented the college against university students who are doing something similar a higher level. I went into it to challenge myself rather than as a competition and see how well I could do within the time and other restrictions given, and it was nice to be named one of the ones to watch.”

According to the Think Global, Create Local report by Ukie, the trade body for the games industry in the UK, the country has the largest video games sector in Europe with 16,140 full-time equivalents working in the business, including 13,840 in games development.

Zahra began designing games art before she attended WestKing but felt her course had expanded her knowledge and given her more focus and determination to make it her career.

She said: “I’ve played video games most of my life, so it seems like a natural progression for me to want to work in this sector and create the things I love. The course at WestKing has been great. I’ve learnt so much, which has motivated me to work harder. My teachers have helped me with everything, not just my college work but reaching out to companies and finding jobs and work placements. Because of the competition, I’ve already had some interest from recruiters.”

Grads in Games was founded by Aardvark Swift, a recruitment company for the video games industry, in 2014 before becoming an independent in 2021.

The company aims to help students make the leap from education to professional games developer through events, activities and resources to equip them with the skills that employers in the games industry need.

Dan Dudley, Marketing Manager for Grads in Games, said: “We’ve seen an exceptionally high bar of quality this year and some truly inspirational work from students hoping to soon start a career in video games, and we fully expect to see many of the names below leading the next-generation of the games industry.”

He praised the “exceptional” winners and finalists and added that those chosen as ones to watch had “shown the skills and potential to become fantastic game developers”.

Oran Tarjan, Lecturer in Media, said: “Zahra is an exceptional student, and this is a truly outstanding achievement. To produce the kind of 3D artwork she has created and to compete against university students at her age is incredible. It’s rare to come across a student who is so focused and dedicated. I have no doubt that when she finishes her education, she will get a job in the industry.”

Click here to Apply Now for Animation and Games Design courses.

Westminster Kingsway College’s chef and hospitality training restaurants The Vincent Rooms have been named among the best restaurants in the world.

Travel review website Tripadvisor announced the restaurants were among the winners of its Travellers’ Choice 2020 awards on Twitter.

The win places The Vincent Rooms in the top 10 per cent of restaurants worldwide.

The Vincent Rooms at the Victoria Centre include the Brasserie and the more exclusive Escoffier Room. Both the kitchens and front of house are staffed by hospitality and culinary arts students.

Each year Tripadvisor pulls together reviews and ratings from travellers around the world to determine the best hotels, restaurants, attractions, airlines, destinations and experiences.

The Vincent Rooms have received 300 reviews and an average score of 4.5 out of five on Tripadvisor, with the restaurants currently ranked 114th out of 16,757 in London

One impressed diner described the food as “absolutely delicious and beautifully presented” adding “all the students who served us were very professional and attentive”.

Others have described the restaurants as “a real gem” and a “really perfect dining experience”.

One wrote: “If our tasting menu in the Escoffier Room was anything to go by, the college attracts real talent – and trains it beautifully, so plaudits to the teaching staff as well as the students.”

WestKing offers a wide range of vocational courses, apprenticeships and degrees in all aspects of hospitality and culinary arts, including its renowned Grand Escoffier Diploma.

Many famous and established chefs have learned their craft at the College including Jamie Oliver, Ainsley Harriott, Antony Worrall Thompson, Sophie Wright and Ben Murphy.

Hospitality lecturer Marc Whitley said: “I’m extremely proud of the hard work and dedication the students have put in to achieve such an outstanding accolade, especially for a college restaurant.

“This award is fantastic because it’s essentially voted on by the guests that eat at our restaurants and will help us continue to prepare students well for the hospitality industry. It’s also a real inspiration for our students and team as we head into the new academic year.”

Gary Hunter, Interim Principal of Westminster Kingsway College, himself a trained chef, said:For the past six years we have received awards from Tripadvisor, but this is absolutely brilliant. To be in the top 10 per cent of restaurants globally is a huge achievement.”

Click here to Apply Now for Hospitality and Culinary Arts courses and apprenticeships.

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