The team won the ‘Most Progress from a School or College’ category in a ceremony at the end of September at the Royal Society of Chemistry in Piccadilly, London. This category received the most entries of any of the award categories with over 30 entries.
The judges praised the college’s employer partnerships and the inclusive policies of our new careers strategy, which demonstrated “clear progress and strategic direction” towards achieving the Gatsby Benchmarks. The Gatsby Benchmarks are a framework for good career guidance in schools and other education providers.
In a statement, the judging panel said of Westminster Kingsway College: “This FE college has established a very thorough programme with an impressive relationship with employers who are now involved in shaping the curriculum. Vulnerable learners and those with complex needs are at the forefront of planning.”
Speaking about the award, WestKing Principal Kim Caplin said: “We are absolutely delighted to have won. It’s real recognition of all the hard work, time and dedication that the Careers and Employability team, and colleagues from across the college, have put in over the last two years to improve our approach to the careers advice that we provide to our students. I am really proud of the Careers and Employability team’s role in helping students make their next step with confidence, wherever that may be.”
WestKing’s Careers and Employability Lead, Carlo Liu said: “We put the learner at the centre of our service. From the moment they start their journey with us, they have information and careers guidance on their next steps and how they can progress. We have moved towards a whole college approach, with an emphasis on broadening horizons and equipping our learners with the skills to progress onto positive outcomes, whether it be University, Apprenticeships or fulltime work.”
WestKing’s Careers and Progression Lead, Charlotte Hoets added: “With college director Jasbir Sondhi, we created a new careers strategy, aligned to the eight Gatsby Benchmarks. This ensures we are working to best practise standards, established by the valuable research undertaken by the Gatsby Foundation and supported by Government strategy on careers education, information, advice and guidance.”
The recent National Student Survey [an annual poll which asks learners about their school, college or university] found that every single one of the WestKing students who they asked, knew their next steps and that 87% knew where to get advice on what to do next.
Back in 2017/18, two new careers leaders were appointed; an Employability Lead evaluates and enhances employer partnerships and has developed a programme across curriculums, while a Careers and Progression Lead focuses on personal guidance and progression. We also introduced a tutorial scheme of learning, to support the delivery of careers education in the classroom. Activities included a one-to-one service, employer visits, a university fair, and Q&A sessions.
We work with a host of organisations, from Career Ready and Goldman Sachs to Salesforce, ITN, The Ritz Hotel, Harrods and more. One of our many employer partners is the construction firm Willmott Dixon. Matthew Weatherby, regional community engagement manager at Willmott Dixon Construction, provided a testimonial about our work for the award’s judges. He said: “We support the construction skills learners with an employability programme, work placements, workplace and site visits, and the annual apprenticeship fair. With the employability lead, we identified the key challenge of ensuring learners have the actual skills they need to get onto apprenticeship jobs and implemented the programme to address this. Last year we had 12 successful placements and next year we hope to double this number and continue expanding the employability programme.”