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Catering students enjoy chefs’ Christmas cookery class

Catering students enjoy chefs’ Christmas cookery class

Hospitality and catering students at Hereward College picked up top tips from the experts at a Christmas themed cookery demo.

Warwick Conferences chefs Mark Ralph, Head of Food, and Val Elvin, Chef de Partie, demonstrated the preparation and cutting of pastry, before baking and finally finishing the pastries with decorative icing.

The 12 Level 1 and Level 2 learners then prepared and cooked their own biscuits, adding their own personal touch to the seasonal icing designs.

The cookery demonstration, held in the training kitchen at the college’s Tile Hill campus, is the latest collaboration between the award-winning hospitality venue and Hereward.

Warwick Conferences – the University of Warwick’s conferencing arm – is one of the college’s key employer partners. It provides supported internship opportunities to students to give them valuable work experience placements, aiding their chances of securing paid employment after graduating.

This year the University placements include a sports assistant at Warwick Sport, two conference assistants at Warwick Conferences, an art gallery assistant at Warwick Arts Centre, a retail assistant at Rootes Grocery Store, a housekeeping assistant at the Radcliffe hotel, and a retail assistant and a food and beverage assistant for cafes, bars and restaurants.

Hereward College has an impressive record for helping secure jobs for students. Only 4.8% of people with learning disabilities are in paid employment in England* but last year 27% of Hereward graduates gained paid employment and a further 17% found voluntary work.

This is also a key mission for Warwick Conferences, which joined the nationwide transition to work programme Project Search in 2019 and has since hosted 30 interns from the college via its Campus and Commercial Services Group.

Clive Singleton, Head of Conferences and Event Catering at Warwick Conferences, who also took part in the cookery demo, said there were plans to further expand the programme, commenting:

“This partnership with Hereward College is important to us, both as a business unit but also as active members of the community, helping provide young people with meaningful employment opportunities that can lead to a rewarding career.

The talent we’ve seen at Hereward has been really impressive and something we are eager to continue supporting by hopefully growing our internship programme to approximately 12 placements each year.

“Warwick Conferences loves being part of Project Search. Seeing the young people grow in confidence and learn new skills is wonderful to see and with this confidence we get to see their true personalities and so do our customers, so it’s a win-win.”

Catherine Sherlock, Curriculum Manager for Hereward College’s Discovery Pathway, added:

“We are hugely grateful to Mark, Val and Clive for spending a morning with our students, who had a fantastic time in the kitchen and gained invaluable experience working with industry professionals.

“Our Level 2 hospitality and catering learners are also being treated to a return visit, with a tour of back of house at Warwick Conferences next month they are all really looking forward to.”

Other employers who offer supported internships for Hereward’s students include EVTEC Automotive, Premier Inn, Severn Trent Water and West Midlands Police. Last year the supported internship programme had a 100% retention and 94% pass and achievement rate for 32 interns on 12-month employment placements. Latest figures for the programme show 81% of participants go on to gain paid or voluntary work.

The college’s latest Ofsted report published in June, which gave the highest possible grades for high needs learners of ‘outstanding’ and ‘strong’ for skills, praised links with employers and the benefits they brought students.

Inspectors said: “Leaders actively partner with a significant number of employers in the development of curriculums across the college. They have built strong links with employers such as Premier Inn, Warwick Conferences, EVTEC and a range of third-sector organisations.

“They use these relationships effectively to tailor the curriculum to ensure that learners at all levels are given opportunities to engage in useful and meaningful skills development. As a result, learners develop work-ready skills which align with their overarching individual vocational targets appropriately.”

Information on Hereward College’s supported internships programme can be found here and to find out more about Warwick Conferences’ facilities visit here.

* Source: BASE – Employment Rates for People with Disabilities 2021-22

Photos by here.

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