Why we LOVE our Colleges by London South East Colleges

London South East Colleges, its staff, students, apprentices, governors, and a huge range of employers, community and university partners have come together as one this week to proudly declare that we are indeed, in love! It took a while to come to terms with, we couldn’t help but blush a subtle shade of magenta, but we admit it - we just can’t live or function correctly without a wonderful college in our lives.

And now is the time that all further education colleges across the length and breadth of the country to do the same - say it proud and shout it loud, we ‘LOVE OUR COLLEGES’.

This week is Colleges Week (Monday 14 to Friday 18 October) and we will be taking part in a national celebration of the further education sector. It will showcase the great work colleges are involved with on a daily basis, helping to transform the lives of young people and adults, shape their communities and boost local economies. Colleges do this by providing technical, vocational and higher education, basic skills and lifelong learning, and form an essential resource for every single locality in the UK.   

The 'Love Our Colleges' campaign is a partnership between the Association of Colleges (AoC), National Union of Students (NUS), Association of College and School Leaders (ASCL), University and Colleges Union (UCU), Unison, GMB, TUC, and the National Education Union (NEU).

The further education (FE) sector, despite its amazing outcomes, has been subject to a decade of swingeing cuts. This has meant colleges having to face severe economic challenges and being forced to find savings through staff restructuring exercises, reducing opening hours and in some instances, by closing down entire curriculum areas. With a shortage in skills in a number of industrial and commercial sectors about to affect the UK economy, FE is finally making a stand and demanding urgent investment from government - ‘further education can no longer be ignored’.

Group Principal and CEO for London South East Colleges, Dr Sam Parrett OBE has pledged her support, and that of the College’s seven campuses and over a thousand staff members to the AoC’s campaign for better investment and recognition. She says: “For too long we, and many like us, have faced the financial challenge of preserving the same high quality of teaching and learning in our classrooms, studios and workshops. Pursuing alternative funding and investment has demanded extra initiatives, expertise and speculation. Though that in itself can be seen as a good thing, we have often been hampered in our endeavour to progress, develop and constantly keep abreast with employer demand for modern skills and technical know-how. With better government investment, we can provide so much more and help to boost our regional and national economies as well as nurture talent in our most in-demand technical and professional skills.

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“We are very proud of everything we do here in south east London and north Kent - particularly in the boroughs of Bromley, Bexley and Greenwich. Ofsted has recently awarded us an overall ‘Good’ grade in our 2019 inspection and we are travelling full-throttle to establish a brand-new (rebuilt) Greenwich Campus in Plumstead and an Aerospace and Technology College at London Biggin Hill Airport. We also intend to further develop all other curriculum areas and enable a sustainable evolution of relevant skills and qualifications that reflect the ever-changing  needs of industry.

“It’s encouraging to hear the current Prime Minister and Education Secretary setting out plans to increase funding and give FE a higher profile in the education and skills sector. But we must do all we can to hold them to their promises and maintain a constant drum beat that doesn’t get lost or side-tracked by whichever political party (or parties) forms the next government.

“That is why we support this very important campaign and will work tirelessly to ensure it brings about the much-needed changes and resources to deliver the skills the UK needs now and in the future.”

Katerina Sleiman (Dance Tutor): “To be a great dancer, you need to have passion. That is something I have in great quantities and I love to share it. I want to be a big part of the students’ journey, not only through their time at the College, but into their careers and beyond.”

Liam Willett (Former student and now a fully qualified Norland Nanny): “I want to be as big an influence on young people’s lives as one of my tutors had been on mine, I was very inspired and full of admiration for anyone who devoted their lives to giving young people a great start in life and steering them in the right direction.”

Billy Bingham (Former student and now an apprentice food and beverage front of house assistant at the InterContinental O2): “College prepared me well prior to being chosen to come and work here at the InterContinental. It gave me very strong foundations and acclimatised me for what is a very hustle-bustle environment requiring you to think on your feet at all times.”

Chris Rooney (Talent and Culture Manager at the InterContinental O2): “The apprenticeship programme partnership we share with London South East Colleges has been a big success and it’s evident that it is working well for everyone. Our apprentices are well regarded for their excellent timekeeping; they are pro-active, extremely well turned-out and professional. The training they received prior to joining to us has proved invaluable.”

Awa Diop (Apprentice childcare, early years and education practitioner): "An apprenticeship gives you just about everything you need to get started in your career. You also get paid and spend one day a week at College. It has opened all kinds of doors for me and I’m immensely grateful. I always wanted to have a job doing something I really wanted to do, and I feel like I’ve achieved that part of my ambitions already."

Romario Shersmith-Adams (Production Arts Level 3 student and professional musician): “I’ve decided to take two related but different paths as I move forward. One will be the music and the writing, the other will be my educational journey. I want to learn more about the crafts of theatre sound techniques and lighting, stage sets and costume design.”

Kirstie Ison (Professional Chef Tutor): “At London South East Colleges, the students are taught their trade in a bustling, hands-on and realistic working environment. From the very beginning of their course, students work as a team to cook for, and provide a high-quality service to real customers. I’m loving being a part of this experience and I’m determined to turn these fabulous young people into the chefs of the future.”

Navida Ahmed (Former Foundation Degree Student): “Education opens doors for you - fact! Walking into your local college and enrolling onto a course, no matter how basic, no matter what the subject or level, you have made a positive start and as long as you commit yourself, stick at it and take everything given to you, it will lead you to bigger and better things.”

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