Westminster Kingsway College has become the first ever college to win a gong at the Careers and Enterprise Company’s annual awards.

The London-based college was announced as the 2019 winner for ‘Most Progress from a School or College’ out of a shortlist of three finalists in a ceremony at The Royal Society of Chemistry in Piccadilly, London.

This new category received the largest subscription of any of the 12 award categories with over 30 entries, out of 200 submissions overall.

The judges praised the incorporation of employer partnerships and inclusive policies of Westminster Kingsway College’s new careers strategy, which demonstrated “clear progress and strategic direction” towards achieving the Gatsby Benchmarks.

Now in their second year, the Careers and Enterprise Company (CEC) awards celebrated the work of colleges, schools, businesses and careers professionals.

In a statement, the judging panel said of Westminster Kingsway: “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.”

The National Student Survey, an annual poll which asks learners about their training provider, found that 100 per cent of respondents from Westminster Kingsway College knew their next steps and 87 per cent knew where to get advice on what to do next.

The London college said that it overcame barriers to embed careers learning into the curriculum to address the needs of students who wanted an alternative to university. It was a relatively new area for the college which, “with time and dedication”, made structural changes to provide this support.

Two new careers leaders were appointed by the college within its centralised cross-college Careers and Employability Service before the start of the 2017/18 academic year: the employability lead evaluated and enhanced employer partnerships and developed a programme across curriculums, while the careers and progression lead focused on personal guidance and progression.

In addition, a tutorial scheme of learning was introduced from 2018/19 to support delivery of careers education in the classroom. Activities included a one-to-one service, employer visits, a university fair, and Q and A sessions.

Matthew Weatherby, regional community engagement manager at Willmott Dixon Construction, provided a testimonial about the college’s work. 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.”

Westminster Kingsway College’s Careers Strategy 2018 – 2020 is based around the eight Gatsby Benchmarks. In its submission, the college singled out its development of the work experience strand during 2018/19: “A key factor in this delivery was our use of the Navigate platform, so that pupils could create a record of their work experience and careers provision,” it said. “Because of this, we will be able to measure distance travelled in employability skills development as a KPI [key performance indicator] of the careers programme.”

CEC chief executive Claudia Harris said: “Congratulations to the winners and shortlist of the Careers Excellence Awards 2019. The organisations and individuals recognised are setting the bar in careers provision across England and changing the lives of the children they work with.”

Main pic: From left: Jasbir Sondhi – Westminster Kingsway College director curriculum and learner services, Charlotte Hoets – careers and progression lead, Carlo Liu – employability and progression lead

Click below to see the full list of winners.

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