Held from 6 to 9 October at London’s Excel Centre, Amplify was the first event of its kind in the UK, and marked 10 years of BBC Music Introducing – the programme which finds and supports undiscovered artists, propelling them to success. Nine Lewisham Southwark College students were selected to carry out work experience at the event, providing artist liaison for the event’s promotors SME. This saw the students supporting the needs of the BBC event hosts and performers including George Ezra, Everything Everything, Declan McKenna, Blossoms, Rae Morris, Slaves, Nao, The Big Moon, Yizzy and Jake Bugg.
Amplify was aimed at offering aspiring musicians exclusive access to these major performers through intimate talks, music masterclasses, recording workshops and performances.
Music Tutor Chris Baker says: “This was a fantastic work experience opportunity and the students responded very positively to it. We are really pleased that employers like the BBC and their partners are choosing to approach Lewisham Southwark College when looking to source potential employees – it speaks volumes for the quality of our courses and students.”
Lewisham Southwark College has partnered with The Fan Museum in Greenwich and Europe’s leading fan maker Sylvain Le Guen for ‘Street Fans’ – a project which unites two seemingly diverse art forms: traditional fan making and street art.
The highlight of the project is an exhibition featuring art by 30 international street artists, which is being shown at The Fan Museum from 19 September to 31 December. This has been jointly conceived by the museum and Paris-based street artist Codex Urbanis.
As part of the Street Fans project, the College has staged three highly successful events aimed at enabling students and the local community to get inspired by this unique combination of artistic genres.
On 3 October, Lewisham Way campus welcomed school children from three local schools, Trinity School, Bonus Pastor Catholic College and Middle Park Primary School, to two special workshops along with the College’s Level 3 Art students. Run by local street artist Nathan Bowen in collaboration with The Fan Museum, these sessions gave participants the chance to design their own fans, gathering lots of expert hints and tips along the way, with Nathan picking his favourites and awarding prizes at the end of the workshop. The artist also designed two wonderful bespoke pieces of art which are now on display on campus.
A Street Fans Masterclass, staged at Southwark campus on 10 October, was an intimate opportunity for Foundation and Level 3 Art and Fashion students to work directly with Sylvain Le Guen. Our students rose to the challenge of creating fans from scratch, and got to see some of Sylvain’s beautiful creations including the fan from the recent Cinderella movie! The Masterclass was followed by a unique Q&A session with Sylvain and Jacob Moss, curator of the exhibition, which was attended by art students, alumni and arts-based businesses.
The Street Fans exhibition takes place at The Fan Museum, 12 Crooms Hill, London SE10 8ER from 19 September to 31 December.
The annual Lewisham Southwark College Student Awards, staged at Lewisham Way campus on 12th October, was a truly inspirational evening of celebration, entertainment and community spirit.
Welcoming the Award winners, their friends and families, staff and special guests, the evening highlighted the dedication, determination and hard work of students who have often overcome major challenges to get where they are today.
Principal Carole Kitching opened the event and introduced guest speaker Shakira Martin, President of the NUS and an LS College alumna who gave an inspiring talk about her time at the College and where it’s taken her. Following the Awards ceremony, guests enjoyed drinks and delicious canapes prepared and served by our Hospitality students, and enjoyed music performed by our talented Level 3 Performing Arts students.
During the evening, ‘Best Student of the Year’ Awards were presented to students in each subject area who have shown the best all round performance in their academic studies, enrichment activities and as active members of the College community. Those honoured in this category were:
Kofi Ocloo (Art & Design)
Karolina Cepeleva (Beauty)
Kyle Oneil Mohoney (Business and Finance)
Tia King (Catering and Hospitality)
Stephen Woods (Construction)
Elena Cebotari (Drama)
Mihaela Dicusara (English and Maths)
Gertrudes Correia Castro (ESOL Adult)
Abdo Daud (ESOL Young), Saman Sajjad (Fashion)
Julia Mills (Health and Social Care)
Georgette Khoury (Law)
Cyrus Allen (Media)
Michael Gough (Music)
Rejina Shrestha (Science)
Michal Waclawek (Sport)
Chloe Smith (Supported Learning)
Igor Railean (Technical Theatre)
Grissel Gutierrez (Travel and Tourism)
Kamiston Jogathilaraja (IT and Computing).
'Apprentice of the Year’ awards went to two apprentices who have gone the extra mile, impressing their employers with their professionalism, work ethic and eagerness to learn: Ryan Pinto (Level 2) and Kylean Campbell-Hall (Level 3).
The Principal gave four special awards to students who best reflect the values and ethos of LS College: Alesja Aleksandrova and Mihail Lukov (for Outstanding Contribution to the College) and Asata Selman-Jackson and Kyle Oneil Mohoney (for Outstanding Vocational Skills).
The ‘Employability Learner of the Year’ was awarded to Salma Rahman for showing the best future employment promise across the College, and the Jane Burnett Award for Supported Learning students (given in loving memory of a much-loved member of staff) went to Alex Henry. The ‘Make a Difference’ Award – awarded to a student who has made a genuine difference to people’s lives – was given to Aneesa Bhatti, while the Stephen Lawes Award for an Accountancy/Finance student who has shown exceptional dedication and commitment was awarded to Durga Thapaliya.
Carole Kitching said: “The Student Awards event is always the highlight of my year. Some of the award winners honoured tonight may become famous through their skills and achievements, and others will find real satisfaction in their chosen career. They have all shown what can be achieved through determination, perseverance and dedication.”
Sixteen organisations showed their support for the College by sponsoring the Awards, including Goldsmiths University of London, London South Bank University and FE Week. Three winners also walked away from the evening with work experience opportunities from their award sponsors.
Just two years ago, Lewisham Southwark College suffered the dubious honour of being the first FE and skills provider in the UK to receive two grade fours in a row from Ofsted.
But since hitting rock bottom, the college has welcomed a new leadership team, is undergoing a controversial merger with the Newcastle-based NCG group and, most surprisingly of all, has achieved a complete turnaround that it claims will rank it above the national average for learner outcomes and quality.
Our new reporter Pippa Allen-Kinross spoke to Gordon Gillespie (pictured), the college’s vice-principal of curriculum, learning and teaching, to find out how things have changed so dramatically in such a short space of time.
When Gordon Gillespie joined Lewisham Southwark College, it had already received its infamous second grade four. Its coffers were empty and it had been placed into administrative status by the FE commissioner’s office under a leadership which was, he claims, “indifferent”.
He was part of a new senior leadership team brought in by newly appointed principal Carole Kitching in June 2015, who went on a mission to “win back hearts and minds” to the floundering college.
“Carole is a very clear leader,” he says. “Her communication with staff is honest and regular, and she’s always open for a chat. She knows what she’s doing and all of those things add up to success.
“One of the first things we did was tell the staff they weren’t all terrible, they weren’t all grade four, and actually there was a lot of talent and skill in the college.
“We set to tackling long-standing issues of bad discipline, of a mentality that cared more about bums on seats than proper investment in making sure learners were put on the right courses.
“Within a year we went up to a grade three. We could see there was a change. The really big success was the academic year 2016/2017; all of a sudden the new quality assurance practices, the time invested in learners and making sure they were at the centre of what we do rather than the periphery, it started to show. The culture of the place, the ambience, the environment, everything was feeling a lot better.”
The college claims it has now secured a place in the upper tenth percentile of colleges in the UK on performance, and that it ranks above the national average in achievement across all age groups. According to Gordon, if the provider compared itself with last year’s national averages it would rank as one of the top 20 colleges in the UK, and in the top two in London. He is confident it would receive a grade two were another Ofsted inspection to beckon, and wants to become ‘outstanding’ in the next year.
However, Ofsted ratings haven’t been the only controversy faced by LSC.
A merger was announced with the Newcastle-based NCG group in March, a decision which Lewisham council at the time told FE Week was “disappointing”.
Despite this, Gordon is confident that the merger will bring only more good news, including plans to expand on their higher education and apprenticeship offering, and insists the independence of the college has not been compromised.
“It’s rather exciting, because you have something that’s large and powerful and strong and has good finances, and it’s there to support us rather than direct us. They have the second biggest apprenticeship arm in the UK, and having that experience on board is really helping us,” he enthuses.
“We wanted to remain independent, true to local people and the boroughs that we serve, working with local politicians and boroughs for local skills issues without inference. The simple fact of the matter is that if we had merged with another London college we would be a different organisation now.
“There are huge benefits strategically, sychologically for staff and managers and politically as well to be able to say that we have not changed. We are still LSC.”
And the college is nothing if not ambitious: its Southwark campus recently received a £43 million renovation, while Lewisham is hoping to have £56 million invested in the next four years, thanks in no small part to NCG’s robust bank balances.
“The thing we all feel most proud of is that it would have been easy for managers and staff in this college to really think the plug is about to be pulled out and the water is going to drip away,” he says.
“They stuck with it because they wanted learners to do better than they had done before, and because they were good, honest, hardworking people. As a result of that, and some half-decent leadership, we have turned the college around.
“We are seeing the proper value of not just staff but learners as well. We came from the depths of despair but now the future is looking very bright.”
Fashion student Tyana Hemming has won a prestigious award for young designers having presented her work on one of the world’s leading stages for fashion – London Fashion Week.
Tyana, who has just completed studying Level 3 Fashion, won the Award for Textiles in the Fashion Futures awards, organised by FAD (Fashion Awareness Direct) and sponsored by NatWest and George at Asda.
She was announced winner at a London Fashion Week show hosted by Fashion Scout at the Freemason’s Hall, Covent Garden, on 18 September. She wowed the panel of judges, which included professionals from ASOS, All Saints and George, with an innovative denim printed dress featuring mesh detailing – a design the jury described as ‘original and stylish’.
Tyana (who is 18) and the 20 other finalists were the youngest designers to showcase their designs at London Fashion Week. The finalists were shortlisted from over 70 London teenagers who developed designs inspired by the style leaders of Europe, past and present.
Speaking on the night, Tyana said: “This whole experience seems so surreal. It’s so exciting having this opportunity and I’m so grateful to be here.”
As part of the FAD Fashion Futures programme – which students from Lewisham Southwark College take part in every year – Tyana benefited from technical training and professional mentoring as well as gaining plenty of hands-on experience.
- UNIQUE WORK EXPERIENCE AT BBC’S ‘AMPLIFY’ 31st October 2017
- College helps give the art of fan-making a new twist! 26th October 2017
- Student Awards 2017: a night to remember! 13th October 2017
- FE Week reports on our remarkable turnaround 09th October 2017
- Award winner showcases design at London Fashion Week 05th October 2017