Leeds Conservatoire Leads Session on Classical Music Inclusivity at ABO Conference

Leeds Conservatoire’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) team led a session titled Is There a Seat for Someone Like Me? at the Association of British Orchestras (ABO) Conference.

The ABO represents the collective interests of professional orchestras, youth ensembles and the wider classical music industry throughout the UK, and the conference is its primary event each year. This year’s conference took place from 1 to 3 February at Opera North’s Howard Assembly Room.

The conference explored the experiences of underrepresented student musicians in the orchestral talent pipeline, creating conversations around what more the industry should do to welcome underrepresented talent, develop inclusive practice and tackle systemic inequalities.

Nick Burdett, Projects Team Manager and EDI Lead at Leeds Conservatoire, said, “Having the opportunity to create conversations that share the lived experiences of some of our underrepresented students with industry leaders in the orchestral sector is extremely valuable. It is vital for the next generation of musicians to have visible, relatable role models within the industry to develop a genuine sense of belonging.

“We know that there is still a long way to go to make sure that there is a seat for everyone, but by working together we hope to create the positive, systemic changes that all of our future orchestral musicians deserve to experience. We hope to continue the work with our students, staff and partners to influence inclusive practice across the sector as a whole.”

The session was a great opportunity for Leeds Conservatoire to collaborate with some of its partners, with Black Lives in Music, Opera North and Orchestras Live all supporting the facilitation alongside current conservatoire students and staff members. Together they led conversations surrounding ethnicity, gender and neurodiversity, raising the profile of Leeds Conservatoire’s ongoing EDI work and commitments, and creating conversations to support the changes we hope to see for our musicians who wish to enter the industry, with leading organisations from across the UK.

Roger Wilson, Director of Operations at Black Lives in Music, said, “This was a fantastic session and brilliantly led by the conservatoire’s EDI team, who maintained sensitivity at the centre of this very important narrative. Bringing diverse voices into one space can only pay dividends. The effect is all the more powerful when those voices have so much lived experience.

“The compelling and personal stories that were shared, facilitated a visceral connection with the session content for those in the room. Having this opportunity to listen, talk and share is important in order to be reflective, learn and to be active in the campaign for real representation and establish safe and inclusive spaces in our sector.”

Becky Smith, Head of Higher Education Partnerships at Opera North, added, “As someone who works for an organisation which supports talent development in our sector and actively engages with student musicians through our partnership with Leeds Conservatoire and other institutions, the session provided a space for thoughtful reflection and discussion on what we are doing and could be doing better to ensure inclusive practice is embedded in all our activities.

“The scenarios discussed, lived experiences shared and positive suggestions made for improvement were really valuable and will hopefully inform and lead to some positive change as we move forward.”

Harrogate College recognised for a second time for efforts to promote sustainable travel

Harrogate College has been nationally-recognised, for a second year running, for its continued commitment to sustainability.

The college has been awarded the bronze level Modeshift STARS accreditation for promoting sustainable and active travel in the community. This is just one of many aspects the college is changing to incorporate more sustainable practice, as well as its focus on preparing people with green skills.

The college has been promoting green business practices across the district over the past 18 months and will step up its support for the electric vehicle (EV) sector through the introduction of a new course in September.

It also hosted the launch of the first ever Harrogate Climate Action Festival, which saw hundreds of people come together in October 2021 to hear from sustainability-focused exhibitors.

Holly Hansen-Maughan, Partnerships & Development Manager at Harrogate College, said: “Sustainable travel and transport is just one part of the college’s commitment to sustainability.

“As an education provider committed to sustainability and supporting the local economy, we are continually finding ways to educate our students and staff on becoming more environmentally friendly, so it’s great that our work is being recognised again by the Modeshift STARS award.

“We are dedicated to empowering young people by enhancing their understanding of environmental issues, and recently offered Carbon Literacy Training to all staff and students. We also encourage learners to participate in the various environmental campaigns and activities we run through our enrichment programme.

“Our aim is to work with local organisations and businesses to meet their needs – this includes developing courses for emerging technologies and green skills which contribute positively to the environment.”

From September, all courses at the college will consider how sustainable practice and green skills impact that curriculum area.

Over the last twelve months the college has worked with a number of groups and local businesses to promote sustainable initiatives, including Zero Carbon Harrogate, Harrogate District Climate Change Coalition, of which Principal Danny Wild is now Chair.

The college is focused on becoming a local centre of green excellence and as outlined in its Sustainability Pledge, is committed to working towards becoming net zero carbon by 2030.

To find out more, or to get your business or organisation involved in future projects, contact Holly Hansen-Maughan at Holly.Hansen-Maughan@harrogate.ac.uk.

Launched in 2008, the STARS Education scheme is supported by the Department for Transport and has seen over 1,400 schools in England achieve accreditation since its inception.


Independent board marks a new chapter for University Centre Leeds

We are pleased to announce that, from September 2022, University Centre Leeds (UC Leeds) will have its own stand-alone board to oversee decision-making on statutory, financial, quality and curriculum matters.

The creation of an independent board symbolises a new chapter for UC Leeds and is a reflection of the ongoing commitment to higher education from Leeds City College and Luminate Education Group.

With 1,400 students and 58 courses, the curriculum teams at UC Leeds have dedicated significant time and effort to ensure they are meeting the needs of learners. In response to this, Luminate has won a bid to invest £12m for a new HE space at Magbate, which will further improve student and staff experiences, as well as allow for growing capacity.

Earlier this year, UC Leeds’ ongoing commitment to creating and providing quality learning experiences was recognised by the National Student Survey results, in which they once again achieved the highest overall student satisfaction level of all of the city’s higher education providers.

Such successes, alongside what is happening in the sector in relation to the Office for Students’ (OfS) requirements, means that now is the perfect time to invest in a dedicated board. This will enable more focus and resources to be committed towards helping UC Leeds achieve its goals, which include becoming a higher education institution with awarding body powers, as it forges ahead.

Governance in education is incredibly important as it not only holds UC Leeds to account, but also helps them be even more strategic and forward-thinking within the communities they serve. It enables them to more closely scrutinise the quality of the education that they offer to students, so they can be more competitive and outcome-focused. At the centre of this decision is ensuring that the university centre continues to offer quality educational experiences for students.

Having a specialist board is an exciting development for UC Leeds that will result in governors contributing to strategic planning and decision-making, as well as advising on curriculum to ensure they maintain the highest standards.

The independent board will be responsible for oversight of quality and standards, as well as overseeing a strategy for continuous improvement. A Chair of Governors has already been appointed – Mark Garratt, who has over 11 years’ experience in senior roles at a number of UK universities.

He said: “Having been on the board of Leeds City College as the higher education link governor since 2017, I’m delighted to now become chair of the newly formed University Centre Leeds Board.

“These are exciting times for higher education in the UK, with universities taking an active and important role in helping to prepare students for an increasingly diverse range of careers.

“I look forward to working with the executive team to support students from all backgrounds in transforming their lives.”

The board will be made up of members from a broad range of professional backgrounds, to represent UC Leeds’ core curriculum offer of healthcare, STEM, legal and creative arts subjects. A student member of the board has already been identified, and nominations for a staff member to join will soon open. We will share further information on this with you soon.

Leeds City College achieves MindMate Friendly status

Leeds City College’s Student Life Directorate has been awarded MindMate Friendly status for its commitment to improving the social, emotional and mental health of their students!

To achieve the standard the college completed an in-depth assessment focusing on safe spaces, teacher training and tackling wellbeing concerns.

The department was also recognised for its outstanding contributions to support services for students across areas that include leadership, policy development, curriculum, assessment, and school ethos.

Sue Pennycook, the Healthy Schools Advisor at Leeds City Council who worked with the college, said: “This is an outstanding self-validation for the college, with particular strengths in pupil voice and support services. Their partnership work is strong, especially being the first post-16 education provider to win the bid for the Mental Health Support Teams.

“There is a genuinely whole-setting approach, so curriculum staff and teaching staff are all fully aware of the wellbeing support.”

Student Wellbeing Manager, Gemma Williams, said: “Student wellbeing is at the centre of what we do as a college.

“Being awarded the MindMate Friendly status is a fantastic achievement. We understand the importance of supporting our young people and the award demonstrates the work we are doing to continually improve the student experience.”

The MindMate Friendly programme was launched as part of the Future In Mind: Leeds Strategy; a city-wide programme aiming to support young people’s emotional and mental health. The strategy involves working with schools and colleges to help them achieve Mindmate Friendly status, and then Mindmate Champion status.

Sixth form students achieve degree standard grades

Six diligent and dedicated students from Leeds Sixth Form College are celebrating their outstanding results after achieving high grades in the The Scholars Programme.

The programme gives pupils aged 9-17 from schools and colleges in the UK the opportunity to work with a PhD researcher across a range of disciplines  including science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), arts and humanities and social sciences.  

The 12-week course also helps students develop knowledge, skills and confidence to progress to the most competitive universities in the country.

Students, Alifa Rahman and Muhao Mwangala attained first class honours in a STEM subject, while Mujib Osmani and Grace Tingay attained a lower second class. Humanities students, Mila Appleby and Qasim Hussein also achieved high honours.

To launch the Autumn term, students attended a series of live, online events with university partners such as Bath University, Exeter University and University of Bristol, among others. 

The live events introduced pupils to the programme and gave them a taster of student life at one of the most competitive universities.

Graduation event at University of Exeter

Students took part in a remote graduation event with the University of Exeter to celebrate their achievements. The event included a welcome from The Brilliant Club, and a session led by the university of X, to give pupils further information, advice and guidance.

Dr. Elisabeth Protopapa,Head of Academic Studies in Leeds Sixth Form College, said: “This is another fantastic year for our students who have really applied themselves to the additional work required to successfully complete the programme. 

“I am proud of them as they persevered through a very challenging time to complete the final elements of the project remotely, following  lockdown. They all rose to the challenge and I have no doubt that they will go on to achieve great things at university and in their chosen careers.

“The scholars programme is a well-known and respected initiative across the education sector. It is highly sought after by Russell Group universities as it recognises and celebrates students for having the right academic approach for continuing their studies at degree level and beyond.”

Dr Lawson, Programme Officer for the scholars programme, said: “The final assignment is supposed to be challenging, being pitched at a level above where the students are currently working at in college. We recognise that this academic year has continued to present challenges for schools and colleges, and so we are particularly pleased that the students were able to submit their assignments and do so well.”

More than 200 researchers across the UK worked with over 4,000 pupils in 263 schools to deliver the programme this academic year.

Student-athlete Kyden ‘over the moon’ at signing for Leeds Rhinos

A student-athlete at Leeds City College has achieved a lifelong dream by signing for Leeds Rhinos.

Kyden Frater is the latest success story to emerge from Leeds Rhinos Foundation’s Development Academy programme, which is run in partnership with Leeds Sixth Form College and Leeds City College.

He has become the second player from the Development Academy team, following the signing of Mekhi Bridgeman-Reaney earlier this year, to sign a professional contract with the Rhinos.


Kyden is one of seven members of the Academy squad to have just signed with the rugby league club. A lifelong Rhinos fan, he declared himself ‘over the moon’ – and credited the role of his community club, Milford, and the Development Academy in helping him reach this stage.

He said: “It’s probably one of the best feelings I’ve ever had. Wearing that jersey which I’ve always wanted to wear, for the club I’ve supported since I was a little boy, is something I’ve wanted to do since I started playing rugby.”

Although usually a full-back, Kyden, who helped the Development Academy team reach the College Cup final this year, has already scored a couple of tries on the wing for the Rhinos Under-18s.


He said: “It’s a good feeling scoring for the Rhinos and hearing the crowd there cheering you on and getting behind you really drives you on.

I played for Milford from a young age up until last year, when I moved into the Rhinos Academy and also played for the Development Academy team, which was great.

“I got to my first ever final and, although we didn’t get the result we needed, to play in my first final at Headingley was a special experienceEverything about the Development Academy is so professional and it’s good because you’re playing in a different environment from your club team, with a different set of mates.

“Some of those lads have never played competitively before so it’s a really good grounding and you definitely learn a lot from the coaches, which helps improve your game.

Kyden, who is studying a level 2 Fitness Instructing (gym) course, is determined to now push on and reach the very top level of his sport.

He added: “Hopefully if I keep working hard then eventually I’ll reach the first team, because that’s the next goal I want to achieve with the club.”

Leeds City College student-athlete Kyden Frater, who has signed a contract with Leeds Rhinos

The Development Academy is part of Leeds Sports Connect, which offers quality education and training through a link between Leeds City College and Leeds Sixth Form College and a number of local, professional sports clubs.

Deputy Principal of Leeds Sixth Form College, Ryan Grant, said: “The Development Academy team has had a fantastic year and to see another of their players sign up with the Rhinos is testament to that.

“Kyden has thoroughly earned this opportunity and we’re confident he will achieve great things as he pushes on to the next level.

“Making amazing opportunities like this achievable is the driving force behind the development academy, and Leeds Sports Connect – so it is really rewarding to see student-athletes like Kyden take their chance.

“We’re really proud of him!”

To learn more about the Leeds Rhinos Foundation’s Development Academy click here.

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