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    Our latest news.

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.”

Shadow ministers Rachel Reeves and Bridget Phillipson visit Leeds City College

Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves and Shadow Education Secretary Bridget Phillipson visited Leeds City College’s Printworks Campus this month, as the shadow government laid out its plans for the education sector.

The Leeds and Sunderland MPs met with Shaid Mahmood, Chair of Governors for Luminate Education Group, Bill Jones, Deputy CEO of Luminate Education Group, and Printworks Campus Principal, Cheryl Smith. Cheryl shared her overall vision for the campus and future plans for the growth and expansion of teaching spaces, before giving the visitors a tour of the facilities.

During the hour-and-a-half long visit, Bill spoke at length about the college’s short-to-long-term plans to provide fantastic learning facilities for students, including creating new spaces to accommodate the growing number of students (post 16 education) within Leeds.

He added that the college is in need of more space and is continuing to look for more funding to develop its existing spaces to make them more efficient.

He also spoke about how Leeds City College is tailoring its offering to match the skills needs of the region, with a focus on digital and that with improved investment, the sector could contribute, to an even greater extent, to the nation’s drive for improved growth and productivity.

The tour, meanwhile, included the college’s hair and beauty provision, as well as a tour of the School of Engineering. 

Rachel and Bridget had the opportunity to meet with students from both schools and many of them shared their experiences and aspirations for the future. 

Rachel and Bridget had the opportunity to speak to students

They also had the opportunity to see students demonstrate some of the practical skills they have learnt since joining the college, including hair colouring and manicures.

From micro aerospace components to medical instruments, precise parts are the key to keeping some of the most critical aspects of our modern world running smoothly.  

Engineering student Harry Souter

Level 3 engineering student Harry Souter, demonstrated the use of the mill turn machine.

Harry explained how the mill turn worked and its ability to create more complex and intricate parts without needing to transfer the part from one machine to another. 

Mitch Scott, Head of the School of Engineering said: “Manufacturing these very small parts requires the right state-of-the-art equipment coupled with the talent and dedication of the next generation of machinists.”

Cheryl spoke about how the college is working closely with employers so that they are able to directly influence the courses.

“Employers are key in helping us shape our curriculum so that we are able to better equip our students for their future careers. We are now looking at developing progression and destination opportunities for students, this includes our T Level and apprenticeship programmes.”

Rachel Reeves said: “It was brilliant to visit Printworks [campus] with Bridget. 

“Colleges are at the heart of Labour’s ambition for education. We know that by improving skills and creating the good jobs our country needs, we will drive growth and make our economy stronger.”

Bridget added: “Improving skills will drive the growth our country needs for the jobs and economy of the future.”
For more information about courses at Printworks visit the website

Skills Minister joins Leeds Rhinos, Leeds City College and Redcentric for launch of pioneering scheme to mark National Apprenticeship Week

The Skills Minister has attended the launch of a ‘groundbreaking’ scheme in Yorkshire to mark National Apprenticeship Week.

Leeds City College and IT company Redcentric have been working with Leeds Rhinos to design an IT sales apprenticeship aimed at their athletes of all genders and abilities.

The arrangement gives professional and amateur athletes access to a world-class training programme while guaranteeing them employment in the UK’s IT services sector – effectively offering the best of both worlds.  Part of a wider project to expand and diversify Redcentric’s talent pool, the apprenticeship will also support the Leeds Rhinos Diversity and Inclusion plan and the Rugby Football League’s “Tackle It” initiative.

The Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education, Robert Halfon MP, was among the VIPs attending when Leeds Rhinos hosted the scheme’s launch event on 7 February. He said: “This new apprenticeship will help to not just tackle skills shortages, it’ll level the playing field for all.

“This is a huge, forward-looking investment from Leeds Rhinos who already employ many apprentices, offering a ladder of opportunity so that adults can retrain at any stage of their career, get involved in booming sectors like IT and tech and build a skills and apprenticeships nation.”

Bill Jones, Executive Principal at Leeds City College, said: “Despite the current economic backdrop, we want to be able to offer existing and future apprentices value-added courses that enhance their knowledge.

“The IT Services market in the United Kingdom is projected to grow by 6.74% and we want to build a future pipeline of talent to help drive growth across the sector and deliver great outcomes, not only for the Leeds City Region but for the UK.”

Also present at the launch was Jamie Jones Buchanan, Leeds Rhinos’ Head of Culture, Diversity and Inclusivity. Addressing the unique appeal of the initiative, he said:Through this apprenticeship scheme we are hoping to bridge the gap between sports and business, equipping sports people with the skills, tools and techniques to move into business at the appropriate point within their sporting career.”

The 12-month apprenticeship has been tailored to ensure apprentices are equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to successfully sell products while following the correct procedures. The project’s Collaborative Apprenticeship Scheme component, meanwhile, will include a fully funded Cyber and Spreadsheets short course that will be taught remotely.

Redcentric, which is hoping to recruit around 50 apprentices over the next 12 to 24 months, launched a pilot of the IT technician sales apprenticeship at the end of 2022.  There are currently four pioneers of the scheme in place with an academy player from Leeds Rhinos already signed up and set to join in February. There are plans to recruit 10 Rhinos players to take on an apprenticeship with the firm, or other suitable employers, as the scheme grows.

Chair of Governors Shaid Mahmood awarded MBE

Chair of Luminate Education Group, Dr Shaid Mahmood, has been awarded an MBE for Services to Education in the 2023 New Year Honours list. 

Shaid is the Chair of the Board of Directors at Luminate Education Group and has worked in a diverse range of senior roles in science and industry, in local government and in further and higher education.

Committed to making a positive difference to the lives of others, he is hugely passionate about the power of education and skills to transform the lives of individuals and families least advantaged in society.

Shaid said he was humbled and overwhelmed by the honour.

“I’ve accepted it in memory of my late mother, my family and friends who have supported me and to the many dedicated, hardworking board members, staff, leaders, and managers that have contributed so much to the cause and taught me so much on the way. It’s been a privilege to lead them. This honour is dedicated to them all.”

Shaid is the Pro Vice Chancellor of Durham University and the Chair of the National Association of Colleges (AoC).

As a governor and Chair of the Luminate Education Group, Shaid is also Chair of the group’s Governance & Nominations Committee, a member of the group Finance Committee and Group Remuneration Committee and is a member of the Leeds Conservatoire Board of Directors.

Shaid’s title recognises his work across Leeds and further afield to advance further education. 

David Hughes, Chief Executive of the AoC commented: “I am also pleased to see AoC chair Shaid Mahmood has been made an MBE for his work guiding AoC and as an education leader.”

Find out more about Shaid’s life and work.

Luminate Education Group launches first employer board

We have launched an employer board to ensure the courses we offer are aligned with industry needs across the region. 

The Luminate Employer Board consists of organisations such as Leeds Health and Care Academy, Colas and Bradford Manufacturing Week, to oversee the development of courses in crucial sectors such as digital, engineering, manufacturing, health and more.

The new-look board is a direct response to the Skills for Jobs White Paper and Skills and Post-16 Education Bill, which requires colleges to review how well the education or training provided by the institution meets local needs.

As part of the new structure, employers will be able to influence curriculum and its delivery to ensure that it meets labour market needs. 

Bill Jones, Deputy CEO of Luminate Education Group and Vice Chair of the board, said: “By working together, we will not only create a blueprint for the future of skills but also contribute to our productivity levels in the region.

“The board comes at an opportune time where we will be able to work closely with employers who will not only influence the design of curriculum across a range of key sectors, but who will be key to helping us understand the gaps and needs of each industry as a whole, particularly crucial sectors such as digital.

“We’re committed to driving the skills agenda forward and providing sought-after skills for the economy and employers. Addressing the digital skills gap and the changing nature of work is one of our key priorities and we will work together to ensure that we are transforming lives through education.”

Michelle Stanley

Michelle Stanley, Head of Leeds One Workforce Programme, at Leeds Health and Care Academy said: “We are delighted to be part of Luminate’s employer board. The group works with a wide range of employers, and we have had the opportunity to work collaboratively with them through the Yorkshire Centre for Training and Development.

“We look forward to working with and building relationships that will play a major role in helping us collectively deliver in-demand skills that are in line with the levelling up agenda, and that will cement further success for the region.

The board’s long-term goals include providing a mechanism for employers to provide feedback on their skills and training requirements as well as to contribute to curriculum design, delivery and assessment, particularly apprenticeships, higher apprenticeships, T Levels, Higher Technical Qualifications (HTQs) and other vocational / technical qualifications. 

Carbon-neutral by 2035 – our pledge on sustainability

Luminate Education Group has vowed to become a net zero organisation by 2035.

Our newly agreed Climate Emergency and Sustainable Development Pledge spells out our commitment to hit the target by taking group-wide action to cut carbon emissions.

“Climate change and ecological destruction are some of the biggest challenges of our time.

“Schools, colleges and universities, like all institutions, have a responsibility to address them; and to meet the UK government’s target to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

“Luminate Education Group seeks to do so much sooner.”

We will achieve net zero when the amount of greenhouse gases that we are producing is equal to or less than those we are removing from the atmosphere. 

Wide-ranging actions to hit our target

Some of the main steps we will be taking to achieve the goal by 2035 or earlier – the pledge also includes an aspirational date of 2030 – include:

  • Changing our estate and buildings to become more energy efficient, reduce waste and generate their own energy
  • Developing sustainable travel plans for each of our sites
  • Embedding sustainability and green activities into staff development, student life and across our curriculum
  • Encouraging biodiversity on our sites, ensuring areas are dedicated to wildlife and planting
  • Partnering with organisations that value sustainability and hold events to support climate action

Our members will continue to provide, and develop, the green skills instruction that our students and partners need to thrive in a zero carbon economy too. And carbon literacy training will be offered to all our students.

Regular updates on progress

To monitor progress, we are also committed to measuring our carbon footprint – benchmark data is currently being collated – and publishing the findings regularly.

Looking ahead, the pledge – formulated by our Climate Emergency Committee – adds: “We will commit to our pledge and develop a detailed roadmap to outline the actions, resources, time and behaviours that will be necessary to achieve our objectives.

“We can’t do this alone. We will work with stakeholders, businesses and our community through networks, events and advocacy.”

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