College duo make a big impression at national conference

Published: October 25, 2019

Two Telford College students have received glowing feedback after speaking at a national conference.

Armando Leger and Karim Awad were given a standing ovation when they represented the college at the ESFA Further Education Directorate staff conference in Sheffield.

Armando, who is on a sport and public uniformed services course, and A level student Karim, spoke about the power of education in front of hundreds of delegates.

Karim, left, and Armando | Telford College

Karim, left, and Armando | Telford College

The session focused on the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, which works with people from disadvantaged backgrounds aged from 13-20, promoting opportunity and a fairer society.

It looked at how further education colleges and funding agencies can work more closely to encourage students to take the right path in life.

Armando, 17, was born in the Dominican Republic before growing up in Italy, and now lives in Apley.

He said: “I was asked if I’d speak at the conference by my learner manager Ash Bowler. At first I was shocked, as English isn’t my first language which made it a bit daunting, but once I got on stage I was fine, and I’m proud of myself for doing it.”

Karim, 18, originally from Egypt and now living in Wellington, said: “It was an amazing experience to represent the college and have my voice heard, especially in front of over 250 delegates which included principals and people who have the power to improve further education.

“I spoke about how education in England is taken for granted. In Egypt education is very expensive and is at a low standard with no career direction.

“Telford College isn’t like that – it’s practical with lots of advice on life skills and how to enhance your future and have a good career.”

Graham Guest, Telford College principal and chief executive who was among the audience, said: “Both Karim and Armando spoke about the power of education and the positive impact it can have on young people’s lives, including their own experiences.

“They were confident, eloquent and passionate about their education at Telford College – what it has offered them already, and how far it can take them in the future.

“They were amazing ambassadors for Telford College and they received a standing ovation at the end of their speeches – apparently the first the conference had ever seen!”

Mr Guest also gave the closing speech at the conference session, reflecting on his own career which has included working with some of the most deprived areas in London.

“The experience of talking to both staff and students who lost relatives through violent crime is something you can’t read in a book, and helps guide students to ensure they take the right path, and change lives,” he said.

Shaz Ghalib, Territorial Manager in the West Midlands team at the Further Education Directorate, added: “Both students received glowing feedback from the delegates at the conference.

“The feedback from my FED colleagues was also overwhelmingly positive as they were most taken aback by Armando and Karim.  The level of confidence, articulation and meaningful messaging that they conveyed was second to none.

“Many thought they were simply exceptional, and were sincerely humbled by their respective experiences.”

The conference was organised by the Education Skills Funding Agency, and held at Sheffield City Hall.

If you’ve been inspired by this story and are interested in exploring the college in more detail, please register for our next open event on 20th November from 5pm.