October marks Black History Month, a momentous occasion to recognise and celebrate the invaluable contributions of black people to British society. This year the campaign is focusing on celebrating the exceptional achievements of black women and #salutingoursisters.
At WM College we celebrate the culture, history and vibrant diversity of the local communities within Camden and the surrounding areas. We believe the diversity of our staff and learners is one of our strengths. We are an open and inclusive place to work and study, where regardless of faith, age, gender expression, race, ability, disability, sexual orientation, and economic status, all are welcomed. WM College is an environment where people feel valued, experience a sense of belonging and are empowered to move forward positively in their lives.
To celebrate Black History Season we are once again welcoming guest speaker Natty Mark Samuels from African School to host a series of FREE afternoon workshops, using chant, short prose and brain teasers, to celebrate the spiritual significance of the flora of Africa and the Caribbean, part of Rootical Folklore. Details of Natty Mark Samuel’s talks below.
Thursday 5 October Sisalana Dance: Plants of Caribbean Carnival
Thursday 12 October The Coffee Bean Chant: Plants of the Female Deities
Thursday 19 October Evening with Kuya: Plants of the Surinamese Maroons
Thursday 2 November The Guavaberry Workshop: Plants of African and Caribbean Christmas
We believe learning shouldn’t be limited to the classroom. As part of WM College Plus, co-funded by the GLA and generous benefactors, we are investing in improvements to our College that enables the development of a joined up learning offer. Creating links between taught classes, learning resources and study spaces such as the Library, the Learning Centre and the Maurice Hall.
Our Historic Library
The library is the historic heart of the College and has some incredible resources which tell the story of WM College from its inception in 1854. It’s essential to develop the balance between celebrating our history whilst also creating an improved space that provides learners with the resources for successful study. That’s why in 2023/24 the library is undergoing a complete refurbishment!
The tasteful and subtle developments by Atomik Architects will provide additional study spaces for working in small groups, improved desk areas for independent study and a new area for specialist talks and events. The aim is for the library to become a central space for the College bringing our heritage to life through more active use.
The renovation will be subtle and respectful of the original historic features, but aims to make a big impact on learners experience.
What to expect:
Restoration of the bookcases and parquet flooring to reinstate their original splendour
Study desks restored and fitted with brass lighting to illuminate work areas while providing ambient lighting
New power and data sockets
Alcoves for 1-1 tutorials, private work and small meetings
Reduced shelving to make the whole library more open and accessible
A warm colour scheme bringing through hues of green to complement the natural wood
New comfortable meeting area including soft furnishings – sofas, rugs and ambient lighting
A new purpose-built reception desk
a small suite of PCs and a printing area.
A comfortable, furnished reading area
Work has already begun on the refurbishment with the new an improved space due to open in November 2023. In the meantime there is a temporary Library for learners to borrow books and pay for photocopying/printing in room 304, opening hours can be found here. Access to computers and MACs will only be available in the Learning Centre. Due to limited space in the College, we are unable to provide an alternative quiet study space while the Library is closed.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti was a founding member of the Pre-Raphaelites brotherhood and married Elizabeth Siddal, an influential model, muse and artist in her own right. Siddal most famously posed for John Everett Millais‘s Ophelia, in which she floated in a bathtub full of water to portray the drowning Ophelia. She became an icon of the Pre-Raphaelite movement and was perhaps the most significant of the female models who posed for them. Their ideas of female beauty were fundamentally influenced and personified by her.
The connection between Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Elizabeth Siddal and WM College is noted in Tate Britian’s recent exhibition ‘The Rossettis’ in which the romance and radicalism of the Rossetti generation is explored. During the exhibition there is a room dedicated to Rossetti and Siddal’s relationship and her untimely death, aged just 32. On the night of Siddal’s death, Rossetti and Siddal had gone for dinner before Rossetti went on to teach at Working Men’s College. On his return, Rossetti found Siddal unconscious with an empty bottle of laudanum beside her. A doctor treated Elizabeth, but she died the following morning. The Rossetti’s exhibition runs until Sunday 24th September 2023.
We’re very proud of our long and rich history at WM College and strive to protect it. That’s why we have invested in a complete refurbishment of our history library for 2023/24 academic year. The library is the historic heart of WM College and has some incredible resources which tell the story of the College from its inception in 1854. The tasteful developments by Atomik Architects will provide additional study spaces for working in small groups, improved desk areas for independent study and a new area for specialist talks and events. The aim is for the library to become a central space for the College bringing our heritage to life through more active use.
WM College has teamed up with the Good Things Foundation to address the digital and data disparities among economically disadvantaged learners who don’t have access to PCs or laptops at home. As part of this initiative, Lenovo Yoga 370 laptops were donated, and in July, twenty laptops were generously provided to select low-income learners.
These laptops come equipped with SIM card slots and have been furnished with a Vodafone SIM card, preloaded with 30GB of monthly data for six months.
This is a significant step towards providing a more equitable learning environment for our learners since access to adequate technological resources has been identified as a major obstacle to their educational progress.
What our learners said:
“This is very helpful for me as my laptop has been broken and unable to use for a long time, I have not been able to join classes online from home and have had to commute a long way often to join classes. I am so happy and grateful.” – Tensu Sebhatu Bayru
“I have never won anything before or had my own laptop to use, I have also used other peoples or borrowed them. It feels surreal that I will have my own laptop that I can keep myself and use for my work.” – Moses Dada
“I am very grateful to have received the laptop and will be using it in the following year to carry on with my classes. This will be very beneficial for me as I do not have a laptop at home to complete my work correctly.” – Natalia Saavedra Stange
I am thrilled to extend my warmest greetings and introduce myself as the new Principal of WM College. It is with immense excitement and a sense of profound responsibility that I start on this journey as a leader of our college’s rich legacy and its bright future.
Firstly, I would like to express my deep gratitude for the warm welcome and overwhelming support I have received from the Governors and colleagues. Right from the start I have been struck by the spirit of community and excellence that defines our college.
Allow me to share a bit about myself. I come to WM College with nearly 30 years of experience in adult education, holding various leadership roles throughout my career. My educational philosophy is firmly rooted in the belief that education is a transformative force, which is a commitment to nurturing not only the minds but also the well-being of our learners. I want us to be a college where every individual can thrive, regardless of their background or circumstances. Together, we will work towards creating an environment that fosters inclusivity, diversity, and equity, allowing each student to reach their full potential. Over the coming months, I am eager to engage with each one of you – staff, learners, partners, and our wider community. Meaningful collaboration is the cornerstone of progress, and I look forward to listening to your ideas, aspirations, and concerns.
While the challenges facing further education today are significant, I am confident that, with your dedication and resilience, we can navigate them successfully. We will explore new ways to enhance our academic programs, embrace innovative teaching methodologies, and provide learners with the skills they need to thrive in a rapidly changing world.
My vision for WM College is to build upon the solid foundation and lead our institution to new heights of achievement. Together, we will focus on the following key areas:
Academic Excellence: We will continue to foster an environment where learning is not just a means to an end but a lifelong journey.
Inclusivity and Diversity: We are committed to creating an inclusive environment where everybody feels they belong.
Community Engagement: We are not just an institution; we are a part of a larger community. We will actively engage with our local community and contribute positively to its growth and development.
Learner Success: Our goal is to empower our learners to succeed academically and personally. We will provide them with the necessary resources and support to reach their full potential.
I believe that achieving these goals requires a collaborative effort. I am eager to work closely with our Governors, staff, learners, partners, and the broader community to make WM College a beacon of excellence in education.
I am excited about the journey ahead and the opportunity to serve as your principal. Together, we will continue to inspire, innovate, and excel.
Thank you once again for your warm welcome, and I look forward to meeting each of you in person soon.
The partnership between Joana Monteiro and WM College will offer a free “Make Your Portrait with Fabric” workshop on Saturday 2nd September at the Camden Inspire Festival, Buck Street. The session will be held between 1pm and 4pm for anyone to join, regardless of age and ability to create their portrait. More workshops will follow around Camden. These portraits will then be sewn together to create a beautiful piece of art that represents Camden, the diversity of its residents and their amazing skills.
In support of the project WM College is providing advice from our fashion and textiles experts on materials and how to make the most of them, advice on quilt making processes, a member of our team to support at the workshops, as well as the use of our fashion and textiles studios to sew the portraits together. Fashion and textiles learners have also been invited to get involved to offer their skills and gain experience creating a community art piece.
On this partnership, Joana Monteiro said:
“It’s great to be partnering with the Working Men’s College. I’m so excited about the project, and I am so glad that we are doing it together. We’re hopeful that this will attract lots of people who want to make their portrait and that we will have a beautiful piece of art at the end that represents Camden and the diversity of its residents. I love the idea that this could become a longer lasting piece of art.”
As the world recovers from the impact of the pandemic, WM College reported an important milestone in 2023 by achieving over 10,000 enrolments in this academic year. This matches the pre-pandemic numbers and signals increased confidence in returning to learning at this historic establishment with campuses in Camden and in Kentish Town.
The board of governors and the Interim Principal Maria Rosenthal were buoyed by the figures, which show not only increased confidence of learners but also the impact and relevance of the curriculum in the post-pandemic era. Ms Rosenthal commented: “For the College to have achieved over 10,000 enrolments this year is no mean feat, and we are really boosted by the fact so many people from our communities are developing themselves and their life opportunities by studying with us at WM College.”
She continued: “We did everything we could during the pandemic to move courses online and continue to engage with our learners during lockdown, but we noted reticence from many to return to classroom learning due to ongoing concerns around the virus. It has been really uplifting to feel the buzz around the college and classrooms and studios brimming with learners of all ages and abilities. We also responded very quickly to the need for additional English courses for the Ukranian refugees who arrived in Camden last year. Our dedicated ESOL team rose to the challenge and managed to support hundreds of Ukranian learners into English classes throughout the academic year.”
Maria concluded: “We really are a college for the community and strive to make our courses accessible to all and relevant to our local community. We are building strong links with local businesses as well as supporting learners into employment through our employability classes. We also have a Get Into Learning series delivered in community locations throughout the area. We look forward to welcoming even more learners into the College next year and our team of advisers are available all summer to provide information, advice and guidance.”
We’re thrilled to announce not one, not two, but four WM College Printmaking students have been selected to display their work at the prestigious Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair (WCPF) and another has been shortlisted. The talented learners selected are Kerry Sharpe, Loraine Monke, Theresa Schippel, Simon Conti and Olivia Amiel.
Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair was established in 2016 and has become the UK’s largest fair or its kind, offering affordable, limited edition original fine art prints from over 500 emerging artists. Their mission is to educate collectors and novices alike on printmaking processes and techniques whilst given artists a platform. Those who exhibit are given a spotlight to be discovered and exhibit alongside some of the most prominent international printmakers and specialist dealers. This is a brilliant opportunity for our printmakers and we’re extremely proud.
Pop along and see their work and perhaps buy a print or two from 26 – 29 October 2023, details can be found here. If you’re looking to hone your printmaking skills and learn new techniques, why not check out our wide selection of Printmaking and Etching courses. We offer courses in etching, photoetching, photopolymer, lino, dry point and other relief processes. Enrol before 9 September 2023 to receive a 10% early enrolment discount.
On Friday 7th July WM College celebrated its annual Learner Awards, showcasing the amazing achievements of learners and staff during the current academic year. The event as always was a heart-warming occasion, packed with inspirational stories from the WM College community about how their lives have been improved through learning.
The College was delighted to welcome special guest Mayor of Camden, Councillor Nazma Rahman who opened proceedings with an inspiring message retelling her experience of studying at WM College and how adult education changes lives.
Councillor Nazma Rahman said:
“My goal is to inspire my community and remind them that there are no age limits, if you set yourself targets you will achieve them with the right support. WM College provides that support, all you have to do is ask for it.
Studying as an adult can be hard with the busy lives we lead, but education is the key to opening your future. At WM College there is such a vast array of courses to choose from and any of them will provide you with skills for life, whether that’s industry skills or social skills. You’ll build your confidence, make new friends and who knows where it will take you. The team here are extremely inclusive and can even support with financial costs of your education.
My advice is always aim higher, don’t underestimate yourselves. I studied as an adult, and it’s the best thing I did for myself. Don’t give up, you can reach your goals regardless of the obstacles that may be in your way and WM College will help ensure that happens.”
We also heard moving stories from ‘How WM College Changed My Life’ nominations. Runner-up Iryna Kovalchuk told her experience of fleeing war-stricken Ukraine and how enrolling on an ESOL course at WM College helped her build confidence, make friends, and focus on something for herself. She said, “WM College didn’t change my life, it brought me back to life.”
The winner of ‘How WM Changed My Life Awards, Fatima Abdulkadir moved the audience with her story of developing confidence and learning to love herself through education.
Here is Fatma’s story:
“WM College has had a big impact on me in so many ways, especially on my emotional, mental, and physical health. It opened a new world, and it helped me to escape my abusive marriage.
Despite the challenges, I never quit college. I stayed and continued to study. That’s when I met my tutor, Carol, who encouraged me not to give up. I had no self-esteem or confidence in myself, and I couldn’t have made it without the help of all the staff at Working Men’s College. The College was a safe place for me.
Through studying English Functional Skills, I was able to improve my skills and also start journaling, which helped me to express myself. I gained confidence and self-esteem, and slowly I’m coming out from my old self. I’ve made friends here and I’ve learnt things I never knew. I even started to love myself, I didn’t think that was possible.
One thing I have learnt and realised in life and from studying at WM College is that the people you keep around you are important – hold on to the ones that encourage and push you to be a better person and motivate you to believe in yourself. So, I want to say thank you to all the people I’ve met at WM College. Without this college, I would not be who I am today. I have come a long way from where I was seven years ago. “
Congratulations to all our runners-up and winners, we’re proud of every single one of you!
On Thursday 22nd June 2023 WM College held the annual private view for the 2022/23 Foundation Art and Design Diploma(FAD) end of year exhibition. The exhibition is the finale of an explorative and exciting year for FAD learners.
The one-year UAL validated course provides learners with the opportunity to explore many different creative disciplines. During the final term learners hone their skills and choose an area of creative specialism for the final major project. Artworks created for the final major project are displayed in the end of year show, providing a great opportunity for learners to gain an understanding of how best to display their work, develop curatorial skills and learn promotional tactics. This year we’ve seen some incredible artworks produced from large scale installations to Islamic inspired paper sculptures to intricate illustrations and textile work.
During this Level 3 qualification learners are encouraged to explore ideas and processes that underpin professional practice in all the creative industries and build a strong portfolio of work. The course also develops learners’ creative practice ready for entry to university, art school, training, and employment.
WM College is very proud of the 2022/23 Foundation Art and Design Diploma cohort who are set to achieve great things in their creative futures. Below are just a few examples of what lies ahead for this year’s learners.
If you’re looking to explore your creative practice and jump start your career within the creative industries join us for our next Foundation Art and Design Diploma Talk & Tour on Wednesday 4 October 2023, 2-4 pm. More information can be found here.