Gary Hunter has been named as the new vice principal for hospitality and adult learning at Westminster Kingsway College, London, taking over, in a revised role, from Geoff Booth, who left at the end of the last academic year.
Hunter will be expected to be mobile between all four campuses, but particularly Victoria and Soho, where the school of languages is based (directly behind Yauatcha). There is currently no catering provision at this site but Hunter believes there is real potential for an extension of the Victoria site at this location.
Commenting on the new role, Hunter said: "It is a slightly different role in that it's not just hospitality and higher education, I will also be responsible for the school of languages, access courses, and business and IT courses. This also includes childcare as we have a crèche at Regent's Park to support adult education during the day."
The college has undergone has administrative changes following a three-year refurbishment programme. Terry Tinton is now head of faculty for hospitality, Culinary Arts, Business and IT, with higher education provision including hospitality and culinary arts at degree level alongside the college's access provision under one manager.
"This has already made a raft of differences," said Hunter. "In terms of continuity, and getting the higher education team delivering some of the access curriculum, so the access students know what to aspire to."
Hunter sits on the Savoy Educational Trusts' advisory panel, and is determined to make mentoring a focus of his new role.
"We've done some research on how mentoring works in the industry, with some really good examples of best practice already in the industry such as the St Julian's Scholarship, The Caterer's Acorn Awards and the Academy of Culinary Arts apprenticeship scheme. But we need a stronger wider remit to be able to make more of a difference with mentorship, especially in further and higher education," adds Hunter.
"We are looking to bring the industry closer into the college to provide leadership and mentorship. But we want to ensure that mentorship doesn't just stop after a student graduates, it should carry on throughout their career. A mentor needs to be outside your company or business and I hope to set a scheme up here that allows all of our graduates to have a mentor to support them throughout their career."
Hunter plans to work even closer to the industry he serves by capitalising on the new college environment, and challenges the industry to tell him what skill sets the students need for the future in an ever changing world.
"Do employers want our students to have more business skills, do they need to be more entrepreneurial, should they have some marketing skills and should we be providing the students with some code knowledge in order to build websites?"
A new advisory panel has been set up at the college which includes hospitality representatives, David Mulcahy, culinary director at Sodexo and Julia Sibley, chief executive of the Savoy Educational Trust, as part of a six-person panel to help the college inform the curriculum and advise on future developments.
Hunter also works closely with People 1st and is a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Cooks and is proud to have recently launched two new apprenticeships schemes from the College with The League of Club Chefs and The Worshipful Company of Cooks.
The college has also recently launched a program with the Food Teachers Centre, which will allow them to support the teachers delivering food at GCSE level in schools; providing a venue for the Food Teachers Centre to meet and creating seminars, demos and skills development for individuals involved.