The special guests headlining this year’s Student Conference are…

The special guests headlining this year’s Student Conference are…

A leading line up of national and local community champions are bringing students a landmark event for the College calendar that promises to be bigger and better than ever before.

This year the Student Conference is being opened up to even more learners due to its scheduling over the Microsoft Showcase College’s Teams platform on Thursday 11th February.

Following a welcome by the College Principal and CEO James Scott, learners will be able to break out into virtual rooms to quiz leading lights: MP Kate Green on her political journey, the Association of College’s North West director Richard Caulfield on his work as mental health lead, entrepreneur and influencer Oba Akinwale on events and public speaking, assistant site manager of Stockport College’s £24m redevelopment Seddon’s Zoe McArdle on construction work in a male-dominated industry, and the Manager of Nationwide Gayle Bray, for insights into working in financial management.

Soundbites are also expected to play from peers to inspire learners about the opportunities College life has to offer and all participants will be given the chance to get their voices heard via online feedback forms.

Student Engagement and Student Voice Lead, Michelle McLaughlin, said: “This is a key opportunity to get student voices out there and celebrate how our young people have demonstrated our college values during these challenging times.”

Students interested in participating in this year’s Student Conference should contact their tutors to register.

Guest Bios

MP Kate Green

Kate Green was elected MP for Stretford and Urmston in May 2010. She was re-elected in 2015, 2017 and 2019. Kate joined Keir Starmer’s shadow cabinet as Shadow Secretary of State for Education in June 2020. Prior to her election, Kate was Chief Executive of the Child Poverty Action Group, and before that Director of the National Council for One Parent Families (now Gingerbread). She is a long-standing advocate for families and children, and campaigner against poverty and inequality. She is a former chair of the all-party parliamentary group on poverty, and served as a member of the London Child Poverty Commission and the Greater Manchester Poverty Commission. She was previously a member of the National Employment Panel which advised ministers on labour market policies. Kate was chair of the Fabian Society from 2016-18 and remains a member of its executive committee. She served as a magistrate for 16 years and takes a particular interest in the experience of women in the penal system, and how best to rehabilitate them to prevent reoffending.

Oba Akinwale – Loud Speaker

In my time so far, I have spent two years as the Deputy President of the University of Liverpool, started an events company and digital marketing agency as well as Loud Speaker – a public speaking and confidence-building workshop that delivers across the country. Students can expect to gain an insight on my two favourite topics: having the confidence to set up your own business and speaking in a way to make people listen. Any students who have ideas worth hearing or dreams of working for themselves can learn how to get started, hear some of the ups and downs I’ve faced and, most importantly, learn from my mistakes!

Richard Caulfield – Association of Colleges

Richard Caulfield has been the North West Area Director for the Association of Colleges for over six years working closely with all the further education colleges within the region. He also leads the AoC’s work on mental health, he instigated the AoC MH Charter, which has been signed by 170 colleges and has helped the colleges in Greater Manchester develop successful mental health projects over the last two years with resources from the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership.

Gayle Bray - Nationwide

I have worked for Nationwide for over 20 years and been a manager for 16 years of these. I believe in the Nationwide brand and being part of the community, we live and work in. Being a leader and developing a team to be the best they can is part of the role I enjoy; over the years I have helped many people with their career development. Growing our membership through great service is something I am passionate about. Outside of work I am a mother of two boys who are 14 and 18 and love going on holidays with my family. I support the Wolves and love reading books.

Zoe McArdle - Seddons

Zoe McArdle is currently the Assistant Site Manager for Seddons Construction and is working on the Stockport College redevelopment. Zoe aimed for a career in the construction industry and set her sights on developing her skills and knowledge to achieve her goals. She works in a traditionally male-dominated industry and will share her journey and her insights into the industry. Zoe is 25 years old and is currently studying for her Masters at De Montfort University.