Judith Gaskell PR
Judith Gaskell PR

Here's the latest pr news from Cambridge PR clients

 

September 2017

 

 

CAMBRIDGE ARCHITECTS UP FOR TWO MORE NATIONAL AWARDS

 

A development of four five-bedroom houses in Chesterton designed by Cambridge-based PiP Architecture has been shortlisted for its third national award.

 

Park View in Church Street, Chesterton, has been shortlisted for the Award for Excellence in Architectural Technology 2017 by the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT) and the Small Housing Development Award from the Brick Development Association.  These follow on from it winning a Silver in the WhatHouse? Awards for Best House in the country.

 

 Completed in March 2016, Park View was built on the former site of a 1950s detached house that had fallen into disrepair and provides open plan living across multiple floors. Split-level floors come off a glazed stairwell and are separated by glazed screens that allow natural daylight to flood through the houses from the southern elevations. The design was also required to create adequate accommodation within the space and respect the constraints of the conservation area within which the site lies. Sustainability issues were also key, with the harvesting of natural resources integrated within the building’s design and the use of highly sustainable and UK manufactured materials.

 

Says PiP Director Chris Senior: “We are delighted to be nominated for these second and third awards for Park View.  The development is a perfect example of what we are about at PiP, combining creative form with practical function while always ensuring we are sympathetic to the constraints of the site and putting an emphasis on sustainability.”

 

PiP Architecture is an experienced architecture practice located on Belmont Place in central Cambridge offering designs from conception through to planning, construction and contract administration. It specialises in modern, cost-effective urban designs on sites throughout Cambridge, Cambridgeshire and the wider East Anglia region.

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 2017

 

 

 

CCSS student wins top award for outstanding A Level results

 

 

A former student of Cambridge Centre for Sixth-from Studies (CCSS) has won the top prize for outstanding A Level results from CIFE, the professional association for independent sixth-form colleges.

 

Techin Tungcharernpaisarn, who comes from Thailand and is now reading Materials Science at Oxford University, won the CIFE Gold Award after achieving A* grades at A Levels in Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry last summer. He dropped only 26 out of a total of 2400 available marks, gaining full marks in many of his papers. As well as his studies he also won gold awards in the Chemistry Olympiad in both years of his sixth form, a gold award in the Cambridge Chemistry challenge and a gold certificate in the UK Senior Maths Challenge. 

 

Says CCSS Principal Stuart Nicholson: “Throughout his time at CCSS Techin impressed all his teachers and his peers with his intelligence, his diligence and his positive attitude. His university professor reports that he is already making his mark as a scholar of the highest calibre.”

 

Techin was presented with his award by Lord Lexden, a former General Secretary of the Independent Schools Council (ISC) and Honorary President of CIFE, at a ceremony at the House of Lords along with 17 other students from CIFE-affiliated colleges from around the country.

 

Says Lord Lexden: "Year after year statistics produced by leading international organisations show that our independent schools and colleges provide an education that ranks among the best in the world. No wonder families here and abroad are so keen to send their children to CIFE’s successful member colleges. Their outstanding A Level results prove once again that they have fulfilled the trust placed in them. Their mingling of great talents and different cultures helps enrich our country and other nations. That is why CIFE champions easier visa arrangements for able young people who come to study here and deplores the inclusion of these most welcome guests in the official migration figures.”

 

Commenting on his award Techin said: “I was very surprised that I was awarded this gold prize. I only learnt a few weeks ago from my mother that there was only one winner and it is a great honour. I learnt so much at CCSS over the last few years at CCSS, which contributed enormously to my success.  I would like to thank all my  teachers who were very supportive and answered all my awkward questions.” 

 

 

 

August 2015

 

Sixth-form head enters debate with alumnus - the immigration minister

A local sixth-form principal has had an exchange of letters with one of his own former students – now the Immigration Minister – in a bid to ensure the UK is more welcoming to genuine international students.

 

Stuart Nicholson, Principal of CCSS (Cambridge Centre for Sixth-form Studies) as well as the Chairman of CIFE (The Council for Independent Education) and Chairman-elect of the Independent Schools Association, wrote to Immigration Minster James Brokenshire to urge the Government not to include students in net migration figures, which he believes has resulted in visa regulations becoming far too restrictive. “No international student at CCSS, nor at any of the independent schools in which I have worked or know through the ISA, is anything but an asset to the UK,” he wrote. “This is not just in terms of the income that accrues to the UK from them being here, but perhaps more importantly their lifetime influence as ambassadors for the UK when they return home, as indeed almost all of them do. HM Government recognises the potential growth in educational services but unhelpful and indeed counterproductive immigration policies will not help us achieve that growth. We in the Independent sector can play a significant part in contributing to that growth.”

 

In response Mr Brokenshire wrote, “Like other migrants, international students who stay for longer than 12 months have an impact on communities, infrastructure and services while they are here, so it is right that they are included in the net migration count.” He believed that while many who stay bring welcome skills, others do not. “Many more overstay and do not leave when they should. Therefore student emigration, or the lack of it, is a key driver of overall net migration.”

 

Commenting on Mr Brokenshire’s response Mr Nicholson said: “While I completely understand the Government’s need to tackle abuse of the student visa system these moves have also had an impact on genuine students who want to come here for a world class education and have much to offer the UK. Unfortunately additional proposed restrictions from the Home Secretary, including cutting the length of study visas and making the move from further education to university more difficult will only continue to hit the wrong targets.”

 

James Brokenshire studied A Levels at CCSS from 1985 to 1986 and gave a group of current CCSS politics students a private audience at the House of Commons earlier this year along with fellow MP and CCSS alumnus Charlie Elphicke. “It was a pleasure to welcome students from CCSS to Westminster earlier in the year,” Mr Brokenshire wrote in a personal addition to his letter.

 

July 2015

 

“Medical students want to do good, not earn six figure salaries” says head of sixth form association

This year’s A-Level students hoping to get into medical school are not motivated by money, so a freezing of salaries could mean more places for talented students and an answer to the NHS funding crisis the head of an association of independent sixth-form colleges has said.

Stuart Nicholson, Principal of CCSS (Cambridge Centre for Sixth-form Studies) and chairman of the Council for Independent Education CIFE) says that he and other sixth-form heads are seeing an increasing number of talented students missing out on a place at medical school at a time when there is a shortage of GPs and a commitment from Government to 24 hour care. “I have discussed the issue of the training of doctors with College Principals who are preparing students every year for the very competitive process of medical school application,” he says.  “If you look at the data on applications to medical schools it is clear how oversubscribed these places are. It is not unusual for university medicine courses to have 15 times as many applicants as there are places. Clearly there is no shortage of young people wanting to enter the medical profession, but there is a lack of training opportunities to produce the number of doctors that we believe we need.”

Nicholson believes the solution is quite simple. “I think the solution to the provision of medical services is actually fairly straightforward, although it is politically fraught, and requires a courageous approach towards some of society’s stronger vested interests.  Whilst it may be politically too sensitive to suggest cutting pay, I am very confident that if doctors’ pay were frozen it would be very many years before there were even a slight impact on applications to medical school. In real terms we could have 10 or 20% more doctors within the same overall budget if the pay were 10 or 20% lower.”

Not only would this solve the issue it would ensure that talented students are able to pursue their chosen career: “The six-figure salaries are not what attracts them; in my view, resources that are currently shared out amongst our relatively small number of doctors could be spread more widely without any drop in applications for medical training or loss of quality. What Heads know is that every year there are thousands of talented and committed young people who would love to start training as doctors. It is they who represent the solution to the GP shortage, it is they who represent the possibility of seven day a week provision and it is they who deserve our government’s support to encourage them in the careers that we so clearly need them to follow.”

 

The Council for Independent Education (CIFE) CIFE is the professional association for Independent Sixth-form Colleges.

 

June 2015

 

Local businesses offered chance to be part of Polar adventure

Local businesses are being invited to get involved in a Cambridge-led expedition to the South Pole to commemorate the centenary of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s heroic adventure.

The expedition aims to complete the arduous final 100 nautical miles to the South Pole .It will also  be raising funds to create a lasting legacy of the original expedition.  Participants in the expedition include local entrepreneur Tim Holmes, of Endurance Estates, who has a family connection to Sir James Wordie; David Henry of Savills and Addenbrooke’s surgeon Dr Patrick Gillespie. The team is being led by explorer David Hempleman-Adams. . The Endurance 100 Expedition takes place between 25 November and 19 December 2015 and will involve spending approximately 10 days skiing across the inhospitable polar ice cap as a self-supporting group in temperatures that can reach as low as minus 30C. Training is already well underway, including trips to both Scotland and Greenland. Once in Antarctica, team members also intend to carry out their own studies, including psychological evaluation of stress in extreme environments.

Although the expedition is self-funded there are a number of ways in which businesses and individuals can become involved. These include making a financial contribution towards the cost (several team members can only make the trip if they can raise sufficient funds), donating or sponsoring equipment and supporting the legacy.  In return, businesses will have their name and logo prominently displayed in marketing material and the team will provide regular updates on their progress, including from Antarctica.   Corporate and equipment sponsors can also receive high quality, bespoke photos of their brand  prominently displayed at the South Pole.  In addition, expedition members will be available to key  supporters, both before and after this amazing  journey, to provide presentations and articles about the Expedition.

There is also an opportunity for sponsoring company staff or clients to participate in the expedition training, as well as to attend a supporters’ cocktail reception in October 2015, at the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge. .This will provide a private view of their latest exhibition celebrating  the centenary of the original expedition.  The reception will be addressed by the 2015 expedition member, and well-known ex –SAS author Andy McNab.

Support is also needed to help create a digital archive of the historical papers from members the Endurance Expedition. They include Journals of Sir James Wordie, the chief scientist of the original Shackleton expedition and Master of St.John’s College Cambridge between 1952 and 1959 His granddaughter is participating in the expedition.

Says Tim Holmes: “This offers an exciting and very relevant opportunity for local businesses to put their name to a worthwhile venture. This is very much a Cambridge-led event and the historical archives will also be held in Cambridge. It has modern day relevance to local businesses in terms of polar science (team members will also be carrying out their own studies while we are there) and Shackleton’s leadership ethos. And if anyone wants to do more than support us with funds but actually join us on the expedition we’d be very happy to discuss that too.”

A website detailing the goals of the expedition and the history are at www.endurance100.org.

 

 

 

 

 

Oct 2014

Mixed mode ventilation – a breath of fresh air for the office
Location, location, location might be the mantra when it comes to choosing commercial property, but businesses are increasingly looking for somewhere that also provides the best working environment.
90 Hills Road, Cambridge, for example, certainly ticks all the boxes when it comes to location (near the station, in the heart of the business community, overlooking Cambridge University Botanic Garden) but is also attracting interest for the environment it provides, including mixed mode ventilation. In a world divided by those who love a bit of fresh air circulating around a building and those who don’t, mixed mode ventilation provides the perfect solution by bringing together all the advantages of a natural ventilation system combined with those of air conditioning to provide the best of both systems.

In the system used at 90 Hills Road air quality sensors measure and control the ventilation, with natural ventilation (fresh air) provided until the CO2 levels cannot be maintained below a set level at which point the mechanical ventilation system takes over. The comfort cooling system, which is fed via air source heat pumps, then provides heating or cooling as required when the ventilation system cannot maintain the desired internal temperature conditions.  

Says Bawden Burrows of engineering and environmental consultants MLM: “This system ensures good quality air at comfortable temperatures so is ideal for typical office environments. The system has the ability for small changes to the set points to accommodate other uses of the space as may be needed in the future.”

The system has the added advantage of being energy saving, with studies by Brunel University showing  that a mixed mode cooling system can provide as much as a 41% energy saving compared to a traditional air conditioning. It also means a building can adapt to a wide range of requirements and, of increasing importance, reduce environmental impact.

For the building’s developer, Endurance Estates, it’s all part of a commitment to using technology to reduce carbon emissions and energy consumption. “Addressing the impact our buildings have on the environment is key to every development and it’s something that’s increasingly important to occupiers,” says the company’s founder Tim Holmes.

The building’s agents Savills have also found the same thing. Says the company’s William Clarke: ““We are seeing occupiers increasingly focused upon ensuring that they have a well-designed and comfortable working environment for their staff, as well as ensuring that their carbon footprint and operating costs are reduced to a minimum level possible. In this respect, 90 Hills Road with its high specification M&E (monitoring & evaluation) systems offer a unique environment to marry these factors with a high profile city centre building”


The 9030 sq ft (838 sq m) 90 Hills Road includes new windows, ceilings, lift and an impressive entrance/reception area with a dramatic marble effect wall. It has accommodation across three floors, with the second floor providing spectacular views across the Botanic Garden from a south facing roof terrace. This space can be used for office, meeting or social break out space. It also has a lower ground floor with secure and gated car and cycle parking, toilet, shower, changing facilities and plant spaces. The building has been developed by Endurance Estates and Freshwater and interiors space planned by office interior specialists COEL.

 

 

Sept 2014

Howzat! S-Tech celebrates 13 unlucky matches

While team activities are often used as a way of motivating staff, for Cambridge insurance broker S-Tech the team building has happened in an unexpected way.

Its cricket team has just finished the season without a single victory in 13 matches. But rather than leading to blame and fall outs it has led to a great upsurge in camaraderie as Darren Brignell, who arranges all the matches, explains: “We have played 13 games and although we have been unsuccessful in our attempts to gain a victory, they have proven to be great fun showing the team spirit at S-Tech extends from the office to the playing field. Hopefully next year will bring our first victory!”

With the wickets, bats and balls put away the players are now turning their attention to football, where they hope for more success. Once again led by ‘self appointed captain’ Darren, their hopes are (slightly) higher. “Our six-a-side team has been going since May 2004 and we have played over 500 games. We have been marginally more successful than the cricket team, being runners up and semi-finalists in an FA tournament and reached the semis of the charity tournament organised by Rob Lacey for local businesses and friends. We have been supporting this since it started in 2009 raising just over £15000 for prostate cancer over that period.”

 

August 2014

Private schools parents are not seeking unfair advantage over exams says head

 

The head of a Cambridge independent school has refuted claims from an unnamed state school head that independent school parents push schools to take unfair advantage of the access arrangements that allow some students to have extra time to complete exams.

Stuart Nicholson, Principal of CCSS (Cambridge Centre for Sixth-form Studies), was interviewed on the subject on BBC Radio 4 Today programme after exams regulator Ofqual announced that it was to collect information on how many private school students receive extra time in exams, compared with state pupils. In the interview he said he believed any discrepancy was likely to be down to class sizes and the fact that any difficulties a student had were more likely to be picked up. In the online report linked to the story the unnamed head said: "Kids [in the private sector are] coming from homes where parents are well resourced... pushing the institution to get access arrangements - there isn't an even playing field there at all."

Following the radio item Stuart Nicholson said: “It is certainly possible that the proportion of independent sector candidates getting extra time exceeds the proportion in the state sector, but there are very good reasons why this might be the case, and it doesn’t represent any manipulation of the system to the benefit of the independent sector.”

During his five years as Principal at CCSS Nicholson said he has never come under pressure from a parent to seek extra time for their child.  “The process invariably starts in the classroom, where teachers notice a relative underperformance in some aspect of a student’s learning.  At CCSS, where class sizes average just six, our teachers understand their students’ strengths and weaknesses incredibly well and spot problems that might be helped by the right intervention.  If we feel it is appropriate we get an Educational Psychologist to conduct a range of tests and provide us with guidance that will give teachers, parents and the student strategies to improve their progress.  It is the cumulative effect of that better learning over the course of two years that is most significant, not the addition of a few minutes in an examination at the end of the two years.”

 

The current data collected by Ofqual, says Nicholson, makes any comparison very difficult: “My interpretation of their data suggests that the proportion of 16-year-old GCSE candidates getting extra time might be between 5% and 15%.  At CCSS, our numbers are at the higher end of that range, which might seem surprising given that we have no students with Statements of Special Educational Need and that all our students are ambitious, intelligent young people with their sights set firmly on good university places.  However, we have experienced staff, working with almost unparalleled class contact time. This means they are more likely to notice any apparent learning difficulty and get it checked out.”

There is nothing surprising he says about putting bright children forward for extra time.  “Bright kids still have dyslexia and if we can help them minimise the difficulties associated with that, we should do so.”

If there are a disproportionate number of students with specific learning needs in the independent sector this could be down to the fact that some parents seek private education when their children are struggling for reasons they cannot fathom.  “The success of independent schools in supporting children with specific learning difficulties has meant that many actually specialise, either totally or in part, in that type of support.”

 

 

July 2014


Wake up to mindfulness for sleep with a free online tutorial

If the hot nights are getting you down or you're stressing about the start of the school holidays next week then Camyoga could have the answer without you having to leave home. On Tuesday they will be running a free webinar on how mindfulness can help you sleep.
The one hour online seminar will be run by Sam Thorogood, who in the past seven months has introduced the concept of mindfulness (a form of meditation used to decrease stress levels, and increase happiness and performance across all areas of life) to more than 1200 people across Cambridge organisations and community groups. Explains Sam: "The number one thing people want to use mindfulness for is help getting to sleep and sleeping for longer and more deeply. And whether they are stressed executives or over tired parents lack of sleep not only causes increased anxiety, lack of focus and attention but also long term health problems as seen in some recent studies from Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Manchester and Surrey Universities."
The webinar will show how mindfulness can help people get to sleep and improve the quality of sleep in just four minutes a day. It will cover what mindfulness is and how it can improve people’s ability to get to sleep and improve their quality of sleep.
Participants will also learn one mindfulness exercise that they can use daily to calm thoughts and relax into sleep as well as thinking about how they feel after a good night's sleep and how feeling like that more often could improve quality of life.
The webinar takes place between 8 and 9pm on Tuesday 22 July and can be accessed free of charge from www.camyoga.co.uk.

 

 

June 2014

Hotel welcomes new look reception
The reception and public areas of one of Cambridge’s best known hotels have been given a complete transformation, bringing the building back to its former glory with a contemporary twist.
The four-star Best Western Plus The Gonville Hotel on Gonville  Place, which overlooks  Parker’s Piece,  now has a spacious reception area created through raising the ceiling to its original level and exposing original walls to recreate its Regency proportions of high ceilings, coving, panelling and large windows. Soft lighting has been added with brass chandeliers and candle style wall lights and a mix of sumptuous colours and styles sofas and cushions, including a circular central sofa, subtlety patterned wallpapers and stone flooring.   This follows through to the Atrium restaurant area where brighter colours have been used on upholstered chairs. The two areas are linked seamlessly through bringing the bluey grey of the Atrium’s columns into the reception area walls with silk wallpaper. Individual items including a bespoke painted brass clock, large turquoise vases and mirror bring artisan touches to the look.
The new areas were designed by local interior designer Nicola Lovell: “The design is classic at its core with a contemporary twist,” she explains. “The area is back to how it should be, with the right proportions for the building along with a relaxed feel.  It sets the pace for the rest of the hotel, as a reception should.”
For the hotel’s General Manager Christopher Ogston, who took over at the beginning of the year, the new look is part of his plan to make The Gonville the hotel of choice in Cambridge: “Our aim is always to exceed guests’ expectations and the reception area is the first and last impression they have of the hotel,” he says. “This new look is a real change of image for us and is better than anything else in Cambridge. But of course it’s the service guests get in between arriving and leaving that really counts, and that’s one thing that hasn’t changed, with excellent service still at heart of everything we do.” The hotel has just been awarded its third Certificate of Excellence in a row from review website TripAdvisor.
The new reception and Atrium follow on from a refurbishment of the hotel’s bedrooms and next on the list is the creation of a contemporary glass porch to improve the arrival and departure experience even further.
Mr Ogston has also just been joined by a new Deputy Manager, Anna Russell. Anna has worked with the Best Western and Ramada groups for the past nine years and studied Business Management at the Lord Ashcroft International Business School at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge.

The four star Best Western Plus The Gonville Hotel is located in Cambridge’s historic city centre overlooking Parkers Piece. Facilities include 84 comfortable ensuite bedrooms with wi-fi access, restaurant, bar and conference, meeting and wedding facilities.  The Plus status is given to Best Western hotels that that offer extra style, comfort and service. The hotel also has a silver green tourism award and has been awarded a Certificate of Excellence by leading travel review website TripAdvisor for the last three years in a row.

 

 

May 2014
Sixth-form college wins national award for making virtual lessons a reality
Cambridge independent sixth-form college CCSS (Cambridge Centre for Sixth-form Studies) has won a national award for an initiative that is bringing virtual lessons to schools across the world.
The college’s Cambridge-e won the IT Innovation category in the first ever awards from the ISA (Independent Schools Association), the professional body for independent school headteachers.  Cambridge-e is a live online teaching programme that brings an additional range of GCSE options to other schools via a virtual classroom with teacher and pupils sharing real-time fully interactive lessons.
The CCSS entry stood out in what was a very strong category said the judges. "The standard of entries in the IT category was really high, but the submission from CCSS really was outstanding,” said Angie Shatford of the ISA.  “Their Cambridge-e initiative is ground-breaking, and offers a fantastic opportunity for collaborative working with other schools."
Says CCSS Principal Stuart Nicholson: “We began the pilot programme just 20 months ago, and after just a year of teaching we had our first successes, with two pupils from St Nicholas School in Harlow securing an A and A* in GCSE psychology. In the current academic year we have pupils taking maths, geography, English, and computing, in addition to psychology - and our most distant pupils are in Omsk, in Siberia, Singapore and Hong Kong! We are delighted that ISA have recognised the ground-breaking initiative that we're taking, and we're proud that it is coming from one of the world's premier academic locations. It's a real vote of confidence in CCSS and in its partner schools that have established Cambridge-e.”
Says Terry Ayres, Deputy Head at Saint Nicholas School: “Cambridge-e has offered my most able pupils the opportunity not only to study an additional GCSE but to also develop their independent learning skills. The online nature of the course offers a unique learning experience where each pupil feels they can develop at their own rate. I have been so impressed with both the high-calibre of teaching and the excellent teacher-student relationships that have been forged throughout the academic year. I truly believe that Cambridge-e gives schools the opportunity to not only gain excellent additional GCSE results but also an avenue to extend their most gifted students.”

 

CCSS is a day and boarding college based in central Cambridge offering study in more than 30 A-Level subjects, along with GCSEs. Its most recent inspection report by the Independent School Inspectorate (ISI) praised the college as being excellent, the highest grade that ISI award, in almost all assessed areas. A parents’ questionnaire was “overwhelmingly positive” and the report found students themselves to be “enthusiastic, academically inquisitive and very appreciative of the opportunities for personal development”.
More information on CCSS can be found at www.ccss.co.uk

 

 

April 2014

 

From trouble shooting to shooting images

 

You’d expect company CEOs to relish the opportunity to talk about their companies to camera, or emergency doctors would feel comfortable in any situation given what they see every day, but that’s where you’d be wrong, says Andy Wilkinson of video production company Shooting Image Ltd.

Andy started Ely-based Shooting Image Ltd six years ago. Since then he has produced 250 films for companies ranging from high-technology, science, medical, manufacturing, architecture and engineering firms (locally, nationally and occasionally internationally) to small local businesses and charities. He came to it via 20 years of travelling the globe as (among other things) a scientist and trouble-shooter for the multi-national technology company DuPont. During this time, he clocked up well over a million air miles as well as a good deal of patience and a fascination for people-watching. While on these travels he often amazed fellow travellers with his early adoption of portable media players (PMP), devices for in-flight video watching (way before the iPad). Andy was also quick to adopt high definition (HD) video for producing films he regularly made (when not in the air) for Ely Cathedral. So when the economic downturn in the USA came along in 2008, the career change of making one of his interests a business was, as they say, a no brainer.

With a business background, Andy also feels best placed to understand what makes his subjects tick. “The CEOs, MDs and managers that I spend a lot of my time filming are obviously extremely capable and confident, but most of them hate being filmed. Put them in front of a camera and they can go to jelly. In fact I can usually write off the first 10 minutes of film.” Fear of the camera is a common challenge. “I go to the operations base of emergency medical charity Magpas Helimedix once a month and film whatever happens on shift, interviewing various members of the team who are on shift that day, all to get the footage for various different films,” says Andy. Something that has worked very well says Head of Communications at Magpas, Antonia Brickell. “I think the key to filming with Magpas, has been Andy’s ability to put any of his subjects at ease in front of camera with his polite, non-intrusive style. Andy has been extremely mindful of how stressful things can be for the on-call medics: his gentle, approachable, yet focused manner has helped no end,” she says. “Even though these enhanced doctors and paramedics are highly trained lifesavers, sitting in front of a camera and talking about themselves doesn’t necessarily come easily to them. A lot of them are quite bashful about what they do.”

 

 

Whether these medics or CEOs like it or not, these days there is no escaping being in front of the camera. “YouTube alone has 65 hours of video uploaded every minute and an increasing amount of it is professionally produced business video,” explains Andy. “When I started out, most of my larger corporate clients were concerned about using YouTube. Now, it’s an assumed necessity to have a YouTube presence, not to mention video for many other business uses. Having video on your website also helps increase your Google ranking, so like it or not, we’re living in a video world.” For Magpas - The Emergency Medical Charity, says Antonia Brickell, video has become invaluable in getting its messages across. “The films are worth their weight in gold. There are many layers to Magpas and the service and training we provide are constantly evolving. Andy’s videos encapsulate what we do in powerful, visually digestible chunks.”

 

The bad news for the camera-shy CEOs etc. is that the videos that often work best, says Andy, are those that feature the people who work within the business or organisation. “Sometimes I use professional voice-overs, etc., but typically I use people within the company as they are the ones who are really passionate about it.” The key to getting the most from them is encouraging them to forget the camera is there and just see it as a conversation. “When they get to that stage they really do relax and we get some great footage” says Andy. But it’s not just camera-shy interviewees that are there to test Andy’s near limitless patience. While not all filming has the prospect of being interrupted by a medical emergency that has the subject rushing off to jump into a helicopter as with Magpas Helimedix, there are always the mundane things such as someone coming in to use the photocopier half way through an interview or the inevitable mobile phone going off. There’s also the issue of turning jargon into something the viewer will understand. In the case of Magpas, it’s ‘medic speak’. “Part of Andy’s skill has been about asking them to explain in ‘normal speak’ why they do what they do and how everything works,” says Antonia.

 

For a typical corporate video, Andy uses either an open or a scripted interview, and then edits in many cut-away shots, i.e. film of the business in action and, if relevant, their products. “I carefully cherry pick bits of what they say, editing those into a coherent message with supporting cut-away shots to produce what’s called a ‘rough cut’ film. The client then views that on a private web link and we discuss any changes needed before I make a ‘final cut’ of the film. Most films are then encoded to different HD and other video formats for use on the web, in presentations, at exhibitions and on iPad/Android devices for out in the field. I may shoot hours of film just to get a few minutes of polished, highly-watchable video!”

 

And all those who watch will be unaware of how much film lies on the metaphorical cutting-room floor, seeing an image of a seamless interview with a relaxed person happy in front of the camera. After all, Andy did not call his company Shooting Image Ltd for nothing - it describes what he does, carefully crafting a company’s image using video.

 

 

 

 

March 2014

 

S-Tech makes room for new trainees

 

 Cambridge insurance broker S-Tech has taken on two new trainees, selecting two graduates from over 60 applicants.

 

Matt Hooper, 23, joins as a claims department trainee after graduating in Geography from Salford University and Jack Collins, also 23, joins as a personal lines trainee after graduating in History from the University of Kent. Both are local, with Matt coming from near Saffron Walden and Jack from Huntingdon. They will combine classroom based and on the job training as they work towards the Certificate in Insurance (Cert CII). This is awarded by The Chartered Insurance Institute – the professional standards body of the insurance industry. This will be their first step towards becoming chartered insurance brokers.

 

This is the third set of trainees taken on by S-Tech in the past three years, with all the others now qualified and working in full time positions in the company. Of the last set of trainees Adam Kidman is now marketing manager and Luke Kinsey is a commercial broker in the business unit.

 

The appointments coincide with S-Tech creating its own in-house training room for both the trainees and experienced staff to undertake Continuing Professional Development (CPD) training. Explains Training Manager Alan Hornby: “Having a dedicated training room offers a better working environment and highlights the importance we put on CPD. In addition, we are now bringing in outside speakers to cover speciality areas, in particular those of interest to locally based clients, such as clinical trials and nanotechnology.”

 

S-Tech Insurance Services Ltd, based in Cambridge, was founded in 1982 and is a large independent and specialist insurance broker with a team of 70 professionals. It provides a full range of commercial insurance, credit insurance, personal insurance and financial services.

 

 

 

 January 2014

 

Overestimating A-level grades helps no-one says local head

 

Many students applying for university this year risk not getting on their chosen course because they have been predicted grades higher than they are likely to achieve a local sixth form principal has said.

 

“With UCAS, the university admissions body, announcing today that more students than ever have applied for university this year, the competition is fierce,” says Stuart Nicholson, Principal of CCSS (Cambridge Centre for Sixth-form Studies). “But looking at the UCAS data from last year, which has also just been released, shows that schools typically over-estimate the results their students are likely to achieve. Only 30% of those forecast ABB actually achieve as well as this.”

 

Nicholson believes it is important that schools are objective and accurate in forecasting student performance as it allows them to apply with confidence to the universities they select. By doing this CCSS correctly predicted 56% of A-level grades last year. “Even though we have an above average prediction record I still believe, as I’ve said before, allocating places post A-Level would be better all-round as the current process is beset by uncertainties both for the students and for the universities. With so few grades being accurately predicted many students risk ending up in the ‘last chance saloon’ of clearing after results come out in August.”

 

One way that CCSS uses to help students determine where they are before sitting exams is through Easter revision courses. “These not only help students’ performance, but refine their understanding of how well they are actually doing,” explains Nicholson. “This year our Easter revision courses are open to other schools.

 

The latest figures for this year’s applications from UCAS found that entries are up by four per cent, but also that 87,000 more women than men have applied and that men are now becoming the disadvantaged group. Adds Stuart Nicholson: “

 

 

October 2013

 

 

 Cambridge set to be Bedazzled by young people’s musical journey

 

A variety showcase featuring a musical journey through the ages from Shakespeare to Will.i.am comes to Cambridge next month with a cast of 90, 45 of whom have learning difficulties.

 

“Imagine….” is the annual show produced by Bedazzle Projects, a registered charity set up to enable children, young people and adults with learning disabilities to access performing arts. The show will feature students who attend Bedazzle Cambridge Theatre Arts group for children and young people with learning disabilities. They meet each Saturday at The Meadows Community Centre and the Bedazzle Theatre Arts group Huntingdon for adults with learning disabilities who meet each Tuesday at Huntingdon Dance Centre. The rest of the cast is made up from Bedazzle Theatre Company in Saffron Walden, Bedazzle Theatre School which runs from Saint Nicholas School Old Harlow and Bedazzle Theatre Arts Bishops Stortford, which meets at the Rhodes Theatre each Monday. Says Bedazzle Project founder Diane Janssen: “It is a truly integrated showcase of talent and creativity. It will feature a new twist to some well-known songs along with the first performance of our very own Christmas song "Wishes for Christmas" written especially for Bedazzle and recorded by the cast to raise money for Bedazzle Projects. It will be a magical evening.”

 

The show will be hosted by Jon Moses, a finalist in the 2012 ITV show Superstar, and will take place at the West Road Concert Hall at 7.30pm on Sunday 3 November. Tickets cost £12, with a 10% discount when booking 4 or more in any one transaction. These are available by calling 07841990609.

 

Bedazzle Projects was set up in 2006 by actress Diane and designer Phil Janssen starting with a Saturday Theatre Company for students aged six to 16 and now includes weekly classes, workshops, shows, performing arts residential workshops, LAMDA (London Academy of Music & Drama) exams and a casting agency. Bedazzle has a 100% LAMDA pass rate with most achieving high Merits and Distinctions and one student, Lee, who has Downs Syndrome, successfully auditioned for a role in EastEnders. Bedazzle’s primary aims are to instil confidence, inspire creativity and increase communication skills.

 

September 2013

 

ENGLISH MOTHER TONGUE IS THE ROOT TO LEARNING OTHER LANGUAGES, SAYS DEPARTMENT HEAD

 

The take up of languages at GCSE and A-Level is falling not because children don’t start learning early enough but because of the way English is now taught, a Cambridge sixth-form college head of languages has said.

 

Speaking in the run up to European Day of Languages on 26 September, which celebrates the 600+ languages spoken across the world and promotes language learning, Sylvie Chastagnol, head of languages at CCSS (Cambridge Centre for Sixth-form Studies), says that introducing language learning in primary school may give fewer advantages than hoped for: “For the first year it is fun and then often they switch off,” she said. “In addition, they don’t start learning languages any sooner, or better, in countries where take up of foreign languages is higher. What does make them different is the way they absorb their own native language, and whether grammatical understanding is introduced in that language from early years.”

 

The issue she believes can be directly linked to English grammar no longer being taught, except as an add-on. “Grammar has not been an integral part of the curriculum for a long time so when it comes to learning other languages students aren’t used to experiencing a language as a structure. Consequently, its grammar seems like a bizarre, exotic or downright terrifying thing. Whilst it may foster greater creativity in the early years if you learn your own language just by ear the downside is that it doesn’t give you the tools to unlock other languages.”

 

This shift is reflected in the fact that modern languages take up was higher when students were more familiar with English grammar and also for those whose parents had an understanding that grammar was the basis for gaining an understanding of a new language. “But for those who didn’t learn grammar or have parents who didn’t learn grammar the homework seems so complicated,” says Ms Chastagnol. This, along with the fact that there are now so many other, newer subject choices, may puts them off considering languages and means that students miss out: “If kids go for what seems easy at 13 or 15 they may regret it later, so they should keep their options open.”

 

To promote the learning of modern foreign languages CCSS, where languages being taught this year include French, Spanish, German, Italian, Turkish, Portuguese, Dutch, Chinese and Russian, is holding an afternoon of celebrations on European Day of Languages, including sampling international foods and games.

 

CCSS is a day and boarding college based in central Cambridge offering study in more than 30 A-Level subjects, along with GCSEs. A recent inspection report by the Independent School Inspectorate (ISI) praised the college as being excellent, the highest grade that ISI award, in almost all assessed areas. A parents’ questionnaire was “overwhelmingly positive” and the report found students themselves to be “enthusiastic, academically inquisitive and very appreciative of the opportunities for personal development”.

 

More information on CCSS can be found at www.ccss.co.uk

 

August 2013

 

 

Local head calls for change in University admissions

With just a week to go before thousands of students discover if they have got the A-Level results they need for their chosen University a local head teacher has called for a change in the system that allocates places.

Stuart Nicholson, Principal of CCSS (Cambridge Centre for Sixth-form Studies) believes that instead of students applying for places before they sit A-levels they should apply once they know their results, which would allow for both those who have better results than expected, and those who haven’t achieved the grades anticipated, to find a suitable university place. “I have long felt it would be better if places were allocated post A-Level as the current process is beset by uncertainties both for the students and for the universities,” he says. “And with all but a handful of universities this year saying they will be allocating at least some of their places that way surely there is now a way round it. With the current system the allocation of places post results is seen as a ‘last chance saloon’ for those who have not achieved their offers and it needn’t be that way.”

UCAS, he said, have resisted such a proposal because Universities say it is not possible in the time available, and previous plans to make this change have been rejected.   But this argument he says is now becoming less credible with some university leaders coming round to this way of thinking, including the Vice Chancellor of Keele University, who this week said the current system was designed for an era when many fewer students applied. The number of students accepted by top universities through clearing doubled last year and a further large increase is expected this year. UCAS and the Examination Boards seem to see the merit for students in such a change and they embrace modern technology generally, so would be well able to make such an alteration to systems, if only universities would be open-minded.

This change, says Stuart Nicholson, would not just have the benefit of allowing students to make decisions and be offered places based on results they have achieved rather than predicted grades, it would also allow them to make the decisions about courses and universities nearer to the time they are due to go and not almost a year before as is the case now. “It means less rush, more opportunity to reflect on interests and strengths and more possibility to visit universities before making a decision. The system as it currently stands would be familiar to current applicants’ parents and even grandparents. It seems beyond belief that today’s technology couldn’t handle an allocation process in an efficient and rapid way post-results. The places would be offered based on real information and much of the stress would be removed. ”

 

 

 

 July 2013

S-TECH ACQUIRES LOCAL PI INSURANCE EXPERT

Cambridge insurance broker S-Tech has expanded its offering with the acquisition of Newmarket broker Scott Taylor Associates, specialists in professional indemnity (PI) insurance.

 

Scott Taylor Associates (STA) has been in business for 22 years, offering all areas of PI insurance, but particularly specialising in running schemes for agricultural consultants, barristers, relocation agents, surveyors and property professionals. The Scott Taylor team, headed by company founder Martin Taylor, will be based at S-Tech’s Victoria Road, Cambridge offices.

 

Says S-Tech Director Des Matthewson: “We have had a symbiotic relationship with STA for many years now so we knew they were a nice fit for us, bringing another area of knowledge and a slightly different client base that bolsters our PI offering and gives them additional resources to develop business. They are also a good fit culturally, with a similar approach to professionalism and service.”

 

Says Martin Taylor: “I wanted to be able to offer clients a wider range of insurance products and S-Tech is a regional broker with a strength in the market place. Having transacted business with them since STA started I know we both have a similar philosophy in that we work closely with our clients.”

 

S-Tech Insurance Services Ltd, based in Cambridge, was founded in 1982 and is a large independent and specialist insurance broker with a team of 70 professionals. It provides a full range of commercial insurance, credit insurance, personal insurance and financial services www.s-tech.co.uk

 

April 2013


NEW HEAD CHEF SET TO BRING FOUR STAR FOOD TO GONVILLE HOTEL
Best Western Plus The Gonville Hotel is aiming to become one of the top eateries in Cambridge with the appointment of a new head chef.


Nick O’Mahoney has worked as a chef for 20 years in top hotels and restaurants in the Lake District, Cotswolds, Somerset and Cheshire, including Mottram Hall In Cheshire and Egerton House Hotel in Bolton and has already overhauled the hotel’s menu with his modern British approach to the best of local ingredients, including his speciality of presenting three cuts from the same animal, such as with Matured Cambridgeshire Sirloin, Suffolk Lamb Three Ways (loin breast and shoulder served with spinach, fondant potato, plum tomato and goats cheese wonton).


Says Nick: “My vision is to create one of the best eateries in Cambridge. Creativity is very important but it’s also about understanding the ingredients and attention to detail, right down to the way you slice an onion. I’m always thinking what I could do next so we will offer a constantly changing menu.”


Says Operations Manger Christopher Ogston: “Nick shares our passion for care and attention to detail that gained us four stars last year and with his creativity in the kitchen we are already seeing our quality improving.”


The four star Best Western Plus The Gonville Hotel is located in Cambridge’s historic city centre overlooking Parkers Piece. Facilities include 80 comfortable ensuite bedrooms with wi-fi access, restaurant, bar and conference, meeting and wedding facilities. The Plus status awarded by Best Western is given to hotels that that offer extra style, comfort and service. It also has a Silver Award for Green Tourism, which demonstrates its commitment to recycling, energy efficiency as well as reducing the hotel’s carbon foot print.


Here's the latest pr news from Cambridge PR clients

 

October 2013

 

 

 Cambridge set to be Bedazzled by young people’s musical journey

 

A variety showcase featuring a musical journey through the ages from Shakespeare to Will.i.am comes to Cambridge next month with a cast of 90, 45 of whom have learning difficulties.

 

“Imagine….” is the annual show produced by Bedazzle Projects, a registered charity set up to enable children, young people and adults with learning disabilities to access performing arts. The show will feature students who attend Bedazzle Cambridge Theatre Arts group for children and young people with learning disabilities. They meet each Saturday at The Meadows Community Centre and the Bedazzle Theatre Arts group Huntingdon for adults with learning disabilities who meet each Tuesday at Huntingdon Dance Centre. The rest of the cast is made up from Bedazzle Theatre Company in Saffron Walden, Bedazzle Theatre School which runs from Saint Nicholas School Old Harlow and Bedazzle Theatre Arts Bishops Stortford, which meets at the Rhodes Theatre each Monday. Says Bedazzle Project founder Diane Janssen: “It is a truly integrated showcase of talent and creativity. It will feature a new twist to some well-known songs along with the first performance of our very own Christmas song "Wishes for Christmas" written especially for Bedazzle and recorded by the cast to raise money for Bedazzle Projects. It will be a magical evening.”

 

The show will be hosted by Jon Moses, a finalist in the 2012 ITV show Superstar, and will take place at the West Road Concert Hall at 7.30pm on Sunday 3 November. Tickets cost £12, with a 10% discount when booking 4 or more in any one transaction. These are available by calling 07841990609.

 

Bedazzle Projects was set up in 2006 by actress Diane and designer Phil Janssen starting with a Saturday Theatre Company for students aged six to 16 and now includes weekly classes, workshops, shows, performing arts residential workshops, LAMDA (London Academy of Music & Drama) exams and a casting agency. Bedazzle has a 100% LAMDA pass rate with most achieving high Merits and Distinctions and one student, Lee, who has Downs Syndrome, successfully auditioned for a role in EastEnders. Bedazzle’s primary aims are to instil confidence, inspire creativity and increase communication skills.

 

September 2013

 

ENGLISH MOTHER TONGUE IS THE ROOT TO LEARNING OTHER LANGUAGES, SAYS DEPARTMENT HEAD

 

The take up of languages at GCSE and A-Level is falling not because children don’t start learning early enough but because of the way English is now taught, a Cambridge sixth-form college head of languages has said.

 

Speaking in the run up to European Day of Languages on 26 September, which celebrates the 600+ languages spoken across the world and promotes language learning, Sylvie Chastagnol, head of languages at CCSS (Cambridge Centre for Sixth-form Studies), says that introducing language learning in primary school may give fewer advantages than hoped for: “For the first year it is fun and then often they switch off,” she said. “In addition, they don’t start learning languages any sooner, or better, in countries where take up of foreign languages is higher. What does make them different is the way they absorb their own native language, and whether grammatical understanding is introduced in that language from early years.”

 

The issue she believes can be directly linked to English grammar no longer being taught, except as an add-on. “Grammar has not been an integral part of the curriculum for a long time so when it comes to learning other languages students aren’t used to experiencing a language as a structure. Consequently, its grammar seems like a bizarre, exotic or downright terrifying thing. Whilst it may foster greater creativity in the early years if you learn your own language just by ear the downside is that it doesn’t give you the tools to unlock other languages.”

 

This shift is reflected in the fact that modern languages take up was higher when students were more familiar with English grammar and also for those whose parents had an understanding that grammar was the basis for gaining an understanding of a new language. “But for those who didn’t learn grammar or have parents who didn’t learn grammar the homework seems so complicated,” says Ms Chastagnol. This, along with the fact that there are now so many other, newer subject choices, may puts them off considering languages and means that students miss out: “If kids go for what seems easy at 13 or 15 they may regret it later, so they should keep their options open.”

 

To promote the learning of modern foreign languages CCSS, where languages being taught this year include French, Spanish, German, Italian, Turkish, Portuguese, Dutch, Chinese and Russian, is holding an afternoon of celebrations on European Day of Languages, including sampling international foods and games.

 

CCSS is a day and boarding college based in central Cambridge offering study in more than 30 A-Level subjects, along with GCSEs. A recent inspection report by the Independent School Inspectorate (ISI) praised the college as being excellent, the highest grade that ISI award, in almost all assessed areas. A parents’ questionnaire was “overwhelmingly positive” and the report found students themselves to be “enthusiastic, academically inquisitive and very appreciative of the opportunities for personal development”.

 

More information on CCSS can be found at www.ccss.co.uk


August 2013

 

 

Local head calls for change in University admissions

With just a week to go before thousands of students discover if they have got the A-Level results they need for their chosen University a local head teacher has called for a change in the system that allocates places.

Stuart Nicholson, Principal of CCSS (Cambridge Centre for Sixth-form Studies) believes that instead of students applying for places before they sit A-levels they should apply once they know their results, which would allow for both those who have better results than expected, and those who haven’t achieved the grades anticipated, to find a suitable university place. “I have long felt it would be better if places were allocated post A-Level as the current process is beset by uncertainties both for the students and for the universities,” he says. “And with all but a handful of universities this year saying they will be allocating at least some of their places that way surely there is now a way round it. With the current system the allocation of places post results is seen as a ‘last chance saloon’ for those who have not achieved their offers and it needn’t be that way.”

UCAS, he said, have resisted such a proposal because Universities say it is not possible in the time available, and previous plans to make this change have been rejected.   But this argument he says is now becoming less credible with some university leaders coming round to this way of thinking, including the Vice Chancellor of Keele University, who this week said the current system was designed for an era when many fewer students applied. The number of students accepted by top universities through clearing doubled last year and a further large increase is expected this year. UCAS and the Examination Boards seem to see the merit for students in such a change and they embrace modern technology generally, so would be well able to make such an alteration to systems, if only universities would be open-minded.

This change, says Stuart Nicholson, would not just have the benefit of allowing students to make decisions and be offered places based on results they have achieved rather than predicted grades, it would also allow them to make the decisions about courses and universities nearer to the time they are due to go and not almost a year before as is the case now. “It means less rush, more opportunity to reflect on interests and strengths and more possibility to visit universities before making a decision. The system as it currently stands would be familiar to current applicants’ parents and even grandparents. It seems beyond belief that today’s technology couldn’t handle an allocation process in an efficient and rapid way post-results. The places would be offered based on real information and much of the stress would be removed. ”

 

 

 

 July 2013

S-TECH ACQUIRES LOCAL PI INSURANCE EXPERT

Cambridge insurance broker S-Tech has expanded its offering with the acquisition of Newmarket broker Scott Taylor Associates, specialists in professional indemnity (PI) insurance.

 

Scott Taylor Associates (STA) has been in business for 22 years, offering all areas of PI insurance, but particularly specialising in running schemes for agricultural consultants, barristers, relocation agents, surveyors and property professionals. The Scott Taylor team, headed by company founder Martin Taylor, will be based at S-Tech’s Victoria Road, Cambridge offices.

 

Says S-Tech Director Des Matthewson: “We have had a symbiotic relationship with STA for many years now so we knew they were a nice fit for us, bringing another area of knowledge and a slightly different client base that bolsters our PI offering and gives them additional resources to develop business. They are also a good fit culturally, with a similar approach to professionalism and service.”

 

Says Martin Taylor: “I wanted to be able to offer clients a wider range of insurance products and S-Tech is a regional broker with a strength in the market place. Having transacted business with them since STA started I know we both have a similar philosophy in that we work closely with our clients.”

 

S-Tech Insurance Services Ltd, based in Cambridge, was founded in 1982 and is a large independent and specialist insurance broker with a team of 70 professionals. It provides a full range of commercial insurance, credit insurance, personal insurance and financial services www.s-tech.co.uk

 

April 2013


NEW HEAD CHEF SET TO BRING FOUR STAR FOOD TO GONVILLE HOTEL
Best Western Plus The Gonville Hotel is aiming to become one of the top eateries in Cambridge with the appointment of a new head chef.


Nick O’Mahoney has worked as a chef for 20 years in top hotels and restaurants in the Lake District, Cotswolds, Somerset and Cheshire, including Mottram Hall In Cheshire and Egerton House Hotel in Bolton and has already overhauled the hotel’s menu with his modern British approach to the best of local ingredients, including his speciality of presenting three cuts from the same animal, such as with Matured Cambridgeshire Sirloin, Suffolk Lamb Three Ways (loin breast and shoulder served with spinach, fondant potato, plum tomato and goats cheese wonton).


Says Nick: “My vision is to create one of the best eateries in Cambridge. Creativity is very important but it’s also about understanding the ingredients and attention to detail, right down to the way you slice an onion. I’m always thinking what I could do next so we will offer a constantly changing menu.”


Says Operations Manger Christopher Ogston: “Nick shares our passion for care and attention to detail that gained us four stars last year and with his creativity in the kitchen we are already seeing our quality improving.”


The four star Best Western Plus The Gonville Hotel is located in Cambridge’s historic city centre overlooking Parkers Piece. Facilities include 80 comfortable ensuite bedrooms with wi-fi access, restaurant, bar and conference, meeting and wedding facilities. The Plus status awarded by Best Western is given to hotels that that offer extra style, comfort and service. It also has a Silver Award for Green Tourism, which demonstrates its commitment to recycling, energy efficiency as well as reducing the hotel’s carbon foot print.


“Excellent" report for Cambridge sixth-form college

One of Cambridge’s leading independent sixth form colleges, CCSS (Cambridge Centre for Sixth-form Studies) has been found to be “excellent” in much of what it does in a report by the Independent School Inspectorate (ISI). ‘Excellent’ is the highest grade that ISI award.


Inspectors spent four days inspecting the College, observing lessons, interviewing students and examining samples of their work, and speaking to senior staff and the chair of governors. The inspectors concluded that the college was “very successful in meeting its aim of providing education which helps all students to prepare, within and beyond the curriculum, for the demands and possibilities of adult life”.

They found that students’ personal development was “excellent”, as was governance, management and leadership; the quality of the curriculum and extra-curricular provision and the students’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development, with moral development being described as “outstanding”. The quality of boarding care was also seen as excellent, with boarding seen as making a vital contribution to the distinctive nature of the College.

The college’s links with parents, carers and guardians was also praised and the response to a parents’ questionnaire was “overwhelmingly positive”. Students themselves were also positive about the College, with the report finding that they were “enthusiastic, academically inquisitive and very appreciative of the opportunities for personal development”.

The previous inspection’s recommendations to improve teachers’ marking and the provision for students with SEND (Special Educational Needs) or EAL (English as an Additional Language) had, said the inspectors, been successfully met. They noted that the College provided a wide range of extra-curricular activities but commented that it was time to encourage greater participation by all students.

Commenting on the report CCSS Principal Stuart Nicholson said: “The success of this report is down to the hard work of our staff. I’m delighted that it highlights the many things we aim to achieve at CCSS, from the standard of leadership and the curriculum we offer to our students’ positive attitude to learning, the way they respond to being treated as adults and their personal development.”

The full report can be found on CCSS’s website at http://www.ccss.co.uk/.

CCSS is a day and boarding college based in central Cambridge offering study in more than 30 A-Level subjects, along with GCSEs. More information on CCSS can be found at www.ccss.co.uk
The Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) is the body approved by the Secretary of State
for the purpose of inspecting schools belonging to the Independent Schools Council (ISC)
Associations. ISI reports do not provide a single overarching judgement
but instead give a clear judgement on each aspect of the college’s work.

March 2013


Holiday company has answer for couples with different interests

Couples where one partner likes to be active on holiday and the other likes nothing more than lounging by the pool need no longer compromise or go on separate holidays.


Studio Lavalette, which runs photography holidays in the heart of Villebois-Lavalette, a the picturesque medieval market-town in the Charentes region of South West France, is offering photography tuition for one partner and, for half the price, a chance to relax by the pool in luxury surroundings for the other partner. Both then can come together to enjoy wonderful home cooked local food and wine each evening. And if the partner wants beauty treatments or to try their own choice of activities including cookery classes, painting, wood turning or basket weaving these can also be arranged by local experts.


Studio Lavalette offers a brand new media studio, en-suite accommodation, great food and a swimming pool. The photo-holidays feature four types of courses, designed to help photographers of all levels get the most from both digital cameras and image editing software in a fun and informative way. The courses are organised as follows:
Photo HERO is for photo-enthusiasts of all abilities – whatever your choice of camera or ability we turn you into a photo hero in five days or less.


Photo PRO is for advanced and creative photographers who want to push the boundaries and get even more from their camera and software.


Photo MAESTRO is for people who want to get to grips with and tame Lightroom, Photoshop Elements and Photoshop CS.


Photo EXPO is a specialist weekend photo workshop covering studio lighting; portrait and fine art nude photography; printing and presenting your work; black and white image processing; creative image-editing and lots more!


All the courses are run by Don McCrae, an experienced photographer and presenter who holds an Associateship Distinction awarded by the Royal Photographic Society.
Says Don: “Our mission is ‘holidays with a focus’, so we’ve created a perfect holiday
setting, with great accommodation and food plus a range of photography courses that will leave people inspired, motivated and supercharged by what they can do with their camera and software.“

Studio Lavalette is set in the grounds of the Maison du Couvent, probably the oldest house in Villebois-Lavalette. The Studio itself, which was previously a barn, is currently being renovated and re-engineered to suit the needs of 21st century image takers and makers. The Studio comprises a portrait studio, complete with Bowens lights, diffusers, beauty dishes and reflectors; an infinity curve and a selection of backdrops and props; four state-of-the-art computers with colour calibrated monitors, each running Photoshop CS6, Photoshop Elements 10.0, Lightroom 4.0 and other imaging-related software and plug-ins. Every workstation is equipped with a Wacom Intuos tablet and pen. In addition there is an Epson large format printer with a selection of fine art inkjet papers; books and magazines about photography; and a selection of digital and film cameras.

The accommodation at Studio Lavalette includes a dining room, south-facing balcony views of the Villebois Valley; three double bedrooms, all en-suite with a TV; free Wi-fi throughout; a 5mx10m swimming pool; large terraced area; and parking for four cars.

The photo-holidays are full-board, priced between £599 (3 days) and £999 (5 days), with a 50% discount for partners or friends not participating in the courses. The courses are starting in July 2013 and will run throughout the year.

Don McCrae been a photographer for over 10 years and holds both the Associateship and Licentiate Distinctions awarded by the Royal Photographic Society. He was a co-founder of, and ran Fo2PiX Ltd., a UK business that developed and sold a variety of Photoshop plug-ins, (under the name buZZ), as well as standalone image editing applications, such as the PhotoArtMaster series and ArtMasterPro.

For further information about, or to book a photo-holiday at Studio Lavalette, visit http://www.studiolavalette.com/



Cambridge swaps the long lunch for a healthy snack at the desk

Cambridge business people are unlikely to leave their desks to eat lunch but what they choose to eat is much healthier than it used to be. That’s according to a survey of local business people by Cambridge catering company Flair Catering.


In the survey just half said they took more than 30 minutes for a lunch break (17% took no break) and for 80% this was most likely to take place at their desks. While for 50% this was a sandwich, others enjoyed salads, risotto, cous cous, soup, fish and broccoli, fruit, and the night before’s leftovers. Eating healthily was a growing trend, with 100% of those surveyed saying that what they eat for lunch has a definite effect on their performance. “Hot stodgy meals can make me tired, a fresh sandwich and fruit keep my energy levels up all day,” said one. “Too much stodge slows me down,” said another. Others avoided high sugar and many said they avoided carbs.


Only a fifth ate out regularly at lunchtime during the working week, 40% occasionally and 16% never. For those who did eat out 70% said it was with clients and eight per cent with colleagues. One in ten said their companies provided food every day, with 70% doing so for lunch time meetings and 30% for client meetings.


So what would improve the lunchtime experience? According to seven per cent in-house catering, 14% a longer lunch break, 36% better local sandwich bars and 29% more time to eat. For one respondent the introduction of Burlesque dancers would be a great improvement to the lunch time break and another wanted better weather to allow for a walk.
Commenting on the survey, Becky Moore, Flair’s Events Sales Manager said: “The long business lunch is obviously a thing of the past, but Cambridge business people are very much aware of the importance of eating a good lunch to get them through the working day and know the impact of different foods on their performance. I’m sure if they managed to drag themselves away from their desks this might be improved even more.”


Flair Catering is a Cambridge based events catering company, specialising in weddings, corporate and sporting events with clients including the University of Cambridge. Corporate catering includes everything form canapés to sit down dinners as well as in-house catering. Visit www.flaircatering.co.uk for more information. 

February 2013

S-Tech in final of prestigious business awards
Cambridge insurance broker S-Tech has been shortlisted for Business of the Year in the awards run by East of England business newspaper Business Weekly, in what the paper says is the strongest entry the competition has received during its 23 years.

Says S-Tech Managing Director Shaun Walker: “We are delighted to be shortlisted for this prestigious award, particularly as it marks our 30th year in business, during which time we have grown from two staff to 70 and our success has mirrored that of the Cambridge technology scene that Business Weekly documents so well.”

The winners will be announced by Lord David Sainsbury, Chancellor of Cambridge University, at a dinner at Queens’ College, Cambridge, on Tuesday March 19, 2013 when the guest speaker will be Dr Christoph Loch, director of the Judge Business School.
S-Tech Insurance Services Ltd, based in Cambridge, was founded in 1982 and is now a large independent and specialist insurance broker with a team of 70 professionals. It provides a full range of commercial insurance, credit insurance, personal insurance and financial services www.s-tech.co.uk




Taxi driver gets 'The Knowledge' in the classroom

A taxi driver in Cambridge has been learning a new type of knowledge after her cab was sponsored by a local sixth form college.


CCSS (Cambridge Centre for Sixth-form Studies), which has a number of college buildings and boarding houses across the city, has sponsored the taxi to promote the centre around the local area as well as for taking prospective students and their parents between CCSS sites. Explains Marketing Officer Ben Durston Thorndyke: “In bright blue and pink and with the message ‘Bring out the best in you’ the taxi is very noticeable. In order to answer any general questions about us, we wanted to invite the taxi’s driver, Jen, into the college to sit in on a lesson and find out what makes the college different, such as the very small sizes and our individual approach to learning.”


Jen, who has driven a cab in Cambridge for 12 years, sat in on an economics lesson, where she got to meet teacher Tom Goddin and several students.

CCSS is a day and boarding college based in central Cambridge offering study in more than 30 A-Level subjects, along with GCSEs. It has a unique and individual approach to learning, building a relationship of mutual respect between students and staff and developing self-confidence within each student. It is inspected by the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI), who said CCSS achieved its aim of providing an individual approach to every student and provided a high quality educational experience. They also rated teaching as “high quality” and pastoral care as “outstanding”. For further information, please visit www.ccss.co.uk





January 2013


Snap up a great deal now on photography course in idyllic setting 

Trying something new is one of the top ten new year’s resolutions – and if taking up or improving your skills at photography sounds like a good idea then Studio Lavalette, who offer photography and image-editing software courses in a purpose-built setting in South West France, are offering 15% off for anyone booking in January for summer 2013.

Set in the heart of Villebois-Lavalette, a the picturesque medieval market-town town, Studio Lavalette offers a brand new media studio, en-suite accommodation, great food and a swimming pool. The photo-holidays feature four types of courses, designed to help photographers of all levels get the most from both digital cameras and image editing software in a fun and informative way. The courses are organised as follows:
Photo HERO is for photo-enthusiasts of all abilities – whatever your choice of camera or ability we turn you into a photo hero in five days or less.


Photo PRO is for advanced and creative photographers who want to push the boundaries and get even more from their camera and software.
Photo MAESTRO is for people who want to get to grips with and tame Lightroom, Photoshop Elements and Photoshop CS.
Photo EXPO is a specialist weekend photo workshop covering studio lighting; portrait and fine art nude photography; printing and presenting your work; black and white image processing; creative image-editing and lots more!


All the courses are run by Don McCrae, an experienced photographer and presenter who holds an Associateship Distinction awarded by the Royal Photographic Society.
Says Don: “Our mission is ‘holidays with a focus’, so we’ve created a perfect holiday
setting, with great accommodation and food plus a range of photography courses that will leave people inspired, motivated and supercharged by what they can do with their camera and software.“

Studio Lavalette is set in the grounds of the Maison du Couvent, probably the oldest house in Villebois-Lavalette. The Studio itself, which was previously a barn, is currently being renovated and re-engineered to suit the needs of 21st century image takers and makers. The Studio comprises a portrait studio, complete with Bowens lights, diffusers, beauty dishes and reflectors; an infinity curve and a selection of backdrops and props; four state-of-the-art computers with colour calibrated monitors, each running Photoshop CS6, Photoshop Elements 10.0, Lightroom 4.0 and other imaging-related software and plug-ins. Every workstation is equipped with a Wacom Intuos tablet and pen. In addition there is an Epson large format printer with a selection of fine art inkjet papers; books and magazines about photography; and a selection of digital and film cameras.

The accommodation at Studio Lavalette includes a dining room, south-facing balcony views of the Villebois Valley; three double bedrooms, all en-suite with a TV; free Wi-fi throughout; a 5mx10m swimming pool; large terraced area; and parking for four cars.

The photo-holidays are full-board, priced between £599 (3 days) and £999 (5 days), with a 50% discount for partners or friends not participating in the courses. The courses are starting in June 2013 and will run throughout the year.

Don McCrae been a photographer for over 10 years and holds both the Associateship and Licentiate Distinctions awarded by the Royal Photographic Society. He was a co-founder of, and ran Fo2PiX Ltd., a UK business that developed and sold a variety of Photoshop plug-ins, (under the name buZZ), as well as standalone image editing applications, such as the PhotoArtMaster series and ArtMasterPro.

For further information about, or to book a photo-holiday at Studio Lavalette, visit http://www.studiolavalette.com/ 

It's not just business that's booming at S-Tech

They’ll be checking what comes out of the taps at Cambridge insurance brokers S-Tech soon after nine members of staff have given birth in less than 18 months including six from one department of 18.


Says Managing Director Shaun Walker: “More than half of our team of 70 are women and over the years we’ve managed maternity leave and the mums coming back to work well, but we’ve never had so many in such a short space of time.”


All the women have or will soon return to work part time, something the company encourages. “These are all experienced broking staff and if you employ the right people in the first place why wouldn’t we want them back? says Walker. “We’re not obliged to give them back their previous jobs but have managed to do that. We quite like the flexibility of working mums and it has worked well for both parties. You have to be good at prioritising but the benefits definitely outweigh the negatives.”


These are benefits that the working mums appreciate: “They have been really accommodating about the days we want and no one is doing a job they don’t’ want to do,” says Jo Tippett (mum of Darcey, one of just two girls among the nine). “We’ve all been really lucky. I’ve got friends who wanted to go back to work part time but they were offered full time or nothing.”


And it’s not just mums’ needs that S-Tech look after. The company has also had requests from working dads for flexible working that it has been able to meet.
S-Tech Insurance Services Ltd, based in Cambridge, was founded in 1982 and is now a large independent and specialist insurance broker with a team of 70 professionals. It provides a full range of commercial insurance, credit insurance, personal insurance and financial services www.s-tech.co.uk



December 2012

Four star year for The Gonville Hotel
With hotel groups going into administration and others being sold off you might expect independent hotels to be playing it safe. But not the Gonville Hotel in Cambridge, which started this year by investing in a refurbishment and customer service and ends it by being awarded Four Stars by the AA.


“We want to be the best hotel in Cambridge,” says General Manager Roderick Watson, who has run the family owned hotel for 20 years and together with Operations Manager Christopher Ogston identified every possible way in which the hotel could improve service and went out not only achieve but surpass it. “We’d undergone a £2m bedroom refurbishment so we needed a service to match. You can have a really nice hotel, but it means nothing if the service isn’t there,” he says.

Much of the improvements have come from taking notice of guest comments, which has led to them improving everything from how guests are greeted the moment they arrive to whether the sausages they are eating for breakfast are locally sourced. Meeting guests’ increasingly high expectations is a challenge the hotel has relished and sees them ending the year with four awards, with a Silver Green Tourism Award and two service awards from Best Western (the hotel is part of this international group of independent hotels with its full name being Best Western Plus the Gonville Hotel) as well as the four stars.


Christopher Ogston likes to set a customer service example and has been known to drop guests off at the station so they don’t miss a train and once drove across Cambridge to rescue a bride’s bouquet left in a taxi. “Excellence” and “passionate about what we do” frequently drop into the conversation when talking about what the hotel is trying to achieve. “Standing still is not an option, particularly when Cambridge is developing at such a fast rate and the demand for quality hotels is increasing.”


Staff were brought on board with the help of a customer service reward scheme, so when the AA inspector arrived for his anonymous visit everything was in place. To achieve four stars hotels must guarantee to ‘respond to your needs or requests’ as well as having a high standard of facilities. “It’s great for the team that their hard work and commitment has been rewarded in this way,” adds Christopher.


For the Silver Green Tourism Award the hotel had to show a commitment to everything from recycling to using local produce in the restaurant, installing bird and bat boxes in the grounds and working in the community such as hosting lunches for the Sick Children’s Trust and recycling furniture by donating it to the British Heart Foundation shop in East Road.


With the hotel’s keenness on setting itself the highest standards it was no surprise it was one of the first hotels in the world to apply and achieve Best Western Plus status, which saw everything from customer service to artwork on the walls put under scrutiny. That was followed this month by an ‘Excellence in Quality and Standards’ Award.


After such an eventful 2012 what’s next? “If we are to become the best hotel in Cambridge we need to continue to take every opportunity to exceed guests’ expectations,” adds Christopher. Most recently this has included introducing a pillow menu (with five choices) and, to many guests’ pleasant surprise, a bed turn down service. And while he’s very happy to drop guests off at the station he’d ultimately like to have a Rolls Royce parked outside to drive guests wherever they’d like to go. Now they probably won’t be expecting that.



November 2012


Softwerx launches IT apprenticeship scheme
Cambridge IT company Softwerx has set up its own IT apprencticeship scheme, with two trainees in place and two more set to join.


The apprentices have joined from college, initially working on the first line helpdesk answering and logging calls with the aim of becoming IT consultants within three years. Says Managing Director David Smart: “So far this has been a superb experience. They are star employees for us. They join us with some basic IT knowledge and we offer them a good learning ground. In return they have brought an aptitude to learn, a fresh, uninhibited approach and, best of all; they just get on with it.”


The first two apprentices, Samantha Edgar and Luke Peters, both 19, joined Softwerx after 18 week placements as part of their course at the Zenos IT Academy in Stevenage. Says Samantha: “The best way to learn is by doing it; you learn more than any book can teach you. I’ve gone from being afraid to pick up the phone or do the simplest tasks to being able to go out and see clients. I’d like to specialise in one area and doing a bit of everything will allow me to choose which one.”


Says Luke: “I’ve landed in a treasure trove at Softwerx. What I know now compared to when I joined are worlds apart. I’ve learnt a hell of a lot and it’s given me the grounding I need. Other people I know in similar roles don’t have the same opportunities to advance.”
Both plan to rise up the ranks at Softwerx quickly, which is something the company is encouraging as Technical Services Manager Matt Smith explains. “For the first three to six months the apprentices show how they can fit into the team and interact with customers and after 18 months we’d expect they to join the second line team. The idea is to give them all the basics and then expose them to as much variety as we can – that way people naturally find where their strengths lie.”


Based at Granta Park, Softwerx is a leading supplier of IT support, cloud computing and business continuity to businesses and organisations in the Cambridge area, with specialist sectors including professional services, charities and not for profit organisations. For more information visit www.softwerx.com. 

October 2012

Smoothing your passage to India

In last month’s Cambridge Business Magazine local MEP Geoffrey Van Orden urged companies to make the most of business opportunities in India, now a new local business is showing you how to do it without slipping up on a few banana skins along the way


How long are you prepared to wait for someone to turn up to a business meeting before you decide to call it a day? Half an hour, maybe even an hour, but probably not two. Well if this meeting is in India or with someone from India you might be making a big mistake. That’s one bit of advice from Abi Reddy, who has just launched a company, Avasara, that among other things advises companies wanting to do business in India.
“Punctuality is one of the major cultural differences,” explains Abi. “I met one business person who had been to India and arranged to meet a contact at 10. He waited for an hour and a half and then left. The contact turned up half an hour later. If you know this type of thing in advance you are able to plan around it.” Abi’s workshops will be taking place at the Jockey Club in Newmarket and venues in London and around the UK as well as in companies’ own offices and will be run by experienced trainers and consultants who will cover issues including rapport building, relationship building and negotiating. As well as punctuality British people also come unstuck over how to negotiate and issues including the fact that even when a contract is signed it is still up for negotiation. “People think that trading in India is easy because they speak English, but there are certain things people need to bear in mind. It also varies across Indian itself with Mumbai, for example, being more westernised. And even though they do speak English making an effort to learn even a few words of their language will endear them towards you.”
Other examples Abi cites include the businessman who on a visit to a client’s office suddenly found himself ushered onto a stage to speak to the whole workforce (expect the unexpected says Abi) or a contact in the museum sector running a course in India who found she was expected to sort out a faulty tap in the delegate’s hotel room. “And it doesn’t stop at business,” says Abi. “The social side is quite important and you may well be invited to dinner with the family, which is a sign of respect.”
Abi is well placed to understand the issues of dealing with different countries. Although born in Bedford his parents are from India and his family moved around a lot with his father’s job as a doctor. After studying at Westminster College (Hotel Management ), Manchester Metropolitan and Oxford Brookes (Masters in International Management) he headed off to New York to work for Citigroup for a year in the global events department followed by four years in Dubai working in events. On his return to the UK two years ago his first job was to organise his brother’s wedding in Cambridge and it was this that gave him the idea to set up an events company. “Although my brother was marrying an English girl from Cambridge the wedding included a Hindu ceremony and I realised there was a gap in the market for organising Indian events.” So Avasara (which means celebration in Hindi) was born. He then quickly saw an opportunity on the corporate side firstly with events and then the workshops. “With the growth of the technology sector in India it’s only going to become more important for the UK and Cambridge in particular to do business there. We’ve also found an opportunity for working with Indian companies wanting to work in the UK.” For them the training is about punctuality (naturally) along with the importance of a good handshake and making eye contact. They are also exposed to some quintessentially British activities including punting.
There are now three elements to Avasara: the workshops, weddings and parties and corporate events. As well as the workshops companies come to him for Indian themed events (complete with a spot of Bollywood dancing). “Our speciality is bringing together all the elements of the events and we have a preferred suppliers list that clients can use or not use as they choose.”
Abi currently runs the business himself with a team of event mangers, trainers and consultants in place to bring on board when needed but aims to grow to employ a couple of full time events mangers and a sales person.
When not building his empire Abi can be found treading the boards. He was chairman of a drama group in Dubai, producing and acting in 12 Angry Men, and has joined the Bottisham Players since returning to the UK. He’s also looking for a cricket club to join. “I’m a pretty good bowler and my batting’s coming on” he says. And you’ll know he’ll turn up to the crease on time.


September 2012


Cloud experts awarded industry accreditation

Softwerx, the Cambridge-based Cloud Infrastructure experts, have become one of just a handful of companies awarded a best-practice accreditation by the industry body The Cloud Industry Forum (CIF).
Accreditation requires Cloud Service Providers to adhere to a Code of Practice with an emphasis on transparency and capability and took four months to achieve. Says Softwerx Managing Director David Smart: “Helping businesses benefit from Cloud computingis our core business and we have been helping people move to the Cloud for nearly three years now; more recently the sector has become more competitive so it’s important to distinguish ourselvesthrough professional accreditation. CIF accreditation was a rigorous process and while Cloud computing doesn’t so much bring any new risks and concerns to businesses considering moving to the Cloud; we are now able to demonstrate our capability and commitment in an upfront and transparent way – not just saying ‘trust us’.”

For companies considering moving to the Cloud Softwerx regularly holds Cloud Workshops at its offices or on customer premises offering prospective businesses an opportunity to get under the hype, understand the benefits for their organisation and learn more about the issues. So far, feedback has been excellent: “The Softwerx Cloud Workshop was extremely informative with a lot of objective information provided around trends and adoptions in the Cloud; and importantly what we as a Customer should be seeking from a Cloud Service Partner.” Neil Porter, Support Services Director, YMCA Cambridge and Peterborough.

To book a Cloud Workshop or for more information in general visit www.softwerx.com.



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