As we approach the end of term I want to thank you all for your hard work over the last few months. Although the Chancellor has decided to introduce a modicum of stability to FE by not imposing the severe cuts to adult education that we were all expecting, the funding climate will still be challenging for the foreseeable future, and I'm sorry for the uncertainty that this is still causing. It's been a particularly difficult time for the ESOL team in this regard and I'd like to acknowledge their hard work and dedication throughout the latest restructuring. I'm also very grateful to HR for their support and expertise.
The expected Ofsted inspection did not materialise - they've been everywhere else! It is imminent, however, and we will need to work hard to demonstrate our strengths whilst acknowledging our weaknesses - especially around English and maths and overall success rates for 16-18 year olds. I'm confident in our capacity to improve. The more we can show what progress we are making, and can produce the evidence with conviction, the stronger we will be and ultimately deliver for all our learners.
Despite these challenges we've had a positive term on so many fronts, kicking off with an Outstanding Ofsted rating for the FPC nursery in the summer and finishing, yesterday, with a full reaccreditation against the Matrix standard for Careers Advice and Guidance. In between, the College has undergone a full SFA funding audit and a British Council IELTS audit and received a clean bill of health for each. We have introduced successful online enrolment; we have recruited very strongly to our HE programmes in a climate of increased competition. We have been accredited by the Engineering Industry Skills Partnership as a Trailblazer in Food and Drink Engineering Maintenance. This means that, as an approved provider, we will receive training on the new framework which is designed to meet the needs of industry and that we will be delivering qualifications ahead of other providers. The College has also received Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) approval to run knowledge based law qualifications as part of the BUCO offer and we are starting with the CILEx Level 3 Professional Qualification. International and curriculum staff have succeeded in setting up a new footwear manufacture programme in South Africa; our hospitality provision, including taste restaurant, has been awarded GOLD status by the industry body People 1st. We have launched our new Motor Vehicle Engineering centre to widespread acclaim - from stakeholders and learners. Our Association of Colleges Beacon Award for Inclusive Learning recognises the excellence of that provision and the ultimate professionalism of staff.
So there is much to be positive about as we look forward to 2016! I wish you all a very Happy Christmas, Season's Greetings and a great new year.
In This Month's Connect
We have a bumper edition for you this month. It's all been going on; Open Day, HE Graduation, not to mention the array of awards and accolades that our brilliant staff and learners have been securing in the region and beyond. We have a behind the scenes peek into the work that goes on at taste Restaurant at Christmas and some photos of the new Motor Vehicle Engineering Centre. As it's Christmas, we've also squeezed in a few competitions and giveaways too. So make that cup of tea you've been promising yourself, and kick back for 10 minutes. This is your very last Connect of 2015.
Out and About
Launch of the new Motor Vehicle Engineering Centre
Leicester's City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby officially opened the Centre. He said; “The Motor Vehicle Engineering Centre is an excellent example of how the Council is working with partners across the city to increase apprenticeship programmes and provide young people with the skills they need for future success. I am delighted that the City Council, through the LLEP, has been part of this project and that we continue to support the development of the Skills Village”.
The Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP) contributed £1.23 million towards the new Centre. Corin Crane, Director of the LLEP said, “The LLEP is completely committed to supporting projects that deliver skills and support that meets employer needs. We know that there are jobs available for qualified and skilled workers in industries such as Engineering and Sustainable Construction. So this new centre will be significant in providing opportunities for people to train and learn new skills in these sectors.”
The full press release is available here
Leicester College held its annual Higher Education Graduation Ceremony Saturday 7 November. A total of 100 learners, supported by friends and family, graduated in style at what was a truly special day for all concerned.
The Awards took place in the Empire, adjacent to Abbey Park Campus. The graduates, in robes and mortar boards, walked in procession to the ceremony where they were addressed by Verity Hancock and presented with their certificates by Kully Sandhu.
This year’s Leicester College Honorary Award was presented to Rob Paternostro, Head Coach of the Leicester Riders Basketball team, who made a rousing speech. Rob has had a distinguished career in basketball and his collaborative work between the Riders and Leicester College continues to facilitate opportunities for young people to access education and sport. Rob said: “I am absolutely delighted with this honour from Leicester College, which is really a tribute as much to my players and the whole of the Riders organisation. I look forward to working with the College to use the Arena facilities to inspire and increase participation in sport amongst College learners.”
After the ceremony, which included many Leicester College staff who were supporting learners or graduating themselves from TEDU courses, a buffet and drinks were enjoyed by graduates, their friends and families.
Learners Enjoy Masterclass from TV's Brian Turner
Two learners from Level 3 Professional Cookery spent a day in November working at Hothorpe Hall with Celebrity chef Brian Turner. The learners took a masterclass with the chef, famous for his work on TV programmes such as Ready Steady Cook and Saturday Kitchen. They then worked with Brian to prepare lunch for 20-30 chosen guests.
To find out more about Hothorpe Hall click here
Photos courtesy of Leicester Photo
Ten Thousand Bricks
The building products firm Forterra has donated 10,000 bricks and blocks to Leicester College for trainee bricklayers to use on Construction courses.
Forterra (formerly known as Hanson Building Products) are one of the largest providers of building products in the country. The bricks will be used by our learners to build practise walls, foundations and other features as part of their NVQ courses.
The recent rise in homebuilding around the country has led to an increase in demand for trained bricklayers. Leicester College currently has 90 learner bricklayers on its courses, many of whom are Apprentices with local homebuilders. Keith Binns, Brickwork Programme Lead at Leicester College, said, “I am absolutely delighted with the donation of bricks from Forterra. With an increase in the amount of learners, providing good quality materials for their lessons on a regular basis can be a major challenge. Having a company like Forterra work with us will make such a difference."
Taken from Forterra press release Nov 2015
Constructing Careers by Paul Hirscher
The first Constructing Careers event took place 26 November to coincide with the College's Open Day. The construction sector is currently facing acute skills shortages and the situation is being exacerbated by increased competition for a declining 16-18 cohort. In response, we decided to host an event to enable employers to communicate the wide range of career opportunities offered by the sector. Feedback from employers has been very encouraging. Current full time learners were also able to learn first-hand from employers about the sector and the rewards on offer. Parents of learners were equally impressed. It is our intention to host an even bigger and better event to coincide with next year’s November Open Day.
Painting and Decorating Learner wins Competition by Paul Hirscher
Mick Wood enrolled on a Painting and Decorating course in September (staff will be more familiar with Mick as a colleague rather than a learner). When visiting the Dulux Decorator Centre earlier this term, Mick entered a national competition to win a smart television. The prize could not have gone to a nicer person (Mick said when interviewed). Keep up the good work Mick!
Please can I remind staff that they are entitled to discount when shopping at DDC. All they have to do is show their staff badge.
taste Restaurant at Christmas ... No Sleep 'til Santa!
Hospitality Awarded Gold Accreditation
Leicester College has been awarded a Gold Accreditation for providing high quality training for Hospitality from the leading industry bodies, the Hospitality Guild and People 1st.
The College’s Hospitality department was commended for its professional service to both learners and employers as well as delivering a high standard of provision. Leicester College is one of only ten Colleges nationally to be awarded the Gold Accreditation and the only college within the East Midlands. Included in the Accreditation, is the AA College Rosette. This is a commendation specifically for the high standard of food at taste Restaurant.
EBS Excellence Awards by Mital Ladwa
In 2014/15 we began using EBS Web Services to transform the College's application and enrolment processes. From January 2015 onwards, full-time applications generated through the website began to be fed directly into EBS. In little under 9 months, we have taken 3,818 applications online, with 1,395 of those being new applicants, automated directly into EBS without the need for manual data-entry. This approximates to 230 hours of time saved by the Information Centre team.
At our main enrolment event, our new methods reduced queuing times for learners by 75%. Circa 2000 full-time 16 to 18 learners were enrolled in late August and work will continue this academic year to provide the same facility to all our learners.
A big well done to all staff who were involved!
AoC Beacon Awards
The Association of Colleges (AoC) awarded Leicester College the prestigious Beacon Award for its exemplary practice in promoting progression for learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities. The Award was announced at the annual AoC Conference on Tuesday 17 November 2015.
The AoC Beacon Awards are now in their 22nd year and are much coveted. They seek to recognise and disseminate best practice and new ideas within the Further Education sector. Achieving this award will give Leicester College national recognition.
Martin Doel, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges said, “The Beacon Awards are an opportunity for AoC to reward colleges for the work they do with students and their local community. Award winners can be proud of their achievement because the entries were all of a high standard.”
To read the full press release, click here
A Thank You from Ranvir Singh and Lorna Hutchinson
Thank you to everyone who made the recent ESF Projects, Skills Support for the Workforce (SSW) and the Local Response Fund (LRF) such a success.
The Projects, which ended in July 2015, were aimed at supporting employees of Small and Medium Enterprises based in Leicester and Leicestershire with free training. The training offered was in line with the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP) identified priority sectors. The project supported over 1,300 learners, engaging with nearly 400 employers.
The Projects also had a Capacity Building element, under which a Diversity Handbook highlighting various Faiths and Communities was produced. This is a resource which can be used to support EDI and is available on the College website here
The success of these Projects have provided a positive foundation to build upon.
Thank you to everyone. We hope we can continue the ESF journey.
Jonathan Deacon Delivers a Marketing Master-class
Learners from the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy and staff from across the College were treated to a master-class from Marketing expert Professor Jonathan Deacon when he visited the College Wednesday 4 November. The Master-class, '5 Big Things You Need To Know About Marketing in 2016,' was informative, lively and engaging. Jonathan hit on some key points relating to branding, storytelling and how businesses should focus on doing one thing really well. The learners enjoyed the session and took away some useful information for their own business ideas.
Jonathan also spoke to learners about the The Making Business Happen Awards. This annual competition is designed to highlight young entrepreneurial talent and reward groups and individuals for their commitment and approach to business development.
To find out more about Making Business Happen, click here
Congratulations to PJEA's Will Prentice
Congratulations to PJEA Alumni Will Prentice on winning the Young Business Executive Award 2015 at the Leicester Mercury Business Awards 2015.
Will attended the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy 2013/14. It was here that he, with support from staff and a business mentor, developed the idea that was to become his now thriving business, Elite Scooters. We are delighted to see Will grow and be recognised for his fantastic achievements.
Picture by Beth Walsh, Leicester Mercury
My Dublin Marathon by Sandra Long, Exams Officer
On Monday 26 October I successfully completed the Dublin Marathon raising £1,112.40 (excluding gift aid) for Macmillan Cancer Support in memory of my much missed brother-in-law, Richard Long.
I completed the marathon in 4 hours 39 minutes. This was my 12th marathon and the second time I had run the Dublin marathon. It is a beautiful city and the support from the Irish people and other runners was incredible especially since the event took place on a very wet bank holiday Monday.
THANK YOU to everyone who sponsored me. The money raised will enable Macmillan Cancer Support to continue to support families whose lives have been impacted by cancer.
Congratulations to Sandra!
LEET News by Pravin Patel
As part of Black History Season, the LEET team organised for a party of learners from APC to visit the International Slavery museum in Liverpool. Here the learners explored the untold stories of enslaved people and learned about historical and contemporary slavery. Learners also visited the Museum of Liverpool.
After the launch of the new charity, Open Hands (30 September) the LEET team organised their famous charity samosa sale. The sale raised £150 and at all campuses the samosas were sold out by noon. At FPC, they were sold out within 15 minutes! Another samosa sale took place for Diwali (12 November) and again in December. Thank you all for supporting this.
On Saturday 10 October a group of learners and REEN staff took part in the Snowdon Challenge for the College charity under the guidance of the LEET team. Being in a mountain environment was quite an eye opener for the learners and the day was challenging, both physically and mentally. The learners and staff raised over £500.
More from LEET
The LEET Team continues to provide trips for learners to gain new experiences. So far this term there have been visits to Alton Towers, bonfire night, Nottingham outdoor skating rink and Christmas markets. Learners have already booked all the spaces for our ice skating trip to the Capital arena in Nottingham.
Trips continue to prove a popular part of our programming and will continue next term. Please advise learners to check LEET noticeboards and Moodle for more information.
Student Union Activities by Jordane Mather (President)
In what is always a hectic first term, inclusive of elections and officer training, the Student Union has once again been busy in its efforts on behalf of its learner members, working both within the College and nationally.
Boasting a bigger executive committee than usual this year (with 19 of the 22 positions filled) the Union has the potential to really make an impact. The work has started really well with the Union fulfilling its commitment to attending meetings such Equality and Diversity, Higher Education Quality Standards and Enhancement Committee. In addition, we have been involved in the World Aids Day campaign and the national lobby of parliament ‘Cut the Costs’.
The open roles left available are Site Vice President FPC, BAME Officer and International Students Officer. If anyone knows of any learners who would be interested and would benefit from taking up a position, please get in touch.
On that note, the stage is set for a fabulous start to the New Year, so from all at the Student Union have yourself a very merry Christmas …
Course Rep. News by Harj Singh
Training for the majority of the course reps, and the first course rep meeting took place in November. Thanks again to the Directors and Programme Area Managers for chairing the meetings. The first term questions set by the Senior Leadership Team focused on marketing, enrolment, induction, guidance and support and helping new learners.
Two additional meetings have taken place which are integral to the Learner Voice in Leicester College. The Student Council consists of the Student Union and Super Reps (these are course reps who represent their curriculum area rather than their course). They decided the issues that the Student Union will look at over the year and they also voted for the Student Council Chair Person. Paula Bowers (Hair and Beauty) won the vote for Chair. The Vice Chair position was won by Wingzse Chung (AAT Business) from the SU. The Student Liaison Committee gives the Student Council members the opportunity to meet with the Principal, Governors and Directors to discuss issues relevant to the College. Both meetings went well with attendance of over 50 learners in each meeting.
Leicester College continues to receive positive feedback around its Learner Voice. The LEET Team will continue to support the Learner Voice and are happy to receive recommendations and suggestions for its development.
The Construction course rep meeting is pictured below.
Equality and Diversity News by Maxine Chambers
The Learner Engagement & Enrichment Team is developing its two year Equality and Diversity Programme, supporting the College to meet its Equality Duty. The plan will include working with internal and external partners to develop programming that supports strands of the Equality and Diversity Act 2010. A very productive meeting has already been held on 7 November with Age UK representatives Antony Massey and Michaela Forty. Gretta Tharratt, Maxine Chambers and Harjinder Singh are looking forward to a positive future partnership with Age UK. Maxine Chambers, LEET Team Leader said “We are looking forward to running intergenerational projects that benefit our learners and senior citizens in a number of ways. Our first project “Better Together” will bring together learners and senior citizens to break down stereotypes, debate current issues, learn new skills and develop friendships.”
For more information on the team's development, or to get involved, contact Harjinder Singh, Student Liaison Officer, extension 4279/2081
Skills Show 2015
The College's contribution had a particular emphasis on Electrical Installation and Bricklaying. The photos below give a flavour of what was on offer.
In the Skills Show final, Leicester College learner Charlie Madden (pictured below, bottom photo) took second place in a competition between 13 of the country's best young bricklayers. Tutor Keith Binns says, "Charlie worked really well and despite feeling the pressure on the first day and losing his way a little, he came back strongly and thoroughly deserved his silver medal. Like others before him, Charlie was a real ambassador for the College, not only in his achievement but in his overall performance, attitude and behaviour."
Care News, by Tina Thorpe and Gerry Daly
CHSS are making giant strides with their Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Pledges. Throughout the year all staff in the department have pledged to encourage learners' involvement in EDI events. A forum for male Care learners is up and running for young men to meet once a month to share experiences and enjoy activities such as a game of pool. Additionally, a young parenting club will be starting where staff with childcare qualifications and/or nursing experience will help learners who are new or expectant young parents to build confidence in their abilities.
For Children in Need, staff and learners, encouraged by the slogan ‘Show how much we care by making a giant bear,’ donated their loose change to make a giant image of Pudsey Bear in the Atrium of Abbey Park Campus.
CHSS have plenty of other plans in the pipeline and more can be seen on our vibrant new noticeboards on the third floor, just outside the hub. We have an image of a tree with a member of staff on every branch to convey to learners that that we are all part of a team. Love Our Rooms has also been embedded into the EDI pledges so that learners feel safe and happy in their learning environment.
Learners have responded positively so far to the pledges by getting involved and contributing to the focus on EDI.
Peter Tatchel visits Leicester College
Asit Parmar, lecturer in childcare, pledged to invite high profile guests into College to speak about equality in relation to their role/position. As a result, human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell (pictured below, far left) visited the College on Monday 26 October. Peter spoke to a large number of learners and staff about Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) issues and needs in relation to health and work.
To find out more about the work of the Peter Tatchell Foundation, click here
Music and Sound Technology News by John Meredith
Music and Sound Technology learners received specially designed hoodies for the first time this year. Learners from Graphic Design were challenged to design three hoodies, ‘musician,’ ‘producer’ and ‘crew,’ depending on which course they were on. The designs were whittled down and Chirag Ishvarlal from BTEC Extended Diploma in Graphic Design Year 2 was chosen as the winner. The design was then printed onto the hoodies.
Chirag told his tutor Kate Drew that he enjoyed taking part in the live competition and was pleased to have had his work chosen. This is his first ‘real’ design project which is now in print. Chirag hopes to go on to university next year to study BA graphics and build on his success this year.
BME Staff Network 2015-16
The BME Staff Network is one of the various staff groups which feed into the Equalities, Diversities and Inclusion Committee, chaired by the Principal. Ranvir Singh was re-elected as the Network Convener and Tarvinder Sohansoha was elected as the EDI Committee Representative.
The Network, now entering its sixth year, is having specific themes for each meeting this year. All meetings are at 3pm with the dates and themes for 2015-16 below;
- Thursday 17 December 2015 FPA3.23 The perfect CV and tips for interview (Careers Team)
- Tuesday 23 February 2016 APA1.48 Bullying and Harassment Policy overview (Nicola Morton, Human Resources Manager)
- Wednesday 20 April 2016 FPB1.10 The College Financial position (Shabir Ismail, Deputy Principal)
- Monday 20 June 2016 APA1.15 to be confirmed
If you are interested in attending, please contact Ranvir Singh email@example.com
In Marketing we are continuing to try new things. At Open Day, Thursday 26 November, we were supported by our colleague Tony Coleman from CAPA and his learners who used lighting projections in the foyer of Abbey Park Campus to showcase their skills and demonstrate the equipment available to learners. The sky was also lit with laser beams that night, which were projected from all three campusses, drawing people to the event and causing a stir on social media. We also recruited 48 learner ambassadors to help staff the event and show prospective learners around the College.
Marketing welcomes your suggestions, so please forward your ideas to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
October Half Term
In response to the impending Ofsted inspection, the team has been proactive in bringing forward a project to replace all lectern machines at APC, FPC and SMC. We would like to thank you for the excellent feedback, and the new machines will assist the teaching and learning taking place. We will continue to improve all the teaching and learning spaces across the college to ensure our learners receive the best IT experience possible.
Do your learners need space to?
- Prepare group work,
- Practice presentations,
- Plan and discuss projects?
Why not tell them about the Freemen’s Park Library Study Pod? The Study Pod can be used for up to six learners at a time. It can be booked in advance or on the day. Contact Freemen’s Park Library for more details.
Library Promotion Event Word Search Competition.
During the recent Library Promotion Event we held a word search competition. The winners, who each received a Highcross shopping voucher, were:
Shanelle Mankoo (APC)
Divya Mistry (SMC)
Mitul Gangji (FPC)
Many thanks to all who entered.
GCSE maths and English courses by Sheena Ramsey
More information about intensive maths and English pre-assesment courses is available here.
22 December 2015 - Yule (Pagan)
Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year when Pagans celebrate the rebirth of the sun. More information at: Winter Solstice
25 December 2015 - Christmas Day (Christian)
Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus, whom they believe to be the son of God.
More information at: Christmas Day
26 December 2015 – Boxing Day
Traditionally, it was a day when employers distributed money, food, cloth (material) or other valuable goods to their employees.
More information at: Boxing Day
For more information about upcoming festivals, please refer to the quality sharepoint page here
Campus Warden News by Michael Mullins
With the dark nights upon us, now is a good time to re-think your usual security and safety routines. If you cycle, always secure your bicycle with a security D Lock. Thin chains or cables can be cut off easily. Wear brightly coloured clothing and remember your lights!
If you are the last member of staff to leave a classroom or a staffroom always switch all the lights and computers off and always lock the door.
If you see anything of a suspicious nature report it straight away to the Campus Wardens, they will assist in any way they can. If they are out and about on patrol or on any other duties, they can be contacted at APC on EXT 4102 and at FPC on EXT 2502.
When reserving car-parking spaces please give as much notice as possible. While parking in the car-parks, please display your permits as regular checks of all car-parks are carried out through the day. Do not leave valuable items on display inside your vehicle especially with Christmas almost upon us as opportunist thieves could break into your vehicle, especially if you park off campus.
May I take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.
The following meetings, with the discussion points below have taken place since the last issue of Connect:
Corporation Meeting 29 October 2015
- Substantive Discussion: Success Rates 2014/2015
- Inspection (Ofsted)
- Recruitment and Enrolment Report
- Period 12 Accounts 2014/2015
- Pay Award 2015/2016
- Risk Management Strategy 2015/2016
- Committee Terms of Reference
- Standing Orders Review
- Code of Good Governance
- Governor Appointments
- Search & Committee Meeting 23 September 2015
- Finance & General Purposes Committee 1 October 2015
- Audit Committee 7 October 2015
Curriculum Strategy and Quality Improvement Committee 11 November 2015
- Strategies 2016-2018 – Learning, Teaching & Assessment
- Preparing for Inspection
- Observation Reports 2014/2015
- Workplace Learning
- Learning & Teaching
- Substantive Item: Success Rates 2014/2015
- Selection of Chair and Vice Chair
Audit Committee 18 November 2015
- Audit Committee Annual Report 2014/2015
- Audit highlights Memorandum and Management Letter – Year ended 31 July 2015
- Risk Management Progress Report
Staff Recognition Award
Would you like the College to recognise and acknowledge staff who are providing excellent support and service to learners, staff or visitors?
Celebrate the commitment of the staff at Leicester College by nominating them for a Staff Recognition Award. You can nominate your chosen member of staff by:
· Completing the new Nomination Form available from the College Information Centres
· Using the online Nomination Form available on the Quality Improvement Unit’s SharePoint site. This can be found on SharePoint under: Curriculum and Quality > Quality Improvement > Staff Recognition Award or by clicking the following link: Staff Recognition Award
· Emailing your nomination to email@example.com
At the end of each term, a winner and runner up will be selected based on the strength of the nominations received, so please provide as much detail as possible to ensure that your nomination stands out from the rest. Details of the winner and runner up will be published in Connect.
The winner will receive a prize of a meal voucher for two at the taste Restaurant and a certificate, and the runner up will receive a certificate.
Pets Win Prizes!
Caption competition? That is, like, sooo last month. We have a new competition for you now, so pay attention please because Pets Win Prizes! What you have to do is match the right staff member to their pet. The prize is a kitten (not really, that would be a bit irresponsible). Please send your entries to firstname.lastname@example.org The real prize is a free lunch at our very own taste restaurant for you and a guest (to be arranged at your convenience). The deadline is 1 February 2016.
Thanks to the pet owners in question for being good sports.
Staff Photography Competition!
It's lovely out (honest!) we think you should dust off your digital camera and pull on your wellies. We have a free lunch at taste to give away for the best staff photographs on the theme of 'Winter,' and you can bring a friend or a colleague along too so you don't have to sit on your own (again.) There are two categories; Indoors and Outdoors. Please send your entries to email@example.com. We are looking for photos that capture the spirit of the season. Photos must be digital and attached to an email. You can send as many as you like. The winners will be announced and displayed in the next edition of Connect. The deadline is 1 February 2016.
Santa Fun Run Saturday 6 December
If you haven't already tried to spot yourself in the crowd, footage of the race is available here.
The Links Effect
As Slade once said, IT'S CHRISTMAS!!
Ever wondered what stuff looks like under that microscope you bought your kids but they never touched? If you dare, find out here. If you think that Christmas isn't the same as when you were a kid, relive your childhood with some of these classic toys from Christmases past Are your neighbours' fairy lights better than yours? We can't have that, get some inspiration here. Spent all your Christmas money and left the tree in the pub? Us too! Don't worry, your family will never know ... help to make your own Christmas is available here and here. Ladies, stuck for something to wear for that all important Christmas do? Cosmo has done the research so you don't have to. Dress to impress with one of these spectacular Christmas jumpers. Don't forget your pet this Christmas. Who doesn't like combining dog ownership with their love of Star Wars? Check here. Leicester City FC fans who are enjoying the current wave of success, might want to ask Santa for this. And finally, Michelle Obama and Jay Pharoah ... thanks for singing a song about us, who knew? We salute you, see here.
Connect Needs Your Contributions
The deadline for submissions for the next issue is 1 Feb.
Thanks for making and reading Connect. We'll be seeing you.