AO of the year

Disability Rights Champion becomes new Patron of English Speaking Board (International)  

Dr. Kanodia carrying the torch during the 2012 Paralympic Games in London

On the eve of the United Nation’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities English Speaking Board (International) is delighted to announce the appointment of Disability Rights Champion Dr Kush Kanodia as its new Patron. 

A leading light for disability rights and race equality, Dr Kanodia was drawn to ESB after hearing of its Outreach Campaign, which financially supports organisations and groups whose learners face disadvantage due to poverty, migrant or asylum seeker status, or special educational needs and disabilities. He recognises the impact of confidence to enabling success and self-esteem and wants to help us to attract more organisations to access ESB’s Ofqual-accredited confidence-boosting English language and Oracy qualifications. 

His appointment comes at a very exciting time for ESB with the recent accolade of winning  ‘Awarding Organisation of the Year’ at the FAB 2023 Awards. A key factor in winning the award was the successful implementation of ESB’s Outreach Campaign which ESB hopes will be further strengthened by the appointment of new patrons. 

Dr Kanodia, and other new patrons, will play a crucial role in raising ESB’s profile. Patrons who can represent and champion these learners and their opportunities with ESB. Patrons who can draw attention to the work of ESB, its learners’ successes and further help ESB to close the disadvantage gap. 

Dr Kanodia received the Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award by TiE London

Dr Kanodia, says:

I am truly delighted and honoured to become a new Patron for the English Speaking Board (International). Being both a disabled person and an ethnic minority, when I was young I had my own challenges when learning the English language. I have a lived-experience of the opportunities and transformation that occurs from confidence-boosting English language and Oracy qualifications, which last year resulted in me receiving an Honorary Doctorate from Kent University. I have dedicated my life to supporting both disabled people and ethnic minorities, by removing barriers in society and transforming and leading system for us all to achieve our full potential. I look forward to working with ESB to empower learners, by closing the disadvantage gap, enabling us all to thrive.

ESB’s Chief Executive, Tina Renshaw says:

We are delighted to welcome Dr Kanodia as our new patron. There is still so much evidence of people with disabilities facing barriers to learning that hinder their access to opportunities. At ESB, we want to reach these learners who face disadvantage and help equip them with the essential life skills they need to thrive in education, training and employment, giving them the life choices and freedoms to which they are entitled.  

Our specialist Oracy qualifications for learners with significant learning needs furnish our learners with experiences that can help to remove barriers to learning by enabling access to a wide range of curricula, building relationships and a sense of belonging, and developing self-esteem and a positive self-identity. Imagine the impact that sense of empowerment and achievement has on any learner but especially learners who often face systemic barriers that they and their families and carers have to overcome to allow them to flourish.

According to recent data from the Bureau of Labour Statistics (2020): People with disabilities are twice as likely to be unemployed when compared with the general population.

Adds Tina:

This statement highlights the severity of the inequality that exists and which some of the most disadvantaged groups in our society face. As a champion with an amazing track record of success for people with disabilities, I am in no doubt the impact and voice that Dr Kanodia will bring to our work and the advice and support he will provide to our outreach campaign.

Since 2020, our Outreach work has committed £45,000 to support our organisations and we continue to focus on, and support, the areas of most disadvantage. In 2023, we will have committed £30,000 in one year and ESB hopes with donors’ valuable support to secure funding to more than double our annual financial support to organisations, their children, young people and adults.

As part of the organisation’s 70th anniversary celebrations this year, ESB showcased the exceptional achievements of its neurodiverse learners at a live-streamed event which was attended by many ESB organisations and their learners from across the UK.

Curriculum Area Manager at Belfast Metropolitan College, Michael Patterson, said:

“Belfast Met has had the honour of working with ESB and has witnessed first-hand the transformative impact that ESB qualifications have on individuals’ lives. Through our partnership with ESB, we have had the privilege of supporting nearly 2,000 students with learning difficulties and disabilities, helping them to overcome significant barriers. As a result, our students can now communicate independently, not just in the college setting, but also in their wider community.

Another of ESB’s valued centres, Aurora Foxes Academy, a residential college and training hotel for 16-25 year olds based in Minehead, Somerset, told us why they choose ESB qualifications.

“We have a long-standing relationship with ESB and all of our students have an opportunity to take the assessment each year. At Aurora Foxes, our aim is to prepare all our students to be ‘work ready, life ready’. Our curriculum provides students with the skills for both life and employability and the English Speaking Board assessment helps us to achieve this.”
Aurora Foxes Principal, Mark Costello

ESB also heard from The Link Secondary School, an ESB centre based in Croydon, providing a quality education for children and young people aged 4-18 with speech, language and communication needs, including autistic spectrum conditions and Pathological Demand Avoidance. 

“We’ve participated in ESB assessments at our school for over 20 years. Over the years, students have gained valuable speaking and listening qualifications. We chose ESB due to the range of courses on offer and the different levels of courses students could study at. It’s had lots of impact on our learners, different things, like structuring and organisational skills, attention and listening, social skills and public speaking skills.”
Speech and Language Therapist at the Link Secondary School, Charlotte Yeung

Please watch the highlights from the event in the video below.

ESB Logo
Being awarded the Entrepreneur of the Year at the Asian Achievers Awards in 2019

In addition to his disability rights work, Dr Kanodia is a multiple award-winning social entrepreneur and a systems leader. Kush creates systemic change for the inclusion of disabled people focusing on the intersection of disability with his portfolio career.

Dr Kanodia is the Vice Chair for the Regional Stakeholder Network for Greater London with the Disability Unit / Cabinet Office and is a Trustee and Director at AbilityNet. He is also Trustee and Director at the Centre for Access to Football in Europe, Intersectional advisory board member and Trustee and Director for Inclusion London and an Ambassador for Disability Rights UK.

Graduating with a BSc in Management Science and achieved a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with Distinction Honours from the University of Kent.

Previously, Dr Kanodia has worked with some of the largest and most influential organisations from the BBC, HSBC, and the NHS to Bloomberg, Lehman Brother and Morgan Stanley. In 2009, Kush left a successful career as an investment banker to focus on disability inclusion, co-founding the global diversity non-governmental organisation Choice International.

Dr Kanodia was a Torch Bearer for the Paralympic Games in London 2012. He was selected for his dedication to disability rights and his inspirational career. In 2018, Dr Kanodia was cited as one of the top ten most influential BAME leaders in technology by the Financial Times. In 2019, he received the Asian Achievers Award for Entrepreneur of the Year, was included in the BAME 100 Business Leaders Index by Green Park, and he received the Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award by TiE London. Dr Kanodia ranked second in the Disability Power 100, Shaw Trust list of most powerful and influential disabled people in the UK.

As a Level Playing Field Trustee, Dr Kanodia helped to gain a commitment from all Premier League football clubs to comply with accessibility guidelines of UEFA and Centre for Access to Football in Europe. In 2021, Dr Kanodia led the #NoWheelChairTax campaign to success. Transforming the largest health system in the world – NHS England. Abolishing all disabled car parking charges from over 200 NHS hospital, helping 2.5 million disabled Blue Badges holders to access critical healthcare during the pandemic.

Dr. Kush Kanodia receiving an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Kent

Dr Kanodia also persuaded the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea to simplify and expand free disabled parking from one to four hours for three of the leading NHS hospitals in the country.

In 2022, awarded with an Honorary degree for Doctor of Science, for having an inspirational career as a disability & rights champion & social entrepreneur with Kent University. The University of Kent acknowledged Kush’s system leadership of NHS England and stated the following:

“This is by some margin the single largest and most impactful change in the treatment of disabled people in the history of the NHS.”

Dr Kanodia’s new campaign focuses on climate & social justice for disabled people by providing reasonable adjustments from London’s Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) during the cost of living crisis. Dr Kanodia achieved success in transforming ULEZ before the expansion to the whole of Greater London in 2023, supporting over ¼ million disabled people and now plans to create national policy in England.

If you are interested in speaking to an ESB team member about our Oracy and/or English language qualifications and want to see if you qualify for financial support through our Outreach Programme, or if you wish to become a donor to support our Outreach Programme, ESB would love to hear from you.

Please email or call 01695 573439 extension 201.