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Celebrating Colleges


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  • 1. Celebrating Colleges Winning capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award winners Pat Hood, April 2008
  • 2. Celebratin Foreword by Martin Doel and John Bingham Martin Doel John Bingham Fifteen years after the launch of the AoC Beacon The Association of Colleges is committed to ensuring that Awards, we are delighted to be able to present “Celebrating Colleges” reaches the widest possible audience and that the capabilities of Colleges are the outcomes of research aimed at identifying recognised as an absolutely critical element in the key indicators of success in the Colleges that economic and social well-being of the United Kingdom. were successful in winning Beacon Awards. Finally, we should like to acknowledge the excellent and Since their inception in 1994, the AoC Beacon Awards thorough work carried out by the research consultant, Pat have a deserved reputation for being a respected means of Hood, and thank her for bringing together this report on reflecting excellence and innovation in Colleges. This behalf of the AoC Charitable Trust. excellence and innovation has been critical in enabling the Colleges to adapt to changing social, economic and political landscapes by ensuring support for the local communities that they serve and in the process helping millions of individuals realise their potential. As well as recognising the achievements of Colleges, we hope that “Celebrating Colleges” will also serve as a source of data for researchers interested in the Martin Doel John Bingham development of Colleges in a period of possibly Chief Executive, AoC Chair, AoC unparalleled change and development; whether it be to map the way in which new technologies have been embraced and harnessed by Colleges or to demonstrate the relationship between the AoC Beacon Awards and QIA Beacon status or Ofsted grades, for example. Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners 1
  • 3. Celebratin Contents Executive summary Introduction 3 4 The research 5 Winning capabilities 6 Celebrating colleges 8 Mapping the future: challenges facing colleges for the next five years and beyond 54 What do winning colleges demonstrate in their Beacon Awards applications? 56 Acknowledgements 57 Sponsors 58 2 Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners
  • 4. ng Colleges Executive Summary Celebrating Colleges is the report of the first research into the Association of Colleges’ Beacon Award colleges. The aim was to celebrate colleges’ achievements, and to ask what it was money for learners and for tax-payers, and make a considerable contribution to the country’s prosperity and well-being. that colleges had done in the past, and were The futures map doing now, that would serve them well for a The research identified eight features of a futures map – successful self-regulatory future. the challenges which winning colleges expect to tackle in the next five years and beyond. The features are: The research, undertaken by Pat Hood, involved: • keeping the focus on teaching and learning • analysis of the nearly 900 winning, and highly • continuing to be creative commended applications and assessors’ reports • sustaining a genuine culture of self-improvement produced since 1994 when the Awards began • addressing the new localism • seminar discussions at AoC’s 2007 Annual Conference • contributing to social justice • working meeting with sponsors • positioning to maximise opportunities • interviews with principals and other leading sector • achieving sustainability figures • meeting the challenges of globalisation Research findings Research conclusion The research found that winning colleges shared six The research concludes that colleges have the capabilities capabilities which fit them to lead a self-improving, they need to tackle the future with flair and success. innovative sector, instrumental in forging its future during Colleges are confident that their past and current a period of transformational change. The capabilities are: achievements fit them for their futures as active players in • visionary leadership a self-regulatory sector. The evidence of their Award- • innovative and creative winning work provides sure ground for their optimism. • responsive • collaborative • delivers personalised, inclusive learning Benefits of the AoC Beacon Awards • challenges and changes expectations The research demonstrated the considerable benefits to the sector of the AoC Beacon Awards. Colleges said the The capabilities represent the essential attributes of benefits included: successful colleges – those things which distinguish them • national recognition for excellence and innovation in from other providers. teaching and learning • acknowledgement for the talents of staff at all levels Celebrating Colleges illustrates the six capabilities with in a college commentaries, analysis, and thirty six profiles of • encouragement for winners to further develop their innovative work in Beacon Award colleges. innovative work • sharing of best practice between colleges The research and profiles provide evidence that creative • opportunities for pioneering colleges to benchmark colleges: their work nationally • contribute significantly to local and regional • development of a ‘critical mass’ of excellence which economic regeneration acts as a catalyst for change and innovation within • help build and sustain prosperous, harmonious the sector communities • contribute to social justice through their The Beacon Award winners are examples of what can be inclusiveness and promotion of equality and diversity achieved; they inspire other colleges to emulate their • excel in working in complex partnerships successes. • reshape themselves in order to respond to new demands Other research outcomes • deliver personalised, inclusive learning As well as the report “Celebrating Colleges”, the research • blaze the trail in finding new ways of doing things produced some four hundred analytical profiles of • share their expertise and learn from each other winning colleges. These will be made available on-line by the Association of Colleges, for use by colleges and other By doing all these things, colleges provide value for organisations. Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners 3
  • 5. Celebratin Introduction Colleges in the UK lead the world in the innovative breadth and inclusiveness of their provision, their deep commitment to their not spring into being in colleges just in the last few years, so there are references and short descriptions of the work of earlier winners whose achievements often sowed the seed for more growth. Not everyone is here, though the communities, and their creative response to the four hundred short analytical reports also produced individual learner. Their achievements deserve during the research, and to be made available on-line, to be celebrated. provide a comprehensive survey of the sector’s creative excellence since the Awards began. The Association of Colleges wanted to do just that when, in 1994, it established the Beacon Awards in order to The hope is that all colleges will recognise aspects of their recognise the very best innovation in the sector, and to own creativity and innovation in ‘Celebrating Colleges’. provide inspirational benchmarks for colleges. Colleges say there is nothing else like the Awards. Winning one is Research findings cause for delight, pride, and tears of joy, as anyone who The research found that winning, innovative colleges has attended the annual Award ceremony will testify. share six capabilities which fit them to lead a Colleges consider the Awards to represent honour and self-improving, creative sector, instrumental in forging its peer-recognition at the highest level. They value them own future during a period of transformational change. because they are hard to achieve. The capabilities enable colleges to: • contribute significantly to local and regional The credibility of the Awards resides in the core values economic regeneration which guide the assessment and selection process: • help build and sustain prosperous, harmonious integrity, transparency, consistency, and fairness. Colleges communities recognise the credentials and expertise of the assessors, • contribute to social justice through their and respect the rigour of the process. inclusiveness and promotion of equality and diversity Sponsors’ contributions are vital to the esteem in which the Awards are held. Sixty-seven sponsors have brought • excel in working in complex partnerships to the Awards their external perceptions and expectations • reshape themselves in order to respond to new from the worlds of business, voluntary organisations, and demands national agencies and government departments. Nearly • deliver personalised, inclusive learning all sponsors take an active part in the selection process, • blaze the trail in finding new ways of doing things eager to find out what colleges are doing, and to give • share and learn from each other something back. The research identified the main features of a futures map AoC Beacon Awards envisaged by winning colleges, and concludes that the sector’s past and current winning achievements fit it for a • 351 Awards given since 1994 successful future. • 225 Highly commended colleges • 3,661 applications The report • 87% of colleges in England, Scotland, Wales and The report includes: Northern Ireland have applied • brief description of the research • 67 sponsors have supported the Awards • outline of six winning capabilities and some indicators A list of sponsors is given at the end of the report • six sections of comment, analysis, and college profiles grouped under each of the capabilities Celebrating Colleges • the futures map as envisaged by principals ‘Celebrating Colleges’ is the outcome of the first research • ten things that winning colleges do in their into the winning colleges. It describes the six essential Beacon Awards applications capabilities demonstrated by these colleges, and illustrates their creativity and innovation in 36 analytical profiles The next section describes the research. drawn from the winning and highly commended entries of the last two or three years. Of course, innovation did 4 Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners
  • 6. ng Colleges The research In summer 2007, the AoC Charitable Trust commissioned Pat Hood to undertake research into Beacon Award-winning colleges. The intention was to produce a report which The research activities included detailed analysis of all the archive materials, a seminar with principals as guest speakers at AoC’s annual conference, a working meeting with sponsors, and inspirational interviews with principals and other sector leaders. celebrated colleges’ achievements and demonstrated their capacity to map their own As well as this report, the research produced a database of futures. some 400 short analytical profiles of selected winning and highly commended and commended entries, to be made The AoC Beacon Award Award archives are a rich available on-line by AoC for use by colleges and other resource for the sector, with nearly 900 Award organisations. applications, supporting testimonials from learners, employers and other partners, assessment visit reports, and summary profiles of winning colleges. The materials capture what is best about colleges by illustrating great teaching and learning, inspiring vision and leadership, and vigorous capabilities for innovation and creativity. Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners 5
  • 7. Celebratin Winning capabilities Three ideas acted as starting points for the research: it’ supremely well that the capabilities attempt to capture. The capabilities are listed next, and then amplified through indicators which go some way to describing the signs, spirit, and culture of innovative colleges. The • the futures map indicators are drawn directly from the research. • capacity • capabilities Six winning capabilities The futures map Self-regulation and self-improvement are the expected 1. Visionary leadership prominent features on the futures map, alongside sustainability, demand-led skills, localisation, funding 2. Innovative and creative changes and transfer of departmental responsibilities and other well-recognised shifts in the landscape. Winning 3. Responsive colleges saw other local and regional features when they looked ahead, as well as internal challenges such as 4. Collaborative revolutions in approaches to teaching and learning. During the research, they identified other themes which 5. Delivers personalised, inclusive learning combined to make the ‘mood music’ for their strategic planning and positioning. 6. Challenges and changes expectations Capacity The six capabilities and their indicators Winning colleges do not just read the futures map, they have the capacity to forge their own. They are able to absorb and analyse what the future tells them, and then Some indicators: Visionary leadership to use that understanding to construct their unique • shapes and articulates a shared vision which has a response. The best go a step further, and work pro- moral purpose: ‘this is what we stand for’ actively to design parts of the map themselves. • passionate about learning and learners • believes in and values teachers, and ensures all staff Winning capabilities can make a contribution • sets a culture for sustained innovation and As well as helping create their own futures, innovative excellence colleges have the capacity for action and faculties capable • nurtures ‘quality with depth’ of development which make up the six winning • experiments, expects risk-taking, and takes risks capabilities identified through the research. • seeks out, recognises, and rewards innovation and creativity Time and again, colleges exemplified these capabilities in • understands the connection between innovation and their Award submissions, assessors recognised and excellence valued them during visits, and external bodies such as • takes the lead on equality and diversity Ofsted identified them at the heart of outstanding • filters new policies, funding, initiatives, to take what provision. The capabilities were integrated within the the college really needs college, part and parcel of its identity, able to be deployed over time and vitally, able to be refined, extended, and applied in new and different settings. These are the winning things that colleges do now, have done in the past, and will continue to do. They are the faculties that colleges will use to tackle the next set of challenges. Of course, government policy and initiatives, funding, planning, and inspection outcomes shape and inform what colleges do, but as one principal said, ‘they don’t tell us how to do it – we decide that’. It is the ‘how to do 6 Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners
  • 8. ng Colleges Some indicators: Innovative and creative • blazes a trail, leads the way, the first to do something • takes pride in being an excellent college in an excellent network; takes shared responsibility for scope and quality of local and regional provision • values bench-marking and peer review • believes ‘there is always a better way of doing opportunities within partnerships this’ • understands and acts on the new localism • intellectually curious; reflects and learns • internationally active: ambassador for UK • open, no pre-conceived ideas • holds high expectations of self, others, college • tries out ‘experiments with nascent agenda’ – the seeds of change Some indicators: Delivers personalised, inclusive learning • mainstreams innovation and creativity; • matches learning to the individual learner ‘how we do things’ • fosters instrumentality by helping learners to • ‘structured to enable’ – no barriers to innovation manage their own learning • makes the case with articulacy and passion • values every level of learning equally • ‘can do’ philosophy • thinks in terms of personalised learning and • improves continuously, not just complies support opportunities – not courses • celebrates innovation and creativity as a vital part • creates new pedagogy to meet changing needs of reputation • harnesses technology as a medium and aide for learning, but choosy, knows what it wants from it • transforms into a ‘college without walls’; uses technology to reach learners Some indicators: • celebrates outstanding teaching Responsive • instrumental in economic regeneration; alert and responsive to employers’ changing needs • analyses, understands and acts on the social cohesion agenda Some indicators: Challenges and changes expectations • deeply committed to local communities; there for • challenges and changes society’s expectations of the long haul learners • serves with heart – takes into account the spiritual, • confronts and transforms learners’ assumptions emotional and domestic lives of the learners about their capacities • outward looking, open, accessible • changes staff’s expectations of themselves • flexible and supple; reads the runes and re-thinks • ambitious for learners, staff, college itself • honest and open about its stage of development • identifies, draws in, and meets the needs of new • enjoys challenge; benchmarks against the very best learners • contributes to social justice by celebrating and deploying the diverse gifts and talents of all its learners, staff, and managers • builds its reputation on the achievements of Some indicators: learners Collaborative • excels in working with others: universities, schools, • travels beyond what is expected private and voluntary training providers, employers and other stakeholders • forges and sustains the right relationships • respects partners; understands and values their contributions • held in high esteem by partners; reciprocal relationships • willing and able to develop shared strategies in the best interests of learners • works with partners to deliver flexible learning opportunities Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners 7
  • 9. Celebratin Celebrating colleges This report celebrates the excellence of colleges, and this section is devoted to descriptions of what they do so well. The Beacon Award winners exemplify the powerful contributions made by colleges to the economic well-being and social cohesion of Great Britain. They demonstrate that colleges have the capabilities they require to take on the individual, collaborative, and sector-wide responsibilities proposed in the Single Voice national improvement strategy. 1 The work of a selection of Award-winning colleges is described next in order to illustrate the six capabilities. There is a short explanation of each capability, together with some indication of the influences experienced by colleges, followed by profiles which exemplify particular aspects. Included are references to earlier work where colleges have led the way. The section begins with Visionary Leadership, from which all the other capabilities flow. 1 Briefing paper: Provider performance management within a self-regulating FE sector, P. Cox, Self regulation project, Single Voice, February 2008 8 Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners
  • 10. ng Colleges Visionary Leadership Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners 9
  • 11. Celebratin Visionary Leadership Visionary Leadership Visionary leaders know how to develop and extend the capabilities at the heart of innovative, self-improving colleges. As an essential part of the research, interviews or personalisation were explored in staff seminars or other discussion groups and best practice teams. Their own involvement in external innovation was both a stimulus personally and a model of intellectual were conducted with seventeen leaders in the college engagement for staff. They ‘walked the talk’ in other sector. This part of the report is based on those ways, by innovating themselves, taking professional conversations, and attempts to offer some insights into risks, experimenting, and welcoming challenge. how these leaders nurture excellence. Staff were expected to be expert leaders in their own right, taking collegiate, shared responsibility for the Setting the culture – this is what we organisation’s success. They were expected to take stand for risks, and supported in learning from mistakes – within a ‘no blame’ culture. Principals wanted innovation to Principals of winning colleges declare proudly, ‘this is work, but did not mind when it didn’t – as long as the what we stand for – this is what we do’. They are open, lessons were learned. Willingness to take risks rested on confident, and secure enough to welcome the challenge mutual trust; one comment was that, ‘you have to trust of outside scrutiny which they value as an opportunity the people you’re working with’, and another principal to sharpen and focus their thinking. They believe said, ‘I try not to micro-manage … and try not to have passionately in learning: ‘once you unleash a person’s pre-conceived ideas as to how something should be capacity for learning – then you are always moving done’. Another spoke of, ‘liberating the people – giving forward’. They give powerful messages about their them latitude to fail’. colleges’ values, leading by example through direct The innovative stance involvement and support for innovation in relation to vulnerable learners, and racial, gender and sexual equality. They recognise learners and staff as rounded Winning colleges have as their starting point, ‘there are human beings, taking account of their domestic, better ways of doing what we do’. One principal emotional and spiritual selves. They expect their described her college as ‘development ready’, with colleges to be moral forces for good in their organisational and individual mind-sets which are communities, leading and engaging in partnerships to exploratory, reflective, and constantly moving forward. achieve social justice. They are concerned with These principals believe in opportunities, not barriers; economic regeneration, the skills agenda, and they are quick to see potential. One described how a employability, but as one principal commented, ‘we are developer talked of buying waterfront land – ‘the first more than that’. They have long-standing, deep thing I see is a marine academy’. Teachers in these commitment to their local and regional communities, colleges are experts in learning, ‘owning’ the and want their colleges to transform individual lives. curriculum, with a strong sense of instrumentality – ‘we can change things’, as well as pride in what they do. Distinct expectations The innovative college is generous with its expertise, Clarity about their colleges’ values and mission sometimes taking lead responsibility with partners for translates into distinct expectations of staff, students, the quality of local and regional provision. It is eager to and themselves. These leaders see it as their job to ‘give learn from others; and is ‘always able to identify people opportunities to do wonderful things’. They strengths in other provision’. It believes that explaining give thought and energy to communicating with staff, how it does things helps it refine and sharpen its ideas. and to building routine opportunities for staff to listen Its stance is humble, ‘we still have a lot to learn’. It has and contribute. It was important to help staff gone beyond compliance to an internalised culture of understand, ‘this is how we do things’, and to work out innovation and continuous improvement. It believes ‘if what that means for their practice. One principal teachers are experimenting, learners are benefiting’. described how he met job applicants, taking time to Shaping the future explain what the college was about, so that people could reflect on whether this was the right place for them. Teachers are expected to be intellectually curious, Because winning colleges are thinking, analytical engaged with the ideas behind teaching and learning. organisations, with clout and credibility, they identify Principals spoke of how they fostered a ‘think tank’ and influence levers for change. They do not wait to be told, but are out there helping shape the futures map for environment where ideas such as emotional intelligence the sector. Principals in Northern Ireland, Scotland and 10 Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners
  • 12. ng Colleges Wales described the scope for instrumentality in relatively small, close communities of colleges working in active partnerships with policy-makers. However, all the interviewed principals considered their colleges to These experienced principals understood the power of technology to serve as an accelerator for change, but their practical strategies for its deployment rested on a ‘what do we want from it?’ approach, rather than a ‘see be instrumental in their own futures; they were not what it can do’ one. ‘being done to’, but equal contributors in the evolution Leaders at every level of the sector. During the interviews, principals shared their Colleges need leaders at every level. Curriculum leaders perceptions of future challenges. These are described in share some of the attributes of innovative principals, the Mapping the Future section of the report. along with others more directly related to teaching and learning. Most importantly, they understand learning Practical strategies and curriculum development. They know how to Principals emphasised that innovation took place within design a new curriculum framework, and translate it a strategic framework: ‘we innovate around our into exciting, motivating learning activities. They go strategic plan’, and was steered by a single unifying idea beyond the requirements of awarding bodies in their for the college. Winning colleges have a whole-college creativity and responsiveness to learners’ needs, and approach to innovation, making strong links between excel in designing new curricula to match changing innovation and self-assessment and quality. Individual employer requirements. examples of innovation did not flourish in isolation, but Catalysts for change were harnessed to other creative practice so the college could maximise the benefits, and use them as a driver for wholesale improvement. One college has a research Winning curriculum leaders are the yeast in their and development steering group to bring together all its colleges – helping whole organisations to rise. They innovative projects. The group provides an internal have a vision of what can be achieved, and the challenge by asking, ‘what outcomes will we secure?’ credibility and skills to take their team with them. They from each project. One principal described how are lateral thinkers, with a ‘professional appetite’ for successful innovation was exploited to its maximum: ‘if innovation. something works, we flog it to death; we always ask Professional confidence where it can go next’. Principals were passionate about teams, investing in Winning teams and their leaders know when they have getting the right people into working relationships, and produced something exceptional, and have the giving them time and resources to deliver. One confidence to make their case and seek recognition. considered teams to be the building blocks of the They present what they do so effectively that others college’s success, describing non-hierarchical readily acknowledge its excellence. Like visionary overlapping teams as being the preferred structure. principals, they are eager to be challenged and bench- marked against the very best. Winning principals raised the bar for teams by using external expert consultants, visits to other providers, overseas visits, peer review, best practice groups, and Embody best practice other strategies to help staff extend their thinking and Winning curriculum leaders represent what is best about reach for new definitions of excellence. teachers. They think critically about their own practice, and help their teams engage in a comparable process. Principals made sure creativity was recognised and They are respected for their vocational or academic celebrated, sometimes tangibly as in the cash prizes knowledge, and have been, and often still are, awarded in one college’s staff achievements ceremony, sometimes through internal ‘Beacon’ Awards, or other outstanding teachers, sometimes working as Advanced forms of public and peer recognition for innovative staff. Practitioners. Frequently contributing to national The creative contributions of all staff were recognised, developments or leading local or regional professional not just those of teachers; one principal stressed her networks, they keep themselves up-to-date, often belief in the innovative powers of all the staff in her initiating approaches which are adopted by other college. colleges. Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners 11
  • 13. Celebratin Sharing expertise These leaders and their teams share their expertise, contributing to the colleges’ success. They are outwardlooking, eager to learn from colleagues, and Ahead of the game Like their principals, curriculum leaders are ahead of the game in designing learning opportunities that fit the future. Often, they lead in the development of national generous in disseminating their ideas in conferences, policies, for example in early provision based on workshops and visits. sustainability principles, work with vulnerable learners, or pioneering use of technology. They help to create the Project management skills future of learning. Innovation does not ‘just happen’, it has to be planned, resourced, managed, implemented, and evaluated. The Selected examples of visionary leadership follow next, best curriculum leaders have excellent project skills, drawn from the Beacon Award winning colleges. designing systematic plans for innovation and improvement, putting in place rigorous systems for monitoring and evaluating activities, and methods for evidencing the impact of their work. They are able to ‘make the daunting do-able’ by setting specific objectives, breaking down an initiative into realistic tasks, and allocating clear responsibilities, whilst securing shared ownership amongst team members. Data is used intelligently to identify needs, monitor progress, and to measure impact, in particular the benefits to learners. Costings are accurate, based on a solid business case, so that managers can allocate resources with confidence. Whilst innovative leaders deploy their exceptional project skills, they keep their primary focus on the quality of teaching and learning. 12 Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners
  • 14. ng Colleges Profile 1 South Devon College: visionary leadership at every level achieves transformational change In 2002, South Devon College was threatened with closure following an Ofsted grading of “unsatisfactory”. Since then, it has remade itself under the dynamic leadership of a new principal, working in partnership with her innovative curriculum leaders and teachers, and supported by her governing body. The college has won four Awards, and been highly commended for another two. These leaders have: • engaged with the challenge of transformational change • established a new senior management and total restructure • secured £32 million capital investment, partly from the LSC, to create a world-class campus • involved all stakeholders in its design • used the new environment to change approaches to teaching and learning, and showcase best practice • achieved e-maturity; used technology to improve teaching and learners’ experiences • demonstrated inspirational curriculum development; contributed to Ofsted good practice surveys • designed learning for the future • shared facilities with the community • planned more innovation, including a University of Plymouth faculty on the college site The principal says: ‘There are always better ways of doing things’ ‘We are ambitious for ourselves, our students, and the community we serve’ The college has transformed itself through the visionary leadership of the principal and staff. Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners 13
  • 15. Celebratin Profile 2 Telford College of A&T: setting the culture for sustained innovation Telford College’s principal believes in liberating the talents and creativity of all staff as part of a culture of sustained innovation. He sees one of his main tasks as ‘shielding staff from external nonsense’ so that they can be creative in their primary work of teaching and supporting learning. The college has won eleven Awards, the first in 1994, and been highly commended for seven. The spread of its Awards indicates that ‘innovation is the norm’. The innovation culture is built on: • belief in teachers and their creative capacity • trust and confidence in staff which allows them to innovate • investing in staff, paying them well, and developing their careers • choosing and keeping the right people • ‘growing our own’ – building the stars of the future • asking ‘what can we learn?’ if things go wrong • integrating innovation into development plans • using successes as springboards for new developments, for example, building on ‘Rolls Royce’ working relationships to develop new kinds of discussions with Local Authorities The sustained innovation culture means the college: • is ‘light on its feet’, ready to take advantage of policy changes • has the organisational capacity to make rapid new responses to changing needs • builds continually on its curriculum excellence • benefits from early successes in areas which are now at the forefront of policy, for example, employer partnerships The college uses the Awards to gain recognition for staff, and as external incentives to keep up the momentum for change. They are also part of its strategy for reputation management. The principal says: ‘Trust in staff is always paid back in spades’ ‘We have put in place structures to enable innovation’ 14 Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners
  • 16. ng Colleges Profile 3 Lewisham College: an experimental college The principal of Lewisham College describes its Award entries as ‘edgy stuff – our experiments that have a nascent agenda’. The college takes pride in doing what hasn’t been done before, and values the opportunity the Awards present to ‘rehearse for the future’. The college’s successful experiments include: • developing a Virtual Personnel Department to assist learners into employment • using ‘body mapping’ to raise health and safety awareness amongst construction workers whose first language is not English • pioneering early employment opportunities for learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities taking on all roles in the college’s restaurant and café • designing Skills for Life training for officers at HMP Belmarsh • delivering computer and other skills opportunities for the casual construction workforce building the new Canary Wharf • securing public sector involvement in raising employment aspirations for 14-16 year olds • forging a partnership with Jamie Oliver and his London ‘Fifteen’ restaurant The college’s empirical culture, and its willingness to take a risk and try something out rests on the vision, self-confidence, and professional skills of its ‘fabulous’ teachers, and the charismatic leadership of its principal who is particularly skilled at communicating her vision in phrases which resonate, such as ‘More than a college, more than a qualification’. Profile 4 Bridgwater College: sustaining excellence Bridgwater College is a high-achieving college, which has won nine Awards, and been highly commended for four more. It does not rest on its laurels but, led by its clear-thinking principal, uses Award-winning innovatory projects to sustain excellence. Approaches to sustaining excellence include: • incorporating a ‘harmonisation agenda’ into its ‘model’ 2004 merger with Cannington College so that the new organisation built on the best of both colleges • using the stimulus from good inspection reports to identify areas for improvement, setting targets for programmes, using reviews and external observers from other colleges and a new focus on professional development to drive up quality • assessing the real benefits to learners of any innovation, for example evaluating early college/school partnerships through the experiences of learners, views of parents, testimonials from schools • using creative projects to address development needs identified through honest self-assessment, for example, designing a new forensic science programme in response to falling recruitment in sciences • sustaining excellence by investing significantly in professional development; using a gap analysis model to identify training needs • skilled and determined use of Award assessors’ feedback to improve an already good application, going on to achieve an Award for outstanding work with international students The principal’s clarity of purpose means that everyone understands that standing still is not an option. Most importantly, her expectation of excellence is accompanied by strong support for staff. Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners 15
  • 17. Celebratin Profile 5 Pendleton Sixth Form College: leading for equality and diversity Committed leadership from the principal and senior management team imbue Pendleton Sixth Form College’s outstanding work with different groups of learners. Working in a recognised area of deprivation, the college aims to unlock the potential of all its learners. The college has won three Awards, and been highly commended once. Leadership for equality and diversity has resulted in strong, co-ordinated policies to tackle all aspects of equality and diversity • significant part of the strategic plan being dedicated to these issues • well-led task group which analyses data, sets priorities, designs action plans, and co-ordinates activities • marketing the college as a multi-faith community • innovative multi-faith chaplaincy which offers a model for other colleges • dedicated Community Liaison Officer • contributions to the local Jewish Community Centre and Kurdish Supplementary School • activities which generate understanding and respect for other cultures, including a project where learners research the countries from which their families originated • extensive Level 1 and Level 2 vocational programmes • improved access for learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities • early interventions for ‘at risk’ learners Strong leadership for equality and diversity means that the college is highly respected and valued in its community. It is able to demonstrate the value of its activities, for example, in the improved achievements of male learners. There is a well-understood relationship between achieving equality and celebrating diversity, and securing excellent outcomes for learners. Profile 6 Aberdeen College: forging the technological future The principal of Aberdeen College is leading his staff in forging a technological future for North East Scotland. He understands that technology is changing the way that people learn. Teachers will no longer be ‘guardians of knowledge’, but guides and inspiration to learners who are ‘digital natives’. The technological future includes: • rethinking how the college uses technology • understanding that many learners want to learn through technology, not through relationships • shifting the balance in learners from support to independence so they become autonomous users of technology • reshaping the roles and skills of teachers who will become technological guides and inspirers of learning • using technology to break down the ‘parochial locus’ of the college; new technology-based centres are planned across North East Scotland, building on one hundred existing community centres • designing a dynamic strategy for technology, encompassing: – use of ILT in learning – use of ICT hardware/software to equip learners for the employment environments of the future – digital inclusiveness, to maximise access to digital services, and to develop digital training packages The college has already achieved e-maturity, and is now engaged in forging its technological future for the next five years. It was a finalist three years running in the National Business Awards for Scotland for e-enablement. 16 Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners
  • 18. ng Colleges Profile 7 Pembrokeshire College: depth of quality The spread of Awards achieved by Pembrokeshire College demonstrates the depth of quality secured by a principal and staff leading a community which is a good place to be for learners and staff. The college has won seven Awards, and been highly recommended for one. Depth of quality is demonstrated by: • winning Awards for seven different aspects of its work over seven years • reaching out to learners; Estyn1 comments on the college’s ‘extensive opportunities for supporting learners in the community who would not otherwise access further education’ • outstanding international activity, with high standards of academic and pastoral work with overseas students • wide-ranging, high quality support for learners who need it • intellectual curiosity, for example, whole-college involvement in Pembrokeshire’s Darwin Science Festival • tackling the personalisation agenda, for example, use of PDAs to enable hard-to-reach vulnerable young people to participate in individualised learning • using technology to provide a better experience for learners and staff • valuing and supporting staff, for example, early work to cascade new FENTO standard, substantial investment in professional development, nominated for Best Workplace in Wales • glowing testimonials from learners who are confident they are receiving the very best experience • developing a culture of pride and enjoyment in learning This kind of quality is built over time by leaders who get the fundamentals right: investing in staff, and making sure learners feel welcomed and are able to achieve. 1 Office of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education and Training in Wales Profile 8 Armagh College: ‘this is what we stand for’ Visionary moral leadership from the principal of Armagh College empowered the college to serve as a beacon for good in a community with a long history of sectarian conflict. People understood and respected what the college stood for. The college led outstanding work to bring communities together, including: • Good Relations programme, funded by Northern Ireland Community Relations Peace Council 2, with contributions from Armagh City and District Council • acting as a focus for statutory, voluntary and community organisations, education services, church-based and business sectors to address community relations • hosting the first Northern Ireland college conference on community relations in 2006 • making good relations part of the curriculum with projects such as, ‘Challenging Prejudice and Discrimination’ compulsory for all full-time students, and Level 2 accredited ‘Good Relations in the Workplace’ programme • Life Long Learning Manager receiving Home Office Local Heroes Award for her ‘innovative approach to community capacity building and outreach’ • providing a model for emulation by overseas communities Moral courage and leadership enabled the college to make a significant contribution to a shared pluralist society in Northern Ireland. The Community Relations Council said, ‘Armagh College has taken the lead and set the standard for other NI colleges to follow’. Armagh College merged with two other colleges in 2007 to become Southern Regional College. Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners 17
  • 19. Celebratin 18 Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners
  • 20. ng Colleges Innovative and creative Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners 19
  • 21. Celebratin Innovative and creative Innovative and creative For the very best teachers and managers, finding new ways of doing things is a way of life. Originality and passion have been constant themes in the Awards, as The innovative environment These teams challenged themselves to be original within supportive colleges where creativity and innovation were expected and encouraged. As well as these earlier winners demonstrate. Sometimes love of their internal facilitators, staff acknowledge and value the subject and intellectual curiosity about our place in the external initiatives and influences which validate, or world stimulate the kind of inspirational teaching sometimes trigger, their innovation. The early enjoyed in 1998 by learners at King George V College. Award-winners described here cite influences such as These learners used the techniques of professional their involvement in the national drive to get more astronomers and computer simulations in order to learners into science, the developing green agenda, Ofsted feedback, and government encouragement for estimate the age of the universe. Other passionate colleges to think and act globally, as stimuli for their science teachers at Plymouth College linked learners to work. the Nobel Prize winner, Sir Harry Kroto, so that they experienced the thrill of scientific discovery as he More recent Award-winners indicate influences such as worked on the Bucky Ball carbon experiments. This the Skills for Life initiative which served, amongst other same excitement about learning is evident in the more things, to give status and confidence to basic skills recent Keighley College profile. teachers, Ofsted feedback which recognises strengths and helps to set new challenges, commercial Joint creativity developments and government funding for new Learners bring their own experiences of the world with technology, the need to energise and engage learners, them to college, and they can stimulate joint creativity and the employability agenda. All serve to help create between staff and students. Richmond-Upon-Thames the environment in which innovation takes place. Of College teachers found this when highly skilled, recently course, there is always room for the unexpected, and the ‘Fifteen’ project at Lewisham College exemplifies this in redundant British Aerospace technicians arrived for the chain-reaction which occurred when a high- retraining. Their shared concerns about the environment achieving, experimental college met a catalytic, highly led to the development of a suite of courses based on the talented outsider called Jamie Oliver. principles of ecological sustainability – ahead of its time. Pride and passion Changing lives Although the focus for their creativity is different, all The most creative staff have the confidence and vision to these Award-winners, and others like them, share ‘pride push their work further. Teachers and managers at City and passion’ in what they do, an eager willingness to College, Manchester, did just that in their unique work take a risk, and the confidence to say, ‘let’s do it in 2000, designing rehabilitation and vocational training differently and better!’. programmes for offenders in Russian prisons. They chose the most challenging setting in which to act as Selected examples of innovation and creativity follow catalysts for change, but they knew what they had to next, drawn from the AoC Beacon Award winning and offer would improve lives thousands of miles away. highly commended colleges. 20 Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners
  • 22. ng Colleges Profile 9 Tower Hamlets College: innovation in basic skills – ‘a better way of doing things’ Staff at Tower Hamlets College were amongst the first to integrate ESOL teaching into vocational programmes. The team: • understood that adult learners from ethnic minority groups would learn English more effectively if it were integral to vocational learning • developed an innovative new approach based on thorough research and analysis of enrolment and progression data • tackled the technical curriculum challenges involved in designing learning activities, materials, and assessment and recording processes which could be integrated into vocational programmes • created new ways of teaching and learning in order to put the new approach into practice • made good use of Ofsted best practice advice, guidance from the Skills for Life Unit, and involvement in NIACE projects As a result of the team’s innovation, more people from ethnic minority groups progressed to vocational programmes, learnt new skills and improved their employability. Basic Skills Award for Innovation, 2005 Profile 10 Eccles Sixth Form College: innovation in the application of technology – mainstreaming innovation – ‘how we do things’ Eccles College has achieved e-maturity through its top-to-toe innovative application of technology. The college: • understood what it wanted technology to do, and had the creative skills to use it • designed and implemented an innovative top-to-toe organisational use of technology • worked systematically, focusing first on using WebAction software to co-ordinate strategic and development plans, and to improve planning, use of resources, and quality assurance • moved next to track and measure learners’ achievements by using Panacea, developing the software in-house • pushed developments further by using Worktrack to enable learners to manage more of their own learning, and to understand better what was expected of them, by producing assignments based on coursework, provision of on-line feedback and assistance from teachers, and developing a consistent approach to milestones and deadlines • improved learner retention and achievement, and improved inspection grades • shared the benefits of its innovation with colleges in the Manchester region, with LSC support, and now with colleges across England The college exemplifies what e-maturity can achieve when staff mainstream innovation is part of how things are done. BECTA Award for effective use of ICT to enhance and support organisational development, 2005 BECTA Award for e-enabling organisational development, 2006 Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners 21
  • 23. Celebratin Profile 11 Keighley College: creative science teaching – intellectual curiosity Science teachers at Keighley College used the excitement and wonder of space to motivate learners to take science subjects. Teachers: • built on their own intellectual curiosity and passion for science to create the ‘To the Stars’ project using the Science, Technology and Aeronautics Regional Centre and world-wide resources • designed learning zones which stimulated learners’ curiosity, including Radio Communication, Mission Control, and a Mars Landscape • demonstrated science was exciting by enabling learners to communicate with satellites orbiting the earth, and to link with the European Space Agency, Space City in Moscow, NASA Space Camps, and the National Space Centre • made learning fun through activities such as a competition to design a Mars lander capable of placing a raw egg on the planet’s surface – winners went to the Kennedy Space Centre, Florida, to undertake astronaut training The stimulation and success of the project led to an increased take-up of science subjects. FENC Award for Successful Use of Learning Resources, 2006 Keighley College merged with Park Lane College in 2007 to become Park Lane Keighley College. 22 Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners
  • 24. ng Colleges Profile 12 Bridgwater College: first BTEC National Certificate in Forensic Science – ‘blazing a trail’ Teachers at Bridgwater College blazed a trail when they created the first-ever BTEC National Certificate in Forensic Science. The team: • responded creatively to the need for a science programme which enabled learners to develop vocational skills • recognised how TV dramas such as Silent Witness, Waking the Dead, and CSI, demonstrated the application of science in ‘real life’ • pooled their specialist expertise to design a Forensic Science programme as a showcase for practical science • designed dramatic learning opportunities related to real-life forensic practice: learners worked on Scene of Crime investigations in two dedicated suites, used specialist equipment to work with real DNA sources, analysed fibres, tissues and insects found at the crime scene with specialist microscopes, and wore specially imported Forensic Protective clothing • increased recruitment into science The learners say it all: ‘I’ve really liked Forensic Science since I watched murder mysteries as a child … I decided to try it at Bridgwater’. ‘I wanted to do Science, and this really appealed to me’. ‘I enjoy the practical side … particularly where we solve a given crime scene’. ‘I feel this course has prepared me for university’. Staff have not stood still. New developments include a Foundation Degree in Forensic Science with Forensic Archaeology, validated by Bournemouth University, opening up a new progression route for learners. The team has also shared its expertise with local schools. The Mercers Company Award for Science or Mathematics, 2007 President’s Award, 2007 Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners 23
  • 25. Celebratin Profile 13 Omagh College and Camphill Community: Clana Renewables Farm – no preconceived ideas Staff at Omagh College and in the Camphill Community shared a commitment to alternative new technologies and were open-minded about working together, despite their apparently different educational philosophies. The project: • began as a community project to develop and use new sustainable energy technologies for Camphill residents, then as a model for local small farms • used solar panels, a biomass boiler, photovoltaics to provide electricity for lighting, underground heating to lengthen the growing season in polytunnels and wind turbines – all transferable to rural and urban communities • enabled some 200 trainee plumbers and electricians to take modules in renewable energies • hosted visits from 1,000 local farmers Through the open-minds, creativity, and technical skills of the team, the project won the Action Renewables 2004 Award for the best community project in Northern Ireland, for the ‘new hope it gave to an agricultural area’. Churches Award for sustainable community development, 2005 Omagh College merged with two other colleges in 2007 to become South West College. 24 Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners
  • 26. ng Colleges Responsive Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners 25
  • 27. Celebratin Responsive Responsive Winning colleges pro-actively seek and articulate local, regional and national requirements often ahead of others, as well as responding dynamically to North East Business of the Year, maximising the benefits of its vigorous employer engagement strategy. Transforming life chances government initiatives. They hold themselves Every educator believes that learning transforms life accountable to their communities, employers and the chances. New kinds of learners elicit imaginative skills agenda, and to individual learners. responses from the Beacon Award winning colleges. For example, Yeovil College was an early pioneer in its work ‘Here for the long haul’ with people with mental health difficulties. An early Colleges, with their strong sense of local and regional response to the seminal 1996 report, ‘Inclusive Learning’ responsibility, are vital to the evolution of prosperous was made by Oaklands College which became one of and cohesive communities. One principal commented, the first general further education colleges to develop ‘we have been here for a long time – we’re in it for the provision for learners with very complex disabilities. long haul’. Colleges understand their communities. For Loreto College’s faith in the individual translated into example, although the Skills for Life initiative provided tailor-made provision for disaffected learners, designed extra resources and recognition for its endeavours, and delivered in partnership with local parishes. Teams Liverpool Community College’s city-wide basic skills at Newcastle College had the imagination to see how provision arose from its intimate understanding of what poorly-skilled call-centre staff could benefit from that the community needed. Similarly, Hull College’s family first step on the training and qualifications ladder. literacy programme drew on its earlier work with Often, national initiatives serve as vehicles to change schools and other partners, and was shaped by its individual lives. The FEFC’s widening participation knowledge of its city’s learners. The investment, initiative of the late ‘90s gave confidence and support, and recognition that arrived along with the recognition to work that had often gone on quietly, government’s renewed focus on industry and business sometimes unsung. needs, and on the skills agenda, enabled colleges to expand their historic role in economic regeneration. One of the most moving stories in the Beacon Award But, long before the term ‘employer engagement’ was archives is the description of the sensitive work of staff coined, colleges were skilling and re-skilling workers, at Burnley College as they persuaded and encouraged either in large-scale programmes or in small, locally leaders of the local Pathan community to allow their significant schemes. So, whether it was Barnsley young women to take part in further education. College re-skilling 2,000 redundant pit workers during Because of the teachers’ skill and patience, the trust the closure programmes of the early ‘90s, Deeside invested in them, and the courage and vitality of the College with its Corus Training Centre working with the learners, these girls became the pride of their fall-out from one of the biggest redundancies in Europe, community as they achieved qualifications through or Lowestoft College training local tugboatmen in its carefully designed women-only programmes, and then Maritime and Offshore Centre so that their employer progressed into jobs. Lives were really transformed, could meet new legislative requirements, colleges have and the aspirations of a small community changed always been responsive to employers’ needs and to the forever. skills agenda. Selected examples of responsiveness follow next, drawn Re-shaping for new challenges from the AoC Beacon Award winning and highly commended colleges. The innovators maximise the government investment by continuing to think about how this is best done, re- shaping themselves, working with new partners in new ways, and seeking out the harder to reach small and medium businesses. Chichester College is an example of the inspirational colleges making best use of policy and new resources, with its three Centres of Vocational Excellence, ambitious employer engagement targets, and involvement with nearly 350 employers, including many small firms that have done little training in the past. Newcastle College has transformed itself into the 26 Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners
  • 28. ng Colleges Profile 14 Highlands College, Jersey: helping economic migrants integrate into the host society – serving with heart Highlands College and its church partners shared a common vision of responsive service which included taking into account the spiritual, emotional and employability needs of new migrants to the small Jersey community. New arrivals included some 4,000 young Polish workers who joined some 8,000 Portuguese nationals already living on the island. The college: • worked in close partnership with St Thomas’s Roman Catholic Church to develop a sustainable programme to promote community cohesion and economic growth • recognised the importance of faith to the newcomers, and that the church would be the first port of call for many • designed a flexible ESOL programme for over two thousand learners within the environment of a faith community • delivered the programme alongside support for housing and social needs provided by the church and other agencies, using a centre next to the church • went the extra mile in providing support for families, thereby encouraging other members into learning • engaged support from local employers The learners provided an insight into what this holistic approach meant to them: ‘By learning English I have managed to do my Levels 2 and 3 in Childcare and Education … it has helped me to do a job looking after children … through this, I belong to the Jersey community’. ‘I spoke no English when I arrived, I can now speak to customers in the hotel’. ‘After two years, I can now manage projects in an IT company’. ‘Lessons help me in my job’. Through the whole-hearted commitment and understanding of the College’s leadership and the Canon and clergy, the response to newcomers took account of more than just their need to develop employability and language skills. Because people were valued and supported as individuals, they were better able to contribute to their new community. Churches’ Award for sustainable partnerships that recognise diversity and develop people and communities, 2007 Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners 27
  • 29. Celebratin Profile 15 Grimsby Institute: working with ethnic and faith communities in NE Lincs – understanding and acting on the social cohesion agenda Through its wide range of partnerships and activities to celebrate diversity and increase mutual understanding, Grimsby Institute made a significant contribution to social cohesion in its area. The college: • is led by a dynamic principal who believes, ‘we have a role to play in contributing to make this world a better place’ • understood it needed to work with a wide mix of partners in order to tackle social cohesion and economic disadvantage • with its partners, shared a vision of reaching out, listening, and being open to new ideas • worked with representatives of Jewish, Sikh, Muslim and other faith communities, Communities Together for Equality and Racial Justice, Humberside Chinese Association, Standing Advisory Committee of Religious Education, police community officers, Lincolnshire Chaplaincy Services, businesses, local authorities, and others • celebrated diversity and encouraged mutual understanding throughout its activities, including a ‘One Big World’ painting competition in its nursery; leadership of the Starfish Project which provides self-sufficiency materials for widows affected by the 2004 tsunami in South India; production of a DfES-supported DVD ‘Cultural Diversity’ which is used by local schools • brought together partners in workshop series to explore diversity issues at a strategic level, involving Primary Care Trust, NHS Trust, Humberside Police, NE Lincs Council Partners said about the college: ‘Their commitment is unquestionable, in seeking to build local equality and diversity … they provide dialogue and respect’. ‘They are always forward-thinking, looking for ways in which we can work together’. ‘Here, they do it’. About a programme of community visits, a staff member said: ‘They open the eyes of people; they reinforce the bond between learners and communities’. Churches’ Award for sustainable partnerships that recognise diversity and develop people and communities, 2007 28 Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners
  • 30. ng Colleges Profile 16 Newcastle College: the college as a business – rethinking itself Newcastle College has reshaped itself to play a powerful part in the economic regeneration of its region, and in order to maximise the benefits of employer engagement. The college: • reorganised to respond to the skills agenda so that the whole college is geared to delivering skills, and to working as a business environment • established a new Directorate for Business, and a Contact Centre which markets its programmes • achieved a high level of responsiveness to employers’ training requirements • continued to evolve with a new Director of Business Engagement, and new contracting and quality unit • shares its approaches as part of its Beacon College responsibilities The college was selected as ‘NE Company of the Year’ in 2006, and exemplifies how colleges can rethink themselves in order to respond to local and regional needs. Learning and Skills Council Award for College Engagement with Employers, 2006 Profile 17 Coleg Menai: Menai Innovation Centre – instrumental in economic regeneration The establishment in 2005 of Coleg Menai’s Innovation Centre arose from the college’s powerful vision of its contribution to the economic and social prosperity of North Wales. The college: • secured £1.5 million ELWA and European funding, and support from Sector Skills Council • established state-of-the-art facilities for computerised development systems, including 3D modelling, prototype manufacture, testing systems, laser technology • linked the centre to CAM centre at Bangor and new motor-vehicle facilities at Llangefri • worked closely with employer groups, including Plumber Group and Automotive Group • promoted the sector by disseminating information on all providers to employers in North Wales • achieved £100 million turnover • listened and responded to employers An employer said: ‘This is state-of-the-art technology, supported by staff who are expert in its application; this powerful combination ensures a reliable, high-quality design and prototyping service that is innovative and responsive to our needs’. Welsh Assembly Government Award for College Engagement with Employers in Wales, 2007 Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners 29
  • 31. Celebratin Profile 18 New College, Swindon: Basic Skills in the Barracks – transforming individual lives As jobs within the army become more technical, the demand on soldiers’ basic skills increase. Staff at New College understand that army personnel face particular challenges if they wish to study. The college: • began the programme in 2002 with the support of the Ministry of Defence • built on the Skills for Life initiative to develop a flexible programme which enables serving soldiers to build up qualifications which equip them to do their current jobs more effectively, can aid promotion, and will serve them well when they leave the forces • employed former army staff who understood the army culture and the rigours of active service • developed distance learning materials and a Virtual Learning Environment so that soldiers can continue to study when they are in combat zones • reorganised staffing to take account of fluctuating numbers when soldiers are abroad The opportunity to carry on with their studies can be a lifeline for soldiers away from home by providing continuity, and support for their future aspirations. OCR Award for Partnerships in Basic Skills, 2006 30 Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners
  • 32. ng Colleges Collaborative Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners 31
  • 33. Celebratin Collaborative Collaborative Winning colleges excel in working with others. They lead the way in forging and sustaining the right relationships to deliver a shared vision of flexibility, international links. These may take the form of professional partnerships between teachers such as those in 2001 between staff at Preston College and teachers in the exiled Tibetan communities, or the City of Bath participation, internationalism, and self-improvement. College’s curriculum collaboration with a Bulgarian High School. Or, they may take the form of Telford Well-established partnerships College’s extensive links with employers in Japan, highly valued not just because of the business they bring Colleges have always worked with schools, local authorities, employers, health and social services, and to the college, but also because of the genuine spirit of voluntary and community groups. It was always learning and working together which shapes their impossible to meet the needs of some learners without mutual respect. Back home, international collaboration the right partnerships in place, and staff working with is thriving through the actions of colleges such as people with mental health difficulties, with learners with Chichester, with its 1,000 foreign students. complex disabilities, with the long-term unemployed, or with disaffected young people, have long operated Shared responsibility for quality and self improvement within a network of referral and support agencies, statutory bodies, and partner providers. Successful Skills for Life provision has relied also on strong local As well as taking a lead in the joint development of partnerships, often led by a college with strategic flexible local and regional provision, and benefiting from commitment to collaboration. New strategic heart has international links, winning colleges take shared been given to local and regional collaboration which has responsibility for the quality of local and regional a curriculum or learner focus through the 14-19 agenda, provision, and make their contribution to the sector’s LSC’s planning priorities, the new Diplomas, and self-improvement. The North West Consortium of sharper attention to young people not in education, Colleges took such responsibility when they designed employment or training (NEETs). The best colleges are and delivered a joint tailor-made professional able to reap the benefits of earlier good relationships as development programme for their senior managers, in they tackle the ‘new localism’ agenda. For example, order to fill a gap they had identified themselves. North Warwickshire and Hinckley College was one of Award-winners play their part too, by disseminating many colleges with well-established partnerships with their Award-winning work, holding seminars, local schools. In 1999, it was already working with 14-16 presenting at conferences, circulating materials and year olds from 33 local schools; by 2005, some 1,200 ideas, and hosting visits so that other colleges can learn pupils were taking part in 28 tailor-made vocational from what they do. Winners are valued by the sector as programmes. Bedford College was working with 30 vital benchmarks against which the best can measure local schools in 2001, whilst Calderdale College was exploiting the potential of Curriculum 2000 with its themselves. Most recently, winners are playing an active partner schools. part in the sector’s peer review activities as an important collaborative approach to sharing practice. More recently, Lewisham College built on a successful tradition of community partnership in its project to open Best collaboration up employment opportunities in the public sector. In the best collaboration, everybody gains, most Partners included the local authority, Lewisham Council, importantly, the learners. This can be through the the fire service, Connexions, local hospital and primary provision of flexible, personalised learning which care trust, the LSC, and the Lewisham 14-19 strategy matches the learner’s needs, internationalism which group. Winning colleges contribute to these brings new ways of doing things, new funds, or the rich collaborative partnerships clear vision, strategic contributions of new learners, or through the sector- leadership, dedicated facilities, and new approaches to wide improvements secured by honest, rigorous, and personalised learning. supportive sharing between colleagues. Internationally active Selected examples of collaboration follow next, drawn As well as leading the way in flexibility and from the AoC Beacon Award winning and highly participation, collaborative colleges forge thriving commended colleges. 32 Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners
  • 34. ng Colleges Profile 19 Knowsley Community College: 14-19 Knowsley Collegiate – willing and able to develop shared strategies in the best interests of learners Knowsley Community College has been a key stakeholder in the Knowsley Collegiate partnership which is making a real impact on achievement and progression for young people in Merseyside. The college: • shared a vision to raise achievement and increase participation amongst young people in Greater Merseyside • made a vital contribution to the partnership which includes NHS, borough council, employers, secondary and special schools, Connexions, local Work-Based Learning Provider Network, Liverpool Archdiocese, Edgehill University, and LSC • reshaped its structure, curriculum and procedures to become a ‘14+ college’ • played an active part in the strategic leadership of the Collegiate through its membership of the Governance Forum, 14-19 Executive and Strategic Programme Team • provided flexible vocational programmes and work-based learning activities to motivate young learners • invested in staff through a tailor-made professional development programme led by the University, which focuses on pedagogy and classroom management • shared its expertise through a technical training programme focused on assessment and functional skills • deployed its new Vocational Skills Centre as one of the showcases for the Collegiate, with visits from representatives of 35 organisations in 2006/07 • on behalf of the Collegiate, secured £768K to refurbish a campus as a teacher training and resource centre for new Diplomas • developed collaborative, detailed plans for the next stage of the Collegiate The impact of the Collegiate’s activities include: • 87% of Year 11 learners continue into education, employment or training (EET) • increased access for some 800 young people aged 14-16, with 90% achieving units or full qualifications at Entry, Level 1 and Level 2 • 74% of ‘hardest to reach’ cohort of KS4 pupils progress into EET • increased participation in vocational learning by pupils with special educational needs • excellent Ofsted report The college contributed to a dramatic remodelling of 14-19 education in Knowsley, and through its willingness to take joint responsibility for the flexibility and scope of local provision, and its ability to develop shared strategies, it has acted in the best interests of learners. Learning and Skills Council Award for 14-19 Collaboration, 2007 Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners 33
  • 35. Celebratin Profile 20 North Lindsey College: John White Skills Centre – delivering flexible personalised learning opportunities North Lindsey College has worked with its partners to deliver the kind of flexibility that single providers cannot offer. Individualised KS4 learning programmes are designed for young people attending the Centre. The college and its partners: • shared a vision for 14-19 education and training • understood the learning and support needs of young people, including disaffected and excluded youngsters • secured some £475K from LSC, the college, and local employer Corus • established the Centre in 2004 • guaranteed access to a flexible, personalised vocational learning programme for all KS4 pupils in North Lincolnshire • provided specialist training for college and school staff, and contributed to the development of a new PGCE teaching qualification at the University of Huddersfield • put in place rigorous processes and procedures for tracking learners, and for assessing, measuring and recording their progress and achievements • worked with the schools to design quality assurance processes, including a programme of teaching observations • over 700 pupils participate in some 30 subjects each year, ranging from Entry Level to Level 2 Diplomas • learners at risk of becoming ‘NEETs’ take part in short programmes before being supported back into school • retention is over 96%, and over half the pupils progress onto other college courses Learners say: ‘The environment is one where you can feel right at home with everyone and they treat you like an adult not a child … I am now studying towards my NVQ2 in Hairdressing’. ‘Having the opportunity to take the motor vehicle course has given me the chance to develop new skills’. In 2007, Ofsted described the provision as exemplary, adding that it ‘transforms the lives and prospects of many young people it inspires some of the most disengaged and disenfranchised young people to re-engage with learning’. AQA Award for College/School Partnerships, 2007 34 Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners
  • 36. ng Colleges Profile 21 Pershore Group of Colleges: Pound Farm Organics – forging and sustaining the right relationships Pershore Colleges built on its long-standing partnerships with local day centres and residential homes to develop new employment opportunities for people with learning difficulties. The colleges: • shared a new vision with their partners about the potential of people with learning difficulties • worked with social services, day centres, and some ten other community organisations in order to secure the opportunities and support learners would need for work experience and land-based employment • involved parents as part of the project • established Pound Farm Organics as an ‘oh so gradual’ step toward independence through employment • developed Pound Farm Organics as a financially sustainable, community resource • encouraged other farmers, entrepreneurs, community groups to set up similar enterprises to supply care homes, schools, and local shops, whilst employing staff with learning disabilities • designed with partners carefully staged transition plans for learners moving into work experience and employment As more learners have moved to the Organics Project, fewer remain solely in day centre provision. This kind of success can be achieved only through good relationships between partners and learners and their parents/carers, and effective co-ordinated support for each learner. Mencap and RNIB Inclusive Learning Award for Students with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, 2006 Profile 22 Cornwall College: WILD Scheme – respecting and valuing partners’ contributions The partnership between Cornwall College and the voluntary organisation Women’s Initiative for Learning and Development (WILD) exemplifies what can be achieved when partners respect and value each other’s contributions. The partnership: • formed part of the Cornwall Learning Partnership which includes members from the community and voluntary sector, private sector, colleges, adult and community learning, health and social services • thrived through the respect and recognition of each other’s strengths and expertise, and strong teamwork between the college and WILD • focused on providing Skills for Life to mothers who experienced social exclusion, and with low expectations of themselves and their children – most are referred by health visitors or social workers • the college provided a supportive infrastructure whilst enabling WILD to retain its own identity as a voluntary organisation. OCR Award for Partnerships in Basic Skills, 2007 Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners 35
  • 37. Celebratin Profile 23 Boston College, Lincs: programme for overseas students – internationally active Boston College has developed valuable long-term relationships with its overseas partners during its eighteen years of successful international recruitment. The college: • worked with overseas partners to provide new learning opportunities for foreign students • built up extensive partnership networks in order to recruit from 22 countries, including China, Asia, Africa, Vietnam, South Korea and Europe • provided very effective support, included dedicated youth worker and careers adviser • achieved ‘total quality’ in its international activities • flew the flag for Great Britain through the international reputation achieved through its work British Council Award for International Student Support, 2006 Profile 24 Bridgwater College: United Arab Emirates Technical Training Project – ambassador for UK Through the comprehensiveness and high quality of its international partnership activities, Bridgwater College acted as an ambassador for UK further education. The college: • won a major contract with United Arab Emirates Technical Training Project • worked closely with its partners to identify the training and support needs of its international students • changed its mission statement to take account of the new needs of its international students • invested in a new international centre, new posts and infrastructure • gave great attention to preparing and supporting learners • extended its international activities by pursuing links with India British Council Award for International Student Support, 2007 36 Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners
  • 38. ng Colleges Profile 25 West Notts College: League for Learning – taking shared responsibility for the quality of regional provision Inspiring leadership at West Notts College contributed to the development of the innovative peer review approach now adopted by the sector as part of its self-improvement strategies. The college: • led the development of a League for Learning with six other colleges • shared its understanding of being a learning organisation where everyone, including the Principal, is a learner • disseminated best practice from its three Centres of Vocational Excellence • concentrated on the essentials of teaching and learning, and leadership • pioneered the peer review approach now recognised as a key characteristic of a self-improving sector RM Award for Leadership in Learning, 2005 Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners 37
  • 39. Celebratin 38 Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners
  • 40. ng Colleges Delivers personalised, inclusive learning Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners 39
  • 41. Celebratin Delivers personalised, inclusive learning Delivers personalised, inclusive learning Colleges which deliver personalised, inclusive learning careful listening to their aspirations and interests. Colleges which understand the process are moving away from ‘courses’ to individually tailored packages of learning opportunities, work experience, preparation for are experts in finding out how learners learn best and transition, guidance, and so on, often delivered by a then devising individual learning programmes, support variety of providers. The learner is able to make a and other processes shaped around each learner. They choice from a ‘menu’ of opportunities and services in give equal value to all learners, and to every level of order to put together the right mix of learning and skills learning. Recently, Eccles College exemplified the ethos opportunities. The best colleges are putting in place the of an inclusive learning college, with the principal guidance and support ‘brokers’ who will help learners giving a powerful message about its values by taking get what they need. personal, active responsibility for Entry Level provision. Flexibility Inclusive learning Colleges already have the capability to work in this The inclusive learning approach arose from the work in flexible dynamic way. For example, Aberdeen College’s 1996 of the Further Education Funding Council’s work with Foyer clients in 2004 exemplifies Tomlinson Committee. Many colleges contributed to personalised, inclusive learning. Learners could choose the approach’s development, and continue to cite it as a from a ‘menu’ of five learning programmes, including key influence in their thinking. As well as getting the the Prince’s Trust Volunteer Programme, Gateway to pedagogy right, the inclusive learning college provides Work (New Deal), Lifeshaper aimed at substance the right levels of programmes, progression routes, abusers, and Build and Train with JobCentre Plus. Each transition arrangements, and support tailor-made for learner took part in an assessment interview, guidance each learner. Early pioneers such as Oaklands College, session, developed an education plan, and careers action Wigan and Leigh College, Bridgwater College, City plan, and took from the college the support required to College Manchester, and Lewisham College used the manage their own programme and review their own approach with learners with learning difficulties and/or progress. disabilities, but its applicability to all learners and to the whole organisation was grasped quickly by these and other innovative colleges. For example, Solihull E-learning as part of teaching College’s early modularisation of History A Level had at Technology is a powerful medium for personalised its heart the idea that learning should be tailored to the inclusive learning, especially with young people for individual learner. Telford College’s pioneering ‘Rubber whom it is integral to their lives. Aberdeen College’s Band’ sex education peer-mentoring programme in 1998 principal described young learners as ‘digital natives’, used as its starting point the understanding that whose skills and familiarity are making colleges rethink adolescents learn some things best from other young how they use technology. Winning colleges are choosy people. Loreto College’s understanding and valuing of about what they want from technology, and put its learners was behind its development of personalised learning, not hardware, at the heart of the e-learning programmes for marginalised members of its process. For example, in 2006, Newham Sixth Form community. In 1994, Reading College was designing College linked its e-learning champions project to its individual programmes for its engineering students. In Advanced Teaching Practitioners project as it developed winning colleges such as these, learners make choices a college-wide virtual learning environment through and take responsibility as active partners in their Moodle. In this way, the overall aim of improving learning. practice stayed at the forefront of the changes. The college says, ‘E-learning is essentially part of teaching, Personalised learning and fusing the use of e-learning tools with teaching and learning is part of advanced teaching practice … our Personalised learning is an evolutionary step on from aim is to merge e-learning into teaching and learning this earlier practice, and represents the education development, and not to treat it as a separate strand’. sector’s contribution to the government’s comprehensive personalisation of public services. Choice and control are at the heart of the agenda. In the learning and skills context, the personalisation process begins with thorough assessment of an individual’s learning, training, and support requirements, and 40 Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners
  • 42. ng Colleges New buildings and new teaching and learning Recent Beacon Award winning colleges have used The best colleges deploy all their resources, including new buildings and technology, to match learning to the individual learner, and to provide the choice and instrumentality which embodies personalised inclusive capital investment to design learning environments learning. which change approaches to teaching and learning. For example, the principal of South Devon College describes Selected examples of personalised, inclusive learning the glass walls, innovative use of space, work areas and follow next, drawn from the AoC Beacon Award technology, which help display best practice, and foster winning and highly commended colleges. independent learning and self-management amongst learners at the new campus. Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners 41
  • 43. Celebratin Profile 26 Cambridge Regional College: Improving Choice – delivering personalised inclusive learning for learners with complex disabilities Cambridge Regional College has been one of the leaders in designing and delivering personalised learning packages with learners with complex disabilities. The college: • worked with partners in Cambridgeshire Children’s Services, Mencap, health and social services, advocacy groups, schools, community and voluntary groups, Connexions to produce a shared vision • received extensive support from LSC • built on existing good links with the local Transition Planning and Provision Partnership Group • established an Overview Group chaired by Cambridgeshire Children’s Services Additional Support Needs Manager • involved parents as partners for change • established the new role of Services Broker or Learning Manager to contact agencies and commission provision • designed individual learning packages for delivery by a variety of providers Individual learners’ packages included: Ryan – • one-to-one support at all times • support from a local community organisation specialising in support for people with visual disabilities • work experience in a local café • on-the-job training Mark – • work experience with nearby social training organisation • sessions with Speaking Up community involvement projects • flexible learning times in college to take account of his disabilities Importantly, the LSC invited an independent advocacy organisation to monitor the project. The College’s pathfinder work provides one approach for other colleges working with learners with complex needs. RNIB and Mencap Inclusive Learning Award for Students with learning difficulties and or disabilities Award, 2007 42 Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners
  • 44. ng Colleges Profile 27 West Notts College: using additional learning support to drive inclusive learning The learning support team at West Notts College used additional support to help learners become as independent as possible, and to open up progression opportunities. The team: • based their work firmly on the principles of inclusive learning • supported nearly 300 learners through 80 staff working in specialist teams • helped learners develop advocacy skills so they can be active partners in their own support • promoted inclusion and progression by working as ‘internal consultants’ to subject teams, ensuring they understood what learners required • managed transitions to/from college, liaison with parents, referrals to other agencies • designed and delivered individual support programmes The team leads the local 14+ Transition Networking Group so it is well-placed to support learners into college by planning ahead for resources and support. The college used its additional learning support to promote instrumentality and choice for learners. Mencap and RNIB Inclusive Learning Award for Students with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, 2006 Profile 28 Pembrokeshire College: engaging learners through personal technology – fostering instrumentality Pembrokeshire College adopted a technological ‘Martini’ approach – ‘any time any place, anywhere’ – to engaging vulnerable learners. The college tutors: • used personalised technology as part of a network of support • used PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants) and Smartphones to keep in touch with very vulnerable learners, including young mothers, travellers, and others who cannot attend college easily • provided support as and when it was needed • designed individual learning plans around the use of e-learning, so learners access the internet and other familiar technology for research, to phone employers, to practice driving licence questions, or update their CVs This is a three-year project with funding from the Wales European Funding Office, and LSDA support. The college is working in partnership with the Youth Offending Team and the Prince of Wales Trust. The ‘Martini’ approach works well because learners feel in control, their familiarity with technology is channelled for learning, and tutors provide individualised opportunities which fit learners’ needs. FENC Award for the Successful Use of Learning Resources, 2006 Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners 43
  • 45. Celebratin Profile 29 Blackpool and The Fylde College: Virtual Learning Environment to teach beauty therapy – harnessing technology to encourage independent learning Staff at Blackpool and The Fylde College encouraged independent learning skills by using technology which is familiar to learners. With this approach: • the beauty therapy team used an interactive virtual learning environment with their BTEC National Diploma students • learners managed their own work, shared ideas, submitted assignments, and monitored their own progress using the VLE • VLE ‘democratised’ relationships between staff and learners, with easier communications, rapid informal feedback, and effective interventions when learners needed assistance • learners felt VLE was ‘their’ environment • learners gained Level 2 ICT alongside their beauty therapy qualifications – an added bonus for employers The personalised learning environment created through the use of technology meant that learners took more responsibility for their learning and perceived themselves as partners with staff in a joint venture. City & Guilds Award for teaching and assessment of beauty therapy, 2006 Profile 30 Edinburgh’s Telford College: a new FE college for Scotland – creating new pedagogy to meet changing needs Edinburgh’s Telford College has used the opportunities presented by £75 million capital investment in a new campus to design personalised learning opportunities for the future. The college: • developed a vision of how learners would learn in the future • worked with architects to design a new campus which enabled different approaches to teaching and learning • provided ‘learning streets’, social hubs, and learning hubs in a learning environment where learners work independently, find their own information, work in teams, and problem-solve in groups – as they would in industry or business • deployed wireless technology to encourage flexible teaching and learning • trained and supported staff in making the most effective use of the new resources The new campus makes a strong statement about the importance of learning, and staff are creating new pedagogy for the twenty-first century. Eversheds Award for effective use of capital development, 2007 44 Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners
  • 46. ng Colleges Challenges and changes expectations Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners 45
  • 47. Celebratin Challenges and changes expectations Challenges and changes expectations Dynamic colleges are ambitious for the whole enterprise, challenging their learners and themselves, and continually raising their shared aspirations. They people’. The self-challenging college has the confidence to redefine excellence, pushing itself to go further. The Principal of Coleg Llandrillo described how a recently achieved grade 1 for the college’s work-based provision has led to raising the bar even further. Staff are to visit listen to learners who remind them ‘what the business is about’, and trust and invest in their staff. They help the best of European provision so that they can set change society’s expectations of groups of people, and themselves a new benchmark. Saying ‘We’ve done it’ is individuals’ assumptions about their own capabilities. not an option. In early days, winning colleges often worked with Challenge and support staff groups new to further education, such as Yeovil College Colleges which revel in challenge and change expect a – one of the pioneers in provision for people with great deal from their staff. They do difficult things, and mental health difficulties. Others, such as National Star staff require professional support to meet the challenges College in its community-based arts project, helped of continuous evolution and improvement. Oldham change the image of disability. The message was that College’s 2003 programme of sensitive mentoring for these people belonged in further education, and had a under-performing or new staff, led by an Advanced contribution to make to society. Practitioner, is an example of the care colleges take to ensure everyone is well-equipped to meet the Changing learners’ self-perceptions challenges. Other colleges have used new professional As well as helping change wider perceptions, winning standards to support staff. Pembrokeshire College’s colleges transformed learners’ views of themselves. work to cascade the then new FENTO standards was They did this through a combination of a passionate lauded by Estyn as a ‘substantial investment in staff belief in learning, professional skills, and a deep development, and a pro-active approach to human understanding of learners’ lives. South East Derbyshire resource development’, both characteristics of self- College’s early community-based provision for challenging colleges. homeless people, lone parents, jobless persons, substance abusers, and people with mental health Redefining excellence in equality and difficulties exemplifies what happens when learning diversity works; as a teacher said about a student on the A college with a mission to challenge and change programme, ‘From illiterate to university in two years!’. expectations understands that diversity is a dimension of excellence, as well as a key to social justice. Pioneers Colleges challenging themselves responding to the recommendations of the Commission Colleges say that new groups of learners or new into Black Staff in Further Education are redefining curricula change an organisation’s expectations of itself, excellence in diversity, going beyond the early focus on its staff, and its learners. The Skills for Life initiative, learners to the need for more black staff and senior revitalised 14-19 agenda, and Entry to Employment managers. They recognise that, with some 20% of (E2E) are cited amongst recent influences by further college learners from black or minority ethnic education colleges, whilst some sixth form colleges backgrounds, staff and senior managers are needed, not describe changes such as new mathematics and science just for their own significant contributions, but to show curricula, and reshaped A and A2 Levels as influential. learners that colleges are indeed places where they Good colleges respond proactively to these external belong. They understand too, that if Britain wishes to catalysts, but they also go much further. Staff seek new compete successfully in the global market, then a world- needs in order to meet them, or choose to design new class workforce means a diverse workforce. The curricula or pedagogy. In other words, they challenge governing bodies of pioneering colleges challenge their themselves. To do this, teachers require professional old assumptions about who could or should be a new confidence, belief, and trust. The Principal of the Sixth principal or senior manager. They value the perspectives Form College, Farnborough, exemplifies this confidence, and experiences of persons from black or minority and his trust in his staff, when he says, ‘We have greater ethnic groups, and seek to attract the very best talent confidence in making judgements about students and from all our communities. Under the leadership of its their potential; we know them better than awarding Asian Principal, the Grimsby Institute is one such bodies do’. The Principal of Telford College describes college, challenging itself to be an attractive employer to his faith in teachers when he says, ‘Trust is always paid all black and ethnic groups, with an inclusive approach back in spades … the best teachers are very creative to promoting racial equality through its policies, 46 Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners
  • 48. ng Colleges recruitment, publicity, curriculum, and learning materials. Even though Royal Forest of Dean College is located in an area with a very small number of people with black or minority ethnic backgrounds, it has understood and acted on the social justice and business and/or disabilities. Chichester College, with its early design of Level 1 programmes in Art and Design incorporating literacy and numeracy, and its partnership with Shaw Trust employment services, played a part in challenging assumptions about learners’ futures. cases for diversity, and with its links to Uganda and Kenya, student involvement in a global awareness The very best colleges help move our society on by project, and engagement with the Black Leadership using their capabilities to challenge and change Initiative, aims to embed awareness of diversity issues in individuals’ perceptions of themselves, their all its activities. commitment to social justice, and their willingness to challenge their own assumptions and practices. Colleges which are developing employability skills with learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities are Selected examples of challenging and changing also helping tackle society’s prejudices about what expectations follow next, drawn from the AoC Beacon disabled people can do, as well as changing learners’ Award winning and highly commended colleges. perceptions of themselves. They are redefining excellence by reshaping provision in order to design new programmes and pedagogy which deliver the employability agenda. One of the early champions was Coleg Sir Gâr working with the National Botanic Gardens of Wales in order to deliver real-life work programmes for learners with learning difficulties Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners 47
  • 49. Celebratin Profile 31 Kingston Maurward College: Matchmaker project – changing society’s perceptions of learners Kingston Maurward College challenged society’s perceptions of gypsies and travellers when it developed new ways of meeting their education and training needs. The college: • used evidence provided by Dorset Race Equality Committee to identify that gypsies’ and travellers’ poor representation in education and training contributed to society’s perceptions of them, and to their social exclusion • listened carefully to the travelling community’s representatives about the kind of learning opportunities that its members wanted • used ESF funding to design and deliver personalised programmes, including LGV driving, chainsaw operation, food & nutrition, landscaping, and flexible support • encouraged word-of-mouth recruitment, with 51 learners taking part in programmes • led a conference at which members of the travelling community spoke alongside college staff; contributed to national events to disseminate their good practice Through its willingness to engage with marginalised people, listen carefully, then use its professional skills to design motivating programmes, and to disseminate its practice, the college helped change perceptions of travellers and gypsies. AoC Beacon Award for Widening Participation, 2007 48 Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners
  • 50. ng Colleges Profile 32 Bolton Community College: Community Learning Ambassadors – challenging and changing learners’ expectations of themselves Bolton Community College used learners to encourage potentially socially excluded people into learning, thereby changing the self-expectations of two groups of people. The college: • began recruiting and training local people as Community Learning Ambassadors (CLAs) in 2002, using ESF funding • now has some 80 CLAs based in its Regeneration and Community Learning Department • engaged CLAs who are ‘non traditional’ learners themselves, and who understand possible barriers to learning • helped CLAs grow in confidence and self-esteem, take OCN awards, and progress to other qualifications • engaged CLAs in recruiting, mentoring and supporting learners across further and community education, work-based learning, and higher education • sees learners recruited and supported by CLAs experience the benefits of learning, changing their own views of what they can achieve • scheme increased recruitment in five deprived wards • planned to extend the scheme into diversity projects This self-generating model of provision depends on the enthusiasm and skills of people whose own lives have been transformed by learning. One CLA said: ‘I am passionate about motivating people … and supporting them in their quest to return to education’. A learner said: ‘I feel much more part of the world … my competencies are better; I feel much more able to go for the goals I set myself’. AoC Beacon Award for Widening Participation, 2007 Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners 49
  • 51. Celebratin Profile 33 New College, Swindon: 24/7 Parenting programme – transforming learners’ assumptions about their capacities New College identified a local need amongst parents of potential or already young offenders, and set about transforming their assumptions about their parenting. The college team: • recognised that some local parents needed help to look after their young people who were at risk of offending, or who had already offended • created a funding package with Lloyds TSB and social services because the programme did not meet LSC funding criteria • designed personalised programmes to meet the specific needs of parents wanting to change their parenting by communicating more effectively with their children and minimising their risk of offending or re-offending • used OCN accreditation to motivate parents, and to encourage progression to other programmes • received positive feedback from parents who felt they could handle their youngsters more effectively • contributed to fewer calls on social services Because the college was able to identify the very real need, and knew how to respond, it was able to help parents become better parents, and in changing their behaviour, changed the behaviour of their children. Jardine Lloyd Thompson Healthcare Award, 2006 50 Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners
  • 52. ng Colleges Profile 34 Gateshead College: Coaching in Action – challenging the self-expectations of staff Gateshead College introduced a supportive coaching model of staff development which enabled teachers to reflect on their practice and to improve their performance. The college: • made good use of research outcomes on coaching as an approach to improving practice • designed an innovative project with real appeal to staff who could readily see its applicability and usefulness • produced a tailor-made MA module on coaching with Newcastle University • integrated coaching into initial teacher training programmes • made coaching available to any staff who needed it or would like it, including part-time staff • deployed a team of Advanced Lecturer Learning Coaches to implement the programme • used low key video observations of teaching sessions to help teachers review their practice • used teachers’ self-assessments as an integral part of the approach, alongside coaching sessions, and more formal performance reviews • demonstrated the success of the project through performance data on teaching and learning outcomes, and formal evaluation by Sunderland University A teacher commented – ‘When you are faced with that video, and you analyse it yourself – there’s no getting away from it – it does show you things you weren’t even aware of. I’m now trying to incorporate all I learned into all my areas of practice’. Through its supportive approach, the college proved that challenge can be beneficial, and that teachers are more than ready to rethink their professional expectations of themselves. City & Guilds Award for Staff Development in Further Education, 2007 Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners 51
  • 53. Celebratin Profile 35 Bolton Sixth Form College: challenging racism In an area of potential racial tension, Bolton Sixth Form College acted as a force for good by challenging racism. The college: • took an active lead in the local community by making clear its stance on racism • implemented rigorous policies and strategies to tackle racism • used data on learner profiles and achievement rates to measure the impact of its strategies for black and minority ethnic learners • actively recruited staff from minority ethnic communities, with a sharp rise in the number of applicants • mentored new black and minority ethnic staff • ensured all programmes included content about equality and diversity • succeeded in making an impact for the better in the community, including a low incidence of young Asian men in the NEETs cohort Through its capacity to exemplify a diverse and harmonious society, the College challenged racism and provided a model for its local community. Network for Black Professionals and Centre for Excellence in Leadership Award for Promoting Racial Equality, 2006 52 Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners
  • 54. ng Colleges Profile 36 West Thames College: Access All Areas – redefining excellence in diversity West Thames College used its Access All Areas initiative to pull together aspects of its equality and diversity strategies, with a particular focus on the recruitment and career progression of black and minority ethnic staff. The college: • benefited from strong leadership from the Principal and senior management team • reviewed its equality action plan, and identified as one of three priorities increasing the number of BME teachers and managers • established targets, monitoring procedures, and action plans based on its annual equality report, annual personnel report, staff and student surveys, and other information • designed a job application pack emphasising the valued contribution to be made by BME staff • drew on the challenge and advice of its Community Advisory Group and its Black Staff Group • provided senior managers as mentors for the national Black Leadership Initiative • supported BME staff taking part in West London College’s career development programme for BME staff • identified and provided support for overseas teachers not accustomed to 16-18 culture in UK • linked its work on staffing to outcomes of BME learners The college’s recruitment leaflet says – ‘We need more black and ethnic minority teachers and managers to give our students the inspiration they need to success’. By redefining excellence in diversity to extend beyond students to staff, the college has increased the number of professionals from black and minority ethnic groups at every level. In doing so, it has also increased the achievements of its black and minority ethnic learners. Learning and Skills Council Award for Equality and Diversity, 2007 Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners 53
  • 55. Celebratin Mapping the future Mapping the future: challenges facing colleges for the next five years and beyond The aim in the report so far has been to demonstrate how colleges deploy the six capabilities identified through the research to make their significant contributions to the individual, their communities, and to the country. Sector leaders were confident that what colleges did well now would fit them for successful futures. In this last part of the report, principals and other leaders reflect on the chief challenges they will face in the next five years and beyond. The list is not exhaustive, and readers may wish to add to the challenges from their own experience. There was consensus on eight challenges: 1. Keeping the focus on teaching and learning: recruiting, training, supporting and retaining world-class teachers; not being diverted from the core business of learning by funding/planning changes; in NI and Wales – not losing expertise during merger programmes; maximising the benefits of technology; rethinking the teacher’s role as technology changes the way people learn; using capital investment to showcase and transform teaching and learning; delivering the personalisation agenda through individualised programmes not courses; demonstrating the benefits of learning. innovating; remaining open to new ideas; finding better ways of doing things; taking risks; adopting ‘can do’ 2. Continuing to be creative: attitude; trusting and empowering staff; listening to learners and to teachers; investing in staff; providing professional development opportunities which fit staff for new ways of teaching and learning; integrating innovation into development plans as ‘this is how we do things’. understanding connectivity between innovation and excellence; ‘no blame’ culture; excellence not 3. Sustaining a genuine culture of compliance; open to challenge; sharing expertise and self-improvement: responsibility for sector’s quality; learning from other providers, as part of an effective self-improving, self- regulating sector; assessing the benefits to learners of any innovation. developing right skills to manage complex new relations with funders, planners, providers; working smarter in 4. Addressing the new localism: local and regional partnerships; working through and with the voluntary sector; setting and delivering shared strategic objectives with other providers and partners. sustaining breadth and inclusiveness of provision; maintaining commitment to socially excluded groups; 5. Contributing to social justice: extending definitions of excellence for equality and diversity; building more staff and management teams 54 Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners
  • 56. ng Colleges that represent all the talents, including black and multi-ethnic people, and people with disabilities; meeting the learning needs of an ageing population; contributing to understanding between different faiths. staying flexible, light on feet; deploying sophisticated financial skills for flexibility; exploiting capital 6. Positioning to maximise opportunities: investment opportunities; designing specific responses to 14-19 agenda, employers and employees, people who are economically inactive; being instrumental – forging the college’s future. continuing to contribute to local and regional regeneration; extending links with local communities; 7. Achieving sustainability: tackling the implications of environmental change, eg global warming; designing and managing the ‘green college’; using the principles of ecological sustainability to design and deliver curricula which prepare learners for a greener future, eg in the use of renewable energies; designing and building sustainable learning environments; ‘rehearsing for the future’. understanding the challenges of globalisation and making strategic decisions about how the college will 8. Meeting the challenges of globalisation: respond; preparing a workforce for the global future; widening the horizons of learners and staff; benchmarking against overseas colleges and businesses in order to keep evolving and to compete internationally; reaching out to new international partners; managing the quality challenges of dispersed learning, and validation and accreditation ‘at a distance’. As well as celebrating colleges’ achievements, the research aimed to demonstrate their capacity to map their own futures within a self-regulating, self-improving sector. The descriptions and profiles in this report, supported by the broader analysis of Award materials, provide evidence of the six essential capabilities required by colleges to tackle their futures with flair and success. The research shows that the past and current achievements of colleges fit them well for their futures. Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners 55
  • 57. Celebratin Winning Colleges Applications What do winning colleges demonstrate in their Beacon Awards applications? Colleges ask, ‘what do winning colleges demonstrate in their applications?’ The research analysis identified ten things that winning colleges do: Recognise when they have outstanding provision, because staff know what excellence looks like, and are confident enough to say, ‘we have something exceptional’. Take obvious pride in what they do. Present their work in ways that make clear how and why it is exceptional. Design visits for assessors which say ‘excellence’ from the foyer to the farewell. Realise learners are their best advocates. Involve partners and stakeholders in making the case. Spotlight the different creative contributions of the team, individual staff, and managers. Use statistical and other evidence to demonstrate the difference they have made. Explain how the whole college will learn from the innovative project. Show how they will share their expertise with other colleges, and how they intend to keep learning and innovating. 56 Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners
  • 58. ng Colleges Acknowledgements Thanks are due to the following generous contributors to the research: Pat Morgan Webb Sue Dutton Eddie Brittain Alice Thiagaraj Trustees, Steering Group and sponsors of the AoC Beacon Awards Rae Angus Doug Boynton Brenig Davies Huw Evans John Guy Asha Khemka Robin Landman Heather Maxwell Wilbert McKee Michael Osbaldeston Helen Sexton Ruth Silver John Taylor Special thanks to all the learners and winning colleges represented in “Celebrating Colleges”. Pat Hood was the Research Consultant Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners 57
  • 59. Celebratin AoC Beacon Awards sponsors 1994 – 2008 Business organisations Allied Irish Bank Aon National agencies / departments Awarding Body Consortium AQA Voluntary organisations Catholic Education Service Church of England BAE Systems AoC Duke of Edinburgh’s Award BBC Becta Edge BT Basic Skills Agency Free Churches Group Boots BTI Mencap Chartered Institute of Marketing British Council Methodist Church Crossgate Press Centre for Excellence in Leadership Partnership Trust Esso CITB Construction Skills Paul Hamlyn Foundation Eversheds City Guilds RNIB The Guardian CoLRiC RNID Institute of Financial Accountants Commission for Black Staff in FE Jardine Lloyd Thompson Copyright Licensing Agency KPMG Department for Employment Learning Kidsons Impey Edexcel Marks Spencer EMTA Mercers’ Company FENC Peugeot Land Based Colleges National Consortium Post Office Learning Skills Council Protocol Professional LSDA RM NACETT Sodexho NCFE TES NEBOSH Trident Feeds Network for Black Professionals United Biscuits NIACE Whitbread NILTA OCR Scottish Funding Council Ufi/LearnDirect Welsh Assembly Government 58 Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners
  • 60. ng Colleges Notes Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners 59
  • 61. Celebratin Notes 60 Celebrating Colleges - Winning Capabilities: research into AoC Beacon Award Winners