Profile 9 aqa beacon award for college-school partnerships - coleg menai (1)
2012 – 2013 AQA BEACON AWARD FOR COLLEGE/SCHOOL PARTNERSHIPS
Local Partnership Network
14-19 SCHOOLS PROVISION – STEM AGENDA
The Planning: Purpose and Process
The School/College partnership started in 2004 with 11 local secondary schools and the College providing
vocational experience for 14-16 learners. This was extended to include 16-19 students in 2010-11 and now involves
12 secondary schools.
The main aims and objectives of the project are to:
o Reduce the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) skills gap in the local area
o Engage young people early in order to influence educational decisions
o Translate career pathway journeys into reality
o Raise vocational training and aspirations for young people and increase awareness of the energy sector
through positive employer links
o Ensure progression from Level 1 to degree level
The economic downturn has adversely affected economies across Wales and the UK. Local circumstances have also
eroded Anglesey’s economic and employment base. In this context the opportunities offered by low carbon energy
development are of critical importance to the wider economic development and diversification of North West Wales
and the regeneration of its local communities.
Planning into Practice
There has always been close and strong links between the needs of local employers and the establishment of
pathways for the 14-16 provision. Magnox North, Wylfa Nuclear Power Station together with Careers Wales and the
College, established that there was a skills gap particularly in the engineering technology sector in North West
Wales. These skills were identified in order to take advantage of career opportunities provided by the transition to
the defueling phase and the start of the decommissioning programme of two Magnox power stations. Furthermore,
there was also the real potential of building a second generation nuclear power station on the Wylfa Site.
The Anglesey Energy Island Programme was launched as a collective effort between several stakeholders within the
public and private sector working in partnership to put Anglesey at the forefront of energy research and
development, production and servicing. The programme serves as a vehicle for employment growth and
development opportunities harnessing a rich mix of energy streams including nuclear, wind, tidal, biomass and
In order to respond to this emerging STEM skills gap, there was an identified need for young people with BTEC
Level 2 Engineering skills. The need was discussed with the Partnership schools and the College and, with the
agreement of the 14-19 Gwynedd/Môn network, a provision was established to commence in September 2009. This
was a higher level provision than the City & Guilds Level 1 Performing Engineering Operations that was already in
existence and proving popular with 14-16 year old school learners. Furthermore, in September 2010, a BTEC Level 3
Subsidiary Diploma (equivalent to 1 A-level) in Engineering was offered to the partnership schools in order to
ensure progression opportunities for learners wishing to remain at school to complete A-levels but at the same time
having an opportunity to study a vocational pathway as well.
Over 60% of learners are fluent Welsh speakers, therefore, in order to ensure continuity in the medium of teaching
for 14-19 learners, the provision is delivered bilingually to all groups.
The project is skills orientated and students make visits to major employers, both local and in England.
A separate company was set up (Cwnni Prentis Menai) to help the development of apprenticeships.
The 14-16 Vocational Pathways programme is closely monitored and evaluated within the overall College Quality
Framework, which aims to bring about continuous improvements through planning, monitoring self-assessment
and evaluation. All 14-19 tutors prepare an annual Programme Evaluation Report, which analyses and assesses all
aspects of performance against the Estyn Framework. These are audited by a formal Quality Panel and all tutors
receive detailed feedback and all self-assessed judgements are validated.
The 14-16 programme is also keenly scrutinised by external parties. As the provision is heavily funded by the local
14-19 Networks, additional measures have been put in place by the Network Quality Sub-group to evaluate the
quality of provision. This has included lesson observations, learner focus groups, Learner Voice questionnaires and
sharing of external verification reports.
A larger number of candidates have shown an interest in following the qualification for September 2013 and the
schools are further developing the recruitment process to ensure that the most suitable candidates are selected for
The course will be further developed for September 2013 through the strengthening of link with local industry.
‘Theory of Flight’ will be introduced as one of the level 3 units; this unit’s assessment will be linked with a visit to
Airbus UK at Broughton. The visit will be tailored for the candidates to see specific processes and developments to
the aircraft wing structures and how the air flow dynamics are ensured through rigorous quality control monitoring
Outcomes/Benefits to Date
Enrolment has increased year on year since 2007-08 for 14-16s, and since 2010-11 for 16-19s. Performance data
indicates that there are high levels of achievement. In 2012-13, attainment rate for Year 11 was 94% and 100%
attainment rate for BTEC Level 2 Engineering with 73% of learners achieving Distinction* profile. For Year 12 BTEC
Level 3 Engineering (Certificate) attainment rate was 90% with 67% of learners achieving Distinction* profile. For
Year 13 BTEC Level 3 Engineering (Subsidiary Diploma) attainment rate was 100% with 50% of learners achieving
Distinction* profile and 61% achieving Distinction*/Distinction profile. These results are deemed as ‘Excellent’.
The tutors involved have embraced the development with enthusiasm. The equipment purchased (see below) has
been well utilised and is already well integrated into the curriculum. The team approach to the partnership has been
further strengthened with internal staff development being delivered to share good practice and emphasise the
importance of external involvement in curriculum design and delivery.
Further staff development will be introduced to ensure technology teachers from the partner schools are aware of
the technology now available and to encourage use by as wide a range of staff as possible.
Closer links have been forged with staff from local schools. Open Days have been arranged and key staff from
schools invited to attend to visit classes, see their learners working in a College environment, meet and discuss
course content and learner progress with teaching staff. School representatives were also invited to the College’s
Leaving Ceremonies for Year 11 and 13. This has further enhanced partnership links and the College is now liaising
far more with a broader range of school staff, in particular Heads of Years (Year 9-13).
The award money has been invested in developing the technology available to teach and assess more advanced
units within both the level 2 and level 3 qualifications. Two main pieces of equipment have been purchased: 3D
Laser Scanning System and 3D Polymer Rapid Prototyping System. This technology has allowed the course
participants to develop new skills and practices in modern engineering techniques. The units delivered within the
qualification will be re-developed during the summer in preparation for summer 2013; this will allow the
equipment to be used to its full capacity and better reflect new technology developments. Local industry has started
using advanced design technology such as that purchased following the Awards. This will hopefully create stronger
links and encourage employers to have more confidence in learners’ skills and abilities in the future.
Relevance and Replication
Director for Learning Pathways and Support was invited to attend the all-Wales FE Quality Managers Network
Group and gave a presentation on the project in order to share and disseminate good practice. Positive feedback
from attendees was received.
This project is one of total co-operation and trust between a College and schools and helps students towards 16+
education, whether this is Further or Higher Education. This is an outstanding project because of its clarity of vision
and involvement of all the secondary schools, major employers and the wider community. There are many detailed
innovative aspects related to the STEM agenda, but the apprenticeship/employer components are outstanding and
give the project particular value.
For more information, please contact:
Tel: 02148 370125