Published on March 20, 2014
Sharing Innovative Approaches to Delivering 16-19 Study Programme Principles Bishop Auckland College Matching Learner and Employer Expectations
The mission of Bishop Auckland College is: “To promote social inclusion, fulfil aspirations and develop the potential of individuals, communities and employers through excellence in teaching, training and learning.” Bishop Auckland College is the main vocational learning provider in South and West Durham, an area which combines industrial towns such as Spennymoor, Bishop Auckland and Newton Aycliffe, together with the remote rural villages of the Durham Dales. The population of South West Durham is around 180,000 and is spread across the three former districts of Weardale, Teesdale and Sedgefield. The levels of worklessness in the area are high and the number of incapacity benefit claimants within the Wear Valley and Sedgefield areas has also been high. Levels of literacy and numeracy among the adult population are low. Several wards in the area are within the top 10-15% on the National Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) and in some of the more deprived wards within the College’s catchment area, 71% of the population is below Level 2 in literacy and 80% is below Level 2 in numeracy. When Ofsted reported on the College in 2012 it found the overall effectiveness of provision to be “good”, which highlights our commitment to providing a quality learning experience for all of our students. Ofsted noted that the percentage of Year 11 pupils in the region achieving five GCSE grades at A* to C, including English and Mathematics, is improving but remains below regional and national averages. Just over 51% of the college’s students are from disadvantaged areas. An increasing number of 14 to 16 year old pupils attend the College on a part-time basis. As Study Programmes are further developed these pre-16 students can be better prepared for the learning opportunities on offer when they leave school. Students joining the College may select from a comprehensive programme of full and part-time courses in a wide range of disciplines, e.g. Catering, Music, Art & Design, Construction, Childcare, Hairdressing and many more, with the majority leading to nationally validated qualifications. We currently have over 800 students enrolled on full-time courses. The College has an extensive range of apprenticeship training opportunities. It works with over 250 employers who employ both young people aged between 16 and 24 and adults over 25 on apprenticeships. The College also offers HE programmes and has well established links with the University of Sunderland. Members of staff are highly qualified and experienced, regularly updating their qualifications and industrial experience to ensure the quality and relevance of our provision. Given the high levels of disadvantage in the area the importance of making the right educational choices post-16 is evident. The value of excellent careers information, advice and guidance is “Our approach to Study Programmes has enabled our students to see the value of English and Maths for their future careers.” Richard Hinch, Director of Curriculum
recognised by the College through its Careers Entitlement Statement: “The College is committed to ensuring that high quality, timely, accurate and impartial careers education, information advice and guidance is provided to support people to make informed decisions. This involves making realistic choices about future plans and developing skills to prepare for progression into further study or employment”. Study Programmes All areas of the full-time curriculum at the College have embraced the Study Programme concept since September 2013, and careful curricular planning has been adhered to, to ensure courses are fit for purpose and cost effective. Curriculum planning has been carried out with entire teams, including representation from current learners who give invaluable input as to what has worked and what changes would benefit their particular course in a positive way in the future. All Study Programmes have been made up of a Core Aim, Maths and English, Enterprise activity, a Group Tutorial and external Work Placement. The hours attributed to each programme varies depending on the level the programme is taught at, but as a rule of thumb, all programmes are based around a minimum of 540 hours delivery. Reasons for any variation are dependent on course content. In some cases the work placement may be a larger requirement for certain Foundation Learning programmes, in preparation for being able to apply for future apprenticeship opportunities. Study Programmes at Bishop Auckland College are continually analysed to ensure that the learner journey and end-outcomes match learners’ expectations, as well as the expectations of future employers. Wherever possible Maths and English are embedded into all classes, and weekly teaching and learning workshops are attended by all teaching staff to embrace new themes, and to analyse any student feedback regarding class delivery that may need to addressed. This constitutes a dynamic, student-centred and interactive form of continuing professional development. Students play an active role in shaping programmes and ensuring quality across Bishop Auckland College, with regular attendance at all senior management team, Corporation Board and weekly departmental team meetings. We are very proud that the learner voice in our college provides the springboard to facilitate change for the better. Mandatory work experience through Study Programmes has been successful, and we have found that many learners who have attended have been offered apprenticeships on the back of it. In addition to this, we invite employers into the College to give an external overview of what additional content or learning styles would enhance our vocational Study Programmes. This is invaluable for learners as they are able to see opportunities through learning to access meaningful employment in their preferred vocational area. The College’s timetabling of Study Programmes also enables learners to access enrichment sessions. All learners are offered free gym membership, supervised by personal trainers, and in-house competitions are introduced early in
the year so that in the Spring Term learners may enter regional and national competitions, which has improved their social, employment and interactive skills. Finally, the College constantly analyses Local Market Intelligence data, to ascertain what new Study Programmes we should be developing in line with employment opportunities and business growth within the area. This LMI related career information is shared with all our learners through student forums, held termly on all campuses. English and Maths Vocational tutors also deliver integrated Functional Skills to their learners on Study Programmes, through a pilot approach developed for 2013/14. This has been a great success in both achievement to date and attendance. Embedding Functional Skills has impacted positively on learners’ perceptions of Maths and English, which are now seen as useful and relevant to their ambitions. An example of where integration of Maths and English has worked extremely well this year is in Painting and Decorating, where the vocational tutor is also an English teacher; learners have covered their entire Functional Skills syllabus from trade- specific tasks. This has also happened in some of our foundation learning classes, where both English and Maths have been totally embedded into Vocational Access and Aim to Work programmes. By embedding Functional Skills as a college we have seen a marked improvement in attendance, which has also allowed to us to set entry criteria for courses for learners wishing to progress onto a higher course. This in turn has helped to us to re-model our curriculum regarding work experience and industry related placements, raising aspirations of our learners to move into apprenticeships and/or worthwhile employment.
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