45/20. Appointment of Chair of the Committee 2020 - 2021
Having been proposed by C. Davies and seconded by C. Gore, it was
Resolved: That Andy Allen be appointed Chair of the Committee for 2020 – 2021.
Andy Allen in the Chair.
At this point, the Chair took the opportunity to –
- Welcome the Director of A Level Services, to the meeting; and
- Recognise that this was the last Committee meeting for C. Davies. C. Gore and M. Willmot, as their Terms would end in December 2020 and they would be leaving the Board. The Chair paid tribute to their outstanding contributions to the Board as a former Chair of the Committee, E&D, SEND & Safeguarding Link Governor and HE Link Governor respectively. The Board was in the process of search and succession planning to recruit new governors and successors for the Link Governors. The Search & Governance Committee would undertake interviews for the Safeguarding Link Governor on 09 December 2020. It would also be recommended to Board that A Benghiat succeed M. Willmot as the HE Link Governor; both would be meeting the GVP – Q&CM and H.E. Lead on 17 November 2020, as part of handover preparations; and
- Welcomed A. Benghiat to the meeting, attending as part of his Governor Induction.
46/20. Declarations of Interest
A. Allen declared an interest as an employee of Harper Adams University.
It was noted that H. Hawksworth and N. Merchant had declared on their Registers of Interest that they had children at the College and had understood when it was appropriate to declare this interest.
47/20. Minutes – 15 June 2020 (Appendix – Agenda Item 3)
Resolved: That the Minutes of the meeting held on 15 June 2020, were approved as a true record.
48/20. Matters Arising
Minute No. 41/20 - Risk
At the previous meeting, the Committee had recommended the removal of Risk 4.7. The Clerk confirmed that the revised Strategic Risk Register would be presented to the Audit Committee at its meeting on 26 November 2020, with Risk 4.7 likely to have been removed.
49/20. Higher Education (Appendices – Agenda Item 5)
Higher Education Access and Participation Plan 2020-21 to 2024-25 (Appendix – Agenda item 5a)
Further to Q, S & C Min. No. 33/20, the Committee reviewed the Higher Education Access and Participation Plan 2020-21 to 2024-25 (previously circulated).
The GVP – Q&CM explained that –
- the Office for Students (OfS) required the Plan to be considered in full by the Board;
- The Plan referred to a relatively small number of full-time students;
- The Plan had been submitted to the OfS and published; and
- The College was required to submit another Plan I 2021 - 2022.
The Committee Chair enquired if there were any under-represented areas amongst the Higher Education student body that the Plan should focus more on going forward. The GVP – Q & CM responded that the College was looking to focus on care leavers and a working party had been established to progress this.
The HE Link Governor referred to Polar Group 1 and asked if these students’ experiences and ability to progress were being affected by the increased delivery of live stream lessons. The GVP – Q & CM confirmed that the College still offered face-to-face learning for these students; however, increasingly, more students were electing to access courses remotely and, where this occurred, the College put in place appropriate support structures to support students’ learning.
Regarding the College’s actions to address the impact of digital poverty on student experience and learning, the H.E. Centre now had a ‘computer safe’ for students to access laptops. The GVP – I&SD added that the College provided I.T. equipment where it could, particularly if the employer (in the case of part-time provision) required students to work remotely.
ACTION: H.E. QUiP TO NEXT COMMITTEE MEETING
HE Consultative Overview
The GVP – Q&CM explained that the consultatives were currently underway. The HE Student Governor requested to be invited to attend.
Office for Students Update
The Clerk to the Board provided an update (previously circulated) as follows –
- The Office for Students (OfS) had confirmed that Student Space, an online platform delivering targeted mental health support to students during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, would be extended to cover the 2020-21 academic year. The online platform, funded by the OfS and HEFCW and developed by Student Minds, was designed to respond to additional pressures caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The extension would allow Student Minds to continue to respond to changes in demand as the pandemic continued, expand on the resources available, and provide support to students throughout the academic year.
- The OfS had written to universities and colleges to highlight the importance of communicating changes to how courses were taught during the lockdown amid concerns of inadequate information for students where tougher pandemic restrictions had been introduced. As new national rules came into force, universities and colleges must pay particular attention to providing clear and effective communications with students.
- The College has met the following deadline – HESES20 submission for further education and sixth form colleges and academies: 12 November 2020 (noon).
50/20. Student Perception of College Survey (SPOC) 2019 - 20 (Appendices – Agenda Item 6)
The Committee reviewed the outcome of the annual survey (previously circulated), implemented during May 2020. The questionnaire had already been considered by the College’s Equality & Diversity Committee.
- This year’s leaving survey had focused on working from home to ascertain students’ wellbeing and current needs and included all year groups with a restricted range of questions collected during lockdown.
- Therefore, this year’s data was different in that:
- The data included all year groups;
- There was a restricted range of questions; and
- Much of the data was collected during lock down.
- The resulting data could be accessed at individual programme level, allowing managers to analyse and follow up strengths and weaknesses during the Self-Assessment Report process. The results were considered in the context of being collected during lockdown and the results not being directly comparable with previous years.
The Committee noted that there had been a reduction in the percentage agreement to all the questions in common with the previous year –
- There had been a 7%-point reduction in the number of students that felt they had been encouraged to achieve their target grade compared to last year; however, students did not receive their expected progress check feedback as College was closed.
- There had been a 6% point decrease in students agreeing that the feedback they had received helped them improve; however, students missed out on the critical progress grade feedback and the mock exam feedback in the build up to exams, due to lockdown.
- The question about the provision of online resources had a lower positive response rate compared to other questions. Lockdown had been a time when demand for online resources had been exceptional and student expectations had been high. Online resources had improved, and the College had made great progress in the use of available technology; however, it was evident that students had high expectations of such resources and the Committee directed that this should remain a focus for follow up.
- ‘If I do practical work on my course, I am reminded about how to work safely’ had not previously been asked of Vocational Students. The question had the lowest response rate, yet where students had been given the opportunity to give open response, there were no comments about working safely. The Committee observed that, going forward, a more nuanced question might provide better results using focus groups or subject specific questionnaires so that responses could be explored more fully.
- There had been a 6%-point fall in the number of students that would recommend the College, however at 87% agreement, there was relatively high agreement to this question.
- The question ‘I have been treated fairly and with respect on this course’ had a 5%-point fall to 92%, but still had the highest percentage agreement of all questions.
- Regarding A Level responses, there had been a significant improvement from the previous year’s rate. All question responses except for being reminded of working safely, were slightly below the College average. However, with a much higher response rate and some of the surveys being completed in the classroom, this data could be considered more representative of the student voice.
- The HE response rate had increased from 9% in 2019 to 20% in 2020, allowing for more reliable conclusions. All questions show an increase in percentage agreement from last year. All questions, except for the ‘being reminded to work safely’ question, were slightly above the College average.
- Although vocational provision ethnic subgroups were represented in small numbers, they showed a positive percentage satisfaction with the College. The Subgroups of Sexual Orientation showed a high proportion that would recommend the College, and all showed an improved proportion from last year’s data. There was only a slight difference in the proportion of students satisfied with College between those with a disability (91%) and those without (94%). There did not appear to be significant difference for Looked After Young People (LAYP) or students in receipt of free School Meals (FSM) from the College average.
The Committee agreed the following recommendations -
- To further improve provision of online resources for departments
- The professional development focus for the year should be progress during lessons and feedback to students.
- The ‘regularly reminded to work safely’ question should be removed from future SPOC surveys and replaced with a focus group item.
The Committee also directed that it receive an Action Plan on how the delivery of the Survey would be improved going forward and a Progress Report on the implementation of the recommendations.
51/20. Complaints and Compliments Overview 2019 - 2020 (Appendix No. 7)
The GVP – Q&CM submitted a report detailing complaints/compliments received during 2019 – 2020 (previously circulated).
The GVP – Q&CM reported that the College had received fewer complaints than the previous year, possibly as a result of the lockdown from late March 2020 and there appeared to be no clusters or common threads of concern. However, students were always encouraged to come forward if there were any issues of concern. The College had moved away from a defensive position when receiving a complaint, to considering any complaint as feedback to improve the College’s service to students. The Committee supported this approach.
The Committee agreed the recommendations arising from the report, namely -
- To continue to address student behaviour at Induction and to continue throughout the year through the Curriculum Leader and all teaching/progression staff and tutorials to keep reminding students of expected behaviour in College and the local community. The Principal/CEO to also lay out his expectations in his welcome speech.
- To increase rostered site duty staff to help with recommendation 1.
- Tutorials to include reminders throughout the year of road safety, respect to peers and local businesses staff tied in with British Values.
- Ensure that the College continues to promote its “zero tolerance” approach to bullying and continue with investigations to any allegations of bullying.
- Complaints be used as a vehicle to improve, with the summary overview presented to the Quality, Standards & Curriculum Committee, Academic Leadership Team (ALT) and Senior leadership Team (SLT).
The Board Chair observed that, lockdown withstanding, the College appeared to receive few complaints for an organisation of its size. He requested that, going forward, the College consider both benchmarking against other colleges and presenting an analysis of complaints in order of severity.
52/20. Student Voice Update (Appendix – Agenda item 7)
The Committee reviewed a report (previously circulated) providing an update on student voice activities across the Colleges.
The GVP – CS&BD additionally reported that
- Whilst there had been good engagement with the student activities provided remotely at the outset of the lockdown and throughout the summer, it had proved harder to continue that level of engagement, other than sporting activities, since the commencement of the new Term. This, in part, was due to an operational decision taken to reduce the presence of The Agency at enrolment, to protect the safety of students and conduct the enrolment in line with Government Guidance on social distancing. The Agency, therefore, could not promote fully at enrolment the student activities planned for this Term. However, students were reminded weekly in tutorials of the variety of enrichment activities being offered at the College and the Agency was looking at various strategies to improve engagement.
- The Student Union Executive (SUE) was working on the Student Charter on how to stay safe during the current pandemic, required as part of the Government Guidance to the sector on re-opening after lockdown. The SUE had decided on what they felt needed to be included and shared a survey for students to complete which flagged up what students felt was important about how they stayed safe in College and what expectations they have of others (results previously circulated).
- The LBGTQ group had been renamed PRIDE group and the College had produced a survey to gauge what students wanted from it. (previously circulated).
- Three Student Rep meetings had been held since the start of the new academic year, with a high level of attendance.
- The SUE Environment Officer had taken part in an Association of Colleges (AoC) zoom meeting to discuss The FE Climate Change Roadmap and how students could get involved; the SUE would continue to discuss this.
The Student Governor (16 – 19) provided a further verbal report on his attendance at the English Bridge (EB) SUE Meeting. He reported that the EB SUE was focussing on the mental health & wellbeing of students, how the SUE could support relaying information to students, including information on work placement opportunities and how it could support students’ fund-raising activities in a time of Covid.
Some governors had attended some the meetings and the Board Chair commended the high level of student attendance.
The H.E. Student Governor asked for more details on the pathways available to students to access to communicate any issues or concerns with tutors and others at the College. The GVP – CS&BD explained the variety of pathways available, including, amongst others, the Student Services drop-in facility and the ‘please help’ email address; these and all the other pathways were signposted to students at Induction and throughout the year. The College also responded to student requests, such as setting up interest groups and activities.
53/20. Equality and Diversity Committee (Appendix – Agenda Item 9)
The Committee received the report of the Equality & Diversity Link Governor (previously circulated).
The Equality & Diversity Committee had met on 24 September 2020 and had considered
- Covid-19 – E&D impact. The Committee had been informed of how the College’s mitigations with respect to safeguarding students and staff; for example, restricted access to lifts and the requirement to wear PPE in College were affecting students. Regarding exemptions to wearing PPE, students were reviewed on an individual basis and they were issued with an exemption card to wear with the ID badge if granted.
- E&D Action Plan. The Committee had incorporated the recommendations of the Student SPOC Survey 2020 into its Action Plan. A small but significant group of gay male dissatisfaction would be investigated.
- The Committee has set the following Priorities for 2020/21:
- Assessing the impact of Covid-19 across protected characteristics;
- Student Leaver Survey 2020 outcomes.
- Free School Meals – there had been a marked increase in the need for FSM since the start of term, which looks likely to further increase.
- Black Lives Matter.
- Regarding Higher Education, the Committee had welcomed the HE Lead as a member, ensuring that E&D issues with respect to HE were represented.
- At its next meeting, the Committee would monitor the impact of the College’s Covid measures on protected groups and experiences of Adult learners compared to 16 – 19 years.
- The E&D Lead Governor had met with the Chair of the Committee this Term.
The Committee Chair observed that the work of the E&D Committee would be of great interest this year, considering Black Lives Matter.
54/20. Safeguarding Committee (Agenda Item 10)
The Committee received the report of the Safeguarding Link Governor (previously circulated).
The Safeguarding Committee had met on 05 November 2020 and had considered
- The GVP, C&O, as the Senior Designated Safeguarding Lead, had provided a thorough update to the Committee on the safeguarding and additional provisions put in place to support students since the start of the new Term, including the appointment of additional Safeguarding Mentors across the English and Welsh Bridge campuses and Emotional Health and Well Being Practitioners across all campuses and additional staff to support the increased numbers of High Needs students and students declaring additional learning support at the College. The Committee would continue to monitor closely the impact of these measures on student safeguarding. In particular, she reported that –
- The College was working with Newcastle & Stafford College under the College Collaboration Fund to support improving safeguarding procedures, processes and implementing the Safeguarding Post Inspection Action Plan. The GVP – C&O had provided a detailed update on progress so far. The Safeguarding Post Inspection Action Plan was being revised and would be presented to the Committee
- There had been a 33% reduction in incidents in comparison to last year since an increase in site security had been implemented.
- Students had been asked in the student induction survey ‘do you feel safe in college?’ Those students who had responded that they did not feel safe had been followed up individually and most were either as a result of a mistake in completing the survey or Covid related; those students were being supported.
- The Committee would continue to review safeguarding caseloads at each site, analysing for trends, particularly in the light of the continued impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Caseloads were continuing to increase; it was anticipated that mental health and related issues would continue to generate most cases. The Committee had noted the increase in the number of students who were at risk of criminal exploitation and a higher level of students on child protection plans or undergoing social work assessments. Each individual was subject to a risk assessment. The Committee had highlighted the need for the College to remain vigilant in its support of vulnerable students during the second lockdown.
- Regarding Prevent, the Committee had noted that there were, to date, no new referrals around prevent or any disclosures. The British Terrorism Threat Level had been increased to Level 4 – severe and the College was working through tutorials with all Year 1 and Year vocational students to raise awareness of local risks. There was also an intention to undertake tutorials on covid-19 and lockdown and the resulting conspiracy theories.
Regarding supporting students’ emotional and mental wellbeing, the Link Governor reported that the College currently had more referrals than last year, across all provision. The Safeguarding Committee would continue to monitor closely the impact of support initiatives on student wellbeing, attendance and achievement. The College was working closely to support young carers and those with vulnerable parents, who were shielding, to maintain attendance in College.
The Link Governor had met with the Director, Curriculum Support and the Safeguarding Manager to receive assurance and updates on the College’s Safeguarding framework. She had also met with the Additional Learning Support Manager, in response to the increasing numbers of High Needs Students at the College, to seek assurance on arrangements.
The Student Governors left the meeting at this point.
55/20. Progress Grade and Quality Reviews – Period 1
The SLT officers present updated the Committee on Progress Grade Period 1 for A levels and vocational provision (confidential report previously circulated), being the first set of progress grades for the academic year.
The DoALS explained that the report format had been amended. The Committee commended the changes in making the report clearer.
The Committee acknowledged that, for this particular year, a comparison of progress grades with exam results would be more challenging to interpret due to the nature of the Centre Assessed Grades (CAGs) process. Whilst the CAGs were determined through fair and rigorous procedures in each team, the final outcomes had effectively given each student the grade they would have got ‘on a good day’ and had removed the usual inherent variation due to other factors. Therefore, the Report, when considering individual subject performance, set out comparisons of progress grades with those in 2018/19, as being a more reliable indicator related to exam performance in 2019, rather than using the progress grades awarded in 2019/20 and CAGs.
The current data set for PG1 compared to 2019 exam results showed some subjects reporting grades consistent with previous patterns whereas others were more variable. The quality review meeting held after each set of progress grade was an opportunity to discuss areas of concern and share ideas for effective interventions. Curriculum leaders would follow-up with managers about the predictions from their teams to gauge the reliability of reporting and the effectiveness of any improvement actions already being implemented.
Regarding academic provision, the Committee noted that –
- Year 2 A level - Progress grades suggest that 78.0% meeting targets compared to 77.1% at this point in 2019-20 and 78.3% in 2018-19. Exam results achieved in those years were 81.8% (2020 CAGs) and 67.6% (2019). The judgements for high grades are currently 51.7% compared to 51% in 2019-20 and 45.3% in 2018-19. High grades achieved in final exams were 58% (2020 CAGs) and 44.9% (2019). Attendance for this cohort was 94.1% compared to 93% this time last year. The year 2 progress grades were positive given the current context; however, they were potentially less secure this Term, following the lockdown, where end of year assessments could not be done in the usual way. Subject teams had been working hard this Term to identify and rectify gaps with Year 2 and to put in place assessments which would otherwise have been done last summer. The Committee expected progress against the provision areas of concern during PR2. Programme leaders were currently working on proposals to provide extra teaching, making use of the tuition fund with qualifying students where possible. The focus for all Year 2 courses was to continue to teach the content, whilst preparing for mock exams in January 2021 and/or completion of coursework as appropriate.
- BTEC Subsidiary Diploma. The BTEC results for 2020, were in line with previous performance. Overall, the 2020 results reflected very strong value-added performance: Progress grades for the current cohort of year 2 students indicated slightly lower performance with High Grades assessed at 95.9% compared to 98.9% at the same point in 2019, and 98.7% in 2018. The proportion Meeting Targets was currently 89.8% compared to 90.6% in 2019, and 93.9% in 2018. Programme Leaders and staff had been working to identify gaps, to discuss progress with the students and to set targets for the remaining work to produce better wherever possible for individuals. Attendance on the BTEC Subsidiary Courses was 94.1%.
- Year 1 A Level - The prior attainment score for this cohort was 6.03 - significantly stronger, in theory, than previous cohorts. It was likely that this was in part due to the GCSE grades being CAGs for this group, which were therefore stronger than would have been expected if these students had taken exams. There was likely to be an impact on value-added outcomes for this cohort in 2022, therefore. Currently the high-grade judgements were 52.4% (47.8% 2019-20, 46.5% 2018-19) whilst meeting targets was 71.1% (78.0% 2019-20, 74.6% 2018-19). Attendance for this cohort was 95.4% (similar to 95.3% at this point last year).
- CTEC Extended Certificate (Year 1) - Overall High Grades were assessed at 87.8% and Meeting Target was 62.2% indicated a cautious approach at this early stage. There was significant variation between the four courses which was an action for Curriculum Leaders to follow up. Attendance overall on these courses was 93.9%.
- GCSE Courses - Attendance on the resit courses was currently 71.7%, less than expected and possibly a consequence of the new timetable pattern. The Committee directed this be a focus for action; however, acknowledged it would be a challenge to improve in the current context. The Committee acknowledged that maintaining motivation for students was a critical issue on these compulsory courses, as, for maths in particular, the College had a weaker GCSE cohort when initial assessments were considered compared to what incoming grades would suggest.
In acknowledging that the College had enrolled more students to A Level provision as a result of CAGs for GCSE, the Staff Governor enquired how the College was supporting the ability of students to adjust to A level learning. The DoALS replied that, to date, retention figures remained stable and in line with previous years’ figures.
Regarding vocational provision, the Committee noted -
- For year 1 students there were no real areas of concern within the different subject areas, however, groups not performing as strongly as expected would be monitored. GCSE maths was predicting higher than the 2019 pass rates at 42.8% and English was predicting at 32.6% (more in line with the results in August 2019). Course review (SAR) meetings had taken place for all courses with new realistic targets in place for the academic year 20/21. Interventions from self – assessment 19/20 had already commenced with the most significantly at risk or lower performing areas being the first as part of this cycle.
- For Year 2, the professional judgements for high grades for year 2 level 3 students were currently 74.6%. Meeting Minimum Target Grade were predicted to be 86.9%; an increase from 81.8% at progress point 1 in 2019. There were more students predicted to overachieve with 34.3% predicted as opposed to 25.4% predicted over target grade in 2019. All course review (SAR) meetings had taken place with new realistic targets in place for the academic year 20/21. Only three groups fell outside of predicted ALPs red and would be subject to monitoring.
The Committee Chair enquired what the College was doing to identify learning gaps and implement catch-up plans for learners whose education was disrupted by the first national lockdown. The DoALS responded that teachers were working closely with first year students to consolidate and identify learning gaps. Staff were also working to identify groups of eligible individuals the College would like to support using the Government’s additional funding.
The Committee Chair enquired if the College could identify attainment groups across protected characteristics. The GVP – I&SD undertook to provide this information for the Committee’s consideration at its next meeting.
56/20. Apprenticeships Update (Appendix – Agenda Item 12)
The GVP – I&SD presented an update (previously circulated) of the College’s apprenticeship provision.
- Recruitment had been challenging this year. As expected, the COVID pandemic had resulted in many employers pausing apprenticeship recruitment entirely. Therefore, actual starts were below original planned starts. The College would continue to recruit through the year and the GVP was hopeful that it would be possible to catch-up some starts after Christmas.
- The final funding generated for 2019/2020, ended in line with the July 2020 management accounts outturn projection. A significant number of apprentices due to complete in 2019/2020, were not able to do so which reduced the College’s ability to realise achievement funding.
• The latest lock-down and announcement that furlough would be extended to March 2021, had not yet started to have an impact on numbers. However, the College was prepared to support apprentices through this next period of instability. The College was also working to support employers to help them understand the measures the College had in place to minimise the risk of transmission and to ensure that apprentices were not prevented from progressing on their apprenticeships.
• The Education & Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) had now advised the College that it would be applying a condition of funding based on a concern that too many of its apprenticeship achievements for 18/19 were below the Minimum Standard (MS) overall achievement rate. The requirements particularly focus on the areas of provision that failed the MS threshold in 2018/2019. Analysis of the latest data indicated that the proportion of the 2020/2021 cohort that was currently below the MS was 10.8%; this suggested a significant improvement. At this stage, the GVP was confident that the College had the capacity to remain well below the MS for the 2020/2021 year.
• The COVID pandemic impacted significantly the ability of the College to achieve its planned apprenticeship achievements. However, initial analysis of the 2020/2021 data suggested there was some excellent capacity for a strong achievement rate. This was partly due to the number of achievers that would end up in 2020/2021, due to COVID delays; however, it was also a reflection of the improved retention rates secured by improved work practices and the commitment of the team.
The Committee asked when it could expect to see an improvement as a result of the Improvement Plan. The GVP responded that improvement was already evident, having in place a more structured and resilient Team, particularly with respect to IQA, which was critical to achieving quality and timely completions.
57/20. Strategic Plan – Committee Remit Actions (Appendix – Agenda Item 14)
Further to QU Min. No. 40/20, the Committee was required to review the relevant actions for progress made, how the Committee could evidence that progress had been made, and had the Committee been effective in monitoring progress and providing support and challenge.
The Committee had been advised that the following projects had not been completed to target date and therefore required an update at this meeting –
- A.1 – Point 6 - Improve Apprenticeship Achievement rate from 63% to 75%. Achievement rates had improved but not at the expected rate. The Committee agreed that, in view of the report presented at Min No 56/20, no further progress could be reported at this time.
- A.4 – Point - Review tutorial model and programme. Whilst not achieved to deadline, significant changes to the tutorial programme planned in response to the changing profile of the student cohort had been agreed and would be in place for September 2020. Tutorials would be developed across themes, linked up with students’ destination expectations and on more generic topics, such as managing well-being and dealing with anxiety. The GVP - C&O explained that the Covid-19 pandemic had affected the ability of the College to deliver in larger groups and it was looking at delivering this programme differently. The College would be holding a ‘Find Your Future’ Day, the College’s virtual careers exhibition designed to help students explore the career options available to them, on 23 November 2020.
- D.3 – Point 4 - To train staff in Mental Health First Aid to support early identification. It had been planned to implement this action at the Staff Development Day; however, other staff development considerations had taken precedent. The College had rolled out the open distance learning courses to staff at regular intervals; this included mental health first aid along with other mental health courses.
The Committee agreed that this report be a standing item on the Committee going forward.
The Committee concluded that the risks identified in the 2019 – 2020 Strategic Risk Register were adequate and that there had been sufficient discussion of the issues at the meeting; particularly with respect to risks 1.4, 1.5 & 1.6.
59/20. Date of Next Meeting – Monday, 25 January 2020.
The meeting concluded at 7.37 p.m.