Shrewsbury Colleges Group
Group Minutes of Quality, Standards & Curriculum Committee
Date 18th November 19
Time 5.30 p.m.
Minutes Membership Andy Allen, Christine Davies, Gordon Channon (ex-officio, Chair of the Board), Christina Gore, Helen Hawksworth, Nigel Merchant, Kari Quant and Mike Willmot (HE Lead Governor). Student Governors by invitation – Claire Wassall and McKenna Wood.
In Attendance Members of the Senior Leadership Team:
Catherine Armstrong, Group Vice Principal - Curriculum Support and Business Development (GVP – CS&BD)
Mark Brown, Group Vice Principal, Information & Strategic development (GVP – I&DS)
Paul Morgan, Director of A Level Studies (DoALS);
Chris Pemberton, Group Vice-Principal, Quality and Curriculum Management (GVP – Q&CM); and
Clerk to the Board - Tracy Cottee
The following governor was present at the meeting as an observer:
Roger Wilson (ex-officio, Vice Chair of Board)
Apologies Catherine Armstrong, Chris Davies and Claire Wassall.

Prior to the meeting, the Committee welcomed –

  • the Academic Staff Governor (LR Campus), H. Hawksworth, to her meeting as a member;
  • the newly-appointed 16 – 18 Student Governor, M. Wood, to her first Committee meeting.

39/19. Election of Chair for the Duration of the Meeting

Having been proposed by C. Gore and seconded by N. Merchant, it was

Resolved: That Andy Allen be appointed Chair of the Committee for the duration of the meeting.

Andy Allen in the Chair.

40/19. Election of Chair for the Committee 2019 – 2020

Having been proposed by A. Allen and seconded by G. Channon, it was

Resolved: That Chris Davies be appointed Chair of the Committee for 2019 – 2020.

41/19. 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.

42/19. Minutes – 19 June 2019 (Appendix – Agenda Item 3)

Resolved: That the Minutes of the meeting held on 19 June 2019, were approved and signed as a true record.

43/19. Matters Arising

Minute Number 30/19 – Progress Grades – Period 4

It was noted that the Principal/CEO had presented a more detailed analysis of average attendance rates at the College to the Board at its July meeting, as had been requested by the Committee.

Link Governors’ Meetings

The Link Governors for Apprenticeships, E&D & Safeguarding and HE all confirmed that they had met with their officer links since the last Committee meeting. It was noted that content and presentation of the Apprenticeship Report had been amended at the request of the Board Chair and Link Governor, not only to reflect the change in senior management of the provision but also to improve governors ‘ability to analyse and challenge the information presented.

44/19. Progress Grades – Period 1 (Appendix – Agenda Item 4)

The SLT officers present updated the Committee on Progress Grade Period 1 for A levels and vocational provision (previously circulated), being the first set of progress grades for the academic year. The College was now able to track changes between collection points as well as equivalent points in different years.

Regarding Progress Grades – Vocational (excluding Art and Design)

    • For Year 1 students within the total overall data there are large numbers of GCSE students that impacted the potential “high grade” overall outcomes which currently stood at 31.5%, though those who were predicted to meet Minimum target grades was currently 74.5%.
    • Regarding Level 3 students on extended diploma - 91.5% of students were currently predicted to meet their target grade (82% in October 2018).
    • GCSE maths was predicting high grade pass rates at 29.2% and English was predicting at 36.4%.
    • At level 2 graded qualifications, 54% were predicted to achieve Merit or Distinction with 98.4% predicted to achieve overall. The Committee acknowledged that Health and Social Care was currently impacting this and that this provision area would be the focus of the health check, as it wished to see more students over achieving on grades.
    • Pass/fail courses only were predicting a 93.2% pass rate overall.
    • All course review (SAR) meetings had taken place with new, realistic targets in place 2019 - 2020.
    • Interventions from the College’s self–assessment 2018 - 2019, had commenced with the most significantly at risk or lower performing areas being prioritised, including Health and Social Care Level 2 and Functional Skills, with planned health checks for Level 3 Childcare and Sport Level 3. The latter would focus on intent and sequencing so that the best possible course was offered.
    • The professional judgements for high grades for year 2 students were currently 93.9% (76.5% Progress Grade point 1 in 2018). Meeting minimum Target grade was predicted to be 81.8% (75.5% at Progress Grade point 1 in 2018). The Committee recognised that there were more students predicted to meet their target grade, but less predicted to overachieve with 25.4% predicted (37.2% in 2018). Regarding Extended Diploma Manufacturing predicting MTG at 53.8%, the Committee acknowledged that this would be further explored with the Curriculum Leader and again at the Quality Review Meeting as in previous years, this had been a high performing area.

Regarding Year 2 A level provision –

    • The professional judgements for high grades were currently 49.8% (43.7% 2018, 47.4% 2017) whereas 44.8% was the actual figure for 2019. Meeting Targets were 75.2% (76.5% 2018, 74.1% 2017) and overall 67.5% (72.6% 2018) achieved their target in 2019 and predicted to be over target 26% (29.8% 2018, 30.7% 2017).
    • Based on the high grades percentage areas for further work, the Committee agreed that areas predicting lower outcomes this academic year than the actual outcomes in summer should be the subject of intervention. This should include areas where the number of students meeting their target grade was below what was achieved in summer 2019.
    • Pass rates indicated 98.2% (98.5% 2018, 99.3% 2017).
    • The actual performance in 2019, was reflected in an ALPS Grade 5.
    • Interventions would be planned in meetings with Programme Leaders to assess students at risk and those underachieving to put together an action plan for change. In addition, the DoALs would meet with students underachieving in more than one subject area. Curriculum Leaders would work with Programme Leaders/Course leaders to identify specific actions to gain improvements in outcomes on underperforming courses from last year. The Committee agreed that it was of critical importance to assess the accuracy of these grades to ensure that students received appropriate help to improve.
    • Regarding BTEC Subsidiary Diploma, High Grades were currently assessed to 99.17% (98.5% 2018, 98.7% 2017) with 97.0% achieved in 2019. Meeting targets 90.33% (93.5% 2018, 89% 2017) with 97.0% achieved in 2019. Overall the 2019 results reflected a grade 2 ALPS award.
    • BTEC Subsidiary Diploma (Year 1) - High Grades 98.18% (98.5% 2018, 97.9% 2017) with 89.9% the actual outcome last year. Meeting Targets 89.84% (89.7% in 2018, 86.2% 2017) with 88.4% meeting their targets in 2019 which reflected a grade 3 ALPS award.
    • Year 1 A level - Year 1 outcomes showed high grade judgements at 45.5% (43.7% 2018, 44.3% 2017), meeting targets at 76.1 (71.8% 2018, 73.5% 2017) and those over target 21.6% (21.7% 2018, 27.4% 2017).
    • Regarding GCSE Courses at the Welsh Bridge Campus - English GCSE currently predicted 90.0%. 69.0% met their target grade last summer. Maths GCSE had 65.3% (58.6% 2018) on target. 61.2% met their target grade last summer.
    • BTEC Level 2 - High grades predictions were 84.6%.

The Committee noted that science subjects featured in grades of concern. The College had analysed this and was investigating how to support students taking one science subject amongst other non-science subjects. The Committee noted that Maths featured in the top 25%, with high retention.

The Committee asked how target grades were set, as it wished to be assured that all staff had a common understanding of how to evaluate grades. It was explained that Meeting Target Grades was set centrally; however, the judgement as to whether a student would meet that target was based on the professional judgement of the tutor. Teaching staff were encouraged to set challenging grades. The Committee was advised that the new PPR Framework was currently under pilot and commence in February 2020.

44/19. Apprenticeships – Overview and Update (Appendix – Agenda Item 5a)

The GVP – I&SD presented an update (previously circulated) of the College’s sub-contracted apprenticeship provision. The report content to Committee had been revised to provide an overview of key changes that had influenced apprenticeship delivery since August 2016, along with an update of the year-end position 2018 – 2019. The Apprenticeship Link Governor reported that he had met with senior officers over the summer, to develop improved reporting on the topic going forward.

The Committee considered -

    • The Timeline of key Apprenticeship changes since Merger, including that responsibility for Apprenticeship provision had passed to the GVP – I&SD. As delivery and audit requirements had developed in the external apprenticeship environment, it was decided to realign SLT responsibility for apprenticeships to be more closely aligned to the funding and data teams.
    • How the Board and Quality Committee had received regular information and had sought assurance on the apprenticeship function, including progress on attainment, completions and quality management.
    • The College’s sub-contracting partners and sub-contracting management arrangements, staffing across its range of provision and quality assurance arrangements, including the online assessment tool used by assessors, apprentices, and employers to record all assessment elements of an apprenticeship. It was also used by IQAs to record the quality assurance process.

The Committee expressed its approval of the reporting format presented and indicated that, going forward, it would scrutinise and challenge the College to improve outcomes for Apprentices. The Overall Achievement Rate was below national average and the Committee wished this and Timeliness to improve further, despite the three-year trend of improvement for SCG delivery which was a result of the work of staff implementing system improvements and improving employee engagement and confidence. This new model of delivery has been positively received by employers and apprentices. The Committee indicated that it expected an improvement in these figures for 2019/20.

44/19. Higher Education - EE and EV Report (Appendix - Agenda Item 7a)

The Committee reviewed the latest update of the HE External Examiners EE & EV (Pearson/ BTEC) Reports (previously circulated). The report provided a general overview, highlighting good practice, common themes and key areas of concern in the external examiner reports along with necessary actions and follow-ups.

45/19. Higher Education Access and Participation Plan 2019 – 2020

The Committee considered the Higher Education Access and Participation Plan 2019 – 2020, which was a requirement of the Office for Students (OfS) Registration. The Plan had also been considered by the College’s Equality & Diversity Committee and would be monitored going forward.

The Committee noted that the Plan had been submitted to the OfS and it was requested, going forward, that the Draft Plan for 2020 – 2021, be reviewed by the Committee prior to submission to the OfS.

46/19. Higher Education Consultative Overview

The Committee considered a general overview of the results of the HE Summer Term Consultatives (previously circulated).

47/19. Office for Students (OfS)

The Committee considered communications from the Office for Students (OfS), the regulator of higher education provision at the College (previously circulated).

Programme of Events and Publications – September 2019 to April 2020

The Committee noted:

    • an overview of OfS events, publications and data submission deadlines over the next six to eight months; and
    • a month-by-month timeline summary.

The Committee noted specifically the data submission deadlines. Whilst there was no requirement to submit an annual assurance statement this year, as the OfS's Regulatory Framework came into full force from 1 August 2019, superseding the previous regulatory requirements, the Clerk and Curriculum Leader - HE Education & Counselling would present a Compliance Audit providing full assurance on OfS requirements going forward.

Compliance with regulatory deadlines: reminder for governing bodies
The Board Chair (and Principal/CEO) had received a letter from the OfS, advising that the College had failed to complete the Submission of 2019 Unistats return on time. The OfS had indicated that, whilst it had not reached a formal regulatory finding in relation to this missed deadline it had recorded the instance of lateness.

The GVP – I&SD explained that the Unistats return had been submitted to deadline; however, it was not successfully uploaded and whilst re-submitted the following working day, therefore missed the submission deadline. The Committee was assured this would not occur again, as data submission deadlines had been diarised going forward.

As the OfS required the Board to submit a record of this discussion of the reason the deadline was missed and the steps that would be taken to ensure that future deadlines were met, the Committee RECOMMENDED TO BOARD.

The GVP I&SD left the meeting.

49/19. Analysis of Student Leaver Survey 2018 – 2019 (Appendix – Agenda Item 8)

The Committee considered the annual survey (previously circulated), implemented during May 2019. The questionnaire had already been considered by the College’s Equality & Diversity Committee.

    • The questions were grouped around: Assessment and Feedback, Organisation and Management (including student services), Personal Development and Equality and Diversity. There were around 1,300 responses from across the Group.
    • This survey was issued with 3 rather than 4 response levels meaning direct comparison with previous data was unreliable. The Committee also noted that the timing of the survey did not capture more students. It agreed with the key recommendations to issue the survey earlier in the year and build in year-on-year comparison. The Committee also requested that the survey be made more widely available to apprentices going forward.

The Committee noted -

    • Assessment and feedback of those responding showed a high level of satisfaction for all questions. 97% of responses agreed that they had been encouraged to meet their target grade.
    • The College had performed well on the Organisation and Management questions with 99% of responses agreeing that they felt safe in College and 93% agreeing that they would ‘recommend the College to others’.
    • 98% of students agreed that they had the support they needed, 93% felt that they had been encouraged to work independently and 91% felt more confident in tackling new situations. 88% of students agreed that their courses developed their confidence and communication skills. However, the Committee noted that 86% agreed that they were happy with their social spaces and 83% were happy with their range of enrichment activities. These were the weakest response rates for the cross-College data and required follow-up focus groups with students from the different campuses to ascertain the detail around these responses.
    • The Committee also sought assurance that students were supported to recognise feedback to help them improve.

The Equality & Diversity Committee had considered the survey responses and had agreed to follow-up the findings of the focus groups with respect to responses from protected characteristics. It had also recommended a review of the work experience question, adding a disability and specific learning support question.

The Committee agreed the following recommendations -

    1. The questionnaire be available from April, to capture more students and improve response rates. This would enable tutors to direct more students to the survey as they would have not have exams or early completion of courses.
    2.  Ways of increasing accessibility to enrichment activities be investigated particularly for HE and A Level programmes.
    3. Methods of improving social spaces be investigated particularly for A level programmes.
    4. CLs and PLs analyse individual teaching programmes to look for areas of weakness to address in their SAR and QIP. Particular areas of focus include the regularity of assessment, quality of feedback and areas of personal development.
    5. The Quality Team will continue to gather more qualitative data using student focus groups to enhance the above recommendations.
    6. Student focus groups will also be required to analyse differences in Gender, Ethnicity and Sexuality subgroups.
    7. The same questions be used for next year’s survey but include 4 response options including ‘strongly disagree’. This could complicate comparison with this year’s data but would bring longer term benefits.
    8. The questionnaire be more accessible to Apprenticeship students.
    9. The Survey include the additional questions recommended by the Equality and Diversity Committee.
    10. The Committee 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.

The Committee sought assurance on how the College managed incidents of bullying. The GVP – Q explained the resources available to students to report incidents and how the College was able track and manage incidents and dealt with issues swiftly in partnership with the community.
The GVP explained that there had been an increase in the number of safeguarded students involved in disciplinary issues, which was being monitored carefully.
49/19. Complaints & Compliments Report 2018 – 2019 (Appendix No. 9)

The GVP – Q&CM submitted a report detailing complaints/compliments received during 2018 – 2019 (previously circulated).

The GVP – Q&CM reported that students were 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 reviewed the recommendations arising from the report, namely -

    1. To address student behaviour in 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 will also lay out his expectations at his welcome speech.
    2. Staff to always ensure clarity and fairness when talking to students and ensure the disciplinary procedure is administered where appropriate.
    3. Complaints to be used as a vehicle to improve, with summary overview presented to Governors, ALT and SLT.

50/19. Student Voice Update (Appendix – Agenda Item 10)

The Committee reviewed an update report on the College’s Student Voice activities (previously circulated).

Key activities since the last report to the Committee included -

    • The new Student Union was in place and was ready to start in September 2019. All officers now represented the College as a merged organisation.
    • The new peer support group was in place. The new student-led “Chill and Chat” group had been launched at all 3 campuses to support students, started as a result of the successful tea and chat groups held during exams in May 2019
    • The first round of Student Rep meetings had been held at all 3 campuses before half term; one attended by the Vice Chair.

51/19. Equality and Diversity Committee – Lead Governor Report (Appendix – Agenda Item 11)

The E&D Link Governor presented a report (previously circulated).

The Committee had set the following Priorities for 2019 - 2020:

  • Achievement data across protected characteristics;
  • Student Leaver Survey 2019 outcomes of focus groups;
  • Free School Meals – barriers to uptake;
  • Confidence & self-esteem – supporting cross-College initiatives.
  • Regarding Higher Education, the Committee had considered the Access and Participation Plan also submitted to this Committee.
  • Regarding sharing good practice of E&D, British Values, Embedding across curriculum areas/campuses, the Charities Committee calendar had been combined with the E&D calendar and would be issued half termly :

The E&D Lead Governor has also met with the Chair of the Committee this Term and verbally reported on her attendance at the last E&D Committee held on 14 November 2019. She had challenged that the percentage of staff who had not yet undertaken the Equality Essentials Module had not increased since the last meeting. Whilst the Committee acknowledged the challenges with engagement of hard to reach staff, it sought assurance that the SLT would address this. The GVP would pass this on and consider alternative methods of delivery to improve uptake.

52/19. Safeguarding Committee - Lead Governor Report (Appendix – Agenda Item 12)

The Safeguarding Link Governor presented a report (previously circulated).

The Safeguarding Committee had yet to meet this term. However, the Committee would continue to maintain a strong focus on core safeguarding issues such as staff training and the wearing of badges whilst on sites. The Committee would continue to focus on Looked After Young People during 2019 – 2020, together with High Needs Students, as the College has an increased number this year. In addition, the Committee would continue to review Safeguarding Caseloads at each site, analysing for trends and receive the Safeguarding Annual Report 2018 – 2019 prior to its submission to the Board meeting in December 2019.

The Safeguarding 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.

53/19. Risk

The Committee concluded that the risks identified were adequate and that there had been sufficient discussion of the issues at the meeting; particularly with respect to students not achieving predicted grades.

54/19. Date of Next Meeting – Monday, 27 January 2020, from 5.30 p.m. in Room B.17, London Road Campus

The meeting concluded at 7.40 p.m.