At this point, the Chair took the opportunity to welcome D. Jones, the newly appointed HE Student Governor, to her first meeting of the Committee.
02/23. Declarations of Interest
03/23. Minutes – 05 December 2022 (Appendix – Agenda Item 4)
Resolved: That the Minutes of the meeting held on 05 December 2022, were approved as a true record.
04/23. Quality Assurance and Enhancement Process 2022 – 2023 – The Role of Learning Enhancement (Appendix, Agenda Item 4b)
Further to Min No. 44/22 and as part of an ongoing programme of governor development, the DoQu, T&LE gave a presentation on the College’s Learning Enhancement Team (LET) and how the Team supported teaching staff to embed consistently high-quality teaching and learning throughout the college.
He explained –
- The Learning Enhancement Team consisted of a wide range of high performing, experienced and skilled teachers deployed across all college sites. The Team was a central component of the college’s teaching and learning enhancement strategy and supported curriculum areas and individuals to raise teaching standards through sharing best practice, to the benefit of students.
- Following a process of self-evaluation across all provision, the college had identified a number of core cross-college themes to raise teaching standards.
- The college had obtained additional funding of up to £400 a day from the Education & Training Foundation to upskill teaching staff.
In response to questions, the DoQu explained:
- The teaching staff had responded well to the support offered by the Team, appreciating both the collaborative approach and the opportunity to both learn from and share best practice.
- Regarding the approach to subject specific development issues, the Team provided targeted and bespoke interventions where identified through the Subject Area Reviews created as part of the Quality Enhancement Cycle, with each course leader meeting with a member of the LETS Team to review outcomes and identify opportunities for teaching and learning support. This approach had received positive feedback from staff.
- Regarding the remission arrangements in place for the LETS Team, the VP, Q,A & I explained that the college had refined the arrangements from this year, with a positive impact on the Team.
- The college was developing its approach towards having a coaching pool of staff in college. All Learning Enhancement Leads would be Level 5 qualified coaches by the end of the year.
- Regarding supporting the development of employability behaviours, the Team was currently supporting those departments where this had emerged as a specific issue for development, such as Construction. The college was looking to further expand support for this, as T level provision developed. The college had also secured funding of up to £400 a day to further upskill staff.
The Committee commended the approach taken by the Team and the college’s intention to raise further the standards of teaching throughout the college.
05/23. The Curriculum Development Cycle 2023/2024 (Appendix – Agenda Item 4a)
Further to Minute Number 45/22, and as part of an ongoing programme of governor development, the VP, Q,A & I gave a presentation on the college’s revised Curriculum Development Cycle, which had been developed further in response to the requirements of the Skills for Life Agenda.
- The college would now provide a Skills Briefing document for all Curriculum Directors to inform curriculum development going forward, drawing on information from Lightcast (Labour Market Intelligence - LMI).
- The Briefing would include information on local skills priorities drawn from The Marches LEP Skills Report and the Local Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP) once available and include
- Top occupational vacancies and top skills required for vacancies in the local area
- Top employers advertising in the area
- Any identified future skills
- Each Curriculum Area would then produce a Rationale Statement and Curriculum Design which would be signed-off.
The VP also explained the college’s approach to employer engagement and shared with the Committee information on the Top 50 Occupation Areas August 2021 to July 2022 (previously circulated), which included both academic and vocational qualification pathways for each occupation. Governors had been asked to support the college’s approach by signposting work experience and employment opportunities both to their professional networks and their employers and contributions had already been received. Committee members also signposted additional funding available to further develop the college’s offer to employers, including the UK Share Prosperity Fund.
In response to a question, the VP explained that the college had bid for funding from the Department of Education to support a variety of short course programmes.
06/23. The Development of the College’s Higher Education Offer (Appendices, Agenda Item 5)
The VP, T&VE presented a report (previously circulated) on the aspirational developments for the college’s Higher Education provision for the next three years. A core component of the college’s Strategy was to grow HE provision and the Committee also reviewed the Draft HE Strategy.
The VP explained that -
- Since May 2022, there had been a significant focus on the college’s Higher Education provision; reviewing its curriculum offer, curriculum design, collaborations with Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), and approaches to the future Higher Technical Qualifications aimed at addressing skills needs.
- The key issues to be addressed included -
- The declining numbers enrolling onto the college’s higher education programme
- The existing HE curriculum design
- The effectiveness of the college’s HEI collaborations
- The HE ‘brand’.
- The key actions set out in the Draft Strategy included:
- Developing the HE brand
- Redesigning the existing curriculum model
- Establishing further opportunities to collaborate with HEIs
- Implementing a programme of Higher Technical Qualifications
- The key actions set out in the Draft Strategy included:
The Staff Governor observed that one of the barriers to access to HE in FE was HE students having access to a dedicated venue. The college was fortunate in having a specific HE Centre and the college should emphasise this in its marketing strategy. The HE Student Governor observed that the Strategy should also include measures to explain to parents and potential students the benefit of HNDs as a pathway to degrees.
In response to questions, the VP explained –
- The college would be targeting its marketing to both existing students progressing to university and to external stakeholders supporting their career development and/or opportunities.
- The college would also develop its marketing to heighten the college’s profile with more mature customers.
- The Committee would, going forward, monitor milestones in the implementation of the Draft Strategy, once approved, to ensure progress against expected targets.
- The college signposted its HE offer to the Access to HE cohort whilst they were on course, to both raise students’ aspirations and encourage progression to higher education and to encourage retention.
The Committee expressed its support for the college’s ambition to provide an enhanced and, where needed, alternative strategic approach to its Higher Education activity by –
- aspiring to strengthen HEI collaboration to create a heightened undergraduate culture within the college’s dedicated HE Centre; and
- aiming to provide stakeholders with a HE culture that was aspirational, ambitious, and provided opportunities for all.
07/23. Progress Against the Development of the College’s T Level Provision (Appendices, Agenda item 6)
The Committee considered a report (previously circulated) on the progress and developments made on to implement the college’s T-Level provision in readiness for September 2023.
The Committee observed that T-Levels were a significant focus of the college and since May 2022, there had been a significant amount of focus across teams and external stakeholders to support its readiness.
The Report set out progress with regard to -
- T-Level Awareness
- School Leavers
- Industry Placements
and the work being done by the college to:
- Confirm T-Level timetable expectations
- market and promote T-Levels to attract applications
- work to support curriculum in the design and sequencing of T-Level content through Schemes of Work
- Establish T-Level Advisory Boards
- Secure and confirm Industry Placements.
Continuous Professional Development remained a core focus to further develop awareness, knowledge, and confidence in T-Levels across the college. The college continued its programme of Excellence Visits to other providers and developing its relationship with the Education Training Foundation (ETF) T-Level Area Relationship and Development Lead, to provide staff access to best practice and sector specific updates and training for curriculum teams. T-Level leads were supporting delivery teams in the understanding of content and assessment of sector specific T-Levels and the college’s recent T-Level Capital bid, if successful, would provide outstanding teaching and learning facilities enhancing the experiences of college students.
In response to questions, the VP explained that:
- The college was developing its network to support its ambition to recruit up to 152 students to industry placements.
- To support progression opportunities. the T Level offer from 2023 – 24, would include a ‘Transition Programme’; a T Level Pathway to support students who aspired to T Levels but were not yet ready to undertake them.
- The college was building employer and parent understanding and engagement. Whilst more work had to be done to persuade employers, parents and students of the value of T Levels, particularly as a progression route to university, there had been an increase in the number of parents and students asking about T levels at recent open evenings, which was encouraging.
08/23. Progress Against the Delivery of the College’s Careers Strategy (Appendix, Agenda Item 7)
The Committee considered a report (previously circulated) providing assurance that the college continued to meet its statutory requirements and planned activities in the delivery of careers provision.
The Committee was advised that this was a busy and critical Term, as the college was implementing programmes to highlight progression routes to students. In addition -
- The college’s Matrix assessment was scheduled for 13 – 15 March 2023.
- To develop additional appropriate enrichment opportunities and career advice and guidance, for adults and apprentices, the Agency Team was working with the Director of Marketing on a communication campaign highlighting the college offer for adults and apprentices, scheduled for publication in the Spring Term.
- Revised guidance for schools and further education and sixth form colleges had been issued in January 2023, to further regulate the Government expectation that all education providers continued to work towards the Gatsby Benchmarks. The college had put in place measures to meet the revised expectations. The Agency conducted an annual part-time working survey, which recorded part-time employment and explored the skills that students developed as a result. The 2022-23 report was due to be published before Easter 2023. In response to a question, the Agency Manager explained that up to 50% of students worked part-time and the college offered advice to students to promote a healthy work/life balance.
- The updated provider access legislation (PAL) effective from 1st January 2023, specified that schools and academies must provide at least six encounters with approved providers of apprenticeships and technical education for all their students from years 8 to 13. The college upheld the spirit of the PAL through meeting the Gatsby Benchmarks. In response to a question, the Agency Manager confirmed that this provided opportunities for the college to promote its technical offer to schools and academies and there was a facility to raise concerns about access to school and academy pupils through the Careers and Enterprise Company.
- The college continued to meet the 8 Gatsby Standards, with the latest Compass Self-Assessment undertaken in December 2022 and going forward, the Careers Link Governor would be involved in the regular compliance check meetings.
- The Careers Link Governor had met with the Agency Manager to review current Careers provision and identify additional areas of interest to Governors including a review of contextual university offers for Shrewsbury Colleges Group students, in response to changes in universities’ policies.
- Forthcoming careers campaigns for the Spring Term focussed on highlighting positive progression routes for all full-time students through tutorials, Progression Specialists and Support Tutors. The Term’s programme therefore featured opportunities to highlight internal progression routes through the Accelerate, Graduate and Investigate pathways. In response to a question, the Agency Manager explained that progression talks included the promotion of the new Foundation T Level and T Level routes.
- National Apprenticeship Week (aimed at Accelerate and Investigate pathways) fell within this Term and the college had facilitated student trips and provider representation at several specialist events. National Student Volunteering Week would see the college launch of the new vInspired portal for students to gain nationally recognised certificates for volunteering. Governors would be invited to the Annual Careers Evening on 22nd March 2023.
09/23. Safeguarding Report
At the request of the Safeguarding Link Governor and further to Mn No. 47/22, the VP, S&P provided an update on the impact of the Student Assistance Programme contract negotiated by the college to enable all full-time students to access support or referral services over the Christmas period. Due to the positive impact of the initiative and how students were accessing the facility, the college, through funding provided by the Radbrook Foundation, had extended the contract for the rest of the academic year and would continue to monitor.
In terms of initiatives implemented this Term, a new relationship had been agreed with both the Shropshire Local Authority Public Health Team and the NHS Trust Public Health Nursing Team. Each month, the Public Health Team would attend the college to deliver a variety of health promotion work to students. After an absence of several years, the return of this valuable service was welcomed. The Nursing Team would also be on each campus once a month, to provide drop-in and self-referral appointments with students to enable them to discuss a range of health concerns.
In response to a question, the VP confirmed that these initiatives had been welcomed by the Safeguarding Team, as it allowed them to focus on delivering their core work.
The Committee considered the strategic risks relevant to its remit and agreed that they had been discussed within the meeting.
11/23. Date of Next Meeting – 20 March 2023 – venue to be confirmed.
The meeting concluded at 7.32 p.m.