Shrewsbury Colleges Group
Group Minutes of Quality, Standards & Curriculum Committee
Date 23rd March 20
Time 5.30 p.m.
Minutes Membership In attendance by electronic device and contributing towards the meeting quorum, in accordance with Instrument 12. (Members may count towards the quorum if they are able to be present by electronic or digital communication (including attendance by video conferencing or telephone conferencing).
A Allen, G. Channon (ex officio), C. Davies, C. Gore, H. Hawksworth, N. Merchant, K. Quant and M. Willmot. Student Governors by invitation – C. Wassall and M. Wood.
In Attendance In attendance in Room A.31
C. Pemberton, Group Vice-Principal, Quality and Curriculum Management (GVP – Q&CM); and
Clerk to the Board – T. Cottee

In attendance by electronic device
Members of the Senior Leadership Team:
C. Armstrong, Group Vice Principal - Curriculum Support and Business Development (GVP – CS&BD)
M. Brown, Group Vice Principal, Information & Strategic development (GVP – I&DS)
P. Morgan, Director of A Level Studies (DoALS)
Apologies None.

14/20. Declarations of Interest

A. Allen declared an interest as an employee of Harper Adams University.

15/20. Minutes – 27 January 2020 (Appendix – Agenda Item 3)


That the Minutes of the meeting held on 27 January 2020, were approved as a true record.

16/20. Matters Arising


17/20. Quality Improvement Plan (QuIP) (Appendix – Agenda Item 4)

The Committee considered the latest College QuIP (previously circulated).

The GVP – Q, S & C reported that –

    • The Education & Skills Funding Agency (EFSA) had now contacted the College and Board Chair in writing to provide guidelines on how it would approach intervention following the confirmation of an overall Grade 4 OFSTED Report. This included the requirement to have in place a Post Inspection Action Plan (PIAP) and for the Board to put in place appropriate oversight arrangements for the implementation of the PIAP.
    • The ESFA had indicated it would wish to receive elements of the PIAP by 17 April 2020 and the GVP would now be working to produce the required elements. However, there was a concern that, due to the impact of Covid-19, the College would not be able to demonstrate progress against PIAP before September 2020.

The Committee, having reviewed the QuIP, understood that the document would, going forward, evolve to reflect the development of the PIAP. Additionally, the impact of Covid-19 may affect College’s ability to demonstrate progress against targets and it may have to revise deadlines as a result. It expected the improvement of the attendance of tutorials in academic provision to be included.

18/20. Higher Education - EE and EV Report (Appendix - Agenda Item 5a)

The Committee received 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.

It was noted that, going forward, in response to the closure of the College campus, all activity related to achievement of actions to target would be conducted remotely where possible.

The Committee requested that the latest update be circulated to all Committee members.

19/20. Higher Education Quality Improvement Plan (QuIP) Appendix – Agenda Item 5b)

The Committee reviewed the latest Higher Education QuIP (previously circulated).

The HE Link Governor confirmed that he had met (remotely) that day with the Curriculum Leader, HE, Education & Counselling, as part of his Termly programme. He had sought assurance that, so far as possible, all activity to support HE students’ progression and to secure their achievement would continue.

The HE Link Governor sought assurance on how actions would be progressed to deadlines. The GVP – Q, S&C reported that –

    • Tutors were working towards completing higher students where possible. The challenge was progressing skills-based students who had yet to complete the practical elements of their courses.
    • The College had produced a work plan to ensure students taking skills-based qualifications could be signed off with confidence, having completed enough practical elements to the high standards expected.
    • The College was working to provide on-line activities for students working towards qualifications.

The Committee observed that it would expect the College to engage throughout the College closure period, with existing students it would expect to progress to higher education, as well as continue to market the College as a preferred destination for higher education to the wider community.

The HE Link Governor sought assurance that the College had produced an Access & Participation Plan 2019 - 2020, as required by the Office for Students (OfS). The GVP- Q, C&S explained that the College had drafted the Plan, which would be submitted to the OfS by the deadline set. The Committee asked for a report on this at the next meeting.

The Committee sought assurance that the College was reaching out to students from disadvantaged backgrounds and Looked After Young People regarding higher education opportunities. The GVP – O&BD explained that the College was working on a project with current students encouraging them to consider higher education as a progression route, particularly as routes to employers may be compromised as a result of Covid-19 affecting business viability.

The Committee, at this point, wished to record its thanks to the Curriculum Leader, HE, Education & Counselling, Helen Fellows, who would be leaving the College shortly and recognise her impact, as Higher Education Lead, in the development of the College’s HE Centre and in growing HE Provision at the College, securing an accredited QAA outcome and OfS registration.

20/20. Office for Students (OfS)

The Committee received verbal updates from the Clerk to the Board on the following –

    • Compliance with Regulatory Deadline – Unistats Return. The Clerk reported that evidence required by the OfS had been submitted. To date, the OfS had acknowledged receipt but had not indicated if the evidence submitted had been accepted;
    • Condition F.2 – Student Transfer Arrangements. The Curriculum Leader - HE Education & Counselling had reviewed arrangements with the OfS and the College had published a Statement on the College’s website;
    • The OfS had revised regulatory requirements in response to Covid-19.

21/20. Student Surveys (Appendices – Agenda Items 6a & 6b)

Action Plan to Follow-Up the 2018 – 2019 Student Leaver Survey

The Committee noted that most projects had been completed to target, or on track to complete by target. ALT, Programme and Curriculum Leaders were still working towards completion of action plans to target, where possible, and a progress report would be provided to Committee.

However, the development of development of student focus groups to analyse differences in Gender, Ethnicity and Sexuality as part of raising satisfaction levels amongst these groups had been postponed, first due to flooding of the town centre campuses and now as a result of the College closure due to Covid-19. The Committee expected this project to resume, when possible.

The 2019 – 2020 Student Leaver Survey was likely to be conducted remotely, due to the impact of Covid-19.

Action Plan to follow up the Student Induction Survey - Autumn

At a previous meeting (Min. No. 49/19 refers), the Committee had considered the outcomes of the Student Leaver Survey and had requested consideration of the Action Plan implementing recommendations (previously circulated).

The GVP – CS&BD explained in detail how the College had followed-up individually every student who had responded to the survey that they had not felt safe. Those students were now identified by the College and each had in place a support programme.

The Committee sought updates on areas it expected to improve -

    • The GVP – CS&BD explained that the College was working to raise awareness in academic programmes and apprentices of where to go and who to approach if they felt vulnerable in College. One project being considered was the development of the Student Handbook as an App, which could be rolled-out through Sharp Spring at no additional cost to the College. The HE Student Governor asked how students were involved in the development of such as App, particularly in signposting support resources. The GVP- CS&BD explained that the Student Union Executive (SUE) would be involved in development and roll-out.
    • The GVP – Q&CM explained that the College was developing how to improve scheduling tutorials and learning resources on PREVENT, to raise awareness during Induction so it made an impact on students.

The Committee noted that most projects had been completed to target, or on track to complete by target. ALT, Programme and Curriculum Leaders were still working towards completion of action plans to target, where possible, and a progress report would be provided to Committee.

22/20. Student Voice Update (Appendix – Agenda Item 7)

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

The Student Union Executive (SUE) had been pro-active in filling Executive positions ready for 2020 – 2021. Whilst Covid-19 had impacted handover and transition arrangements, the SUE continued to focus on arranging end-of-year events, which had been postponed to August 2020, as its work would continue remotely through an Office 365 Group.

The Committee commended the pro-active and impactful work of the Student Union Executive (SUE) during 2019 – 2020, including their welcoming attitude to governors attending SUE meetings and expressed its sympathy that farewell and celebratory events arranged for students had been affected by Covid-19. The Committee wished to express its thanks to the SUE President for his role in developing student voice and student involvement at the College and hard work in developing the SUE further.

23/20. Equality and Diversity Committee – Lead Governor Report (Appendix – Agenda Item 8)

The E&D Link Governor reported that the meeting of the Equality & Diversity Committee, scheduled for 19 March 2020, had been postponed as Committee members were required to assist in preparations to close the College from 23 March 2020. However, the meeting would continue remotely going forward, to monitor progress against targets in the E&D Action Plan.

The Committee had incorporated the recommendations of the Student Leaver Survey 2019 and Induction Survey – Autumn 2019 into its Action Plan. The Committee has set the following Priorities for 2019/20:

    • 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 would continue to monitor the Access and Participation Plan.

It was likely that the Committee’s STAR Awards would, this year, involve all nominees receiving their Certificates of Achievement remotely.

The E&D Link Governor reported that she would meet remotely with the Chair of the Committee this Term.

24/20. Safeguarding Update - Verbal Report

The GVP – OS&BD provided a verbal update –

    • The College had identified and spoken to all students eligible to attend College after 23 March 2020, to enquire if they either intended to attend College or self-isolate. The majority of students had chosen to self-isolate. This will continue to be reviewed;
    • The College had undertaken risk assessments for all safeguarding students to ensure that they were safe whilst self-isolating and the College would, going forward, made weekly contact;
    • A very small number of students were attending now College. However, the College had put in place robust arrangements to support them, including a duty manager and a rota of the Safeguarding Team in College daily;
    • The College had ensured that all students eligible for Free School Meals (FSM) and bursary payments had bank accounts to receive payments going forward and had registered to receive the Tesco FSM Vouchers;

The Board had sent a letter of thanks to the safeguarding team for their hard work in providing robust support to students.

The Student Governors left the meeting at this point.

25/20. Progress Grades – Period 3 (Appendices – Agenda Item 4)

The SLT officers present updated the Committee on Progress Grade Period 3 for A levels and vocational provision (previously circulated), being the third set of progress grades for the academic year.

    • Regarding Year 2 A level provision, High Grades were predicted at 48.5%, falling from 50.6% at PG2 but improved from PG3 in 2019 (46.4%);
    • “Meeting Targets” had decreased from 75% at PG2 to 72.6%;
    • The ALPS score for A levels on target grade would be between 3 and 7. Changes from PG2 showed that performance among high prior attaining students had improved by 2% overall on PG2 but Middle prior attainers % has dropped by 1%;
    • Pass rates indicated 98.3%, higher than the 2019 actual pass rate of 97.5%.
    • Year 1 outcomes for high grade judgements had risen but the difference when compared with the previous year represented lower predictions in the A*/A categories. The percentage over target was 24.7% +2% on PG2 (28.4% 2019 / 31.9% PG3 2018). Pass rates would indicate 98.7% (98.5% 2019) and had improved slightly on PG2.
    • High Grades and Meeting targets outcomes showed BTEC work from the academic team was continuing at the high levels seen in previous years.
    • Regarding BTEC Certificate (Year 1), High Grades were assessed at 95.9% (95.7% PG3 2019) with 97% achieved in 2019 (91.9% 2018). Meeting Targets was 87.5% (82.1% 2019) with 97% achieved in 2019 (90.7% 2018). Over Target was 22.3% (21.6% 2019).
    • Regarding BTEC Level 2, the College had judgements which indicated that 51 out of 58 entries would achieve a high grade i.e. 87.1% (72.8% in 2019).

Regarding Vocational provision -

    • Headline for progress grade 3 predictions completed in February for year 1 were 77% MTG, with 30.1% predicted to achieve above target. For year 2, high grades were 94.1% (93.1% in 18/19), 80% (79% in 18/19) MTG with 35.6% (36.2% in 18/19) achieving over target. Second year predictions had improved for high grades as well as over achievers whilst remaining the same for those students meeting minimum target grade.
    • For year 1 students the headline overall meeting target grade was impacted by the large numbers of GCSE students, which impacted the potential high grade outcomes currently standing at 34.2% headline. However, students who were meeting target grades were currently standing at 3% below second years.
      The Committee discussed the impact on the College of the Government’s decision to cancel all examinations in response to Covid-19, particularly with respect to student achievement and progression. The Government had yet to provide certainty, particularly with respect to university offers, affecting both parents and students. It was understood that, at present, the approach taken by the Department of Education and the Examination Regulator (Ofqual) would be
    • Awarding a grade based on teacher judgments (which teachers would make based on mocks and non-exam assessment, guided by DfE/Ofqual advice) combined with other data. The precise process would be decided soon and communicated as soon as possible;
    • Grades would hopefully be available by the end of July 2020;
    • There would be an ability to appeal against disputed grades. It would also be possible to sit exams early next academic year, or in summer 2021;;
    • For vocational courses where work had already been completed and assessed, these grades were likely to form part of the judgment;
    • The College was not yet aware how any of these forms of assessment would be used to determine the calculated grade(s).

The Committee sought assurance that the College was providing guidance to students and parents. The GVP OS&BD explained that the College had prepared communications to all affected students. The College was focussed on ensuring students nearing completion had completed coursework and that assessment plans were in place.

26/20. Apprenticeships – Overview and Update (Appendix – Agenda Item 5)

The GVP – I&SD presented an update (tabled at meeting) of the College’s apprenticeship provision. The report content 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.

Progress Grades were now in use across all internal apprenticeships. A Quality Review meeting would take place to scrutinise these; however as this was the first time assessors had made these judgements there would be some standardising to do moving forward. The first apprentice-specific feedback survey had also been launched.

The Committee sought assurance on what arrangements were being put in place to support apprentices laid off or unable to have work verified as complete as a result of Covid-19 and resulting business failures and how this would affect the College’s achievement outcomes.

The GVP – I&SD explained that the College was encouraging employers to retain apprentices and for apprentices to complete as much coursework as possible remotely. However, this presented challenges in addition to completing practical work and gaining proper verification. The GVP- I&SD explained that, despite these challenges, it was expected that achievement would improve on previous years’ performances and remain above 70% for the College and overall.

27/20. Risk

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 students not achieving predicted grades.

28/20. Date of Next Meeting – Monday, 15 June 2020 from 5.30 p.m. in Room B.17, London Road Campus. NOTE: It was agreed at a Special Board meeting on 17 March 2020, that from that date, all meetings be held remotely in response to the College closure as a result of Covid-19. Therefore, this meeting will be held remotely via Microsoft Teams.


The meeting concluded at 7.45 p.m.