Shrewsbury Colleges Group
Group Minutes of Quality, Standards & Curriculum Committee
Date 24th January 22
Time SAR Validation Meeting commenced at 5.03 p.m. – 5.52 p.m. Committee Meeting commenced at 5.55 p.m. – 7.24 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).
Dr J. Barratt, H. Hawksworth (Academic Staff Governor, LR Campus), J. Rowe (E&D & LAYP Link Governor), J. Sharrock (Safeguarding & SEND Link Governor) and R. Wilson (ex-officio, Chair of the Board),
Co-opted Committee members – A Creighton (HE Student Governor) and E. Rees (16 – 19 Student Governor)
In Attendance 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&SD)
K. Hayward, Agency Manager (AM)
S. McAlinden, Director, Curriculum Support (D, CS)
C. Pemberton, Group Vice-Principal, Quality and Curriculum Management (GVP – Q&CM); and
D. Rugman, Head of Quality (HoQ).

Clerk to the Board – T. Cottee

Board Members and Co-opted Committee Members present for the validation of the College’s Self-Assessment Report
B. Greenaway, G. Mills, R. Sartain, C. Sharp, J. Staniforth and M. Thompson.
Apologies A. Benghiat (H.E. Link)

Prior to the Committee meeting, all governors had been invited to an opportunity to consider and validate the College’s Self-Assessment Report (SAR), considering the postponement of the Strategy Day in January and there being no Board meeting until March 2022.

The P/CEO explained –

      • That, although it was no longer a funding requirement to produce a SAR, the College produced one annually as part of its quality improvement cycle. There was an expectation from OFSTED that if one was produced, it be presented during an inspection.
      • The college’s current ‘bottom up’ process of creating the SAR –
        • From September, course level self-assessments were prepared by middle managers and teachers, which captured the intent, implementation and impact of each course, allowed teams to consider cross-college themes and support the setting of performance targets going forward. Business support teams also produced their own departmental assessments, aligned to the college’s objectives.
        • This led to the production of a top-level report, which formed part of the final self-assessment structured around the OFSTED Framework classifications (Quality of Education and the concepts of Intent, Implementation and Impact).
      • Following the recent OFSTED Inspection and the departure of the Group Vice Principal, Quality & Curriculum Management, there was an opportunity to review how the college could develop the SAR for its own purposes. The GVP, I&SD would assume responsibility for the Report and, as a result, the Board would see some changes in content and presentation, including the use of more qualitative data and timely in-year tracking.

The Board reviewed –

      • The key achievements in the SAR –
          • Consistently very high classroom achievement rate – 89.5% (A Level – 88%, Vocational L3 – 90.7%)
          • Strong value added (ALPS) scores – A Level ALPS 2 (Top 10%), Vocational L3 ALPS 3 (Top 25%)
          • Non-TAG achievement 89.8%
          • Very high GCSE Grade 4s – English 66.7%, Maths 55.2%, significantly above national data
          • Solid Apprenticeship achievement – 60%
      • The key destination impacts in the SAR –
          • 99% of known 16-18 students were positive, including: HE - 43%, FE - 33%, Work - 13%, Apprenticeships - 6%
          • Strong HE applications – 89% placed
          • First choice university places – 96%
          • University outcomes – 89% First or 2:1
          • Across all ages, 96% went to a positive destination, with 49% into employment

The Board also reviewed progress against areas for development 2020/2021 –

      • Continue to improve safeguarding arrangements including training for and recording around sexual harassment
      • Plan and implement provision in line with any potential guidance to ensure COVID security and continuity of education including contingency for remote learning
      • Ensure that all students know about the work experience offer at the College
      • Further improve the quality of education in apprenticeships, specifically in relation to raising achievement rates
      • Review the college curriculum and consolidate provision
      • Continue to improve IAG and Career opportunities both at local level and more generically, both face-to-face and virtually
      • Continue to deliver targeted training for online delivery based on the staff audit

In response to questions on what were the priority development points to further strengthen self-evaluation and what plans the college had to include the voices of parents and employers in self-assessment, the GVP explained that the process of self-assessment would, going forward, focus on how the college could move to Outstanding, by enhancing the richness of the information used and looking deeper to demonstrate what the college had achieved and what was left to be done, for example embedding a consistency of approach across teaching standards. The SLT was considering how to engage further with parents and employers. The P/CEO added the college already engaged with parents through students.

The Board Chair pointed out the value to the college of the SAR as an over-arching document and suggested, going forward, that it could include between 3 – 5 priority development points to frame strategic discussions going forward. The GVP suggested that this could be presented around key themes.

Having reviewed the SAR, it was

Resolved: That the College Self-Assessment Report 2020 – 2021, be accepted and validated accordingly.

Dr J. Barratt, B. Greenaway, G. Mills, R. Sartain, C. Sharp, J. Staniforth and M. Thompson
left the meeting at this point.

01/22. Election of Chair of Committee

Having been proposed and seconded, it was

Resolved: That J. Sharrock be appointed Chair of the Committee for 2022.

J. Sharrock in the Chair.

02/22. Declarations of Interest

It was noted that Dr J. Barratt and J. Rowe had declared on the Register of Interest that they had a child at the college and had understood when it was appropriate to declare this interest.

03/22. Minutes – 06 December 2021 (Appendix – Agenda Item 4)

Resolved: That the Minutes of the meeting held on 06 December 2021, were approved as a true record.

04/22. Matters Arising

The Chair sought assurance that all actions from the previous meeting were either on the agenda for the meeting, were being actioned or programmed on the Committee Work Plan. This was confirmed.

05/22. Student Voice & Experience - Analysis of the Autumn 2021 Student Induction Survey (Appendix – Agenda item 5a)

The Chair welcomed the HoQ to his first Committee meeting and invited him to explain his role to the Committee.

The student induction survey had been conducted between October and November 2021 and sent by email to all first-year students. The purpose of the survey was to gather information on how the students felt about their experience of induction and first weeks at the college and the survey’s outcomes informed the development of the college’s quality improvement plans. There had been 591 respondents, which had been disappointing and may have been impacted by the college’s preparations for OFSTED. The Committee sought assurance on how the college intended to capture other students’ voices throughout the remainder of the year. The HoQ explained that the college was developing a spring and summer terms programme of consultatives, designed to capture more closely the voices of more students. Students would also be invited to complete the end of year survey.

The Committee reviewed the key areas that had shown improved responses:

      • 98.8% of students feel safe at college (up from 98.7%) – following a question, the HoQ explained that the 16 students stating that they did not feel safe had been individually followed up by the safeguarding team. 5 students stated that they now felt safe, the remaining 9 were known to, and were being supported by, the safeguarding team.
      • 95.8% of students are happy with their course (up from 94.6%).
      • There has been a 7.9% increase in students knowing how to access resources from the LRC to 84.9%.
      • 96.3% of students have accessed online resources (up from 93.4%).
      • Students know who to go to if they have a problem with their course remained high at 91.4%
      • There had been a significant improvement in the students’ understanding of what the Agency could provide at 89.2% (up from 75.8%).
      • The number of students that agree that the Colleges Covid response is effective had risen to 94.6%.
      • 92.0% of students know who to go to for help with safeguarding (up from 88%).
      • 84.9% of students know how to access resources from the LRC (up from 77%).
      • 85.4% of students know about emotional health and wellbeing support available; an increase of 5 percentage points from last year.
      • The number of students that would recommend the college remained high at 96.1%

The Committee identified that there were several areas where the communication of information to students had not been as successful including:

      • There had been a fall to 69.5% in respondees who find the Induction Handbook useful.
      • Although there had been an increase in students who felt they got enough information prior to starting college, at 88.2%, this was less than the performance expected.
      • 69% of students agreed that they had been shown how to submit coursework.
      • 77% of students know where to find information on Learning Support.
      • 82.6% of students know where to find information on financial support.

Regarding Equality & Diversity issues, the key findings were:

      • There was no significant difference in satisfaction score found between genders.
      • Asian / British Asian and Multiple Ethnic Groups had a lower satisfaction score at 90% and 89% respectively when compared to the average at 96%.
      • There were no significant differences found in satisfaction score for students taking Free College Meals or on EHCP.
      • Looked After Young People (16) had a satisfaction score of 88% compared to the average of 96%.
      • There was no significant difference found in the satisfaction score of students with a disability.

The following actions had been identified and would be presented in an Action Plan, progress against these actions would be monitored by the Committee.

      1. The college considers the use of ‘My Day’ for key student communications such as the Induction Handbook and student support.
      2. Courses with less than 90% of students who complete the 2022 Induction Survey agreeing that they know how their course is to be assessed review their induction and delivery materials to ensure assessment methods are fully explained.
      3. The E & D Committee investigate the perception of Asian / Asian British students with some follow up actions to include a review of other supporting datasets, such as value added, attendance and achievement.
      4. To investigate a survey specific to Higher Education to complement a college-wide approach to feedback, being mindful of the larger volume of surveys given the HE students.

In response to a question, the HoQ explained that the college was able to track responses, to reveal particular provision areas with low response rates. The Committee suggested this tracking if appropriate be used, to inform the spring and summer term student forums and student engagement activities.

In response to the acknowledgement that students did not appear to engage with emails, the GVP – CS&BD explained that the college was looking at different ways to communicate with students, including using the ‘My Day’ application, which would appear as a home page whenever a student accessed their Moodle account and would include notifications and reminders. The Committee also suggested that the 2022 Induction Survey include a narrative explaining the purpose and intended outcome of the survey, to encourage increased student engagement.

In response to a question, the GVP, I&SD explained that any protected characteristic information collected through this process was stored separately on secure servers; core student records were not updated with any survey response.

The Committee, in reviewing, the 2020 Survey Action Plan, enquired how actions migrated from year to year, as it appeared that some 2020 Plan actions had not had the intended impact in the 2021 Survey outcomes. The HoQ explained that incomplete actions or those that had not had the intended impact would be transferred to the following year’s Action Plan.
The Committee stated it expected to review progress against the 2021 Survey Action Plan at future meetings.

06/22. Student Voice & Experience - Quality Improvement Plan – Review (Appendix – Agenda item 5b)

The Committee reviewed the Draft Quality Improvement Plan (previously circulated).

The GVP, I&SD explained that the document would be discussed by the SLT at its planning day on 28 January 2022 and going forward, its content and presentation would be further refined and improved, so that the document served as a vehicle for quality improvement.

The Committee agreed that a review of the document was timely. It also requested that QuIP Action 4 be amended to include LAYP in the key measure of success.

The Committee requested that the revised Quality Improvement Plan format be presented to the next Committee meeting.

07/22. Higher Education – Office for Students (OfS) Update

The Clerk to the Board provided a verbal update to the Committee. She explained that the OfS had announced that it would be moving ahead with a tougher approach to quality regulation. The OfS had published details about its plans which involved:

      • the publication of a large number of targets, indicators and traffic light warnings for all 419 registered providers in September 2022. These thresholds would be set around students’ continuation, completion and progression of courses, including degree apprenticeships. These thresholds would be for full and part-time students at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. They would also be used for apprenticeships.
      • follow up action with a sample of providers in line with a yet-to-be-finalised prioritisation strategy. Providers would have an opportunity to explain the context for any underperformance and OfS's first step would be to issue an ongoing regulatory condition (a notice to improve); and
      • the revival of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) including a new requires improvement category for those providers who did not reach the bronze level.

The Clerk explained that the HE Team was assessing the consultation to gauge its impact on the college; therefore, it was early to say for definite where the risks were. One consequence of the measures, as acknowledged by the OfS, was that universities and colleges might withdraw from partnership arrangements and be “disincentivised” to enter them in the future. The biggest risk was that the team received huge amounts of data.

08/22. Safeguarding & E&D Link Governor – Verbal Reports

The E&D Link Governor reported that –

      • he had met with the D, CS on 21 January 2022. The D, CS had now taken on the role of Chair of the College’s Equality & Diversity Committee and they had discussed how that Committee would develop going forward.
      • They had also discussed how the role of the E&D Link Governor would evolve post-inspection, the development of link learning walks and planned engagement with the tutorial programme.

The D, CS explained that he was currently evaluating the college’s approach to E&D, particularly through using the college’s Protected Characteristics Ambassadors. The next E&D Committee would determine its specific priorities, informed by both the outcomes of the latest student induction survey and the Strategic Development Plan.

The E&D Link Governor also explained that he had been invited to attend the next meeting of the Search & Governance Committee to discuss Board diversity.

The Safeguarding Link Governor reported that she had met with the GVP, CS&BD and had discussed –

      • the review of the college Safeguarding Committee. The membership and attendance had been revised to allow wider representation across the college, apprenticeships, employers and students. They had agreed a schedule of half termly meetings with the emphasis on feedback by representatives and measuring the impact of actions and activities. The Link Governor had set an expectation that staff members feed in comments from their colleagues. The first meeting of the ‘new’ Committee would take place on 31 January 2022.
      • the Senior Mental Health Lead training the GVP had completed this month and how this would fit in with safeguarding.
      • The Shropshire Board audit document and creation of an action plan. This would be presented to the Committee for review.
      • How the Link role would develop post inspection. The Link work would focus on culture and embedding safeguarding.
      • She had met with the Clerk to the Board and they had agreed the format of Link Governor reports to the Committee going forward, which would focus on updates around emerging themes, numbers of cases, trends and comparisons.
      • Her programme of Learning Walks would continue as planned, with the first Walk of the New Year taking place at London Road Campus on 25 January 2022.

The Link Governor had requested the GVP – CS & BD to provide a verbal update to the meeting.

      • As part of the development of the Safest College Strategy, she had arranged to meet the Student Governors.
      • The D,CS explained that the college was looking to develop further the wider use of the FIKA mental health support app throughout the College. The GVP would facilitate a session on the app at the college management teams and review its impact with students who had been supported by the college’s emotional health & wellbeing service. In addition, the college was developing a class-focussed programme of work to incentivise more students to access the app.

The Student Governors left the meeting at this point.

09/22. Academic Provision Progress Grade Period 1 and GCSE Resits Summary Update (Confidential Appendix – Agenda item 8)

The Committee reviewed the report (previously circulated), which had been delayed due to the absence of the DoALs.

The DoALs explained that the report was based on the progress grades submitted by teachers in November 2021. The college had amended the assessment reporting calendar to three progress grades during the year, to facilitate more time for intervention and follow-up between each set of grades. The other key change was the removal of split grade options for A level courses with the aim of focussing the conversation between teacher and student on the actions needed to move from one grade to the next. As part of the new assessment calendar, it was also intended to report the year 1 assessment result (mock) as a separate grade to give students and parents additional information later in the year. The Committee agreed with this approach.

The Committee noted –

      • Year 2 academic students were in the difficult position of preparing for external exams in June, having not experienced GCSEs in year 11; they were also required to sit some contingency assessments to be used for Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGs) in case exams were cancelled at short notice later in the year. Levels of stress and anxiety were therefore high for many students and so teachers and tutors, as well as the EHWB team, were working hard to support students wherever possible.
      • The college had, after careful assessment, decided to go ahead with a full-scale mock week in January, to provide subject feedback, and give this cohort their vital first experience of sitting large scale exams and dealing with exam nerves to help them in the summer. The results of these mocks would be used as part of TAG evidence if required.
      • Attendance at the mocks had been affected by covid self-isolation requirements so the college was planning a second session of mocks to give those students an opportunity to experience an exam.
      • This cohort had a prior attainment score of 6.11 which looked significantly stronger than previous cohorts. However, this was based on the GCSEs from 2020, which were Centre Assessed Grades and therefore higher than might have been expected if national exams had gone ahead. This meant that this cohort had target grades which were going to be challenging to achieve in the context of a likely return to lower exam grade profiles in the summer; the college was therefore anticipating a lower ALPS score as a result this summer (unless ALPs recalibrate their grades).
      • The consequence of lockdowns and other opportunities for students had impacted retention; attendance figures were also lower due to covid isolation requirements as well as high levels of other illnesses. The Committee acknowledged the direct link between attendance and outcome and sought information on the college’s actions to mitigate this risk. The DoALs explained that the college was making use of the tuition fund to supply extra subject tuition where possible and was also recruiting for learning mentors to support students to achieve their qualifications this summer.

In response to a question on how the college was supporting Year 1 students to ensure they were sufficiently prepared for exams, the DoALs explained that the college was offering in-year assessments and planning Year 1 in-year assessment exams and mocks in January 2023.

The Committee sought assurance that the college had sufficient resources to deliver the Strategic Development Plan Ambition – where every student makes outstanding progress. The DoALs explained that the college was recruiting a Learning Mentor to work specifically with A Level students and the tutorial programme featured discussion around resilience. In addition, teachers were delivering additional subject support. The Board Chair expressed his thanks to teachers for their commitment to supporting students at a challenging time.

GCSE Results November 2021

The Committee was advised that, each year, a number of students resit English and maths GCSE exams in a November sitting to attempt to gain the required grade to allow them to concentrate on their core learning aims. In November 2021, a greater than normal proportion of students entered for the exam with a total of 223 students across both subjects. 64 achieved the grade 4 standard, resulting in a combined achievement rate of 28.7%.

10/22. Apprenticeship Update (Confidential Appendix – Agenda Item 9)

The GVP – I&SD presented a verbal update of the College’s apprenticeship provision. The correct report would be circulated to the Committee after the meeting.

      • Apprenticeship recruitment for 2021/2022 continued to be strong. Recruitment was above target anecdotally bucking the national trend.
      • Trade Union apprenticeships continued to grow.
      • A directly funded cohort has just started with JCA at Condover including apprentices that had their previous apprenticeship stopped by the pandemic.
      • The college also planned new Customer Service and Business Administration apprentices.
      • The funding position for 2021/2022 had started well due to the strong recruitment, and the positive mix of apprentices.
      • Grading of the apprenticeship standard EPA was continuing to be monitored.

11/22. Risk

The Committee considered the strategic risks relevant to its remit and agreed that they had been discussed within the meeting. In addition, the Committee had discussed the risk to Academic Year 2 student emotional health and wellbeing as a result of taking external exams this year, having had no experience of them to date. 

12/22. Date of Next Meeting – 21 March 2022.

The meeting concluded at 7.24 p.m.