Shrewsbury Colleges Group
Group Minutes of Quality, Standards & Curriculum Committee
Date 27th January 20
Time 5:30PM
Minutes Membership A. Allen, C. Davies, G. Channon (ex-officio, Chair of the Board), C. Gore, H. Hawksworth, N. Merchant, K. Quant and M. Willmot. Student Governors by invitation – C. Wassall and M. Wood.
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&DS)
P. Morgan, Director of A Level Studies (DoALS);
C. Pemberton, Group Vice-Principal, Quality and Curriculum Management (GVP – Q&CM); and
Clerk to the Board – T. Cottee
Apologies G. Channon

01/20. Declarations of Interest

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

It was noted that H. Hawksworth, N. Merchant and C. Armstrong 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.

02/20. Minutes – 18 November 2019 (Appendix – Agenda Item 3)


That the Minutes of the meeting held on 18 November 2019, were approved and signed as a true record.

03/20. Matters Arising

Minute No. 40/19 - Election of Chair for the Committee 2019 – 2020

At the previous meeting, the Committee had elected C. Davies as the Committee Chair. Whilst appreciative of the support of the Committee, C. Davies explained that, as her Term of Office was ending in July 2020, she would prefer not to undertake the role, to allow another member to gain experience in chairing the meeting and to offer them mentoring support whilst still on the Board.

The Committee expressed its gratitude to C. Davies for her service as Chair of the Committee.

Having been proposed by C. Davies and seconded by M. Willmot, it was

Resolved: That Andy Allen be appointed Chair of the Committee for 2019 - 2020.

Andy Allen in the Chair.


04/20. Progress Grades – Period 2 (Appendices – Agenda Item 4)

The SLT officers present updated the Committee on Progress Grade Period 2 for A levels and vocational provision (previously circulated), being the second 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 Year 2 A level provision –

    • Staff were currently marking mock exams and would then meet with students to discuss progress including with coursework as appropriate;
    • High Grades were predicted at 50.6%, rising from 49.8% at PG1 and improved from PG2 in 2019 (46.4%);
    • “Meeting Targets” had increased to 75% from 73.8% at PG1 and improved from PG2 in 2019 (76.5%).
    • The number predicted to be over target was 27.8%, rising from 26.1% in PG1. The Committee noted that this was lower than PG2 in 2019 (33.6%) and sought assurance that the focus of the teaching staff would be on achieving high grades.
    • Pass rates indicated 98.3%, higher than the 2019 actual pass rate of 97.5%.
    • The Committee reviewed predicted outcomes through ALPS Connect and challenged predictions below expectations. The Head of Sixth Form explained that changes had been made to teaching approaches and interventions with individual students had been in place since November 2019, to secure an improvement where expected. Curriculum Leaders were working with Programme Leaders/Course leaders to identify specific actions to gain improvements in outcomes on underperforming courses. In addition, the Academic Leadership Team (ALT) would review the impact of the ALPS analysis which showed the potential for underperformance of students in the GCSE range less than 6.1.

Regarding BTEC Subsidiary Diploma –

    • High Grades were predicted at 98.0%, rising from PG1 (96.5%) with 97% achieved in 2019 (95.9% in 2018). The expected pass rate was 98.4%.
    • “Meeting targets” had dropped slightly for PG2 at 88.2% (88.9% in 2018) with 97% achieved in 2019 (95.9% in 2018).
    • The Committee challenged PG2 predictions for those over target (22.5%) as this was lower than 2018 (46%). Programme Leaders were to set targets for the remaining work to produce the outcomes to, at least, maintain the ALPS award of a 2 in 2019 (3 in 2018).

Regarding GCSE Courses -

    • The Target for each student following a GCSE English or Maths course was to gain a grade 4. English GCSE currently predicted 93.2% High Grades.
    • The Committee reviewed the November GCSE resit results (previously circulated). A total of 116 students achieved a grade 4 or better.

Regarding BTEC Level 2, PG2 judgements for achieving a high grade at level 2 were at 86.1%, an improvement from 72.8% in 2018.

Regarding Vocational (Excluding Art & Design) - 

    • For Year 1 students the headline overall meeting target grade was impacted by the large numbers of GCSE students, which also affected the potential high grade outcomes. The Committee challenged if this was expected, as expectations were currently below Year 2. The GVP – Q&CM explained that, going forward, it was expected that Year 1 students would at a par with Year 2 expectations. However, students who were meeting target grades were improving.
    • The Committee sought assurance on the effectiveness of interventions to support students to achieve high grades, including progress on the College health check cycle. The GVP – Q&CM explained that Health Checks were intended to support programme areas to improve by identifying themes and underlying issues. They were conducted on a risk assessed basis to provide an informed action and improvement plan.
    • The High Grades professional judgements for Year 2 level 3 were 93.9% headline, higher than the predicted 82.2% at PG 2 in 2019 Meeting Minimum Target Grade was predicted 80.7% with 32% of students performing over target.

05/20. Apprenticeships – Overview and Update (Appendix – Agenda Item 5)

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.

    • Recruitment had been strong throughout the early part of 2019/20 academic year, particularly in Engineering and Electrical apprenticeships, with the majority of apprentice starts were on apprenticeship standards.
    • The College continued its strong performance with levy paying employers and had benefited from the transfer of levy funding from large employers in the west midlands brokered by West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).
    • All assessors would start to record progress grade judgements for each apprentice during Progress Grade Period 3, which would allow the College to ensure apprentices were appropriately prioritised throughout the rest of the year to maximise achievement rates.
    • The College was projected to be in line with National Average in terms of achievement. All apprentices due to achieve would be specifically targeted following the completion of PG3 and monitored weekly.

The Committee sought assurance that apprentices were receiving adequate assessor support to progress in light of reported assessor recruitment challenges. The GVP- I &SD reported that apprentices had been attending their day release sessions and receiving support, so their progress had not been affected. However, this had increased pressure on existing staff and in response, the College had recruited 3 new assessors across the engineering and electrical skill sets, filling the capacity gap and providing some scope for modest growth.

06/20. Higher Education - EE and EV Report (Appendix - Agenda Item 6a)

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.

07/20. Office for Students (OfS)

The Committee received verbal updates from the Clerk to the Board and the GVP – I&SD 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 College had received a Notice regarding a requirement to publish and provide information to the OfS on student transfer arrangements by 31 January 2020. The Curriculum Leader - HE Education & Counselling had reviewed arrangements with the OfS and would ensure compliance by the deadline by publishing a Statement on the College’s website.
    • Transparency Return – the GVP – I&SD assured that the Return would be submitted to deadline.

08/20. Student Surveys (Appendices – Agenda Items 7a & 7b)

Induction Survey Autumn 2019

The Committee considered the annual survey (previously circulated). The questionnaire results had already been considered by the College’s Equality & Diversity Committee. The full data set was available for review by the Committee on request.

The Committee reviewed the headline results –

    • The Committee challenged that low percentage of respondents who agreed that they had been given information on PREVENT and suggested that the College revise the timing of delivery of Prevent in tutorials and it was recommended, going forward, to raise the profile of PREVENT during Induction, particularly amongst the A Level and H.E. cohort;
    • Although improved from last year, the awareness about the services provided by the Agency was low across all provision types. It was recommended that, for academic provision, the College should consider delivering some information about College services, such as the Agency, through teaching programmes;
    • With respect to Safeguarding, the College had followed-up every student who did not agree that they felt safe. Being able to follow up each individual respondent had identified not only those students who had completed the return inaccurately but students who required support. After conducting this exercise and adjusting for mistakes, the percentage of respondents who felt safe at College was 99% - the same percentage as the 2018- 2019 Exit Survey;
    • The Committee noted the responses with respect to Apprenticeships. The GVP – I&SD explained that the survey results would feed into a wider examination of Apprenticeship provision. The Committee requested a process update on the recommendations, particularly the progress of the focus groups;
    • 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.

The Committee agreed the following recommendations -

    1. The Head of Safeguarding coordinate following-up students identified as not feeling safe and compile the feedback for SLT;
    2. CLs to follow up specific vocational tutor groups that have a low response to the Prevent question. Director - Curriculum Support to consider the most appropriate follow up for the academic programme;
    3. Ensure that the PL/CL is introduced to classes as part of the induction programme particularly at A’ level and the 2 plus programme;
    4. Improve the clarity of explanation during induction for how to submit assessment work in H.E. and all vocational areas;
    5. Consider ways to promote the work of the Agency during induction and at further points within the academic year to all curriculum areas, but particularly its relevance to HE and A’ level programmes;
    6. To raise the profile of Prevent during induction across all programmes, but particularly HE and A’ level;
    7. Set up an Apprenticeship focus group, to consider the Induction Survey responses;
    8. For academic provision, consider delivering some information about College services such as the Agency, via the teaching programmes;
    9. Promotion of College services and advice such as financial, mental health support more to HE students during induction;
    10. Seek the views of ethnic sub-groups during forums to get more formative data on their experience of College.

The Committee requested a progress update on the recommendations, particularly the progress of the focus groups

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

At the 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).

ALT, Programme and Curriculum Leaders were working towards completion of action plans to target, when a progress report would be provided to Committee.

09/20. Student Voice Update (Appendix – Agenda Item 8)

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

The GVP – CS&BD had met with the Student Union Executive (SUE) presidents and no major issues had been raised. Any operational issues raised through SUE meetings were presented to the College Operational Leadership Team (OLT). The Principal/CEO would attend the April series of Student Rep meetings; all governors had received a standing invitation to attend these meetings. A forum with College-ready students will be offered ahead of the rep meetings. The new Student Union Executive election process would begin in February 2020 and would include recruitment of student governors for 2020 – 2021.

10/20. Equality and Diversity Committee – Lead Governor Report (Appendix – Agenda Item 9)

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

    • 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 also supported the use of focus groups to examine further survey findings.
    • 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 considered the Access and Participation Plan;
    • 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 will be issued half termly.

The E&D Link Governor reported that she would meet with the Chair of the Committee this Term. There had been an increase in the take-up of Free School Meals, which had been one of the Committee’s targets and this would continue to be monitored. The Link Governor reported she was working to improve the diversity of the Committee and the range of representation across the College.

11/20. Safeguarding Committee - Lead Governor Report (Appendix – Agenda Item 10)

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

    • The Committee would continue to review Safeguarding Caseloads at each site, analysing for trends. Caseloads were continuing to increase; it was anticipated that mental health and related issues would continue to generate the majority of cases. The Committee also noted that the College was being made aware of and picking up issues from partner schools, thus helping to target early help and plan for support.
    • Supporting Students’ Mental Wellbeing – the College currently had more referrals than last year, including Apprentices. The Committee would continue to monitor closely the impact of support initiatives on student wellbeing, attendance and achievement. The College currently had 30 peer support students across all campuses.
    • Safeguarding the Estate - the Committee would continue to consider this issue, including site security and the College’s arrangements for student behaviour and discipline.
    • Safeguarding and Prevent Modules - the Lead Governor was maintaining a strong focus on this. An additional member of staff had been trained to deliver Prevent and online training was now available for offsite Trade Union Teachers.
    • Looked After Young People, together with High Needs Students. The College’s target was to close the gap between LAYP and the average College attendance and performance and the Committee would monitor progress against this.

The Safeguarding Link Governor reported that she would meet with the Director, Curriculum Support and the Safeguarding Manager to receive assurance and updates on the College’s Safeguarding framework. She would also meet with the Additional Learning Support Manager, in response to the increasing numbers of High Needs Students at the College, to seek assurance on arrangements.

12/20. 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.

Apprenticeships – Committee sought further assurance updates on the risk register items.

13/20. Date of Next Meeting – Monday, 23 March 2020 from 5.30 p.m. in Room B.17, London Road Campus


The meeting concluded at 7.18 p.m.