Advance at North West Kent College
How City & Guilds' Advance offer helped North West Kent College ahead of an Ofsted inspection
13 December 2013
Now just over a year old, City & Guilds Advance works with further education providers and colleges to review their services, recommend changes and offer support based on those recommendations. North West Kent College in Dartford decided to take advantage of the scheme: while attaining pass rates of around 95%, the college faced a challenge in learner retention and needed a comprehensive review of both its data and curriculum provision.
‘We heard about the Advance process and decided to see what City & Guilds could offer us as a package,’ says Leslyn Linton-Proctor, director of teaching and learning at North West Kent College. ‘We had a two-day audit and review with a specialist consultant who did a routine branch review and was able to provide us with a strategic report outlining how we could move forward with our hair and beauty offering to learners.’
At the time, North West Kent College was also developing its English and maths strategy. ‘We used the consultancy as a critical friend to enable us to ensure that what we were proposing was robust and would be fit for purpose to be rolled out across the college,’ says Leslyn.
North West Kent College offers 14 different vocational subject areas across two sites and supports learners from entry level to higher education. ‘Our learners progress internally until they reach their potential,’ explains Leslyn, ‘and all are assessed on entry so we can provide them with the support to help them develop and achieve their qualification.’
Anita Crosland, the City & Guilds consultant on the North West Kent College project understands the importance of utilising the expertise of the college in the audit, review and consultancy process. ‘For this college, the Advance project was about reaffirming that what they were doing was right,’ says Anita. ‘We helped them through the process to tick all the boxes. We were able to advise them on qualifications, assessment and process, which was key in this project.’
Anita's background is in further education as well as hairdressing and beauty therapy. The review she undertook looked at staff teaching, resources and facilities, and evaluated curricula in line with maximum funding opportunities and learner outcomes. It also critiqued data against national bench-marking through learner success and retention rates. ‘After the initial review, we went back to the college to support the curriculum managers in implementing our recommendations over 12 days. We helped staff to become real champions of their departments and to take ownership of their hair and beauty provision by sharing resources and best utilising their onsite commercial salons.’
‘The big achievement from using the Advance service is the huge increase in our success rates,’ continues Leslyn. ‘Our staff were re-energised and refocused and we were able to use our salons in exciting new ways, to ensure a high retention rate is maintained.’
To find out more about how to apply for the Advance service, go to www.cityandguilds.com/advance