New College Swindon tops off a year of good results with an accreditation from Matrix. The Matrix standard is a unique quality standard for organisations to assess and measure their advice and support services.
During the four-day site visit from Matrix, 83 people were interviewed. This included New College staff from Senior Leadership, Curriculum delivery and Support Services roles. Learners representing diversity of gender, age, programme range and levels were also interviewed, including 16 – 18, 19 plus and Apprenticeships, as well as partner representatives from sub-contractors, employers, schools and referral organisations.
Learners interviewed, across levels and age range all mentioned that they felt safe at New College and appreciated the friendly environment. They gave examples of support received from tutors, and from Support Services. The College has a target achievement rate for 2018/19 of 88.5% (2.66 percentage points above provider national average). In 2016/17 the College achievement was 85.2%, and in 2017/18 88.8%.
A selection of learners’ comments with examples of impact, included – ‘The support I’ve had has been completely excellent. I would have dropped out without it. My mentor was integral to it’; ‘I applied late, started on time and I’ve never looked back’; ‘The support from my teacher at the start helped me to choose the path I’m on, and from Careers help with a CV and how to find a part-time job’.
The College website was also visited and reviewed, as well as the Corporate Review. A wide range of documentation was made available during the four days, including the Strategic Plan, Self-Assessment Reports and Quality Improvement Plans, Feedback forms and reports from different areas, marketing and information materials, policies and procedures, learner documentation.
In addition, a session of a new staff induction was observed, and the Principal’s briefing was attended, as was a student exhibition of their photographic work. A tour of facilities included Student Services, Wellbeing, Enrichment and Additional Learning Support bases, as well as Distinction Salon.
A number of strengths were identified during the assessment, including clear evidence of how the mission and key aims and objectives of New College are delivered on, through the interviews with both staff and learners.
New College was praised for its commitment to IAG (Information Advice and Guidance) as a key factor in achieving desired outcomes, as well as the way in which it provides information in a visual and engaging format. One example given was the Corporate Review for 2017/18, which presents all the key data for the year in infographics, enabling quick location of information sought, as well as a high profile for key achievements during the year for stakeholders.
The comprehensive tutorial model was noted in the review, including one to ones for students and group sessions, and the range of IAG delivered to support learners needs, as well as signposting referring them to other support they may need. Being based in curriculum work rooms was also identified as contributing to the effectiveness of how the model works.
The report stated that links between support teams and Curriculum were found to be cohesive, and work well to support students. Learners interviewed were all very positive about the IAG available. Examples included IAG accessed through personal tutors, lecturers, Additional Learning Support, Careers, Wellbeing and Student Services. In addition, a number of external organisations, including those from industry come in to deliver sessions on employability.
New College Principal and CEO said:
“I’m really delighted that we have been re-accredited with the Matrix award. This confirms that New College provides good, impartial information advice and guidance to prospective students which helps them make informed decisions about their career paths.”