College’s focus on improving social mobility helps make shortlist for national College of the Year

A leading UK College has been shortlisted by The Times Educational Supplement (TES) as one of the best in the country for its significant and distinctive contributions to Cornwall’s education and skills, its local economy, and a wide and diverse range of its communities.

Central to Truro and Penwith College’s bid and its shortlisting for FE College of the Year was its approach to improving outcomes for all students and its commitment to raising educational attainment across a county classified as one of the poorest regions not just in the UK but in Northern Europe.

The College’s opening of the new £30 million Callywith College in Bodmin in September was highlighted in the bid, along with the earlier successful 2008 merger between Truro College and Penwith College. In that earlier process, Penwith rose from a pre-merger rating of ‘Inadequate’ to be judged ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted.

With its latest development at Callywith, the College has now created three major campuses at Truro, Bodmin and Penzance in a long and accessible corridor across Cornwall, delivering the opportunity for many more young people to secure the best post-16 education.

The socio-economic context of the College’s work is a crucial element of the award submission. Just as the Penwith campus was developed adjacent to neighbourhoods in the top 1.5% most deprived in the country, so the new campus at Callywith serves many high deprivation areas in Bodmin and across east and north Cornwall. 

This September’s opening of Callywith College, 30 miles from its Truro campus, is seen as a major development not just for Truro and Penwith College, but in terms of the national further education landscape because Callywith is the first brand new, purpose-built further education campus to be established nationally for many years. As at Truro and Penzance, Callywith’s focus is not just on education and skills, but on the delivery of new community facilities and opportunities for business, sport and culture across the wide area it serves.

However, the nomination also reflects that fact that the College’s work and its contribution to Cornwall extends further still. For example, Truro and Penwith College shares and leads on best practice in Cornwall’s education by sponsoring a successful Multi Academy Trust of 23 schools across the primary and secondary phases. It leads one of 35 national Maths Hubs looking to raise attainment in a vital area of the curriculum. It heads a cross-phase Teaching School partnership which has now worked with 72% of secondary and 64% of primary schools in Cornwall.

Andy Stittle, the College’s Director of Teaching and Learning, said of the award shortlisting: “We are delighted that the College’s work in improving access to quality education across Cornwall has been recognised by the TES FE Award judges. The progress of disadvantaged students is remarkable at College, to the extent that their progress exceeds that of the non-disadvantage cohort on many measures. This addresses a 21% gap in county performance at Key Stage 4 on entry to the College.  That is only achieved by the highest quality teaching, learning, assessment and support.  It is something which lies at the heart of the present life-chances or social mobility debate.”

College Principal David Walrond said: “It is great to be nominated though we know the national competition for the award will be tough with some exceptional work being done by some fantastic further education colleges in the sector. What I think our shortlisting does is to recognise that a college that engages with stakeholders and partners can have a major impact on the fortunes not just of individuals but of whole communities.” 

The winner of the TES FE College of the Year will be announced on Friday, February 23, 2018 at an award ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London.