National recognition for regenerating communities

College praised for "demonstrating commitment to create the best possible experience for its students"

Truro and Penwith College has received national recognition for its role in helping to regenerate communities in Cornwall through the complete redevelopment of the education and skills offer.

The College won the Association of Colleges (AoC) Beacon Award for Leadership and Governance at a glittering ceremony in Birmingham.

The successful submission for the award, sponsored by the Education and Training Foundation, focused on the College’s successful merger with Penwith College in Penzance, the rebuilding of the campus, and the crucial role subsequent leadership and governance played in helping a wide community of learners and employers access better quality post-16 education and training.

In the eight years since the merger student numbers have trebled at Penwith College and it has become a nucleus at the heart of the local community in Penzance and West Cornwall. 

The award cited in particular the skill and determination involved in bringing together the management teams and governing bodies of two colleges with very different performance profiles.  The merged College, Truro and Penwith College, was graded as Outstanding by Ofsted in February 2016

With over 300 colleges nationally in the FE sector, the AoC Beacon Award for Leadership and Governance is a major accolade for the College, and for its stakeholders across Cornwall.

Judges praised the College for keeping students at the centre of the new college culture, for improvements in performance, and for leadership in raising aspirations and increasing opportunity.

David Walrond, Principal at Truro and Penwith College, collected the award on behalf of the College and was joined on stage by representatives of governance and leadership at the College.

Mr Walrond said the recognition at national level of what had been achieved in Cornwall was a great reward for all staff and students, and a real endorsement of the quality of their work. The award also provided a great boost to leadership and governance as the College worked on its next major challenge, the opening of a third campus at Callywith near Bodmin in September 2017. 

“It’s a fantastic achievement,” he said. “There are over 300 colleges in the FE sector and some incredible competition in terms of great leadership, so this really is an excellent outcome for the College and all our stakeholders across the county. Under an enabling model of leadership, Cornish learners, families, employers, community groups and staff all helped to transform the once ‘inadequate’ rated College into one of the very best in the UK.”

In terms of the socio-economic impact the merger has had on Cornwall he continued: “Learners who used to go on an average 60-mile round trip to get the quality and the results they needed to boost their life chances now get Outstanding teaching and learning on their doorstep.  

“Our College is a focal point for businesses and employers and the wider local community in west and mid Cornwall. However, it serves the whole of Cornwall with many stakeholders having to access it over very long distances. The challenge now is to provide that quality and that experience for more learners closer to where they live.

“Callywith College opens in September 2017 to serve the whole of north and east Cornwall and this endorsement of leadership and governance underpins what is proposed at Callywith.  The aim of Callywith College is to increase opportunity and achievement for post 16 learners and local businesses and employers.”

Chair of Governors at Truro and Penwith College Ellen Winser MBE praised the partnership-first approach the College leadership and Governance team takes in its strategic decision making.

“This thoroughly well-deserved award is recognition from the AoC that Truro and Penwith College has gone above and beyond in providing high-quality academic, technical and professional education based on a partnership approach across governance, strategic leadership and decision making,” she said.

“The Executive, Governors and Clerk primarily work as a team to ensure an environment is created in which students, staff and everyone involved at the College feels nurtured and can flourish.”

David Russell, Chief Executive of award sponsor, The Education and Training Foundation, said: “The AoC Beacon Award encourages the sharing of effective practice and ideas. We know that effective leadership and robust governance are essential to deliver excellence across an organisation.

“Leaders and governors have particular responsibility in times of change. In this award, we were looking for exemplars where governance and management have been transformed to the benefit of learners, employers and the community the college serves. 

“We warmly congratulate Truro and Penwith College on their award.”

Dame Pat Bacon, Chair of the AoC Beacon Awards, said: “Truro and Penwith College is an outstanding representative of the excellent work happening in colleges across the country. It’s a privilege to be part of an awards programme that recognises the energy colleges put into supporting their students, staff, employers and local communities.”

Mike Davis, Chief Assessor for the AoC Beacon Awards, said: “The high standard of submissions to the AoC Beacon Awards often makes it very hard for the judges to choose the winners. Truro and Penwith College can be proud to receive this award for demonstrating its commitment to create the best possible experience for its students.”

The College was announced as a winner by comedian Jon Culshaw at the Association of Colleges Annual Conference and Exhibition in Birmingham.