ISSUE 2 | SPRING TERM 2021
Education in a fast evolving world 02 WELCOME FROM GROUP PRINCIPAL AND CEO
04 GROUP NEWS
10 SKILLS FOR GROWTH + ADULT AND COMMUNITY LEARNING
05 TRUST NEWS 11 STUDENT MATTERS
08 COLLEGE NEWS 14 LEADERSHIP INSIGHT
15 ON MISSION
19 IN THE NEWS
GROUP NEWSLETTER | ISSUE 2
Welcome to the Spring issue of the Group newsletter for the whole of LSEEG which includes the staff of: London South East Academies Trust (LSEAT) London South East Colleges (LSEC) London Skills for Growth (LSfG)
1 Starting the term ensuring the safety of the students with lateral flow tests see page 5 2 Welcome back: Academy Trust schools gear up for the return to face-to-face learning see page 6
3 Travelling the road back to normal see page 9
4 £70K refurbishment of Greenwich Park Centre see page 10
5 Supporting our students’ wellbeing with #LockdownUnlocked and progression with #MentoringUnlocked see pages 11 & 12
WELCOME FROM GROUP PRINCIPAL AND CEO Dr Sam Parrett OBE
Delivering education across all platforms During the Spring term, the challenges we faced last year have continued right up until today. However, in spite of us being thrown this perpetual curveball, I remain optimistic that it will help us to move towards our shared dream of being safely back on campus, our economy open again and the subduing of this dreadful virus that has devasted so many people’s lives. I feel like we have all undergone huge learning curves during this prolonged period of lockdowns. In doing so, we have all undertaken giant leaps in acquiring extra knowledge and new skills in online teaching and learning, preparing for unusual situations, protecting ourselves and others, working remotely and flexibly, communicating differently and being able to focus on a range of different priorities simultaneously. There’s no doubts that this last lockdown has 02 | ISSUE 2 | 2021
weighed heavily and taken its toll on our mental health and wellbeing; responsibilities and work duties have either changed dramatically or increased somewhat in capacity, and many have had to re-adapt to an ever-changing landscape of government guidance, frameworks and regulation. Looking back over the year, I think things have changed so remarkably that going back to normal again could be in itself one of the first of our forthcoming challenges. So, maybe we shouldn’t be in too much of a rush to do so. In fact, why not let us use some of the things we’ve learnt to do so well and made strides towards doing so efficiently, and blend them into our working patterns and strategies going forward? For example, feedback from our adult learners on adult
WELCOME FROM GROUP PRINCIPAL AND CEO (CONT )
programmes such as Access to HE, HE and professional qualifications has shown us that the freedom and flexibility to learn from home has become very popular – particularly with those who have children. Keeping a system of blended learning for these higher level courses could lead to greater engagement, better attendance and enable more people to study; thus leading to widening participation amongst adults – especially those hit worse by the pandemic. This leads neatly me onto how we have begun thinking long and hard about how we will address both long and short-term consequences of the downturn in our economy and the 03 | ISSUE 2 | 2021
loss of jobs – some of which could see various roles and functions being lost forever. Take into account also the advances made in technology recently, and the investment going into greater levels of automation, we have to look more carefully at future employer needs and how well our communities are equipped to meet them. That is why we are investing more into teaching our learners in our schools and colleges to become more resilient, multi-skilled and possessing exceptional entrepreneurial skills. We have been actively increasing the number of employer partners to join us on this journey of promoting enterprise, scope and versatility, teaching our students to find strength of character, determination and the pathways to the careers of their choice. Our #LockdownUnlocked initiative will help us to bringing about these changes. We will strive to give learners increased exposure to employers, industry professionals, mentoring programmes and work experience over the coming years. Things are already moving fast in this area and our recently published Digital Transformation Strategy will help us to improve and generate access to the very high levels of digital skills required in just about every sector
workforce both now and in the future. I’m pleased to say that our work in equality, diversity and inclusion continues to gather pace with more projects being granted funding for this year. As you will all know, since last Summer in particular, we have been busy ensuring equality is at the heart of everything we do with a commitment to those groups and individuals recognised as ‘missing out’ on opportunities and access to jobs and promotions at work, and this includes our leaners as well as staff. In summing up for this issue of Group News, we have come such a long way but we have much further
to travel on what is a never-ending journey. It gives me, as I’m sure it gives you, a feeling of great importance being at the very heart of the UK’s road to recovery, its future and progression, its transformation into becoming a high-tec, high-performance, sustainable economy with a professionally trained and fit-for-purpose workforce. In doing that, we have to be at our best and continually improve, push boundaries and think differently – just as we have been forced to do during the last twelve months. Let us not settle back into our old ways but take advantage of all we have learned.
I hope you enjoy reading this issue of Group News and that we will all look back on the first three months of 2021 and remember the positive things we have achieved together. On behalf of myself, our senior leadership teams and Governors, I wish all of you who celebrate it, a very happy Easter and to everybody, a very relaxing break. I look forward to seeing you all (in person) fresh and ready for the Summer term.
Group wins national public leadership award The Group was presented with a Social Value Public Sector Leadership Award in February to recognise the work it has been doing to support its communities over the past year. These national awards aim to highlight best practice from around the country, showcasing how businesses are embedding social value and helping to tackle the social challenges within their communities. The Group came top in the Public Leadership category, for its pioneering work to embed social value in its business culture, processes and systems. This includes a range of initiatives from community-focused work experience opportunities, local procurement strategies and socialvalue related performance targets for staff. In addition, staff and students have developed and supported a national foodbank campaign during the Covid-19 pandemic and a partnership with the NHS has been set up to support the vaccine rollout. 04 | ISSUE 2 | 2021
Accepting the award at the virtual ceremony, Dr Sam Parrett, CEO of London & South East Education Group, said: “I am absolutely delighted to accept this award on behalf of my colleagues. To win an award outside of the education sector is a huge achievement for us, reflecting our ambition to become a genuine social enterprise – London’s Social Enterprise College. We are working hard to demonstrate the added value we add to our communities, beyond simply delivering qualifications. We are committed to long-term change with the support of our partners and stakeholders – including our local authorities with whom we are working closely. Further education is set to take
centre stage in the rebuilding of the nation’s economy post-Covid 19 and we want to ensure that the social value our sector generates is recognised. This is not about getting our staff and students to do more – but about encouraging them to think and act differently, putting social impact at the forefront of decision making every day.” The Group has been working with the Social Value Portal to quantify the social capital being generated – which came to a staggering £31m in 2019-20. Going forward, the Group is working with the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) and the CBI to support more education providers to engage with the concept of social impact and focus on community wealth building.
GROUP NEWS (CONT )
Leading Change, Inspiring Learners A new book about the London South East Education Group Amid the challenges of the pandemic, we are delighted to have published our new Group book – Leading Change, Inspiring Learners This project began in 2014, with author Chris Noden given a brief to get to know the College, its students and staff over an extended period of time. The College has gone through much change since then, particularly as the result of a three-way college merger to create London South East Colleges in 2016. Our book documents this journey, reflects on the changes and marks and celebrates our successes. Importantly, the book identifies some of the factors of this success – which we hope will support other leaders and institutions who are managing similar periods of change. This book is not a guide to running a college or an education group – but a ‘this is what we did’ from which others may want to take ideas and inspiration. The new book is currently available to buy on SharedPress and Amazon. 05 | ISSUE 2 | 2021
Unlike no other Spring start! Neil Miller, Deputy CEO, LSEAT writes: Spring Term 2021 started like no other in memory with the government announcing secondary school closures (accept for vulnerable children and critical workers) during the Christmas holiday whilst expecting primary, special and alternative provision to remain fully open. On the first Monday evening, after one day of the new Spring term, the government then announced primary schools were to close accept for vulnerable children and critical workers; Belmont Academy included. This however meant
Alternative Provisions and special schools were to remain fully open to all pupils. The operational logistics that were activated by all schools across the Trust have been awe-inspiring and with daily changes being introduced by the government, a real test of resilience and leadership at every level. Mass testing, remote and onsite learning, cancelled exams and summer grades, FSM, Covid safety, safeguarding and then full reopening have all been key factors to consider in the past three months, yet all carried out so effectively. In the midst of this, I started my new role as Interim DCEO of the Trust, with the main goal of driving the ‘One
Trust Culture’. Since February 1st, the main challenge has been the inability to get into schools as often as I would like. With the Covid restrictions, this has limited my ability to develop the essential contextual knowledge of all the Bexley schools although in the past three weeks I have been lucky enough to visit them all at least once and see the great work being carried out first hand. Seeing all the pupils back in and working with the staff reminded me why we are in this job. As part of my work, I have managed to work with the Heads of School and Senior Leaders from all schools as part of the process of moving forward as a One Trust. This work will continue after Easter with staff from all schools being met as part of a Trust Roadshow to discuss ideas on how we can move forward as a whole; this is extremely exciting for me and I hope to gleam a lot from these conversations with you all. I wish you all a lovely Easter break and hope you are able to spend quality time with your loved ones. Thank you for your hard work and support for your pupils, colleagues and schools. Make sure you get plenty of rest as the challenges after Easter may be different but will still require the same level of professionalism, resilience and drive from each and every one of you.
TRUST NEWS (CONT )
This term has seen the full reopening of the three schools. Staff have enthusiastically welcomed everyone back, delighted again to see the students face to face. During this lockdown many students had leave of absence and have not attended the school site since before Christmas. Although anxious, the pupils were keen to return to the school site, delighted to meet with their friends and move around the school and engage with the school community and routines. I would like to acknowledge the commitment and dedication of the staff who have been so creative
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and responsive during this time providing a high quality blended learning curriculum. This excellent offer was key to the positive engagement from the pupils. Staff were creative in their planning and delivery and robust in their monitoring and communication with pupils and their families. Going forward, the schools are looking to develop this way of learning and will endeavour to incorporate an online offer that will form part of the schools’ curriculum and will enable students to continue to benefit from this unique way of learning. Beverley Evans Executive Headteacher New Horizons Academies
It has been a year since we started thinking about whether or not schools would be closing and how long that would be for. One year on and we are open fully once again. We are all hopeful that we can continue to stay open and to settle back into familiar routines. Those members of staff across the schools who have been fortunate enough to be physically in school for some or all of the year have been able to see at first-hand what a difference it has made for pupils to have daily contact with staff and each other. Seeing all staff and pupils back in school again has been very
uplifting. I’m delighted to report that attendance is exceptionally high in both schools. Our pupils are excited to be back in school and are pleased to see their friends again. We are now focusing on settling everyone quickly back into the rhythm and routines of everyday life in school. Clear routines and high expectations of behaviour are firmly in place and high-quality face to face teaching for all is back on the agenda. Staff need to be commended for the continuing hard work and commitment in the most challenging of circumstances. Madelaine Caplin Executive Headteacher Woodside/Belmont Academies
TRUST NEWS (CONT )
Apprenticeship workshop and talent pool Alternative Curriculum College On Thursday 28 January, 15 of our Year 11 students attended an optional, subjectspecific apprenticeship workshop that was delivered virtually by Sophie Carpenter, one the apprenticeship recruitment advisors at London
South East Colleges. The aim of the presentation was to provide each attendee with some more information about the apprenticeship opportunities available to them when they leave school in July 2021, as well as details about the College’s apprenticeship talent pool. All participants found the presentation really useful, with many now in the process of developing their CVs. Despite the impacts of the recent national lockdown, the students are now starting to think about their ‘Next steps’ beyond Year 11, with 30 students having already applied for a Level 2 course at the College’s Bromley Campus for 2021/22. Staff are now confident that all learners will have a secure destination before the end of
the academic year and will continue to flourish when they embark on their journey through post-16 education and training.
racked up a staggering 28 miles in just week one. Students taking part ran a mile each week, running around the local park in their year groups with a number of staff members following in their footsteps. The run has been really well received; the feel-good factor has seen it expand
with everyone who has taken part demanding it become an on-going event. While the school’s student body is still at reduced numbers, the modest target of 25 miles a week will ensure we keep it moving and manage many more miles in memory of Sir Tom.
Running for Children’s Mental Health Week Bromley Beacon Academy Inspired by the late great Sir Captain Tom Moore, Bromley Beacon Academy Bromley (BBAB) staff and students clocked up the miles in February. Having started the initiative designed to improve both physical and mental health, in what was Children’s Mental Health Week, the school 07 | ISSUE 2 | 2021
TRUST NEWS (CONT )
A NEW HOME FOR
Bexley Music, a music education charity and the official music service provider for the London Borough of Bexley, is set to join London South East Education Group on 1 April 2021. The Group will replace Bird College as the lead organisation and staff and services will transfer across. Located in the premises of Belmont Woodside School, the transition will ensure that schools, young people and the wider community in Bexley can continue to access high quality music education. The delivery of music programmes in schools and centres will be unaffected by the transfer. As part of a wider programme of marketing and communications activity, a new brand identity for 08 | ISSUE 2 | 2021
the service has been developed by the Group’s Marketing and Communications team. A new standalone website is also currently under development. Madeleine Caplin, Executive Head, Woodside/Belmont Academies said: “Bexley Music will build on the service’s excellent track record and reputation in its provision of music education, events and music projects for young people in Bexley schools and academies as well as its extensive out of school programme. The transfer provides an opportunity to develop services, sustain and diversify income streams and provision and extend the reach of its provision within the borough of Bexley and beyond.”
Women into construction South East London MCA Hub hosts productive and frank virtual event for International Women’s Day 2021: On Monday 8 March, in celebration of International Women‘s Day 2021, South East London Mayor’s Construction Academy (MCA) Hub, in collaboration with Youth Build Ventures UK and Building People, were proud to host an informative event on supporting women in construction. The virtual event was aimed at supporting women who are interested in building a career in the construction sector by helping them connect with employers who offer work experience, signposting pathways to pre-
apprenticeships and apprenticeships as well as highlighting the range of job opportunities in the construction sector. Our panel of speakers gave frank and inspirational advice, offering their real-life insights and experiences in the industry. Their talks covered the barriers that women can face in the industry, the perception of construction as a suitable career for women and how that culture is changing. They also detailed the career benefits and joys of working in the construction and built environment sectors. Read more online now
COLLEGE NEWS (CONT )
The road back to normality David Lambert, Deputy CEO & Principal (Colleges – Teaching and Learning) writes: Trying to find a way back to normality has been a twisty road, with lots of challenges and curves thrown in by what is happening in the world; with constant stop-start traffic lights imposed by changing rules and regulations. Yet collectively we have managed to travel this road and are starting, just starting to be able to see some light at the end of the tunnel. The recent operations to test our staff and students for Covid has involved an enormous amount of work in planning and logistics, a huge commitment from our staff and local community volunteers, as well as our learners too. Hopefully, the future will see us return to the days where 09 | ISSUE 2 | 2021
we no longer need to social distance, wear masks or continually test and sanitise and can instead look forward to putting all of our efforts back into our core business of education and training, supporting employers and serving our community. Defining this term isn’t easy, there are many other things to mention other than the testing rollout such as making it possible for students to sit exams back in January and February, making sense of conflicting and confusing government or exam board guidance, an everchanging playing field of regulations, frameworks and other challenges, as well as the constant undertaking of issuing accurate and up-to-date communications to all college users and stakeholders. A ‘no mean feat’ by any stretch of the imagination. I’m pleased to say that we have done remarkably well so far; I feel that
we are currently winning the battle and helping to pave the road back to normality. Bit by bit, slowly but surely, we are getting there. Indeed, each week we are able to quicken the pace somewhat and build our speed as more and more students are arriving back through our doors to continue with their studies – particularly with practical assessments and exams. If we continue to put in the efforts we have so far this academic year, particularly using our blended learning models of online and faceto-face, we will see some excellent outcomes despite the demands brought on by this pandemic. Similar to what I wrote at the end of last term, the need now is to inspire, enable and ensure as many learners as possible to transition from level to level, into jobs and apprenticeships, onto higher education courses in our university centre, getting them to the
end of their courses, passing their exams, receiving their qualifications and guiding them in the right direction towards a successful career and greater social mobility. And the recruitment of new learners for the next academic year is paramount too. The efforts to make sure every enquiry is followed-up, keeping our applicants interested and engaged as we approach enrolment and encouraging each one to turn up for their first class must take centre stage throughout the summer. Thank you once again colleagues for the amazing work you do. I hope you have some time off over the Easter holidays – you definitely deserve some downtime and maybe a long-awaited catch-up with friends and relatives in whichever way you are permitted to do so. Once again, have a great break and be sure to make it absolutely sparkling.
SKILLS FOR GROW TH + ADULT AND COMMUNIT Y LEARNING
Now fully on board
Greenwich Park Centre gets a new look
Angela Beaton, Operations Director London Skills for Growth and Adult and Community Learning writes: On 1 January, London Skills for Growth was fully integrated into the College. This exciting development has opened up additional support and resources for learners and staff. London Skills for Growth now operates as a department within the College and retains its branding and ethos. It continues to offer traineeships, apprenticeships and responsive delivery for employers and functional skills with the NHS/Compass. At the Greenwich Park Centre, London Skills for Growth and Adult and Community Learning (ACL) are now offering a combined provision and will soon be joined by the new Greenwich Park Youth Hub. We are very proud of the centre and look forward to bringing you more information and news over the coming weeks. 10 | ISSUE 2 | 2021
Over the past six months the centre has received significant investment (over £70k) to refurbish the site and upgrade the WIFI. It is shaping up to offer great facilities, learning and services for a range of ages and people from the local community and beyond.
Youth Hub update The Youth Hub at Bromley launched at the end of January 2021 and is an invaluable opportunity for the College to work alongside DWP to receive referrals for young people. The on-site operation of this hub is planned to open after Easter and will have Alison Preddy, the Youth Hub Team Leader, joined on site by her new team and also staff from DWP. Since Bromley Youth Hub’s launch, we have received nearly 200 referrals from DWP with a number commencing of courses with
Greenwich Adult and Community Learning expands its course offer Preparing to Teach in Schools is a four-week programme introducing learners to working in a school. This has been a very popular programme with a steady waiting list, so we are planning to offer this as a feature of ACL programmes over the coming months. We also look forward to launching our construction bootcamps from Easter onwards. It’s a really busy and exciting time and we are completely delighted to welcome our learners back on site.
the College in March – a great start to an exciting opportunity. The Youth Hub provides great information, advice and guidance for young people. Learners entering the hub are able to be offered a suite of ‘Routes to Employment’ courses which will aid them into progression alongside bespoke designed courses to provide support and focus. Progression opportunities are available into the full range of college courses as well as into employment opportunities, including Kickstart.
Further Youth Hubs are planned to launch in April at Bexley Campus and also Greenwich Park and we are eagerly awaiting formal confirmation. A range of launch events and a calendar of activities for these hubs will be soon confirmed over the coming months as we exit lockdown. Read more online now
STUDENT MAT TERS
#LockdownUnlocked preparing students for the road ahead Lockdown has been very tough on everyone; causing disruption and hardship to individuals and communities across the globe. London South East Colleges is committed to its ambition of becoming a social enterprise college and a crucial community partner addressing and tackling social and economic problems head-on. The need for community engagement of this sort has never been greater. This pandemic has prompted us to think differently about how we harness our collective expertise, partnerships, resources and connections to better support our students helping them into work and to look after their wellbeing.
the negative effects of lockdown, as well as unlocking career and personal development opportunities.
What is Lockdown Unlocked? #LockdownUnlocked is an ambitious programme aiming to improve student’s wellbeing during lockdown and preparing them for the road ahead. We will soon be launching a number of initiatives and events in collaboration with our students, partners and businesses to help limit
Taking the initiative: We will soon be launching our student mentoring scheme which will provide support and guidance to students, a lockdown cook-off challenge for our SEND and ESOL learners and a campaign by our English language students to write friendship letters to the residents of care homes who are missing their
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What will Lockdown Unlocked offer? We are creating innovative ways to keep our students motivated and inspired, ensuring they stay connected and engaged through digital access and remote learning. This will help them develop new skills and provide them with highquality mentoring and coaching. We aim to empower students to feel confident, reassured and resilient. That is why we are taking extra steps to boost entrepreneurial skills, promote networking and valuable work experience opportunities wherever possible.
families, friends and loved ones. We are taking the initiative to prepare our students and members of our local communities for the economic and social challenges ahead. We had a number of esteemed industry leaders giving virtual talks and presentations during the second half of the Spring term. Business students staged a virtual ‘meet the buyer’ event and Health and Social Care students created a campaign to encourage students to stay fit and healthy during lockdown.
STUDENT MAT TERS (CONT )
#MentoringUnlocked providing skills that really matter As part of our commitment to ensure that students acquire the skills and attributes needed to compete in an increasingly competitive environment and to ensure that no student is left behind as a result of the pandemic, London South East Education Group has introduced a mentoring programme for its students – #MentoringUnlocked. What is Mentoring Unlocked? The programme, which will formally launch in April 2021, is led by Clive Ansell, Executive Director, Inclusion, Student Experience, Admissions and Safeguarding and Jo Southby, Group Executive Director of Education, Safeguarding and Academic Standards. It will be targeted at selected groups of learners where the needed is greatest and the intervention is likely to make the greatest impact e.g. those who are care leavers, on free school meals and other groups of learners who are at risk of underachieving. Key aims include building learners’ resilience and independence. Students will be selected to take part in the scheme by tutor recommendation. 12 | ISSUE 2 | 2021
When will Mentoring Unlocked take place? Each programme cycle will run for one academic year. Initially it will be launched in the College and then be rolled out across other areas of the Group at a later stage. Jo Southby said: “The first phase of the project – building a pool of mentors – is now live. We want staff from across the Group to support the programme. It’s a great opportunity to make a difference to a young person, improve their life chances and enable them to make changes or take control of their decisions and future goals. You also derive huge satisfaction from being able to share your own learning and experiences which have enabled you to get to where you are today. You’ll also improve your communication skills with students from different backgrounds and age groups, as well as develop your own self-reflective and interpersonal skills.” If you’d like to get involved, applications for the 2021/22 programme are open. To find out more or have an initial chat about the role, email either Clive or Jo.
STUDENT MAT TERS (CONT )
INSPIRED BY OUR STUDENTS Jade Richards, 19, a Business student from Sydenham studying at our Bromley Campus has taken the initiative to engage with a range of different employers in the law, banking and financial sectors and taken part in some very lucrative work experience programmes. Jade signed up to the Speakers for Schools website and has so far been successful in gaining a one-week virtual work experience with Price Waterhouse Coopers, taken part in a virtual insight
evening with international law firm Reed Smith as well as a virtual insight day with the NHS entitled ‘Meet the People Behind the Mask’. In addition, she has acquired other stunning opportunities with Santander and the Barclays Beyond program. Jade said: “I’ve got so much out of the different ventures and incentives offered outside of the classroom by companies and organisations that partner with the College; it gives me that ‘something extra’ that can’t be acquired by simply sitting in class.” Read more online now
John James, 34, former British Airways cabin crew member from Greenwich has joined one of the College’s pre-Access courses to get his career back on-track and become a professional social worker in the specialised field of child protection. John left school early without any formal qualifications after a turbulent period in his youth that left him in the care of social services and living in a foster home. This later proved a positive experience and he became inspired
by his social workers and carers to such an extent that he vowed to follow their footsteps and join the profession himself one day. Seven years later, after a career in the aviation industry, John is now retraining for social work. John said: “My course really is superb – it teaches you everything you need to know, fills you with confidence and enables you to see various different career paths within the sector. I now feel totally back on-track and on my way to a great destination. The world is once again my oyster.” Read more online now
Alys Williams, 18, a former student from one of the College’s Art and Design Level 2 Diploma courses has written to her maths tutor recently to thank him for the amazing support and kindness he showed to her during a very difficult period of her life. Alys completed her course with a distinction grade and is now preparing to embark on a three-year BA (Hons) degree in September 2021 at Bolton University. She is currently
completing her Level 3 in Hair and Theatrical Makeup at her local college in Northern Ireland and intends to study Special Effects and Prosthetics at degree level. Alys said: “Soji treated everyone in the class with humility, gratitude and respect. It was almost like we were being taught by a really good friend who had our interests at heart throughout. He’s a thoroughly lovely man and perhaps the best teacher I’ve had so far.” Read more online now
Andrea Moune, 40, a student on our Access (Fast-track) to Nursing Level 3 Diploma, credits her career change to having been admitted to hospital following a threatening illness. During the Summer of 2020, while hospitals and care homes were still in lockdown, Andrea underwent a surgical procedure that inspired her clearcut decision to change career and become a nurse.
Andrea said: “For the first time ever, I started to worry about my job security, then to find myself in hospital suddenly just added to the anxiety I was feeling. It was at this juncture that I started to think about my yearnings to work in the caring professions and wondered if maybe this was the break I needed to find my true calling. I’ve changed direction dramatically but am so pleased to have done so.” Read more online now
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FE Commissioner takes a look back and forward in College’s Landmark Lecture Outgoing Further Education Commissioner, Sir Richard Atkins, addressed staff, students and stakeholders at the College in February – sharing his insight and experience of the sector. The virtual event, part of our ‘Landmark Lecture’ series, gave the audience an opportunity to hear Sir Richard look back at the last few years in FE and talk about his hopes and expectations for the future.
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Sir Richard spoke about his background in FE and journey to his most recent role as FE Commissioner, emphasising his commitment to inclusion and drive to support a more collaborative way of working. He said: “When working to its full potential, the FE sector is truly awesome. I’m pleased to see that it is much better placed than it was six years ago. It’s clear that good governance and leadership is key to success and there is much of this within the sector.
80% of colleges are now Good or Outstanding, which is testament to the hard work and commitment of leaders, staff and students. Going forward, I believe FE will be even stronger in 10 years. The recent FE White Paper – Skills for Jobs – is both evolutionary and revolutionary. We must continue to put the focus on learners and I would l love to see a rise in the number of young people and adults opting for higher technical courses as an alternative to degrees.”
Dr Sam Parrett OBE, CEO of London & South East Education Group said: “We are most grateful to Sir Richard for taking the time to deliver a Landmark Lecture today. After four years in the role of FE Commissioner, his insight is fascinating and of great value to the staff, students and stakeholders listening.” Read more online now
Increasing social value Addressing wider social challenges is high on the government’s agenda and it’s a central part of our Group strategy too. Back in September 2020, the government launched a new set of measures to deliver social value through public procurement. Businesses seeking to win work must set out how they will also deliver social value priorities. Such recognition of the role that the social value model can play in delivering wider positive benefits is great news for the Group, as we continue to build momentum to drive our Group Strategy forward and achieve our ambition to be an anchor institution by creating real and sustainable change in our communities.
As a Group we continue to lead the sector in this field and over the last three months we have been able to: Secure our first ever social value award: This is true recognition of the pioneering work we are doing to embed social value in our business culture, processes and systems. Focus on measuring what matters: We have continued to explore how we can measure the social impact of the Group Strategy by developing an annual Social Value report, which is externally verified. The report
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explores how impactful the Group is with employing and spending locally. Analysis has shown that we have been able to increase our overall social value from £5.4m (College) to over £30m (Group). By the end of the fifth year of the Group strategy, we aim to have doubled the amount of social value that we generate.
ON MISSION (CONT )
Maintaining quality and standards Jo Southby, Group Executive Director of Education, Safeguarding and Academic Standards writes: Over the last term I have focused on looking at ways in which we harness and combine the best practices from the College with those in our Trust schools. A key priority has been looking at our safeguarding practices and establishing a working framework which supports effective professional partnerships across the whole organisation. This has resulted in the launch of a Group-wide DSL Network Meeting and, from this, a consultation with our DSL colleagues on how they would like to use this opportunity to meet half termly and 16 | ISSUE 2 | 2021
learn from collaboration and practice sharing. The Group is also forming a DSL Directory which enables us to contact each other based on the specific experiences and knowledge of individual practitioners – this will be a huge benefit in what can be an emotionally challenging role where decisions around the safety and care of children and young people may have far reaching effects.
The Quality Team have worked tirelessly to support the maintaining of quality across the College during this lockdown period. There have been some
great steps made in building staff confidence through online training and signposting to webinars as well as curriculum-based and bespoke
CPD sessions. I now intend to use the lessons learned over this period to form the foundations of our Curriculum Digital Learning Strategy both in the College and the schools. Errol Ince will be working with me in leading on the digital strategy from a classroom learning perspective, undertaking initial conversations with school leaders and curriculum leaders to capture what has worked well and collaborate with them on individual digital development plans to move us into the next phase of virtual learning development. This will be a huge challenge due to the different ages and abilities of our cohort across the Group but key in positioning us strongly as educational providers for the future employment and economic landscape. Much of my work in this role to date has been centred on the theme of connectivity – building networks and relationships between college and school staff, reviewing the transition process for pupils moving in to the College and developing structure and schedules for governance reporting in the Trust. What has become clear is that clarity and frameworks are needed to create systems which improve information sharing, reduce unnecessary workload and facilitate smooth transition between our
schools and college provision with appropriate levels of funding to ensure vulnerable pupils succeed and thrive. This is a work in progress and very much a longer term project. From a school or college operational perspective, it may not be the highest priority, but we need to recognise that from a strategic viewpoint
forming these links is essential if we are to be an inclusive organisation where the benefits of being one Group, combining FE/HE, apprenticeships and schools, is truly to be realised. Finally, putting quality assurance and improvement at the centre of our organisation is key in driving up standards and ensuring that our core business, the educational experience of our children and young people, is always first. The formation of a central team and development of the CPD Hub will facilitate the move towards putting our students at the heart of our work and keeping our focus on what our purpose and remit as an educational establishment needs to be. These are exciting times and I am looking forward to working with you on this journey.
ON MISSION (CONT )
Tackling inequalities EQUALITY, DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION GRANTS
Driven by our desire to tackle inequalities, our Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Grants – a 10-year grant’s programme for staff was launched in July 2020 followed by the students grants programme which was launched in October 2020. The initiative has gathered momentum and we’re delighted that to date we have awarded three staff grants and two student grants.
Staff led projects Saved by the ball: Using the power of sport, this project will target KS4 and KS5 students from schools across the Trust and will work alongside the schools to help students who have low attendance, who are disengaged or who are at risk of permanent exclusion. The project aims to address many of the issues that face the youth of today, including youth unemployment, physical and mental health and county lines. Due to the lockdown restrictions, the project lead has developed online materials to support the delivery of the coaching qualification. He has also identified leading sports figures to contribute to the programme and has worked with stakeholders across the Trust to identify the learners who will benefit from the project. As the lockdown eases, the sports programme will be implemented and integrated alongside the schools’ activities. Empower project: This project is a programme of curriculum-based activities focussing on empowering students of Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups. It will be delivered in a myriad of ways including tutorials and other activities. Aspects of the programme were piloted throughout Black History Month. There are multiple ‘strands’ to
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this project, with the main four being, Young Designers, Young Entrepreneurs, Employability and a film-making mini-project. So far 900 students have engaged in a range of activities with positive feedback. Over the next few months, the project will deliver ‘TED’ style talks to students, a young entrepreneur competition, a film project showcase and a talent management show. Positive changes: This is a mentoring project aimed at young Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups. The aim of the mentoring programme is to provide continuous support to students aged 16-25 years with special educational needs disabilities. The programme will support students with low attendance and vulnerable young people at risk of exclusion, or becoming NEET (not in education, employment, or training). It will help build self-confidence and self-belief to maximise potential and achieve goals. The initial phases of the project have focussed on developing promotional materials and sourcing speakers and mentors. As the lockdown eases, activities which include music and catering are planned for students when they return to college.
Student led projects Film club project: This grant was awarded to a very creative and innovative student who demonstrated a strong understanding of what EDI means and a determination to ensure that no one is left out or excluded. His idea is to implement a London South East Colleges Hollywood Film Club, mainly focussed on engaging learners in watching and researching films, before writing, filming and editing their own film. The intended project outcomes and impact include equipping students with a range of skills relevant to working in the film industry. Drama club: This grant has been awarded to a group of four students who want to implement a Drama Club. The club will hold weekly rehearsals and meetings on campus culminating in a play, The French Rose and the Lamppost, at the end of the academic year. The group are keen to ensure that the Drama Club is fully accessible to all and help develop team skills and leadership experience.
ON MISSION (CONT )
Exciting new HE strategy on the horizon
London South East College University Centre will have an innovative and responsive Higher Education offer that enables people to realise and access their potential through developing an aspirational, inclusive, and supportive culture. The ambition will be to embed an ethos that supports progression into careers through outstanding delivery, collaborative partnerships while operating as a community anchor institution.
STR ATEGIC GOALS
Carmel Jewell-Newby, Higher Education Director writes: The academic year so far for Higher Education has been one of creativity, flexibility, resilience and quality. The challenges that have come with Covid 19 have been met by both staff and students with dedication and professionalism and a student experience we can all be proud of under such trying circumstances. Whilst all of this has been going on we have also been working on our upcoming HE Strategy for the next five years.
1 Innovative curriculum that meets employer skills requirements and is reflective of the local community needs whilst providing the skills to access both the national and international workforce markets.
2 To create growth and opportunities for all prospective students through a college wide approach to access and participation.
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3 To establish a University Centre structure that empowers accountability and fosters a culture that supports a career pathway approach throughout the College.
4 To demonstrate a commitment to enhanced student support that will cultivate and strengthen opportunities to increase social value.
5 To develop a culture of highquality provision, outstanding delivery and student success, which will be supported by timely and comprehensive data.
We examined the following areas: Policy context which included the new FE Skills White paper, the response to the Augar and Pearce review, new research plus student and economic data. Labour Market Intelligence informed us of the impact of Covid, employment statistics, future market opportunities and how our curriculum aligns to job opportunities and the wages our students may earn. Competitor Analysis aided to identify that there are eight colleges and seven universities that we would deem competitors due to their location and curriculum offer. We assessed our partnerships and what more we can do with our partners to deliver opportunities to our students and staff. Attention to equality, diversity and inclusion was embedded within our focus on employer and student engagement and it has enabled us to have a clear understanding of how we can develop equality and diversity of opportunity for both staff and students as we diversity and expand. Developing the student experience: We intend to develop as sense of belonging, increase levels of engagement and work to reduce the impact of financial constraints.
Curriculum development will focus on stabilising our provision and developing strong progression pathways. We will establish the HE provisions as a highquality offer that has outstanding access and participation. We will also focus on sustainable growth, bringing opportunities throughout the sector and industry. The development of staff and staffing requirements is an integral part of the success of the HE Strategy, therefore, the following six themes have been identified: the development of staff qualifications and scholarly activity succession digital upskilling the encouragement of continued Industry Connections HEA Fellowship Status ensuring that the profile of staff reflects the community and student population Leadership and management: We have now put in place a clear management structure to effectively develop, operationalise and monitor the progress and impact of the University Centre Strategy. These are exciting times and we know that, in partnership, we will create fulfilling futures for all.
IN THE NEWS
MEDIA ROUND-UP Although our schools and colleges remained closed to the majority of our students throughout January and February, we achieved some excellent media coverage across both regional and educational press.
FE White Paper: Our sector needs support and respect 19 | ISSUE 2 | 2021
This is a paper to get things done – so let us now get on with it Sam Parrett, Group Principal and CEO, writes: My overwhelming impression when reading through the eagerly anticipated White Paper is a sense of real validation for the further education (FE) sector. Much of what we have been doing and working towards for many years has formed the basis of this ‘new’ strategy – and it is highly encouraging to see that colleges
are to be supported to build on this success as opposed to being forced down a new track. Putting employers at the heart of technical education and training for example is not a new idea by any means and is a mantra of failed policy rhetoric over many years. Like many colleges, we have focused on this for some time and have seen real benefits and positive results of employerdesigned curricula in terms of student progression and job outcomes. Equipping people with the skills that businesses need should be (and is of course) a clear focus of further education – so the inclusion of this commitment in the White Paper is encouraging to see, albeit not
revolutionary or new. What’s vital right now is that the improved articulation of employer need is coupled with an economic recovery that opens up opportunities for people of all ages. Fixing the supply of skills is only part of a much wider picture. As a sector, we need confidence that new industries, such as green, health and digital technologies, will be supported to flourish and provide a thriving landscape for people to seek careers. FE’s adaptability, agility and foresight over many years has absolutely been recognised in this White Paper so let’s now seize on this genuine opportunity and get the job done. Read more online now
Stephen Howlett, Chair London and South East Education Group, writes: For many years, FE has often been referred to as the ‘Cinderella’ of our education system and sadly, I feel this description has been more apt than ever over the past few months. There is absolutely no doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic has brought extraordinary and unprecedented challenges to everyone working in education. Young people of all
ages have been disproportionately affected, missing out not only on academic work but on the crucial social development that attending school or college helps to build. Teachers have had to change the way they teach almost overnight and school and college leaders have been dealing with the impossible job of balancing pupils’ and staff’s needs in a landscape of ever-changing policy and guidance.
For many years, much has been done to raise the parity of esteem between academic and vocational study. Yet despite these big strides over the years, much has been lost during the pandemic, with reduced apprenticeship starts and cancellation of many work experience placements, adversely affecting vocational students. Read more online now
IN THE NEWS (CONT )
Inspirational fundraiser from Bexley supports London South East Colleges students by giving a series of motivational virtual talks Sean Ash, 39, was paralysed from the waist down following an illness last year and can now only walk small steps with a frame. Yet despite the difficulties he faces every day, Sean raised over £79,000 by walking a mile and went further in his mission to support people in the area by agreeing to give talks to students on a range of health and public services courses at London South East Colleges. March saw the first of these talks delivered via Zoom to over 100 students aged 16-18. He talked openly about his disrupted education, disabilities and how further education provided him with the qualifications and confidence he needed to succeed. He said: “In life you will face many obstacles. Today you could be running 800 metres and tomorrow you could be in a wheelchair. Like the flick of a coin, your life could be turned upside down. And you’ve got to deal with that. If you aren’t learning, then failure will always be the result. I didn’t choose this wheelchair, it chose me, but I choose to win. What do you choose?” Read more online now 20 | ISSUE 2 | 2021
Steps towards sustainable work placements for SEND students Creating social enterprises can give SEND students access to long-term work placements. Just 6 per cent of adults with a learning disability known to their local authority in England are in paid work. Within the context of Covid-19, disabled people have found it even harder to gain valuable, paid employment, and are often penalised as the first to be let go. Digital skills are in demand, but disabled people often struggle with digital accessibility and skills. It’s no surprise that sourcing and sustaining placements for SEND students is hard and becoming harder. A new phenomenon may be part of the answer to provide consistent, sustainable placements for our most in-need students – combining the impact of education settings with the practicality of social enterprises. Read more online now
London South East Colleges prepares vaccine workforce for Oxleas Trust The first cohort of 250 students being trained by London South East Colleges to help deliver the vaccine across south east London completed their training in record time. In December it was announced that London South East Colleges had been recruited by the NHS to help provide a workforce to deliver the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccines locally. London South East Colleges quickly assembled a team of six tutors and three support staff to implement the training last November and to devise a series of modules that could be studied and assessed online. Read more online now
To become ‘anchor institutions’, colleges should operate like social enterprises Further education contributes an enormous amount to the UK’s productivity agenda but as a sector, we seem to struggle to articulate this in a way that has resonance or can influence central government policy agendas. The FE sector has started to reflect on this collectively over the past year, through the Independent Commission on the College of the Future and its recognition of colleges as ‘anchor institutions’. As a sector we have yet to demonstrate true ‘anchor impact’ beyond the usual outputs and outcomes that all colleges deliver. To maximise our potential, we need to unlock opportunity within our communities and add real value locally by thinking and working differently. One way to do this could be for colleges to operate more like social enterprises – the definition of which already sounds exactly like an FE college: An organisation whose main goal is promoting social or environmental welfare rather than making or maximising profits. But what does this actually mean? Read more online now
Together we can build a sustainable community Over the next five years we will play a key role in the social and economic improvement of the region by working closely with our partners, students, staff and stakeholders. This will impact on what we teach, how we do business, how we develop our staff and how we support our learners.
T: 020 3954 4000