IN LAST week’s Times Educational Supplement (TES), Pembrokeshire College was pleased to find that it had been shortlisted for two prestigious TES FE Awards.
Now in their third year, the TES FE Awards recognise the dedication and expertise of the people who, on a daily basis make a significant contribution to improving the skill levels of young people and adult learners.
Having picked up the Outstanding HR Team award at last year’s awards ceremony, the College is hoping to follow in the HR team’s footsteps and bring home awards for ‘Outstanding use of Technology in FE’ and ‘Teaching and Learning Initiative.’
For the Outstanding use of Technology in FE Award the College submitted ‘VocalEyes’ – a digital tool that is part of a new style of leadership and stakeholder engagement that is transforming the culture of organisations leading to informed decision making.
This revolutionary digital tool captures, rates and allows ideas to be debated enhancing the learner experience engaging College staff in decision-making.
VocalEyes has invigorated and transformed the College’s Learner Voice process and has been cited by ESTYN as Best Practice. Since its installation VocalEyes has captured over 26,000 ratings (votes) compared to less than 100 interactions the previous year using traditional methods.
As well as being used within the College, the technology has also been presented to Learner Voice practitioners in Wales (at the NUS annual conference), and to HE directors at their annual Colleges Wales conference. To date, this IT development has been presented as an innovative democratic community engagement tool to local MP Stephen Crabb, the leadership and strategy team at Plaid Cymru, The Welsh Green Party, City of Glasgow College and to all the major FE colleges in Wales.
For the Teaching and Learning Initiative Award, the College submitted the work of health and social care tutors at the College who breathed new life into a failing course through the adoption of innovative teaching methods that make live projects an integral part of the course which has seen retention increase from 48% to 98%.
Tutors broke the original block placement into one day per week and embedded projects with St David’s Care in the Community (SDCC) into both year 1 and year 2. The projects allow students to gain a range of new experiences including working with people suffering from mental health issues, individuals with learning and physical disabilities and the elderly. The year 1 project sees students working alongside SDCC to support adults with learning disabilities to take part in conservation activities including beach cleaning, clearing blackthorn and putting up fences at their residential home.
In year 2, students draw on their own hobbies to deliver OCN qualifications at SDCC. Forming a key part of the vocational experience unit of their course, the dedicated students attend on their day off to deliver OCNs in IT, cookery and craft. Each OCN takes five weeks to complete and the students prepare lesson plans and develop schemes of work as well as delivering the sessions.
To date, 12 SDCC clients have gained OCNs delivered by students. Working with SDCC has brought a real world element to projects and assignments as well as providing students with the evidence needed to complete six of their units. The students find the experiences gained on placement invaluable in helping them to understand the theory elements of their qualification as well as giving them a real insight into the work undertaken in adult community care.
The College will now attend the awards ceremony on Friday 28 February at The Park Plaza, Westminster Bridge, London where they will find out if they have won.