Ofsted's blog: Partnership working is crucial, reveals Ofsted’s Annual Report 2015/16

6th December 2016 at 10:02

Colleges and employers working together

Getting pupils ready for the world of work is an essential part of their education. Some colleges in the further education sector have recognised that working closely with employers is a productive route into employment for their students. Two such colleges, identified in the Annual Report of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills 2015/16 are finding collaboration works well for them.

Creating academies with work in mind

Derby College have formed partnerships with employers to create two groups as academies – ‘employment and skills’ and ‘employer’ – which comprise of a group of employers from a specific sector working with the college. They’re designed to give apprentices and learners extra-curricular activities related to employment. These include projects, workplace visits, talks from specialist speakers, masterclasses and entrepreneurial and enterprise activities.

The college has 15 employment and skills academies, across as many sectors, with 300 active board members who assist with curriculum design and delivery. They work in partnership to ensure that the curriculum, delivered through apprenticeships and study programmes, assists the learners to develop employability and enterprise skills. This operates alongside extra-curricular employer engagement activities.

In total, 1,730 employers have assisted in providing activities such as work placements, visits and projects. In addition to the employment and skills academies, the college has 20 specific employer academies.

Each employer interviews learners who apply to work in their academy and pledges to give a formal interview with the chance of gaining employment or an apprenticeship after their full-time studies.

Cross-college and specific projects are run according to sector needs. Over 1,000 students have taken part in enterprise and entrepreneurial projects so far. All students have enterprise activities embedded in their studies, which are supported by the enterprise board. The college also has its own agency, ‘Roundhouse Recruitment’, which helps students to find work in the hospitality industry with employers across the city.

High expectations lend a step up

Derwen College is an independent specialist, residential college for young people who have learning difficulties and/or disabilities. Here the governors, the chief executive and senior managers have established a culture of very high expectations for all students. And they reinforce these high standards across the college, at work and in their residences at college.

The students enjoy their learning, their work experience and the social aspects of college life. Almost all make excellent progress in the development of their personal and vocational skills, and are ‘very well prepared for life in modern Britain’.

Managers have developed very close links with employers, particularly in retail and hospitality, and ‘industry champions’ work closely with college staff to enhance the college’s vocational programmes. They ensure that staff and students are fully aware of the standards and skills required in the workplace and provide students with meaningful work experience opportunities.

The range of provision is excellent. Leaders and managers carefully monitor the progression of students and use this information effectively to improve and inform changes to curriculum design. Managers have made significant changes to vocational programmes, which help students to develop the relevant skills required for all sectors. This increases their opportunities to progress to employment when leaving college.