In 2017, Bedford College merged with Tresham College – a large institution rated “inadequate” by Ofsted and burdened with a significant deficit. In 2019, Ofsted judged The Bedford College Group – including Tresham – as “good” in all areas. The Education and Skills Funding Agency confirmed the college’s status as “outstanding” for financial health, owing to a £1 million surplus, which is no small achievement given where Tresham was just two years ago. Crucially, recruitment for Tresham exceeded targets by 15 per cent in 2019.
In the latest Department for Education overall institution achievement rates tables for 2017-18, the college came top in the Eastern region, with overall achievement standing at 89 per cent. The group performs above the national average for achievement in GCSEs, English, maths and apprenticeships.
Awards winners: Bedford College Group wins Professional Services Team award
Professional practice is evaluated through learning walks, drop-ins, observations, student feedback and assessment reviews. New staff are given teacher toolkits and are supported by advanced practitioners. The group invests at least 1 per cent of its income on staff development each year, and teaching and assessing staff from the college claimed titles at the Tes FE Awards in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
The judges said that The Bedford College Group wasn’t following the herd but was determining its own way forward and serving the needs of its community in the process.
They said: “The Bedford College Group is a huge part of the town and
is the college to attend in that area. The merger has been a huge success, and the focus on innovation, research and staff development means that they are constantly improving and moving forward.”