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Small college puts on a big show in US to spread best practice

Community colleges in the United States were taking their cues from a small college in Lincolnshire at their annual conference.

Roger Bennett, the principal of North Lindsey College in Scunthorpe, presented five papers this week to the American Association of Community Colleges conference in Phoenix, Arizona, where the audience represented colleges with up to ten times his student numbers.

Among the subjects tackled was employer engagement, since only 5 per cent of US community colleges have work-based training schemes. North Lindsey College's work in this field was described as "world class" at a conference last year in New York.

Professor Bennett, an expert in risk management for educational businesses, also told the community colleges how adopting an approach used in 300 UK colleges and universities to risk management could improve performance.

The principal of North Lindsey College, which is twinned with Mid-Plains Community College in Nebraska, also argued for the value of transatlantic partnerships, with students, teachers and managers all spending time abroad for inspiration and sharing good practice.

Another partnership, with Coastline Community College in California, focused on how 14 to 16 education could re-engage students who were disillusioned with school and reduce numbers of dropouts.

Finally, Professor Bennett delivered a presentation on the college's work with students with learning difficulties and disabilities, which has been judged outstanding by Ofsted for raising expectations, instilling confidence and encouraging students to make their own choices.

Martin Doel, the Association of Colleges' chief executive, and David Collins, the AoC president, also attended the conference to highlight the value of self-assessment and ingredients for success identified in a study of Beacon Award-winning colleges.

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