The winners of the five relevant categories – The Bedford College Group, Skills Group, Inspire, New College Pontefract and Coleg Elidyr – battled it out to claim the flagship award of overall provider of the year at this year's Tes FE Awards - and it was the sixth-form college in West Yorkshire that came out on top.
The judges said New College Pontefract had been “incredibly adventurous” in sharing skills and expertise with neighbouring schools, and in grasping the initiative by not only converting to academy status but establishing new free schools to meet the needs of the area it serves.
The college has worked hard to disseminate best practice, working with primaries and secondaries across the region through the establishment of a teaching school. A recent literacy project, involving 10 primary schools and three secondaries in the Wakefield area, improved the age-related expectation in reading among disadvantaged children by between 12 and 26 per cent. This reflects the college’s focus on narrowing the gaps of achievement in an area that has suffered from underperformance at key stage 4. These efforts are just as visible within the college, where the overall attendance rate stands at an impressive 93 per cent.
Specialist provider of the year: Coleg Elidyr
FE college of the year: The Bedford College Group
Training provider of the year: Skills Group
Adult and community learning provider of the year: Inspire
Sixth-form college of the year: New College Pontefract
Its strong exam results are supported by an approach to teaching and learning through embedding the principles of metacognition based on research into cognitive developmental psychology.
The judges said: “New College Pontefract is taking on a system leadership role within its sector and is a shining example of what every college should be aiming to achieve.”