Coleg Sir Gar in Carmarthenshire has ensured that their strategy for developing teaching and learning provides challenging opportunities for all learners with additional learning needs. The college has worked closely with partner providers to share best practice and has developed a number of initiatives to help pupils’ progress.
Number of learners: 3,000 FT, 7,000 PT
Age range: 16 +
Date of Estyn inspection: May 2013
Context and background to sector-leading practice
Coleg Sir Gâr is a large, multi-site, Further Education College. It has approximately 10,000 learners of which about 3,000 are full time and 7,000 are part time. There are approximately 950 higher education learners.
The College is based in South West Wales and has five main campuses at Llanelli (Graig), Carmarthen (Pibwrlwyd and Jobs Well), Ammanford and Llandeilo (Gelli Aur). It also offers its provision on-line, via partnerships at community locations and in the workplace. The campuses vary in size and nature and offer a variety of subjects. Generally, subjects are not duplicated across campuses unless very high demand warrants this.
The College has a comprehensive and broad range of academic and vocational education, and training programmes. These range from pre-entry to postgraduate level, providing a service to the whole learning community. It offers further education, adult and community learning, higher education and work based learning. It also provides for large numbers of 14-16 school pupils who attend the College or are taught by College staff at their schools.
The College has an annual turnover of £30m and employs a total of 854 staff. Of these, 451 are directly involved in teaching and 403 in support and administrative functions.
According to the Wales Index of Multiple Deprivation (2011), there are a number of areas of deprivation in Carmarthenshire, with a small number in the 10% of most deprived areas in Wales. These are mainly around the larger centres of population in Carmarthen, Llanelli and Ammanford. Data from the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) shows that around 14.8% of learners live in the most deprived areas of Carmarthenshire.
Welsh Government data for March 2013 shows that 66.2% of the residents of Carmarthenshire aged over 16 are in employment compared to the Wales average of 67.3%. The data shows that 72% of working age adults hold a qualification at least at level 2 compared to 74% for Wales. Thirty-three per cent of the working age adults hold a qualification at level 4 or over compared with the average of 32% for Wales.
The percentage of working age adults without a qualification at 13%, is slightly above the Wales average of 11%. There are around 8,500 business units in Carmarthenshire. The highest proportion of businesses are in landbased, retail, construction and administration.
According to the 2011 census, around 46% of the population of Carmarthenshire can speak, read or write Welsh.
The College has integrated the need to provide challenging opportunities for all learners with additional learning needs, including those that are more able and talented, into its strategy for developing teaching and learning. The college has addressed these learners’ needs in several ways:
•by working closely with partner schools to develop a more able and talented supplementary programme for their pupils;
•through pertinent initiatives such as ‘Word Skills’;
•by providing excellent non-curricular opportunities and experiences for talented learners; and
•through sharing good practice in teaching and learning.
Nature of strategy or activity identified as sector-leading practice
The 14-19 More Able and Talented Supplementary Programme
This programme provides more able and talented school pupils with the opportunity to further increase their subject knowledge which complements the work they are currently undertaking within their GCSE programme of study. It also provides pupils with the opportunity to express themselves and have fun within an assessment-free environment. The programme highlights future progression and career routes and gives pupils the opportunity to visit local industry and Higher Educaiton institutions to talk to staff about their experiences. Pupils also work and forge friendships with more able and talented pupils from other schools and get to know experienced tutors leading the programme. The college awards pupils with certificates for good attendance and active participation in the scheme.
The high level of engagement in skills competitions across the college makes a substantial contribution to developing learners’ technical vocational skills. Involvement of learners in skills competitions is a strategic target of the college and success has been achieved at local, regional, national and international level. The college is the only college in Wales which has provided competitors for Team UK at Worldskills International competitions for two consecutive bi-annual competitions: Calgary 2009 and London 2011. The college also provided two of four Welsh competitors for the team representing the United Kingdom in 2013. A college learner achieved Gold at Euroskills in 2012.
The college has hosted regional and national skills competitions and has been selected by the Welsh Government to manage the pan Wales Skills Competitions contract every year from its inception in 2011. The college has the highest level of entries into ‘UK Worldskills Competitions’ of any college in Wales. In the inaugural UK ‘Skills Show’ in 2012, where the finals of all UK competitions were held, the college emerged as a leading college in the UK for the medal tally achieved.
Coleg Sir Gâr Sports Academies
The Coleg Sir Gâr Sports Academy concept has developed over recent years to provide students with the opportunity of achieving their maximum potential in both sporting and academic spheres. The sports academy structure now incorporates the sports of netball, football, rugby and golf. It also supports individual performers in sports such as athletics, golf, squash and judo. The academy has excellent links with partners such as Welsh Rugby Union (WRU), Scarlets and Llanelli RFC, Wales Football Trust (WFT), The Welsh Netball Association (WNA) and Carmarthenshire County Council Sports Development Department. The Golf Academy also has a valuable partnership with Machynys Golf and Country Club where students are able to access its excellent facilities and receive professional coaching.
Academy students have access to sports therapy and massage opportunities at the college. Llanelli Scarlets and other partners also use this service, delivered by Coleg Sir Gâr students. All academy students have access to the fitness suite to perform aerobic and resistance conditioning and the Performance Analysis Centre, where their physical conditioning is analysed scientifically. The Sports Academy is an exciting concept. It encourages sporting participation and the professional structure assists students at Coleg Sir Gâr, to achieve their potential. Through positive collaboration with our partners the College offers its students extremely beneficial support which have contributed to several national and international successes.
Academic, Cultural and Excellence (ACE) Programme
The ‘ACE’ programme aims to challenge and support our most able learners to aid them in achieving their full potential. The College recognises that these individuals need specific programmes that are tailored to help direct them towards their chosen university and career. Expererienced A level staff have put together a programme that will stretch, challenge and enrich the learning of our more able students. ‘ ACE’ learners have the opportunity to access a range of activities within specialist tutorial groups for Medicine, Veterinary, Dentistry, Maths, Science Law and Modern Foreign Languages to take part in enrichment opportunities that include World Skills competitions, Science competitions and to take part in a model United Nations Conference.
Impact on provision and learners’ standards
More able learners’ confidence and skills levels have improved as result of these initiatives. The programme with schools has aided transition for learners and provided them with an opportunity to enage with College teaching staff. The effect of skills competitions has been remarkable, allowing learners to demonstate their vocational skills at world class levels. It has also had a profound effect on students’ learning experiences and has increased the quality of teaching vocational skills. The Sports Academy provides outstanding opportunities for learners in their chosen disciplines and has contributed to numerous successes at national and international level.