Sandwell College, West Midlands

Sandwell College was accredited with the Quality Award for CEIAG (Prospects) in June 2014. The College has held an Award for careers since 2007, being originally accredited with the Black Country Quality Award for CEIAG, which is now the Prospects' Award.  This "history" is important to the college as Careers Manager Paul Smith explained: "we wanted to continue to show our learners that we are providing a high quality service. We looked at a range of specialist careers awards, but came back to the Prospects' version because we know it is high quality, that they are not a fly-by-night organisation and because we appreciated the fact that the Award has now been nationally recognised. We also listened to the views of our colleagues (in Halesowen College) who are strong advocates for the value of quality awards."

The Quality Award Assessors praised Sandwell College saying: 

Careers is fully integrated into a high profile, visible student support team, thus ensuring a joined up approach to meeting student needs, effective communication and a consistent approach. The high standard careers information offer is comprehensive, offered via a wide variety of media and is very well managed. There is a particularly strong emphasis on enterprise activities throughout the college. Feedback from students is taken very seriously. There is very visible promotion about progression.

In particular, Assessors said that "Students in this college cannot fail to be aware of the relationships between the curriculum (and related activities) - and progression into the real world of work. Careers staff work hard to ensure that they are highly visible and accessible to all"

Paul Smith talked about the process of collecting evidence - the Quality Award team had noticed that the college have recently been reaccredited with matrix and also that an Ofsted inspection happened during the accreditation process for the Quality Award (necessitating an emergency dash to return their portfolio of evidence in time for the Ofsted visit).   He commented "it was not so difficult to cope with as you would imagine because we keep our evidence folder(s) up to date, treating our portfolio as a living document - to be honest, it doesn't get much time to gather dust on the shelf as we will probably need it again soon for our next higher education inspection! As the requirements for the Quality Award are closely aligned with the sort of things that matrix and Ofsted are looking at, it makes sense to keep a core, constantly updated, evidence base to adapt for each situation. In addition, we run post-graduate careers guidance courses here - so I let the students examine some of the evidence, including our careers policy and ask them to suggest improvements." 

And finally, although the Quality Award has been granted for 3 years, Paul said that the process for re-accreditation has already begun: "we have been reflecting on the development points from the Assessors Report and we are working them into our development plan. Like most FE colleges, we struggle to fully engage parents and carers so we are working on some strategies we anticipate that enterprise activity will expand - and of course, we are expanding into a new building soon with all the added challenges involved in making sure that we can offer the same standards of service across all our campuses." 

Date Added: 22 September 2016

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