Two in prestigious awards

Tuesday 5 February 2019

A dynamic duo from The Bedford College Group have been shortlisted in the prestigious Times Educational Supplement (TES) Awards.

Finance Director Pat Jones and Samantha Jones will be joining the cream of the crop in the educational sector at a glittering ceremony on March 22nd at The Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London.

Last year The Bedford College Group was bathed in glory when Keith Jones won the top prize in the apprenticeship training category. The Group provides training for more than 2,000 apprentices each year across Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire. Keith is based at Tresham College which became part of the group in August 2017. 

“Winning awards is second nature to staff from the Bedford College Group who have a trophy cabinet of glittering prizes to demonstrate the depth and breadth of their expertise in education. To be short-listed in this national forum is recognition in itself of the quality of these two key staff members,” said Principal and CEO Ian Pryce CBE.

Pat Jones TES 2019

Since Pat Jones has been Finance Director, the college has maintained outstanding financial health and is regarded as one of the most innovative colleges for financial practice. 

Ian Pryce continued: “2017-18 though has been a truly exceptional year even by her standards and Pat's personal performance ensured the merger between Bedford College and Tresham College was successful. Pat achieved this by being innovative in her approach to costs and budgets whilst being proactive in maximising college income. She has led on bids securing £7.5m already towards the £10m redevelopment of the campus in Wellingborough.” 

This contribution from a financial leader makes a massive educational difference. Wellingborough has become the second worst place in England for the progress of disadvantaged students, and this will mean 400 young people who do not travel to other providers will now be able to access education locally. 

Pat has also secured £2.5m towards the new Advanced Engineering Centre in Bedford, as well as securing another £1m in voluntary donations and other grants towards the same building (a novel approach in the education sector). 

Pat is a member of the College Executive and therefore plays a much wider role in college life. She is a Director of The Bedford College Group’s multi-academy Trust (MAT), and the Accounting Officer. In 2017 The Bedford College Group opened two brand new schools in Bedford and Pat helped secure the funds for both from the DfE, and has ensured the MAT remains exceptionally strong financially while ensuring 96% of funding is allocated to the school heads (one of the highest allocations in the sector). 

“This is financial leadership at its best, leading our college, our staff and her teams to produce more educational opportunities and better experiences for our community.” Commented Principal and CEO Ian Pryce CBE.

Pat will be joined by colleague from The Bedford College Group, Samantha Jones.

Sam Jones TES

Samantha Jones is an Advanced Practitioner at Bedford College.  She has worked for the College for over 14 years and moved into the Teacher Education and Scholarship Department in 2013, teaching on the PGCE Certificate in Education course, which has grew by 338% from only eight students in 2013 to 35 students in September 2017. 

During this time, Samantha demonstrated outstanding commitment to the development of the course, the student learning experience and her own teaching best practice. This hard work has been reflected in the consistent increase in achievement of students.  Achievement remains very strong with overall achievement for the Group at 88.5%, above the national average of 84.4%.

Thandi Mkosana, a PGCE student taught by Samantha in 2017-18 said “Samantha is a highly enthusiastic, knowledgeable and engaging teacher.  She is passionate about developing professionalism in her learners. Knowledge sharing was the highlight of her workshops, and it helped me to develop strategies for my own action research, which phenomenally enhanced my confidence as a trainee teacher.”

In 2015, Samantha pioneered a new form of assessment, adopting the poster conference concept used in higher education but not previously employed at FE level. Now, as part of the action research unit of the PGCE course, students are required to produce a poster to show at a poster conference, promoting student knowledge transfer and also updating the practice of teaching staff at Bedford College.  The poster conference assessment has also been taken up by other courses run by Bedford College including Psychology & Crime FdA.

In June 2017, Samantha launched the UK’s first FE Research Meet in Bedfordshire, providing a space for FE lecturers to share and discuss their research. Five pieces of research were shared at this first meeting and 40 FE lecturers attended. In 2018, the second Bedfordshire FE Research Meet saw in excess of 15 pieces of FE research shared and 65 FE staff attending.  

It was such a success that in 2018 peers from other UK FE Colleges were inspired to organise their own, regional Research Meets in Bristol and Greater Manchester, with funding and support from the National Education Union. 

Jo Fletcher-Saxon, Assistant Principal at Ashton Sixth Form College said: “With Samantha's support I launched a research meet in the north and our College is now a Learning and Skills Research Network (LSRN) hub supporting experiments or action research to improve outcomes for learners and pedagogical practice.” 

In addition to being the Post-Compulsory SIG Co-convenor for the British Education Research Association (BERA) and the Convenor for LSRN Beds, Herts and Bucks, Samantha has also been highly committed to her own professional development.  In 2016, whilst still working at Bedford College part-time, she embarked upon her Master’s in Learning and Teaching at the University of Oxford, winning the International Professional Development Association’s award (IPDA) for her dissertation.  Last year, Samantha gained a PhD place at Cambridge University, which she began in September 2018, exploring ‘vocational knowledge and updating vocational knowledge’.


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