College of the Year short list

Monday 13 January 2020

The Bedford College Group has been shortlisted in the TES FE Awards 2020 - as College of the Year. These prestigious national awards showcase the best of British education via the famous Times Educational Supplement (TES) brand.

At the same time the Group’s Building Services Team has been shortlisted in the TES Professional Team of the Year. 

Both entries highlight how the formation of the Group in 2017 led to improvements in service to students and their surroundings. 

In 2017 Judith Larsen won TES FE Teacher of the Year, in 2018 Keith Haynes was named TES FE Assessor of the Year and in 2019 Samantha Jones won TES FE Teacher of the Year.  

Bedford College took on a huge challenge merging with Tresham College in 2017. Tresham was a large college in Northamptonshire, rated inadequate by Ofsted in 2016 and with extensive financial deficits. However, exceptional hard work from staff at all levels  culminated with Ofsted’s 2019 announcement that The Bedford College Group, (including Tresham), is rated Good in all areas, with adult and young students developing “excellent” study skills.  The Skills Funding Agency has also formally confirmed the College’s status as Outstanding for financial health with a £1million surplus.

According to the latest DfE’s Overall Institution Achievement Rates Tables 2017-18 the College is first of providers based in the Eastern region with overall achievement at 89%.  The Group is also above national average for achievement in GCSEs, English, maths and apprenticeships.  In addition, 2019 recruitment for Tresham College exceeded targets by 15%, with 2,543 students enrolling against a target of 2,215 and overall Group recruitment for 2019 was 13,709. 

Since the creation of The Bedford College Group in 2017, the Buildings Projects Team has worked tirelessly to deliver highly ambitious objectives ensuring the Group’s buildings and physical learning environments at over 20 sites meet the needs of the local community.  

Within two years, the small team of only five staff have managed the upgrading of several buildings, the opening of two Learning Centres in Northamptonshire and the creation of three brand new buildings on three different campuses, expanding the reach of the College’s provision and ensuring thousands of local people have access to high-quality resources.

In 2018 the Building Projects Team delivered the College’s £5.2 million Buchanan Centre for advanced engineering at the riverside Bedford Campus which Hilary Chipping, SEMLEP Chief Executive said was: “…giving students access to state-of-the-art equipment and training.”

In 2019, the £3.65 million Zoological Education Centre at Shuttleworth, Bedfordshire opened to animals and students, the first of its type developed closely with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).  

The Team are now working on the £10million redevelopment of the Wellingborough Campus, supported by SEMLEP through the Local Growth Fund, which is opening this September. The new look campus will ensure the local community, which has three ‘Lower Super Output Areas’ within the 10% most deprived areas in England have access to high-quality further education and social mobility opportunities.  

The Building Projects Team work particularly hard to ensure the College receives as much funding as possible from external stakeholders for new buildings.  For the Buchanan Centre they secured £2.5 million from SEMLEP’s Local Growth Fund, £500K from HEFCE and £1 million from other organisations, and for the Wellingborough campus the Team secured £7.5 million of SEMLEP funding.

Ian Pryce CBE, Principal and Chief Executive of The Bedford College Group said: “This is a small but professional team who quietly focus on delivering projects which have an immense and far-reaching impact on the communities we serve and for future generations.”

The TES awards winners are announced at a Gala Dinner in at the Grosvenor House Hotel on March 20th.

Ian Pryce BEDFORD

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