Weston College - a success story
By Prue_Reid | Monday, December 03, 2012, 12:02
AN exceptional year in adverse times was celebrated at Weston College as staff, businesses and council leaders gathered for the release of its annual report.
From left, Weston College head Dr Paul Phillips, North Somerset Council chief executive Graham Turner and Jude Ferguson, Weston College chair of governors
Representatives from North Somerset and Weston town councils, along with businesses and organisations, were among 200 people who met for the breakfast launch of the annual report which highlights the college's achievements in 2011-12.
Welcoming guests, college principal and chief executive Dr Paul Phillips OBE said: "Despite the challenging economic climate, creating brighter futures remains paramount and we place great emphasis upon partnerships.
"By OFSTED standards, Weston College is outstanding, with a success rate 11 per cent above the national benchmark.
"We are in the top five per cent of further education colleges and top two per cent of FE colleges offering long courses.
"We are bucking the national trend by investing more than £7 million in the college this year.
"When I started 11 years ago we had a turnover of £7 million.
"This year it's £34 million and next year it is set to be £45 million."
Dr Phillips praised the commitment of students, staff and corporate management team for retaining Weston College's pole position.
Among significant results this year was a 99.8 per cent pass rate for A-levels – the best in North Somerset – with more than 80 per cent gaining A* to C grades.
Twenty per cent of HE students gained a first class honours degree, compared to 14 per cent nationally.
Another 46 per cent were awarded a 2.1 degree compared to 27 per cent nationally.
Sixty-five per cent of graduates secured employment within six months of completing their gegree compared to the national average of 45 per cent.
There is a 100 per cent pass rate for BTEC National Diploma, 100 per cent pass rate for NVQ Level 2 and 113 per cent growth in the number of apprentices.
With 1,200 apprentices studying with the college, more than 80 per cent gain permanent jobs by the time they complete their course.
Weston College has opened up a groundbreaking new £1.5 learning disability centre, helping students with autism live an independent life.
It has also won a £30 million prison education contract to teach in 13 South West prisons.
The college has built a new motor vehicle facility, won the prestigious Beacon Award for its inclusive agenda and opened LibraryPlus – a new million pound, state-of-the-art learning resource centre at the University Campus.
The college is also set to invest millions of pounds in a new enterprise college for post-14 education in Weston, operating in all ways like a modern business.
North Somerset Council chief executive, Graham Turner, said that the recession was biting hard and this would continue to affect employment.
He praised Weston College's approach, adding: "I believe North Somerset and the West of England is a fantastic place, and this is the one area of the country that will lead Britain out of the recession."
Weston College chair of governors Jude Ferguson, said the demands and challenges of the year had been great but added: "None of us could have anticipated the dynamic transformation and leadership of Weston College over the last decade.
"It is an inspirational and exciting place where learning ambition is the key focus, complemented by an unrivalled staff team and state-of-the-art resources."
Among those attending the breakfast were representatives from local schools, Avon and Somerset police, Bristol Airport, Weston Area Health Trust and local businesses.
2011-12 report highlights:
- One of the top performing colleges in the South West;
- 113 per cent growth in the number of apprentices;
- Winning a competitive tender for offender learning in 13 prisons across the South West;
- Refurbishment of the Victorian Hans Price building as a conference centre;
- Extension to Sixth Form with four additional classrooms;
- Refurbishment of University Campus;
- £10 million pound investment in new partnership building at the South West Skills Campus and creation of new Business Enterprise Centre;
- More than 6,250 adult enrolments compared to £4,176 in 2010-11 – a 50 per cent increase in a year;
- £7.8 million investment in the adult curriculum of which £1.5 million supports apprenticeships;
- South West Adult Learner Award 2011-12 to Weston College student who progresses to higher education;
- More than 300 unemployed adults trained through ASPIRE programme with positive outcomes well above national average;
- 600 full-time equivalent students on HE programmes – a seven per cent increase; and
- Won Beacon award for Employer Engagement.