United Colleges Group

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by United Colleges Group's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from United Colleges Group is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

www.ucg.ac.uk

BEST PRACTICE SPONSOR 2020
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
26 | ITALIA CONTI ACADEMY
close attention, when our students
leave we know them very well and
we are particularly proud of the family
atmosphere we have created. We
teach each student as an individual
with their own unique strengths
and weaknesses and our training is
geared towards supporting them as
individualartists.
This personal attention is even
more important when considering
the mental health of students. It is
essential that we can ensure they
are looked after and protected while
we try to challenge them to develop
theirabilities.
In this kind of training, there is no
standard career progression and
the performing arts is a much more
complex profession than most. Some
of our students will go on to be
incredibly successful actors but we are
just as focused on ensuring that our
students are able to excel in a wide
variety of fields.
High contact hours, low
funding
As vocational educators, the biggest
challenge we face is the flat rate
of funding that universities and
institutions like ours receive. We
receive the same amount of funding as
universities who offer far less contact
time, and therefore delivering our
course within this budget, particularly
considering our small cohorts of
students, can be difficult. The need
for specialist funding is incredibly
important and must be acknowledged.
Our commitment to training our
students as complete artists, able to
work in a variety of different fields,
should be seen as a valuable specialism
that deserves to be supported.
The other challenge we face is
recruitment, specifically in our efforts
to make our teaching cohort as diverse
as possible. In order to provide the
best teaching to the widest range of
students, we believe it is essential that
we have a diverse range of teachers.
As certain demographics, for a variety
of reasons, are less likely to enter the
sector, we have established a series
of outreach programmes to change
any pre-existing attitudes that might
contribute to this. Our alumni go into
schools and colleges and we also
organise regional recruitment drives. The
industry needs this kind of diversity to
thrive and must ensure that all members
of society are represented in the arts.
In order to support our success into
the future, we are trying to find a
new site which will see all arms of the
academy under the same roof for the
first time. We are also focusing on
developing a new range of courses,
particularly MAs, to further strengthen
our provision. We are ambitious and
excited for the future, eager to support
the next generation of talented artists,
producers anddirectors.
Our
commitment
to training our
students as
complete
artists should
be seen as a
valuable
specialism
Lucie Shorthouse
(
Everybody’s Talking
About Jamie
, Apollo
Theatre) in a production
of Tom Wells’
Jumpers
for Goalposts
27UNITED COLLEGES GROUP |
EDUCATION SERVICES
Group Principal Stephen Davis
One of London’s
largest colleges
United Colleges Group provides further education across
five different campuses in London, and is the third-
largest provider of further education in the capital.
The group offers a variety of full and part-time courses from
beginner to degree level. Group Principal Stephen Davis
tells
TheParliamentaryReview
that the college has more
than 20,000 students across its five campuses, and that it
specialises in vocational courses that deliver technical skills
and qualifications. Stephen explains more about the group
and discusses the situation that the further education sector
findsitself in.
As the group principal of one of the largest London colleges, United Colleges
Group, I have always been struck by where we as a college sit in the funding
and educational food chain. As a leader of two proud legacy colleges, City of
Westminster and College of North West London, I think it is fair to say that
there has been little recognition of the detrimental impact of the systematic
underfunding of the college sector over a prolonged number of years. This fact has
been picked up by the Association of Colleges’ #loveourcolleges campaign.
Further education is a sector that prepares 2.2 million people for employment and
higher education, while using on average ten hours less delivery time than our
international competitors per week. It is therefore hardly a surprise that when we
look at our PISA rankings in 2015 for science, maths and reading skills, the United
Kingdom is ranked 15th, 27th and 22nd respectively. It is clear that we are not
performing as well as we need to be in order to be internationallycompetitive.
FACTS ABOUT
UNITED COLLEGES GROUP
»Group Principal: Stephen Davis
»Established in 1891 as
Willesden Polytechnic
»Based in a range of campuses
across central and northwest
London
»Services: Part-time and full-time
further educational college
from entry to degree level
»No. of students: 20,000
United Colleges Group
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
28 | UNITED COLLEGES GROUP
The need to be heard
It is a deeply frustrating situation for the
further education sector that in terms of
profile, the college voice is quiet relative
to the noise, for example, from the
climate change activist arena. While no
one would deny the importance of the
issues being raised in the climate change
discourse, it is society and its citizens
who will solve the “big problems”, and
as such, investment in our education
system at all levels is one worth making
that may just help with saving the world.
Perhaps we need to ask whether the
college sector should be shouting louder
and engaging in civil disobedience
in order to gain recognition for the
transformational change and ability to
improve life chances that it offers. As
with many social and political issues
in the past, it is initially the privileged
elite that are pursuing issues such as
the climate change agenda through the
likes of Extinction Rebellion. However,
we need to be careful to ensure that the
voices of those who are less privileged
are also heard as they do not always have
the luxury of campaigning for big issues
and many are consumed with more
immediate issues such as getting safely
to and from their local college – a college
that for most is a considerably safer
place than where they have come from.
There is currently a gap between those
who need help the most and those who,
if motivated, can be heard politically. Our
goal as college leaders is to make our
local college feel important and powerful
in the journey for social change for those
who have never crossed the threshold of
a college and have not ever considered
their child attending a college ahead of
a prestigious sixth form followed by a
Russell Group university.
Violence as a new normal
This is the immediate issue that colleges
face today. It could be argued that social
exclusion is manifesting itself in the
current levels of violence that are taking
place in London and other cities in our
country. We are now seeing that, for
many young people, this environment of
violence is the “new normal”.
It may well be that the increase in
violence is the catalyst for change and
investment. One thing the college sector
has always delivered is impact, change
and transformation over every year that
we are asked to – the only question is
whether it has been extensive enough.
Driving social change
through education
Our goal as
college leaders
is to make our
local college
feel important
and powerful
in the journey
for social
change
BEST PRACTICE SPONSOR 2020
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
28 | UNITED COLLEGES GROUP
The need to be heard
It is a deeply frustrating situation for the
further education sector that in terms of
profile, the college voice is quiet relative
to the noise, for example, from the
climate change activist arena. While no
one would deny the importance of the
issues being raised in the climate change
discourse, it is society and its citizens
who will solve the “big problems”, and
as such, investment in our education
system at all levels is one worth making
that may just help with saving the world.
Perhaps we need to ask whether the
college sector should be shouting louder
and engaging in civil disobedience
in order to gain recognition for the
transformational change and ability to
improve life chances that it offers. As
with many social and political issues
in the past, it is initially the privileged
elite that are pursuing issues such as
the climate change agenda through the
likes of Extinction Rebellion. However,
we need to be careful to ensure that the
voices of those who are less privileged
are also heard as they do not always have
the luxury of campaigning for big issues
and many are consumed with more
immediate issues such as getting safely
to and from their local college – a college
that for most is a considerably safer
place than where they have come from.
There is currently a gap between those
who need help the most and those who,
if motivated, can be heard politically. Our
goal as college leaders is to make our
local college feel important and powerful
in the journey for social change for those
who have never crossed the threshold of
a college and have not ever considered
their child attending a college ahead of
a prestigious sixth form followed by a
Russell Group university.
Violence as a new normal
This is the immediate issue that colleges
face today. It could be argued that social
exclusion is manifesting itself in the
current levels of violence that are taking
place in London and other cities in our
country. We are now seeing that, for
many young people, this environment of
violence is the “new normal”.
It may well be that the increase in
violence is the catalyst for change and
investment. One thing the college sector
has always delivered is impact, change
and transformation over every year that
we are asked to – the only question is
whether it has been extensive enough.
Driving social change
through education
Our goal as
college leaders
is to make our
local college
feel important
and powerful
in the journey
for social
change
29UNITED COLLEGES GROUP |
EDUCATION SERVICES
Connecting the student journey
If there is one sector that has
undergone transformational change,
it is the college sector, and I think
we are pleased that we may now be
entering a more stable landscape to
allow us to plan, deliver and extend
our successes. The government is
now looking at a more streamlined
qualification system for young people
with, in the main, a two-year journey
post Key Stage 4 for those under the
age of participation.
However, the arbitrary lines drawn in
the funding sand take no account of
the complexity of the student journey
and the rate of change for those
students in their lives, particularly for
those who have not been identified
as in need of an Education, Care and
Health plan.
We recently had a student who had
been excluded from school join our
college but without any declaration of
their Education Care and Health plan.
This was a fundamental disconnect
between their pupil journey and their
post-16 educational journey and is an
example of how a young person who is
already at a disadvantage continues to
face barriers to progress at every point.
That disconnect inhibits our ability as
a college to ensure that, at the start of
that post-16 journey, they were in the
right place on the right course studying
the right things.
In London it is highly unlikely that a
young person will not know someone
who has tragically lost their life or
been affected by violent crime, and
as anyone who has been touched
by personal tragedy realises, this is
not something that can be recovered
fromovernight.
It should therefore not be surprising
that many of our young people
feel left behind and excluded from
opportunities that many take for
granted. The local college is a door that
they may walk through that opens up a
chance to have an alternativefuture.
However, looking through a window
can sometimes only exacerbate the
sense of frustration and disconnection
that many of our students feel.
Colleges need better than adequate
funding to help those young people
and adults aspire to not only look
through those windows but become
part of their very own picture. If this is
achieved, we can create a generation
of students who can realise their
hopes and dreams and develop the
confidence and belief to push on in
their lives.
One thing the
college sector
has always
delivered is
impact, change
and
transformation
over every year
that we are
asked to – the
only question is
whether it has
been extensive
enough
Serving students across
London

www.ucg.ac.uk

This article was sponsored by United Colleges Group. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss.

Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss

Even by the standards of the day –this has been one of the most exciting and unpredictable years in British politics.

The leadership election we’ve just seen marks a huge moment in our country’s history. This government is taking a decisive new direction, embracing the opportunities of Brexit and preparing our country to flourish outside the EU.

As international trade secretary, I’ll be driving forward work on the free trade agreements that are going to be a priority for the government. Free trade isn’t just an abstract concept bandied around by technocrats. It is crucial for a strong economy and for the ability of families to make ends meet. Free trade benefits people in every part of our country, as British firms export to new markets and people doing the weekly shop have access to a wider choice of goods at lower prices.

The essence of free trade is in the title: freedom. It’s about giving people the power to exchange their goods without heavy government taxation or interference. Commerce and free exchange are the engine room of prosperity and social mobility. I’m determined to tackle the forces who want to hold that back.

One of my priorities is agreeing an exciting new free trade deal with the US, building on the great relationship between our two countries and the Prime Minister and US President. But I’ll also be talking to other partners including New Zealand, Australia and fast-growing Asian markets.

And with the EU too, we want a friendly and constructive relationship, as constitutional equals, and as friends and partners in facing the challenges that lie ahead – a relationship based on a deep free trade agreement. Our country produces some of the world’s most successful exports, and the opportunity to bring these to the rest of the world should make us all excited about the future. It is this excitement, optimism and ambition which I believe will come to define this government.

For too long now, we have been told Britain isn’t big or important enough to survive outside the EU – that we have to accept a deal that reflects our reduced circumstances. I say that’s rubbish. With the right policies in place, we can be the most competitive, free-thinking, prosperous nation on Earth exporting to the world and leading in new developments like AI. To do that, we’ll give the brilliant next generation of entrepreneurs the tools they need to succeed. Since 2015, there has been a staggering 85 per cent rise in the number of businesses set up by 18 to 24 year olds – twice the level set up by the same age group in France and Germany. We’ll help them flourish by championing enterprise, cutting taxes and making regulation flexible and responsive to their needs.

As we do that, we’ll level up and unite all parts of the UK with great transport links, fibre broadband in every home and proper school funding, so everyone shares in our country’s success.

2019 has been the year of brewing economic and political revolution. 2020 will be the year when a revitalised Conservative government turbo charges the economy, boosts prospects for people across the country, and catapults Britain back to the forefront of the world stage.



Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss
Secretary of State for International Development