Weymouth College

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Weymouth College'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 Weymouth College 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.weymouth.ac.uk

BEST PRACTICE SPONSOR 2020
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
38 | NOCN
Responding to the challenge
We clearly need to improve the formal
education system, including schools
and further education colleges. We
have to tackle the funding gap, per
student, between FE and HE. This
cannot wait any longer – 2024 is not
far away.
Simply improving attainments in the
education system will be inadequate
to address the massive challenge on its
own. This is due to the fact that new
entrants from education represent
only two per cent of the workforce
in any given year. We have to tackle
upskilling of the adult workforce on
an unprecedented scale. We recognise
that major government investment is
needed for adults with no or low skills.
Over the next five years, we must aim
to improve of the skill levels of around
2.8 million people with no or low skills.
In saying this we appreciate that many
people will be reluctant and lack the
confidence to go for retraining.
We must also acknowledge that
this is a country-wide problem, not
just in areas where AEB has been
delegated. There are significant
regional differences. Many areas in the
north have a disproportionately high
number of people with no or low skills.
Expenditure committed to investment
will need to reflect not only the
national scale of the problem, but also
the specific local needs.
Major investment in retraining in
English, maths and basic digital skills
will be the foundation for a locally
managed and prioritised reskilling
programme. The current inadequate
level of funding per learner for
functional skills will need to be
significantly increased.
Alongside this we will need to improve
cognitive and employability skills as
we as make people more work ready.
We will need to support people to
attain their first Level 2 technical
qualification or gain entry to a
Level2apprenticeship.
If we want a fair and equitable society
with opportunities for everyone to
climb the career ladder, we are going
to have to prioritise investment in FE
and adult education.
We recognise
that major
government
investment is
needed for
adults with no
or low skills
Graham speaking at
WorldSkills UK LIVE
39WEYMOUTH COLLEGE |
EDUCATION SERVICES
Principal and CEO Nigel Evans
Nigel Evans chatting with two students at the
launch of the new centre of excellence for motor
vehicle technology at Weymouth College
Weymouth College originally opened in 1913 as Weymouth
Secondary School, which in 1927 became known as
Weymouth Grammar School. In the 1960s, the school
moved to new premises in Chickerell Road, where it taught around
1,000 boys and girls. It was only in 1985 that the modern Weymouth
College came to exist. Principal and CEO Nigel Evans explains that
after being judged as “inadequate” in 2014, the college underwent a
journey of recovery and redemption, resulting in a “good” judgment
in less than a year. Despite continued financial challenges, the college
continues to offer high-quality education.
We are a small, general further education college situated in south Dorset with an
annual turnover of £12 million. Between 2012 and 2014, the college ran into financial
difficulty due to inadequate financial controls. This resulted in exceptional financial
support from the government, to the tune of £3.8 million – which was converted to
a loan that the college was forced to repay within a five-year period. As a result of the
financial mismanagement in 2014, the college received two notices of concern from the
funding agencies, was placed into “administered status”, underwent a full Structure and
Prospects Appraisal by the FE Commissioner, and was judged “inadequate” by Ofsted.
A journey of recovery
During the next two and a half years, the college improved both rapidly and significantly.
It successfully negotiated its way through the SPA process, which was closed down
by the FE Commissioner in October 2015. In addition, the college moved from the
“inadequate” Ofsted rating to “good” in November 2015, and, as a result, it was
FACTS ABOUT
WEYMOUTH COLLEGE
»Principal and CEO: Nigel Evans
»Established in 1985
»Based in Weymouth
»Services: General further
education college
»No. of students: 1,300 16 to
18-year-olds
Weymouth College
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
40 | WEYMOUTH COLLEGE
subsequently taken out of Administered
Status in January 2016 by the Minister
for Skills. More recently, in 2016/17,
the college underwent an Area Review
for Dorset, which concluded with the
college retaining its independent status.
By 2018, the burden of the repayment
schedule, by then £1 million per annum,
became potentially unsustainable, and
the college successfully applied to the
Transaction Unit to re-profile its loan over
a longer period. As part of that process,
the college underwent a diagnostic
assessment by the FE Commissioner’s
team, which confirmed that the college
had made progress and that without
the continued burden of the loan, it
would report a healthy financial status.
In 2019/20, as it has every year since
2015, the college continues to post
“good” or “outstanding” outcomes for
its 16 to 18-year-old students – some
1,300 per year. This is set against the
continual struggle of the repayment
of debt incurred by the college’s
leadership predecessors, combined with
continuing chronic underfunding of FE.
Our recent history tells a compelling
story of improvement and the
maintenance of high performance set
against severe financial hardship. Key to
these improvements were the efforts of
our staff, and the old adage that “the
most important asset to any organisation
is its staff” could not be truer. Our staff
are deeply committed to the success of
their students, and that is what lies at
the heart of our success story.
It is the success of the college that has
led the new Dorset Council and the
Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership to
establish closer working relationships.
This latter relationship has resulted in
a successful bid for funding to develop
two centres of excellence: engineering
and motor vehicle engineering. These
developments ensure that the college
will be able to develop a provision for
electric, hybrid and plug-in technology,
allowing it to contribute to the
government’s green agenda inDorset.
A changing sector
In recent times, government rhetoric
has centred on moving the sector
to “larger, more resilient colleges”.
This was despite the fact that there
was, and is, absolutely no evidence
to suggest that being larger brings
greater resilience. In fact, much of the
Principal and CEO Nigel
Evans (right) with Matt
Prosser, CEO of Dorset
Council (centre) and
Ian Girling, CEO of the
Dorset Chamber of
Commerce and Dorset
LEP board member and
representative (left) at the
opening of the college’s
centre of excellence for
motor vehicle technology
Our recent
history tells a
compelling
story of
improvement
and the
maintenance
of high
performance
set against
severe
financial
hardship
BEST PRACTICE SPONSOR 2020
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
40 | WEYMOUTH COLLEGE
subsequently taken out of Administered
Status in January 2016 by the Minister
for Skills. More recently, in 2016/17,
the college underwent an Area Review
for Dorset, which concluded with the
college retaining its independent status.
By 2018, the burden of the repayment
schedule, by then £1 million per annum,
became potentially unsustainable, and
the college successfully applied to the
Transaction Unit to re-profile its loan over
a longer period. As part of that process,
the college underwent a diagnostic
assessment by the FE Commissioner’s
team, which confirmed that the college
had made progress and that without
the continued burden of the loan, it
would report a healthy financial status.
In 2019/20, as it has every year since
2015, the college continues to post
“good” or “outstanding” outcomes for
its 16 to 18-year-old students – some
1,300 per year. This is set against the
continual struggle of the repayment
of debt incurred by the college’s
leadership predecessors, combined with
continuing chronic underfunding of FE.
Our recent history tells a compelling
story of improvement and the
maintenance of high performance set
against severe financial hardship. Key to
these improvements were the efforts of
our staff, and the old adage that “the
most important asset to any organisation
is its staff” could not be truer. Our staff
are deeply committed to the success of
their students, and that is what lies at
the heart of our success story.
It is the success of the college that has
led the new Dorset Council and the
Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership to
establish closer working relationships.
This latter relationship has resulted in
a successful bid for funding to develop
two centres of excellence: engineering
and motor vehicle engineering. These
developments ensure that the college
will be able to develop a provision for
electric, hybrid and plug-in technology,
allowing it to contribute to the
government’s green agenda inDorset.
A changing sector
In recent times, government rhetoric
has centred on moving the sector
to “larger, more resilient colleges”.
This was despite the fact that there
was, and is, absolutely no evidence
to suggest that being larger brings
greater resilience. In fact, much of the
Principal and CEO Nigel
Evans (right) with Matt
Prosser, CEO of Dorset
Council (centre) and
Ian Girling, CEO of the
Dorset Chamber of
Commerce and Dorset
LEP board member and
representative (left) at the
opening of the college’s
centre of excellence for
motor vehicle technology
Our recent
history tells a
compelling
story of
improvement
and the
maintenance
of high
performance
set against
severe
financial
hardship
41WEYMOUTH COLLEGE |
EDUCATION SERVICES
evidence points to the contrary: the
decisions to merge some colleges have
failed catastrophically and ultimately
led to demerger or fragmentation.
The outcome of some others has also
been catastrophic but, in addition,
has left whole communities without a
local college. Public funds, which have
been haemorrhaged through poorly
managed or unnecessary mergers,
could have been used to properly fund
the further education sector. At the
same time it is of no help to the sector
when some principals bring the sector
into disrepute, through poor decision-
making or disproportionate salaries.
In other examples of challenges,
the apprenticeship reforms have
massively increased the complexity
of apprenticeship delivery while
simultaneously introducing
apprenticeship standards which were
developed with huge companies like
BAE Systems or Rolls-Royce and may
not be appropriate for SMEs.
The condition of funding placed on FE
providers, which forces young people
to study GCSE English and maths when
they have studied them at school for
ten years and failed, has little to do
with reality. Additional regulations and
charges relating to HE delivery for FE
providers is totally unacceptable and
out ofproportion.
These examples of challenges all
increase resource and financial
pressures which are out of our control
and difficult to manage, particularly for
small providers in rural, deprived areas
such as Weymouth and Portland.
The legacy of debt
Our specific challenges continually
revolve around finance and our
continued debt and repayment to the
government – despite the fact that
current leaders were not responsible for
running up that debt. For a small college
with no saleable assets, repaying up
to £700,000 per annum until 2026 is
very difficult, particularly when we need
funds to invest in resources for students.
Staff at the college have had a single
one per cent rise since 2008, and, as a
result, recruitment of professional and
technical staff is incredibly challenging.
I often wonder what my mum would
have made of the FE sector. Not that
she was ignorant, but she was blissfully
unaware of both science and the FE
sector – my chosen fields. I wonder what
she would make of the fact that the FE
sector owes the government millions of
pounds. What would she make of the
fact that while schoolteachers get annual
incremental pay rises, further education
lecturers have had very little for the last
ten years and now lie some £10,000
below teachers’ salaries, despite often
having higher qualifications and industry
specialisms. Clearly, something is very
wrong. Recruitment in the FE sector is
at crisis point. Colleges cannot compete
with schools or with industry salaries
in engineering or construction, where
electricians and plumbers can earn up
to £20,000 more than FE lecturers.
Despite these sector challenges and
the financial adversity we face, we are
committed to continuing to do our job:
providing first-class education across all
subject areas.
Staff at the
college have
had a single
one per cent
pay rise since
2008, and, as
a result
recruitment of
professional
and technical
staff is
incredibly
challenging
The Prince of Wales
chatting to one of the
college’s stonemasonry
students on a visit to
Weymouth College’s
stonemasonry department
in Poundbury, Dorchester

www.weymouth.ac.uk

This article was sponsored by Weymouth College. 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