Gower College Swansea has been shortlisted in four categories at the prestigious TES FE Awards 2020.

The TES FE Awards celebrate the dedication and expertise of the people and teams who make a significant contribution to improving the skills levels of young people and adult learners.

Gower College Swansea has been shortlisted in the following categories:

1. Further Education College of the year
In recent years, the College has experienced significant growth which has resulted in high levels of investment in people, equipment and estates, all achieved whilst maintaining its high level of quality.

For example, full time enrolments have increased to such an extent that in 2019 – and despite there being seven local sixth form schools – no less than 2/3 of the post-16 cohort across the city enrolled at Gower College Swansea. In addition, following the College’s agreement in 2016 to take over the running of the Council’s apprenticeship provision, the College has worked with employers and the Welsh Government to increase its apprenticeship provision from £1.7m (250 apprentices) in 2016/17 to £7.1m (2,500 apprentices) today.

Elsewhere, Higher Education enrolments (Level 4 and above) have increased by 50%, international enrolments have increased, almost 50 groups of school pupils attend the College every week for vocational training in subjects such as hairdressing and landscaping, and £6m of European funding has been secured (over the next three years) to offer an employability provision, based in the city centre, that aims to support unemployed adults into work.

Success rates in A Levels, vocational programmes and apprenticeship frameworks all constantly exceed national averages, with outcomes on many courses in the top quartile in terms of performance. 

2. WorldSkills Unsung Hero (for Curriculum Leader for Electronic Engineering Steve Williams)
By embedding skills enhancement into all aspects of his department’s curriculum, Steve embodies and exemplifies the rationale of WorldSkills competitions.

As UK Skills Training Manager, Steve coaches and develops competitors from institutions across the UK and just some of his successes to date include: Gold and Silver medals at Wales Skills competitions over the last four consecutive years; a Gold medal at UK Skills level in 2018 and a Bronze medal at UK Skills level in 2017.

Four of Steve’s current cohort of students are in line to represent Wales and the UK as part of the WorldSkills Shanghai 2021 Squad.

As well as working extensively to share his expertise with other colleges and universities, Steve runs SEMTA-sponsored training programmes and is a leading voice in the electronic engineering sector, with industry experts looking to his leadership and expertise when designing and organising competitions.

3. Outstanding use of technology for improving teaching, learning and assessment
In 2017, Gower College Swansea took the lead in developing the UK’s first online diagnostic assessment in literacy, numeracy and soft skills specifically designed for use by students with profound and additional learning needs.

The driver for this development originated from Further Education Independent Living Skills professionals, Welsh Government and Estyn, who recognised the need for a rigorous and reliable assessment that would measure students’ abilities across a wide range of cognitive and life skills. The assessment tool produces meaningful person-centred targets through which teaching and learning can be developed and delivered, ensuring the individual needs of the students are met, students are challenged to reach their full potential, and that distance travelled is measured.

4. Apprenticeship programme of the year
In 2015, in response to a plea from major international employers including Tata Steel and Vale Europe, Gower College Swansea developed an innovative apprenticeship pathway for Laboratory and Science Technicians from Level 3 to 5.

Then, due to continued demand from industry to develop the skills of the apprentices through to degree-level, the College negotiated an agreement with Swansea University that would allow successful Higher Apprentices to progress onto the second year of the Chemistry undergraduate programme.

In a bid to develop apprentices ‘beyond the syllabus’, the College has also worked in partnership with employers to develop software that increases the competencies of apprentices at solving laboratory-based calculations. As the only Royal Society Associate College in Wales, Gower College Swansea is currently collaborating with the Royal Society of Statistics and the Steel and Metal Institute (SaMI) on a pilot study which will enable apprentices to visit SaMI to analyse raw data.

"I’m delighted that these awards have recognised the consistent level of high quality teaching and support that the College is delivering across such a wide range of programmes,” says Principal Mark Jones. “These programmes are constantly evolving to meet the varied needs of all of our learners and, as such, I would like to thank the College's teaching and support staff for their commitment, dedication and remarkable talent.” 

The winners of the TES FE Awards will be announced on Friday 20 March 2020.

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