Members of South Staffordshire College’s Senior Leadership team, headed by Chief Executive Principal Graham Morley, were joined recently by Councillor Ben Adams and David Frost, former Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, now Chairman of Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP, to celebrate the formal opening of the Torc Professional and Technical Centre at Glascote Heath in Tamworth. Following opening remarks from Graham Morley and Councillor Adams, David Frost performed the official opening by the cutting of a ribbon and then the group was given a tour of the facility led by Head of Centre Karen Burley. A £2million funding boost has enabled a complete transformation of the Torc Professional and Technical Centre and the Tamworth Automotive and Engineering hubs will now provide a steady stream of work-ready candidates for employment. The project is a landmark co-operation between the College, the local authority and the Local Enterprise Partnership which will complement Staffordshire’s automotive and manufacturing centre. Closing the formal proceedings South Staffordshire College Deputy Principal Rob Boucherat said “This co-operation means that the future of the Torc Professional and Technical Centre is assured and it will provide a fine resource for the county’s learners and for its industry.”
South Staffordshire College has launched its Adult and Community Christmas workshops to meet local demand for short, part-time courses to accommodate people working during the week but wanting to enjoy recreational hobbies at their leisure. The workshops, open to adults 19+, are being run by the College’s Community Department and cover all things festive, from Christmas cake decorating, pickled delights, family Christmas crafts, festive cooking made easy, Christmas flower-making and wreath making to Fun floristry. The Cannock Campus will run six workshops, including Christmas Pickled Delights, Family Christmas Crafts, Christmas Cake Decoration, Festive Cooking Made Easy, Christmas Cup Cakes and Christmas Flowers. Starting from 8th November they run through until 11th December and full details can be found on the College website. Christmas Flower and Christmas Wreath workshops will also run at the College’s Rodbaston Campus and activities include constructing table arrangements, a contemporary topiary tree to making a lovely door wreath in traditional Christmas colours using a range of dried plant materials and sundries. Flowers are included in the fee. For those that enjoy floristry with a difference, Lichfield Campus is hosting a Fun Floristry workshop running on 12th November and 17th December, flowers included in the fee. And for the Tamworth community, there is a choice of five workshops, with a Winter Watercolours workshop at Tamworth Library on 29th October, Sugarcraft for Beginners at Wilnecote High School from 10th November, Christmas Stocking workshop on 10th Nov and Festive Cup Cakes workshop on 12th November at a community venue in Tamworth as well as a Christmas Wreath workshop at the Torc Professional and Technical Centre from 1st December. The Community workshops have proved to be extremely popular and participants enjoy learning in a fun environment at a time to suit their work and home commitments. Make your family Christmas extra special this year with special recipes, hand-made decorations and homemade cakes. For full details and to reserve a place on one of the workshops, contact South Staffordshire College’s Community Team on 01827 304337 or visit www.southstaffs.ac.uk/adult-community-christmas-courses.
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South Staffordshire College’s first participation in the UCAS ‘Compose Your Future’ event in Manchester proved to be an outstanding success, with the spotlight firmly trained on its new Foundation degree course in Musical Theatre. Laurie Asher, Award Leader – FdA Performing Arts (Musical Theatre) and Terry Foster, Award Leader – FSc & FdSc (Film and Television) were joined on the South Staffordshire College stand by Year One students Jamie Jones and Rachel Newton to deal with a constant stream of enquiries. Most focused on the new course which is aimed at school and college leavers and delivers an intense 2-year training in the ‘triple-threat’ skills of acting, dancing and signing which together make up the essence of musical theatre. Laurie Asher is the course designer. Working with validating organisation Staffordshire University he has created a combined theory and practical Foundation degree to set budding performers on their way. British musical theatre has a long and proud tradition with high standards so designing the course has been an exacting labour of love. “My aim was to help learners develop their talents but also to make sure that the students go into the theatrical world street-wise”, he says. “Year 1 is all about the practicalities of life in the theatre, including how to qualify for Equity, how to deal with your tax affairs and agents, also how to market yourself in a very competitive environment. It also covers practical training in acting, singing and dance. Year 2 provides experience working with the London Theatre Workshop in and around the capital’s fringe, alongside professional actors and directors.” South Staffordshire College’s Performing Arts students are based at the Lichfield Campus, which means in addition to the excitement and diversity of their courses, they get to work in and with the town’s famous Garrick Theatre. Some fifty students asked for details of the new course at the UCAS event and both Jamie and Rachel found it a day to remember. Jamie Jones commented after the event, “The Compose Your Future convention at Manchester was such a great opportunity to meet like-minded students who are also interested in pursuing a career in the performing arts. It was great being there representing and promoting our new Foundation Degree and offering friendly advise to other students.” Rachel Newton added, “The UCAS Compose Your Future event in Manchester was unique, where people can decide on what they want to do for the rest of their lives, in a fun, happy space with a relaxed atmosphere. I felt honoured to be promoting the Foundation Degree in Musical Theatre at such an event. It was nice to be able to talk to and advise prospective, like-minded students with similar interests to myself. All in all, a fabulous, informative, and unique way to help students get started on the path to their future!”
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South Staffordshire College has welcomed its first intake of Equine Apprentices. The students are undertaking their Level 2 Horse Care and Riding apprenticeships at the College’s Equestrian Centre, on its Rodbaston Campus. They will spend one day a week at College and the rest of their working week at their placements. They will also receive a monthly workplace visit and be assessed on practical elements of the modules they are studying. The Equine Centre has a fine reputation for hosting events and the students will enjoy the atmosphere and surroundings of a high calibre equestrian environment. They will learn how to take care of horses, from feeding and grooming, mucking out and exercising through to general husbandry. They will also get some hands-on experience, with the Centre’s busy events programme, including Dressage, Show jumping, BHS Stage 1 training and exams with established trainers. Once the students complete their Level 2 apprenticeship the levels of responsibility in their employment will increase and they can progress onto a Level 3 Apprenticeship in Equine, or undertake an Extended Diploma in Horse Management. Asked about their ambitions when they finished their apprenticeships, most students agreed they would like to take instruction or coaching roles via BHS (British Horse Society) Stages or UKCC training schemes. Apprentice Gabby Madders, who is employed by South Staffordshire College, said “The course is good as I am learning, working and getting a great qualification, so glad Rodbaston is now running this course, it is perfect for me.” “The College side is great, and I am finding I can apply what I have learned at work”, added student Emily Hunt. Refurbishment plans, to include a new indoor arena surface and show jumps, will enhance the excellent facilities, which include a generous 60m x 30m indoor arena flanked by a 60m x 20m covered outdoor arena and a 40m x 20m uncovered outdoor arena. Centre Manager Sally Johnson said “The new surface we are laying down, together with the new show jumps, will give our facilities a further upgrade and provide event organisers and competitors with one of the finest venues in the UK.” John Renshaw, Apprenticeship Manager, Workforce Development at South Staffordshire College, added, “This is a great opportunity and has been met by local employers with great enthusiasm as a local college helping to meet their business needs.”
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The staff and children at South Staffordshire College’s Little Learners Nursery are celebrating the success of a recent Ofsted inspection giving them a ‘Good’ rating. The Nursery, based on the College’s Tamworth Campus, received impressive grades and confirmed how well the Early Years provision is meeting the needs of the range of children who attend. The Ofsted Inspector reported that “Children thrive in this well-organised and stimulating nursery. Staff are well qualified, have a good knowledge of the Early Years Foundation Stage and understand how children learn.” The report showed that staff and children shared good relationships, resulting in the children being happy, confident, safe and secure. It commended the effective information sharing with parents, which supported children’s care and learning. It also highlighted the excellent facilities available for young babies and acknowledged the high level of care for children with identified special educational needs and/or disabilities. The Little Learners Nursery provides a perfect learning environment for Child Care students and also offers a vital resource for students at the College with children and the general public. Staff are understandably proud, with Little Learners Nursery Manager Kelly O’Grady saying “We are thrilled with the inspection outcome which clearly shows that the staff are experienced and work well together to ensure high quality care for all our children.” Nursery Officer Michelle Wootton added “We are delighted with our Ofsted inspection, which acknowledges the good teaching of our highly skilled and knowledgeable staff. They work hard as a team to ensure children make good progress in a safe stimulating environment.”
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South Staffordshire College and Staffordshire University played host to a conference at the Lichfield Campus recently, aimed at attracting more women into male dominated industries. Organised in partnership with the Soroptimists, Fitzgerald Civil Engineering, Staffordshire University, South Staffordshire College and Entrust STEM, (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) the Skirting Science and Technology conference welcomed Year 9 girls from five local schools to listen to talks from industry professionals about careers in Science and Technology. The Conference was aimed at inspiring young girls to explore and pursue careers in these sectors, with speakers focusing on forensic science, computer game design and electronic engineering. In an increasingly complex world connected by the internet and social media, there are more jobs created and available every day in science and technology based industries than in any other and STEM graduates are amongst the most likely to find work in their chosen industry. STEM director, Malcolm Eyre pointed out that there are fifteen times the amount of vacancies in the construction industry than that of hair and beauty, despite construction giving “bigger money, bigger career prospects”. The students were split into five groups and took part in five activities; JCB Teamwork workshop; Perkins Engines Electronic workshop; Smallpiece Trust ‘Stop the Clock – K’Nex Challenge’; Staffordshire University Forensic Department Crime Scene workshop; Staffordshire University Games Design workshop. The aim of these workshops was to indicate the careers available to the girls, and giving them the opportunity to meet some successful female role models within the industry. Cal Downs from JCB said “The workshops will not change minds, but open eyes.” Student Isabel Thompson from Nether Stowe High School said, “I already wanted to be a forensic scientist or astrophysicist, but this makes me want it even more.” It is hoped that the Skirting Science and Technology conference will encourage more girls to choose STEM subjects at GCSE and will change their attitudes towards science and engineering as career choices.
South Staffordshire College is introducing a new Fast Track course aimed at people seeking a Teaching assistant position in school. The Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools Certificate Level 2 QCF (Fast Track) will run at the College’s Tamworth Campus, starting on 8th January 2015 for 21 weeks on a part-time basis. It will cover units in children and young people’s development, the requirements of safeguarding and the importance of equality, diversity, and inclusion, health and safety and much more. Students must be at least 16 years old and already have a school placement with pupils from school year 1 up to school year 13, working with primary, junior or secondary pupils for a minimum of 9 hours per week over the school year. They will also need a clean enhanced CRB/DBS check. The qualification will enable learners to develop the knowledge and skills needed when supporting teaching and learning in schools. It is suitable for learners working in roles that support pupils’ learning including teaching assistants, learning support assistants and special needs assistants. As an introduction to the information and knowledge needed to work in a school environment, it can apply to the many varied roles that full and part time support staff may fulfil. These can include administrative roles, site support roles, technical roles and volunteers, as well as working directly with children and young people in the school environment. The course is aimed at learners not yet employed in a school, in addition to providing initial training and induction for those new in post in primary, secondary or special schools. An Information event offering full details and an opportunity to address questions is being held at South Staffordshire College’s Lichfield Campus at 1.00 pm on Wednesday 5th November 2014, with interviews for places at 1.15 pm on Wednesday, 3rd December 2014 at the Lichfield Campus.
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Art & Design students from South Staffordshire College’s Lichfield Campus have taken part in a study visit to the National Portrait Gallery in London. As part of their course work, the trip has become an annual event to coincide with the Gallery’s 2014 BP award and gives access to the large permanent collection, spanning over six centuries of international portraiture. The award is open to all South Staffordshire College’s Year 2 Art & Design students, and the visit forms a valuable opportunity to produce pure research and to question conventional approaches to traditional portrait painting. Student Eleanor Buxton said, “The trip was an eye-opening experience which allowed me to look at a live exhibition of international importance and to gather primary research information for my studies. It was a fantastic exhibition, one that I have never experienced before.” South Staffordshire College Lecturer Andy Nash, who organised the visit, said, “It is only when our students view and interpret live art in this way that they gain a much greater appreciation of the work of others, enabling them to produce primary research for several units and giving our learners the confidence to form and voice their own opinions that inform their own practice in new an exciting ways.”
The Animal Zone, at South Staffordshire College, is hosting a Halloween spectacular at its Animal Zone on Rodbaston Campus on Friday, 31st October 2014. Visitors will have the opportunity to take part in ‘Face Your Fears’, where the Animal Zone will dare them to get ‘up close and personal’ with all things that “crawl, slither and make them shiver” and will receive Certificates of Bravery after their experience. The spooky encounters will try to take the creepy away from crawly and explore the stories behind the scares. The ‘Face Your Fears’ challenge takes place during South Staffordshire College’s half term programme, running from Saturday 25th October through to Sunday 2nd November inclusive. There’s something for all the family, with Comfort Corner for when it’s all a bit too scary, a trick or treat hunt around the Animal Zone and a chance to drop in on Creature Features and feeding sessions through the day. There’s also a tea room, shop and play area. The week-long programme provides children and their families with a chance to meet a selection of animals from among the 750 varieties housed at the Animal Zone, including rabbits, raccoon dogs, meerkats and monkeys and get up close to some of the spookier creatures too! For further details on ticket prices please contact the College on 01785 712560 or visit the website at www.southstaffs.ac.uk/animalzone.
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Following a successful year in which almost 70,000 high quality ornamental fish have been spawned, hatched, grown and delivered, a healthy future is predicted for GreenLine, the range of fish bred and marketed by Berry Ring and supplied by Rodbaston Aquaculture – part of South Staffordshire College’s Rodbaston Campus. The full range of British bred GreenLine fish comprises Ogons, Shusui Koi, Ghost Koi, Goldfish, Tench and Shubunkin, all sourced from the Rodbaston site which is MAFF registered, CEFAS monitored and free from any imported fish. Regular health checks at the South Staffordshire College parkland site are accompanied by the highest level of bio-security with British breeding ensuring they are hardy enough for the UK climate all year round. As Managing Director of Berry Ring, Richard Hale, puts it “You can break the ice to introduce our fish and they will be absolutely fine.” Together with co-Director Rob McCutcheon, the two have more than 50 years combined experience in the business and following a strategy meeting with Simon Marvin, Hatchery Manager at Rodbaston Aquaculture, there is confidence that the range can significantly increase market share and ramp up sales by a further 50%. “We have established a reputation through a total commitment to quality”, adds Rob McCutcheon. “When our customers take delivery we want them to be absolutely sure they can rely on the health and quality they are getting. When we go to a Garden Centre that stocks fish we can tell instantly whether they are an existing customer, just by looking at the product.” The Berry Ring set-up is a purpose built operation that the two Directors were personally involved in, from the purchase of the land to the architect’s plans and the actual building process. Designing the physical layout and specification of the premises themselves has meant that the building delivers a controlled, dedicated environment in which the fish can flourish. An indoor heated Koi room has a capacity of 29,000 litres with two further outdoor enclosed rooms providing more than 50,000 litres of water. Richard Hale’s commitment to quality and standards in the sector extends beyond the confines of his own business and he has been on the Board of Directors at OATA (the Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association) for the last ten years. It is a philosophy which goes a long way to explaining the longevity of relationship with Rodbaston Aquaculture which, with its joint role as a training and teaching environment for industry apprentices and learners, strives for the very highest standards. Ricki Stevens, Fish House Manager at Berry Ring, is an example of this – he is a National Diploma holder in Aquaculture gained as a learner at the Rodbaston Campus of South Staffordshire College. The joint marketing plan evolved between Rodbaston Aquaculture and Berry Ring is, therefore, based on an accord about strategy – it’s quality that counts. Key target groups are primarily the specialist outlets and garden centres and Berry Ring now has three external sales people to provide the personal touch when servicing the GreenLine business. In addition, the company provides fish for stock 365 days a year, with immediacy of delivery and a guarantee of disease-free, healthy product. “Over a period of 12 years we found in Simon Marvin and his predecessors at Rodbaston an approach to fish hatching and breeding that was absolutely in accord with our own”, Richard Hale says. “Non-aficionados probably don’t understand that fish are pets and they are every bit as important as dogs or cats to their owners. Ask me if fish have personalities and I’ll tell you the answer is ‘yes’. For serious collectors or someone simply buying a couple of goldfish for a child, there’s an attachment going to be formed. Our business rests on the premise that we’ll only supply the healthiest fish to help fulfil that expectation with the kind of service that stockists appreciate.”
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South Staffordshire College Catering student David Pullin enjoyed the limelight recently when he collected a prestigious Student Chef of the Year award at a top London venue. David 17, a Level 2 Catering student at the College’s Cannock Campus, picked up first prize for his starter – ‘Oasis of the Middle East’ – which included a turkey bonbon, yellow split pea hummus, shredded turkey wing in Moroccan style chutney, saffron couscous, Arabic flatbread shard and a mint yoghurt dip. He cooked his winning dish for 370 guests at the British Turkey Awards held at The Savoy, where he was presented with this award by comedian Patrick Kielty. The competition, organised by British Turkey, challenges students from catering colleges all over the country to develop an innovative and delicious starter and main course using any cut of turkey. This year’s theme was ‘Arabian Nights’ and David competed against 16 students shortlisted for the cook-off. Paul Kelly, Chairman of the British Turkey Federation, commented “The level of this year’s entries really impressed the judges. The standard was very high and the students certainly embraced the Arabian Nights brief. They worked very hard and we hope they will continue to be inspired to use turkey in new and exciting ways once they go off on their catering careers”.
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Students from South Staffordshire College’s Tamworth Campus have returned from a two-week work placement trip to Venice thanks to collaboration with European Training Services (ETS), who support work placements for graduates and school leavers through the Leonardo da Vinci Project. Funded by the European Community’s Lifelong Learning programme, the project facilitates student exchanges both from and into European destinations, providing them with hands-on experience in a different EU member state to enrich their vocation in the UK. The National Travel and Tourism students prepared well for their trip, attending 20 Italian language lessons, a one-day resilience training exercise and a cultural evening of Italian Dolce Vita. The students carried out work experience placements focusing on Travel agents, Guiding and Event Management and Visitor Attractions, as well as a unique opportunity to work with mask making companies producing amazing masks for the famous carnival which takes every February in Venice. South Staffordshire College student Inese Gorbaca enjoyed the whole experience, saying “My progression coach, Hayley Meades, said I was an excellent ambassador for South Staffordshire College and will undoubtedly go on to be a huge success – I am very proud.” Hayley Meades summed up the trip, saying “Our thanks go out to Rachel Coker and her team from the Leonardo da Vinci IVT project, to Tina Dyte and Helen Pettit of South Staffordshire College and most of all to all the students who participated in what proved to be a very educational and life rewarding experience.”
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The Rural Enterprise Academy is holding its first open evenings of the academic year. The free school based at South Staffordshire College’s Rodbaston Campus is the UK’s only dedicated land-based academy and was developed by the College, the NFU and Veolia, The Rural Enterprise Academy. It opened its doors in September 2012 and has rapidly built a reputation as the place to be for budding rural entrepreneurs. The Open Evenings will take place on Tuesday, 30th September and Tuesday, 7th October, from 6pm to 8pm for students wishing to join Year 9, Year 10 or Year 12 in September 2015. The Rural Enterprise Academy will be welcoming Year 9 students for the first time in September 2015, following approval from the Department for Education to extend its provision. Potential students and parents with have the opportunity to find out more about life at the Academy, meet teachers and listen to presentations from Academy Principal Lorraine Makin and Head of Sixth Form Emily Willmore. They’ll be able to take tours conducted by the students and see the facilities. There will also be a range of classroom activities and subject leaders will be available to speak about the curriculum. The Academy combines academic study at GCSE and A Level with a strong emphasis on Business Enterprise as well as land-based, environmental and rural sustainability themes. Students can also take advantage of the extra-curricula activities on offer, with choices including horse riding, horse care, Zoo Club, game bird management, farm duties and a range of countryside and conservation pastimes. School Principal Lorraine Makin commented, “Leadership, teamwork and developing inter-personal skills all form part of the CV that employers are looking for. Our aim is to create a mix of academic achievement and practical life-skills that will make The Rural Enterprise Academy graduates sought-after in the world of work”. The Rural Enterprise Academy benefits from its location on the 180-hectare site, which includes a Zoo, Fishery, formal gardens, Horticulture, Equine Centre and other exciting facilities besides. Potential students and parents can find out more at www.ruralenterpriseacademy.com or by calling 01785 333360.
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Summary Following a refurbishment of one of its campuses, staff at South Staffordshire College introduced new technology-rich learning spaces, featuring state of the art equipment. As a result, the college is benefitting from more engaged students, new assessment methods and ways of working, as well as making time and cost savings. About South Staffordshire College The college has four campuses, in Lichfield, Cannock, Tamworth and Rodbaston. The college attracts around 12000 learners each year and offers vocational courses, apprenticeships and higher education.South Staffordshire College has state-of-the-art facilities, using thin-client virtual desktop PCs, the latest projection technologies and immersive learning environments, using bespoke furniture. The college has also made significant investment in mobile devices to enrich the student learning experience, and its Cannock Campus has recently undergone refurbishment to include an immersive 4D environment.Chris Davies – Director of Curriculum & Support commented: “We are committed to harnessing the best technologies to support innovation and improvement in our curriculum delivery, enabling immersive learning and inspiring teaching.” The challenge In 2013, South Staffordshire College completed a refurbishment of its Cannock Campus. Following a recent Ofsted inspection, which saw the college rated as “good”, senior managers wanted to continue pushing the boundaries of technology to create a flagship teaching and learning environment, that is dynamic and engaging and facilitates students using their own devices. The activity Director of Strategy and Infrastructure, Jamie Smith, saw a 4D learning space in a school environment and identified similar opportunities for teaching and learning in FE. As a result, the college installed a 4D interactive space, created through LED lighting, giant projection and surround sound. The three elements of the space can be changed to alter the atmosphere, mood and location of the experience. Jamie says: “The benefits of an engaging, inspiring and immersive learning experience are at the heart of everything the college does, and the 4D learning space is a great example of this, where both teachers and learners can be in their element.” To facilitate group work and collaborative projects, the college also set up the ‘collaboration room’ – a model based on the University of Wolverhampton’s LaTTE (Learning and Teaching Test Environment), to facilitate small group work. The outcomes In January 2014, Steve and his colleague Ian Holt, carried out staff development, initially with technology innovators. As the new projectors proved so intuitive to use, sessions took just 20 minutes, whereas previously, staff development for the whiteboards took over an hour. Steve says, “Interactivity is focused and clear. The feedback from staff was immediately more positive and they were keen to get started with making lessons more engaging. Similarly, staff who have been trained so far on the 4D room have been enthusiastic and have found the software easy to use. All staff need to do is source relevant images, music and/or video and the software does the rest.” The 4D room allows tutors to create a fully immersive environment so students can experience a situation, rather than sitting in a classroom trying to imagine it. By changing the lighting and content, the mood of the room can be changed to reflect the subject matter. It has facilitated role-play, debates and more engaging methods of assessment. Steve says, “We have used the room with Level 3 learners to explore a crime scene, carry out arrests and police interviews, and undertake news reports. It even works well with more traditional subjects such as government and politics. Students were able to visualise the inside of the Houses of Parliament ahead of a scheduled visit.” The new projector software is much more accessible than previously used whiteboard tools. Students can highlight items on a document that can then be saved as a pdf and put onto the Moodle VLE for later reference. There are no longer access issues of having created a mindmap, for example, and a student not being able to access it on a PC because the relevant software isn’t installed. The impact Although the 4D and collaboration rooms have only been open for 6 months, there are early indications of impact for staff, learners, and the organisation: Time saved – the Epson Easy Interactive tools projector software is more intuitive and it has taken less time for staff to learn how to use. Cost savings – the collaboration room, and subsequent rooms that have been modelled on the room, have facilitated bring your own device which could negate the need to purchase as many desktop PCs in the future. Increased confidence amongst learners – those who typically lack confidence have become so immersed in the 4D room environment that they have lost some of their inhibitions and have become much more engaged. Faster paced lessons – the use of learners’ own devices to share content is quicker than using USB sticks and moves the lesson along at a faster pace. Re-assessment reduced – students are more prepared and interested in more engaging assessment methods such as video, resulting in virtually no re-assessments. Number of applications for 2014-15 increased – prospective learners at open days have been enthused by the new facilities and have heard from existing learners how the technology has made a difference to their learning. More use of flipped learning and independent learning – learners are taking more ownership of their learning by putting their own content together. Steve says, “It’s still early days, however the impact that we have seen in such a short space of time is incredible. From September 2014, when more staff have been trained and seen the potential of the new technologies, we will look more at quizzes and other assessment methods that can be incorporated into the 4D room. The feedback that we have had so far from staff has been extremely positive.” The learner view from Ben Boothman, Level 3 Public Services: “The 4D room has allowed me to see my assignments come to life – we’ve done a number […]
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South Staffordshire College induction days saw the introduction of a UK first with the rollout of WAMedu, the private social network that engages all learners, staff and faculty to connect, share and collaborate in a safe, secure environment. South Staffordshire College’s decision to make the system available is based on a trial with 300 learners and staff, which has produced overwhelmingly favourable results. “Our Chief Executive Principal, Graham Morley, has said that every student at South Staffordshire College should have a friend on day one”, comments Director of Strategy & Infrastructure Jamie Smith. “With the WAMedu platform it’s now likely that every student will be part of a group of friends after the first day.” WAMedu is the brainchild of Cannock entrepreneurs Harry Jawanda and Andrew West, whose company WAMBIZ is part of the new breed of successful businesses surfing the wave of digital technology breakthroughs. Aspiring students were reassured to see that the kind of social networking applications they use every day are not only acceptable at South Staffordshire College but positively welcomed and employed as part of the learning environment. All four campuses, at Cannock, Lichfield, Rodbaston and Tamworth are participating in the WAMedu programme. Evidence from around the UK suggests that the system helps students to acclimatise to the College environment so well that dropout rates will be significantly reduced and that learner satisfaction and safeguarding levels will correspondingly improve. Visitors to the induction days were walked through the WAMedu platform and its associated benefits during their leaner journey talks and were also given specially enabled hi-tech wristbands which open the WAMedu YouTube awareness video on a student’s Android smartphone. They also heard about a competition with one of the new iPhone 6s as a prize, which South Staffordshire College is awarding to the student who builds the biggest network of contacts. “South Staffordshire College is fast establishing a reputation for innovative approaches to education which deliver real benefits to learners through the digital technologies” concludes Jamie Smith. “In the WAMBIZ organisation we have found kindred spirits, committed to the student community and we are delighted to be the first UK educational establishment to fully adopt this system in the interests of our learners.”
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Construction students studying at South Staffordshire College’s Rodbaston Campus are to benefit from a generous donation of bricks and pavers. The College has taken delivery of 8400 facing bricks and over 1500 paving slabs generously supplied by Michelmersh Brick Holdings PLC (MBH) that will be used by Construction students during their practical course work. Gary Vickers, Despatch Manager for MBH, explained why the company has contributed the materials. “Every student enrolled on an industry construction course requires a large quantity of materials during their diploma or apprenticeship. We think it’s important that educational facilities receive donations from local business to continue offering leading construction curriculums.” Rodbaston Campus is set in 180 hectares of Staffordshire countryside and specialises in providing further and higher education courses for construction-related industries and land-based activities such as fisheries and aquaculture, animal care and equestrian pursuits. It also offers a range of training services that support land-based businesses. Keith Ellis, Head of Curriculum at South Staffordshire College’s Rodbaston Campus, said “We would like to thank MBH PLC for their generous donation of bricks and pavers for our Construction students to use. It’s fantastic support like this from businesses that enables us to provide the best possible practical opportunities to students from across our local area.”
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Four Beauty Therapy students from South Staffordshire College are set to represent the college at the National finals of the world’s biggest skills competition in November after being recognised as some of the most skilled learners in the UK. The students, from the College’s Cannock and Tamworth campuses, achieved outstanding results in the regional WorldSkills UK competition at Newcastle-under-Lyme in May, competing against hundreds of other talented learners. Stevie Sherlock from Tamworth, Emily Slater from Cannock, Nicole Newman from Lichfield and Jade Aspley from Rugeley took the top three places at Intermediate Level in Nail Enhancements, Nail Art and Beauty and second place in Nail Enhancements respectively. WorldSkills UK is a framework of regional and national skills competitions delivered each year across the UK for young people and adults. The competitions aim to showcase excellence and help lift standards of training and performance and culminate in a World Final every two years. South Staffordshire College is no stranger to success in WorldSkills competitions with many of its learners having won medals in regional and national events and ex-student Charlotte Burford getting bronze in the World Final in Calgary. Stevie, Emily, Nicole and Jade will continue the College’s success story, competing in the National Final of WorldSkills UK at NEC in Birmingham 13 – 15th November 2014 and hope to win places to represent the UK in future International WorldSkills competitions. All four students are establishing themselves in the Beauty industry. Jade and Emily have secured positions at established beauty centres, Stevie is studying at University and Nicole is completing further beauty related courses. The College’s Chief Executive Principal, Graham Morley, summarises, “South Staffordshire College has been recognised as the most successful College in Staffordshire by the Data Service and the Hair & Beauty courses have done much to establish our reputation for the quality of learner resources and teaching standards. The College’s ongoing participation in WorldSkills competitions provides tremendous opportunities for learners to further develop their skills and enhance their confidence.”
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With more than 1300 candidates already undertaking apprenticeship programmes, South Staffordshire College is ideally placed to support the new National Apprenticeship Campaign announced by Government, says Deputy Principal Rob Boucherat. The scheme, heralded by a TV advertising campaign, will ‘demonstrate to young people … that apprenticeships can now be an equal choice to university.’ The Government’s approach is a message that the College has been promoting since it was founded in 2009. In welcoming the initiative, Rob Boucherat commented “The campaign slogan is ‘Get in – Go Far’ and that’s exactly what our track record on apprenticeships reveals.” Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club has been a very valued work provider of South Staffordshire College for many years. Jack Hill, aged 18, has been serving his Level 2 Apprenticeship in Sports Turf at the club for 15 months and is now completing tasks on both the training ground and main Molineux pitch. Head Groundsman Wayne Lumbard is delighted with his progress, saying “Jack has got to such a level now and is such an integral part of the team that I couldn’t do without him.” Stoke City Council is another respected employer working with South Staffordshire College. Apprentice Charlotte Parkin works at Fenton Park and has already achieved her Level 2 apprenticeship in Horticulture and well on the way to achieving Level 3. She has taken the initiative to introduce biodiversity at the Park, and leads regular walks and tours. Michelle Tinsley, Human Resources Manager at Stoke City Council, comments “Charlotte is an inspiration to her colleagues and a fantastic team member. Her apprenticeship has helped her confidence and knowledge of Horticulture that she now enthusiastically conveys to her colleagues and members of the public.” Helen Dean is another success story. Helen has just completed a Level 3 apprenticeship in Hospitality at Somerford Hall in Brewood, Staffordshire and is due to start her Advanced Apprenticeship. She has become a valuable part of the team and her strong work ethic ensures she gets jobs completed in time and to the high standard expected. Jenny Archer, Manager at Somerford Hall, says “Employing Helen has shown us that with the right training and development we gain a full-time member of staff who in multi-skilled and sees their job as important and worthwhile.” South Staffordshire College works with an impressive number of companies – over 700 – on apprenticeship schemes and believes the greatest asset of its approach is in its flexibility. A dedicated team of work-based training specialists provides a turnkey service that extends from a strategic evaluation of training needs, through advice on funding opportunities to establishing bespoke training plans with measurable outcomes and benefits. Training programmes are created from a range of options including custom-built corporate learning and talent development with work-based training leading to nationally recognised qualifications. Feedback on apprenticeship programmes delivered by South Staffordshire College has been outstanding from both employers and apprentices, with 94% of the former confirming that the proposed business objectives were met while 98% of learners expressed satisfaction with the College. The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) recently highlighted that while youth unemployment has fallen from 20.9% to 17.8% over the past twelve months, there are still well over half a million young people out of work, with some estimates putting that figure much higher. Against this background Rob Boucherat says that South Staffordshire College will put the weight of its successful track record on apprenticeships behind the Government scheme. “We will be using our website, social media and range of marketing communications activities to promote the availability and value of apprenticeships to employers and learners alike”, he says. “We have a wide range of apprenticeships on offer, literally from Accounting, Agriculture and Animal Care to Warehousing and Veterinary Nursing, and encompassing some twenty-five professional, vocational, business and craft disciplines.” Employers and learners interested in finding out more can contact South Staffordshire College via its website on www.southstaffs.ac.uk or by calling 01785 710529.
Armoris Media, the independent film and media business embedded on South Staffordshire College’s Lichfield Campus, has won the podcast business for a top international consultancy serving the likes of Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook. The work is proving so successful that the first episode of the podcast went to number one in the iTunes chart in the Management and Marketing category. Armoris provides high quality video and film production services to a range of businesses from its base on the College campus and offers many of the students a practical grounding in the skills required for their courses, in addition to valuable project experience that employers value. The business also delivers an ‘in-house’ service to South Staffordshire College with work on major developments such as the recent redevelopment of the Cannock Campus, helping the College to establish itself as one of the UK’s leading exponents of digitally-based learning techniques. Coincidentally the podcast business also deals with the new technologies, in this case a service which scientifically optimises the profitability of companies’ online trading through what is known as Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO). In 2012 the founder of the client business, having been impressed by the quality of an Armoris video, offered a limited project as a test. The results were so impressive he immediately moved all the business into the organisation. The work entails setting up podcasts on the client’s website, establishing a presence in the appropriate directories, such as iTunes, Pocket Casts and Double Twist and editing the podcasts to the final content. Project Manager Eoin Edwards says that business success for Armoris is good news for South Staffordshire College students too. “Many of the courses run here on the Lichfield Campus use the Armoris set up as a fundamental element of the learning process. We’re able to give students practical experience not just of the techniques, planning and equipment but also the invaluable lessons in dealing with customers, meeting deadlines and working as part of a team. Our success on the podcasts shows that we are more than capable of working in a competitive commercial environment. For a prospective employer that’s a very persuasive element on a CV.”
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South Staffordshire College is offering local businesses and organisations an opportunity to showcase their products and services to over 1500 new students free of charge. The most successful College in Staffordshire is holding a series of Induction Fayres in September to help the new intake of students settle in to college both academically and socially. Events are planned across the College’s four campuses at Tamworth, Lichfield, Rodbaston and Cannock. Lichfield Campus Monday, 1st September Tamworth Campus Tuesday, 2nd September Cannock Campus Wednesday, 3rd September Rodbaston Campus Thursday, 4th September As well as practical advice on course information, progression routes and finances, local businesses and organisations will be exhibiting their products and services, promoting student discounts and giving careers advice. With expected numbers around 1,500 across the four days, it’s a great opportunity to build company profiles and boost product awareness. Its free to exhibit at South Staffordshire College’s Induction Fayre – just call Helen Pettit on 01543 301198 or email email@example.com to reserve a place.
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