From education to employment

College focus on careers results in national award shortlist

A college which has created a new department dedicated to helping its students secure future employment and education after completing their course programme has been shortlisted for a prestigious national award.

Pictured (front l-r) are: Principal and Chief Executive Natalie Davison-Terranova, Student Progression Manager Jennifer Phillips and Vice-Principal (Curriculum & Quality) Judith Layfield with other members of the Student Progression team.

Bishop Auckland College is the only further education (FE) provider in the country to be named a finalist for the Association of Colleges (AoC) Beacon Award for Innovation in Careers and Enterprise, having met the standard for outstanding and innovative careers leadership and practice.
Last year the college launched its Student Progression Service, operating from a central hub at its main Woodhouse Lane campus.
From there a highly qualified team implements a four-stage plan for every student, including those with education, health and care plans and special educational needs and disabilities.
The personalised mentoring process starts with informal chats to identify suitable progression opportunities and is followed by sessions focusing on the development of key employability skills including preparation of CVs, assistance with completion of application forms and interview practice.
Students are given help to source and arrange work placements with employers and progression coaches also work with employers to identify good ‘matches’ – providing advocacy for suitable candidates for upcoming vacancies.
Meanwhile, those planning to go on to study degrees are assisted with their personal statement and applications to universities.
The support does not end when a student completes their course; their progress is then monitored to ensure their new programme of study or job is matching their expectations and is sustainable, and further support is provided where needed.
The impact of the new team has been significant. Every student benefits from frequent careers and employability guidance sessions as part of their course, which are also available on demand. In addition, more than 250 members of the public also accessed the student progression service – with 75 per cent going on to enrol at the college.
Work placements were completed by 98 per cent of full-time students and more than 91 per cent of qualifying students in 2021-22 went on to achieve their employment or education choice, known as a ‘positive destination’. This was an increase of nearly five percentage points on the previous academic year.
Student Progression Manager Jennifer Phillips said: “We work with students from day one to understand their dreams and goals and then throughout their course to ensure they achieve them. The development of the dedicated glass hub at the centre of the college immediately led to students feeling able to just drop in to ask for careers guidance, in addition to the regular sessions planned into their timetables.”
The emphasis on high quality careers guidance is not a new initiative for Bishop Auckland College; it was one of the few FE providers in the region to join the initial pilot of the Gatsby Benchmarks scheme, which provided a clear framework for defining world class careers provision in education, back in 2015.
Other activity includes attending careers events in both primary and secondary schools, arranging visits and taster days for students to universities, organising employer site visits and industry expert guest speakers, and securing funding for international work placements. The team also recently welcomed and supported families from Ukraine into education and college life.
Meanwhile, an Enterprise Advisor works closely with the college, helping students to learn about emerging technologies and careers that will change the world as we strive to achieve net zero.
Mark White OBE DL, Chair of the AoC’s Charitable Trust, said: “The AoC Beacon Awards showcase exactly why colleges are so important to every community and why people value them. This award recognises, celebrates and promotes examples of outstanding careers leadership and practice, particularly promoting equality and diversity. The work of the finalist college ensures young people can make informed decisions about their next steps and have tailored options available to them.”
Natalie Davison-Terranova, Principal and Chief Executive of Bishop Auckland College, added: “The Student Progression Service was established to offer an end-to-end resource for all students with regular supportive interventions and a coherent programme of careers advice and employer interactions.
“We are immensely proud to be seen to be leading the way in innovative career development practice and positive destination outcomes for our students, apprentices and the wider community.”
The 12 overall AoC Beacon Award Winners will be announced in Spring 2023.
Case studies featuring students who have secured their dream jobs with the support of the college’s new Student Progression Service can be found at:

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