From education to employment

Gateshead College receives double Royal seal of approval

The top North East college has achieved double success in a prestigious national awards scheme that celebrates the positive business impact of outstanding skills development programmes.

Gateshead College scooped two accolades in this year’s Princess Royal Training Awards, one for its commitment to tackling and developing awareness of mental health, and another for its coaching and people development programme.

The college has been recognised for investing in a coaching methodology to develop its staff across the business and develop further their culture of continuous improvement and excellence – with the end goal of improving learning outcomes for students. As part of this initiative specialised training was given to 35 members of staff to develop them as coaches, who then worked with other staff members to support their development; encouraging them to acquire new skills and challenging them to find new ways of working.

This significant development supported the performance improvement that ultimately led to Gateshead College being ranked the number one college in the country for student achievements in 2017-18, with overall achievement rates climbing to an impressive 96.2%, 10% above the national average. In addition, employees reported increased satisfaction and well-being in their roles and staff turnover fell by almost 10%.

The college’s mental health programme was developed to proactively encourage employees to manage their own mental health and help them support other staff and students. The college recognised a number of years ago that this was an issue affecting staff and students and one which should be a priority. All staff have undertaken mental health awareness training supported by qualified practitioners and have benefited from activities introduced via the college’s Fit for Life scheme, including counselling services and mindfulness and resilience training. The college was also the first FE provider in the region to back the national Time to Change campaign, which encourages people to speak out about mental health issues.

As a result of the programme, mental health-related staff absence rates are now significantly lower than the national average, almost 90% of staff have completed mental health training and there has been increased willingness from employees to talk about their mental health challenges so they can be given the support they need at the earliest stage.

Judith Doyle CBE, principal and CEO of Gateshead College, said: “These two awards are fantastic recognition for our college and perfectly highlight the importance as an organisation that we place on developing the skills and well-being of our people. Looking after the health and well-being of our valued employees sits at the heart of everything we do and the results and rewards speak for themselves. We’re the top-performing college in the country, which demonstrates that our staff and our learners have benefited from the culture of continuous improvement we’ve put in place here.”

Two of the college’s clients, manufacturing firm Essity and transport operator Go North East were also among the 48 organisations to be recognised as a result of programmes ran in partnership with the college. Essity was recognised for its award-winning apprenticeship programme which has helped them successfully tackle a long-term skills shortage and Go North East for its ground-breaking Bus Driver Routeway employment programme, which equips unemployed people with the skills and confidence to get back into work.

All winners will be presented with their awards at a ceremony at St James Palace in October.

Judith Doyle said: “It’s fantastic that the Princess Royal Training Awards are recognising the exceptional North East employers who are realising the potential of investing in their people and showcasing our businesses on the national stage. I’d like to offer my congratulations to two of our valued clients, Go North East and Essity, for their awards.”

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