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NOTES OF THE STOKE ON TRENT COLLEGE AWAY DAY HELD ON FRIDAY 24

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NOTES OF THE STOKE ON TRENT COLLEGE AWAY DAY HELD ON FRIDAY 24 MARCH
2006 AT WYCHWOOD PARK, CHESHIRE
PRESENT:

Corporation
Patrick Wenger (Chair)                              Waheed Khan
Lloyd Bradshaw                                      Graham Moore
Sheila Chapman                                      David Parker
John Clough                                         Ken Sproston
James Eyre-Walker
Kevin Farrell
David Jones


External Co-opted members
Richard Nadin
Kay Webster
Brian Mellor

Directors
Bryan Taylor             Director   of   Finance and Information Services
Andy Robinson            Director   of   Human and Physical Resources
Caroline Highland        Director   of   Student and External Relations
Gordon Foulkes           Director   of   Quality and Development

Heads of Faculty
Kevin Barber             Business, Sciences & Culture
Ken Burgess              Engineering and Construction
Carol Thomas             Caring & Service Industries
Andy Greenhough          Enterprise and Employment
Hilary Griffiths         College in the Community
Donna Barnett            Skills for Life (representing Maggi Rowland)

Elizabeth Ball           Clerk to the Corporation
Linda Batey
John Keyes               GVA Grimley

Apologies:
Terry Doughty
David Dry
Danny Flynn
Nigel Rigby
Andrew Wragg
Shuab Talukdar
Maggi Rowland            Head of Faculty, Skills for Life

The Chairman introduced Richard Nadin, external co opted corporation member.

The purpose of the day was to ensure that Governors understood the future plans for the
College and that they agreed with them.

1     WHERE ARE WE? (Presentation)

      The Principal outlined the current position of the College:



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-   Financial performance was weak
-   Student success was improving
-   LSC funding for 2006/7 would be approximately £1.5m down in cash terms compared
    with 2005/6
- The Job Centre Plus contract of £1.2m had gone out to tender, but the College had
    not been shortlisted
- The Learn Direct provider contract of £100,000 is currently out to tender and it is not
    know whether the College will be successful with its bid
- The Training Partnership contract of £1.5m may be delivered direct rather then
    through a franchise
Present Financial Position (presented by Bryan Taylor
Bryan Taylor, Director of Finance & Information Systems, provided an overview of the
Colleges performance from 1996 to date. In 1996 the College had faced a severe
financial deficit of £5m. It went through a complete restructuring in 1996/97 and the
£6.8m LSC debt was repaid in the financial year to 31 July 2002.        In 1997/98 the
College made a surplus of £2.8m however between the period 1998/2003 there had
been declining surpluses. There had been a successful inspection in 2002/3 but it had
been a poor year financially.

In both 2003/4 and 2005/6 the college was in deficit, attributed to exceptional factors,
mainly related to 16-18 year old unfunded activity totalling £1.6m (an LSC priority
area!). In 2005/6, following negotiation, the College received a significant increase in its
LSC funding allocation.

February 2006 the College was £1m short of its funding target compared with the same
period in 2005. The Finance Director was of the view that if this could be brought to
under £1m it was possible that there would be no LSC clawback. Pay costs were coming
down month-on-month but recruitment was low and class sizes needed to improve. The
position will be further compounded by the fact that Adult funding had been significantly
reduced on the assumption that Colleges would charge for adult programmes.         Given
that Stoke-on-Trent was a low wage City it was not likely that adult students would be
able to afford to pay.

Enrolment/Retention/Achievement
Gordon Foulkes, Director of Quality and Development, provided an update.

Enrolment of 16-18 year olds was down in 2005/6 compared with 2004/5 and this was
reflected in the significant reduction in numbers in the part-time 19+ cohort. The cohort
was 711FTEs less than in 2004/5m mainly attributable to the Government‟s initiative to
increase fees and compounded by the need to remove a significant number of short
courses no longer funded by the LSC.

The College has issues to address in respect of 16-18 year old Level 2 and Level success
rates and with Level 3 19+ success rates, due in the main to poor retention rates in
these areas.

Inspection
Gordon Foulkes, Director of Quality and Development, provided members with feedback
from the recent Ofsted Annual Assessment visit (held on 28 February 2006) and the
actions that the College will be taking to address the issues raised by the Inspectors.

The judgement of inspectors was:
- that the inspection schedules should remain the same
- there would be no specific inspection of any curriculum area
- The core inspection team would consist of four inspectors
- This could be increased by a further 2 inspectors to cover the work of the College
   does funded by the Adult and Community Learning budget and Job Centre Plus work.



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    It is likely that the next inspection will take place during the autumn term 2006/7.

    Curriculum
    Gordon Foulkes, Director of Quality and Development, explained that the College had
    recently gone through a major curriculum review in order to align provision with LSC
    priority areas and with labour market requirements. It had reviewed the mix of provision
    and had removed, provision that did not align to labour market requirements, QCA
    programmes and areas of provision that did not make up less than 3% of total provision

    Important elements for the College are:
    - The NETP pilot
    - Skills for Life agenda
    - Franchising and partnership

    LSC Agenda
    The Principal provided members with a document that gave a preview of the key
    elements within the LSC‟s plan and an outline of the key changes that the College would
    need to make to align with the Plan. These included:

    -   By 2007/8 increase the number of students achieving a level 2 qualification. (The
        College delivers 16% of WM total with 5% of WM budget. We are the key driver in
        the WM but having the biggest budget cut.)
    -   Improve 16-18 Level 3 performance
    -   Improve NVQ success rates
    -   Improve the Basic Skills of Adults
    -   Raise the number of Apprenticeships completions
    -   Work with key partners to improve Level 3 qualifications for adults and young people;
        reduce the number of people not in education/employment/training, increase
        participation in HE
    -   Improve success rates over the period 2004/5 to 2006/7 in:
         Construction
         Retail
         Engineering (under serious threat)
    -   Improve 19+ enrolment at Level 2 and 3
    -   Pilot ways of tackling the NEETs group
    -   Transform CoVES
    -   Estates renewal
    -   Improve OSATs qualifications

2   WHERE DO WE WANT TO BE? (Presentation)

    Mission, Values and Objectives
    Governors were provided with a drat proposal for consideration at the end of the day.
    The draft had been produced by the SMT in consultation with College staff and the
    Principal proposed that performance measures should be set against the strategic
    objectives.

    Adult Education
    LSC policy is adversely affecting the FE sector, with the aim to contain costs by requiring
    employers and students to pay for their education and training if they do not qualify for
    fee remission. Adjustments to the funding tariff had resulted in Adult fees being
    increased in 2005/6 by 10% and these were likely to increase to 18% in 2006/7. This
    had had a significant negative impact on enrolments.




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Market research suggests that Colleges in Staffordshire will need to increase fees by
25%-33%. However, there were concerns about whether this would be sustainable in
Stoke on Trent, which is a low income City.

The College must ensure that it has a curriculum offer that reflects the needs of
employers and individuals within the city region and needs to align the curriculum with
the qualifications preferred by the Sector Skills Councils. Success rates need to be at or
above the national average and there must be a strong Skills for Life provision. Strong
employer engagement strategies are needed to take full advantage of the resources
available through Level 2 entitlement and NETP.

The College‟s priorities need in the future to focus on:
- Meeting the Government and LSC agenda
- Having policies which result in provision which is increasingly financially viable
- Increased class sizes
- Charging appropriate fees
- Improving the work done with companies

College in the Community - Following the recent City Council restructure, responsibility
for Adult and Community Learning had moved to the People Learning and Organisation
Directorate at the City Council. The College and the LEA are close to agreeing a 3 year
contract. The College will deliver the curriculum and be responsible for quality.

Inspection
Caroline Highland, Director of Student and External Relations, gave a presentation which
provided an outline of „Every Child Matters‟, a government paper produced in 2003, in
response to the Victoria Climbie enquiry that focuses on young students. The Common
Inspection framework will cross reference to the 5 outcomes of Every Child Matters,
which are:

-   Being healthy
-   Staying safe
-   Enjoying and Achieving
-   Making a Positive Contribution
-   Achieving Economic Wellbeing

The College is currently going through the process of ensuring that Every Child Matters is
embedded across the college, this involves a comprehensive staff development exercise
and a self assessment review.

Youth Matters is a consultation paper that focuses on the 13-19 age range. It is a
strategy for providing opportunities, challenge and support for young people. The
government sees the 5 outcomes of Every Child Matters as playing a part.

Attention was drawn to the statement that “Colleges will be accountable for ensuring the
well being and maximum progression of all of their students, including those with sever
and complex learning difficulties” The College has been working on progression issues
for some time and now needs to look at “ensuring the well being of young people”.

Youth matters sets out 4 key challenges and desired outcomes, against which there are
funding sources that the college can bid into.

SUMMARY:
The College needs to:
-  Change its focus from a quantity agenda to a quality agenda
-  Rebuild its reserves, fund capital expenditure and have a more effective pay policy




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    -   Meet the Government and LSC agenda, particularly with regard to economic
        regeneration in Stoke on Trent
    -   Have a curriculum offer that reflects the needs of employers and the aspirations of
        individuals that make up the City Region and will attract and retain those who are in
        risk of not engaging with post-16 education and training.
    -   Have bigger class sizes
    -   Charge appropriate fees
    -   Work with the Learning and Skills Council, Stoke on Trent City Council the provide an
        effective and efficient provision
    -   Achieve success rates at or above the national average
    -   Have a strong Skills for Life provision
    -   Have strong employer engagement strategies that take full advantage of the
        resources are being ring fenced for NETP

3   DISCUSSION GROUPS

    Governors and Heads of Faculty split into 3 separate groups with directors attending in
    an advisory capacity. Issues for the groups to address were:

         -   Identify issues and implications of finances
         -   Constraints imposed by LSC
         -   The effect of the strategy on the 3 year development plan.

4   FEEDBACK

    Group 1 - (Chair - Ken Sproston)
    Implications of Finances:
    - Noted potential loss of £3m income and there being nothing to replace this.
    - Surprised at the figure given for enrolment numbers for this year.
    - The need to increase class sizes, which has been on the Corporation agenda for some
       years now
    - Supportive of the work in terms of rationalising the curriculum and linking to LSC
       funding areas.
    - Sceptical about whether employers will be willing to pay more.
    - Touched on marketing and re-branding etc
    - Considered Stoke on Trent as a City and its position in the Country and how it
       contradicted what government says in terms of some of its targets
    - Keen to endorse the quality related targets
    - Noted the low starting point of some of our students.
    - Noted the role of the City Council and partnership with them

    LSC Constraints
    - 14-19 year olds - priority
    - Constraint in getting employers to help us meet our apprenticeship targets
    - Support for basic skills and level 2 but not for general adult education and short
       course provision.
    - The size and complexity of the college.

    3 Year Strategy
    -   The need for corporation to look at the strategy
    -   Strong support for the continuation of the strategy as far as we can
    -   Discussed Category B status

    Group 2 – (Chair - James Eyre-Walker)
    The group concluded that: the actions taken by SMT were to be supported.




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    Consider Corporation should improve its monitoring role. It should change how it works.
    One way of doing this is that the Chair and a lead SMT person should determine the
    most effective way of monitoring the environment. If we give the authority and trust to
    each of the Committees to investigate the detail we have fewer indicators and variables
    to use as a Corporation.

    Group 3 - (Chair: John Clough)
    The group concluded that:

    Finance
    - The surplus is not a surplus and the College had not improved the bottom line for 3
        years.
    - The Corporation have been in a false sense of security. The new build could take the
        eye off the ball (as it gives a false sense of security that there is financial stability)
        and Governors need to be aware of this.
    - Good inspection results do not drop down into the bottom line.
    - Aware of LSC constraints. Geographical problems have cost the college a lot.
        Comparing the College with the private areas shows that the college will be
        constrained private areas won‟t.
    - Conflict between LSC requirements and what employers actually want. Employers
        are geared by skills and their bottom line. That is not how the LSC judges us when
        giving us the funding.
    - Geographical constraints – we need to concentrate on local independent SMEs rather
        than the large groups. We need to attract and retain 16-18 year olds and engage
        better with employers
    - Need to be aware of the increasing competition of private providers.
    - At this stage the Corporation should endorse the proposals outlined by SMT about
        where we want to get to.
    - We need as a Corporation to at least yearly to look at the strategy along with the
        information available to help us get there and build this into the way the business
        runs.
    - We have to question how we work every year and how we look in depth.

5   NATIONAL GOVERNORS CONFERENCE

    James Eyre-Walker and Sheila Chapman provided feedback on a recent AoC Conference
    that they had recently attended:

    The conference had addressed:
    - Funding Methodology
      Need to ensure that the Corporation received enough information
    - FE Governance post-Foster
      Learner panels likely to be the norm, partnership important and the Principal and Chair
      to share leadership
    - Student Views (NUS)
      Put learner at centre. College already has student representative system. Increase
      student governors to 2. Voice of the learner to be heard key theme.
    - DfES Consultation:
      Included questions about qualifications and diversity
    - Presentations: John Brennon focused on shift in employer priorities and employer
        engagement. Bill Rammell – funding will increase but focus on key priorities.

6     WHITE PAPER

      The Principal outlined what was likely to be in the White Paper, which was due to be
      published in the near future.




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        -   Strong emphasis on specialisation.
        -   CoVES will be linked to national skills academics, led by employers.
        -   There will specialist networks between colleges
        -   The need of employers and the economy
        -   Channel the majority of public funds spent on adult skills through routes ……….
        -   Approved providers
        -   Performance ratings
        -   Funding
        -   Relationships
        -   6th Form Colleges
        -   HE in FE
        -   Combining social purpose with economic impact
        -   Personal and community development learning
        -   Provider landscape
        -   Raising quality, achieving excellence
        -   Key performance indicators
        -   Autonomy and accountability

7   HOW ARE WE GOING TO GET THERE? (presentation)

    A change of focus from a quantity agenda to a quality agenda.

    Curriculum rationalisation/development
    The College needs to arrive at a curriculum plan that will ensure that it is well placed to
    hit its LSC FE targets. Essential to this will be a quality provision with good teaching and
    learning, through planning and continuous improvement which will in turn produce good
    success rates. The College needs to ensure that this links with the Common Inspection
    framework and Every Child Matters.

    Reduced Staffing Expenditure (Governors were provide with a breakdown of how staffing
    expenditure was apportioned.)

    Current staffing reductions were estimated to be 155 full-time equivalent posts, about
    12% of the current salary bill.

    The College will need to take on new staff as it develops its links with employers. It also
    has support services that are not essential but will be helpful at inspection. The college
    had been mindful of this when looking at staffing reductions and if necessary these will
    be reconsidered if more savings are needed.          Shared services and outsourcing are
    also being looked at.

    Key elements of the organisational development strategy are the achievement of target
    savings; embarking on a Leadership Development programme; providing Coaching and
    positive people management training for middle managers; understanding and
    promoting diversity to improve culture and business performance; clarity about
    performance standards, targets and sanctions. A change in occupational health and
    safety management systems; having an open culture of employee relations.

    Marketing
    Will be concentrated on 3 key areas:

    -       Young People (15-16 year olds in local schools)
    -       Employers (with 10-250 employees)
    -       Adults

    Finance




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    Proposed staffing reductions will provide a good base on which to address the LSC
    agenda. Updated and improved accommodation is planned via a significant capital
    expenditure programme, which will depend on the extent to which the college can draw
    down funding. The College is well placed to make a good case for a capital programme.
    There will be a review and monitoring of „other expenditure‟.

    The revised draft 3 Year Financial Forecast had been presented to the Finance and
    Resources Committee on 9 March and had anticipated that 2006/7 income would be
    £3.5m lower than shown in the original forecast (approved by Corporation in July 2005).
    However, taking £3m out of the staffing line equates to the £3.5m loss of income. This is
    compounded by non pay costs. i.e. a surplus of £800,000 for 2005/6. The college relies
    heavily on LSC income, currently 75%. Given the changes in the funding methodology
    it is likely our outturn for this year will not be dissimilar to our funding target for next
    year. The lost income needs to be replaced through new provision and increased class
    sizes. New courses must be buoyant.

    Risk Issues
    -   competition for students and skilled staff in the area.
    -   The private sector competition
    -   Potential further LSC reductions.
    -   There are a number of large risks associated with some of our funding ie. ESF

8   DISCUSSION GROUPS

    Governors and Heads of Faculty split into 3 separate groups with directors attending in
    an advisory capacity. The Groups were requested to:

    -   Consider the revised draft Mission, Values and Objectives, with a caveat that they be
        reviewed again in 3 months time.
    -   Raise in the groups any questions they may have as a result of the day‟s discussions.

    FEEDBACK

    Groups fed back as follows:

    Group 1 – Kay Webster
    Missions statement – liked 2nd one best, but would like to change it to „excellence in
    education and skills for life and work‟

    Did not like word employability in first one, people might not understand it and gives
    impression you have to be unemployed

    Strategic objectives:
    P Wenger - felt we out to have the opportunity to consider these once a year.
    Understood they would have targets set against them but there will be problems of how
    you actually measure one or two of them i.e. No.3 would it be possible? We should only
    have achievable targets.
    No5. - does this mean you are encouraging the community to gain skills to find work
    and improve basic skills? The words indicate you are asking them to be aware that they
    are re engaging in the skills agenda.

    We want a lot more oomph in No.7 about enhanced financial performance and need to
    do something with this one.

    Values: we were keen they should be apparitional; did not like the employer focussed
    one, it needs more effort in the way its phrased to ensure repeat business and future
    recommendations rather than we need to go out and get more business.



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Group 2 - Brian Mellor
Did not like first mission employers will take umbrage
City regions should be N. staffs
Extra value for excellence governance

Objectives:
Student success rates will be over a 3 year plan over all catagories

No.4 - Change flexible to cost effective giving value for money.

Staff with greater skills and diversity is not mentioned in there.

No, 5 - change slightly to, „subject to the funding availability to increase business
involvement from other sources than LSC‟.

More effective marketing and customer care from college staff

Values:
Students participation in college affairs in view of report form AoC conference.


Group 3 - Waheed Khan
Unanimous on mission, Did not like first one and there were issues with the second one
over „life‟ and „work‟. These 2 words should be changed around.
Questioned employability, is it saying unemployable

Values:
Should refer to us as the institute and how the values compare to what we offer.
Why is it that we put students first?
The college has better links with businesses and we are close to those businesses. So
individuals have a better education and grooming for jobs
Think about how we term these values and how we describe them, needs more detail.

We value our staff – how? There is a lot of investment in this, identify us and why are
different than other institutions.

Employer focused: a huge difference between 6th form college, explain what our cohort
is and our branding behind the values, who we are branding and what our target is

Continuous improvements –
Are they in the right order?

Learning across the city should it be above employer focused.
Need to think about these
If we are doing effective partnerships it does not explain who the partners are, some of
the partnerships are other institutions. How can these be explained as a lot comes down
to our own marketing and branding.

OBJECTIVES:
Noticed most of them were raising the same issues

They need to mention more than just students, mention quality staff, as one of the
objectives for the college and other services on offer.
The objectives say little about the staff. We need to describe how we are investing in
the institution, new sites and facilities and explain to individuals what it means. People




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who graduate from this county are not at the same level as other counties. We have to
say we are going to give you the tools to do something in life

MEASURING OBS
Results come out 2 years later, how will you be able to measure these. i.e. at this
meeting next year will it be pos sot have the results.

In terms of objectives themselves do them the way that Gordon had done for
implementing the system. The objectives have to be measurable we need a system in
place to show how we performed over the year what we achieved, if we did not achieve
why not.

P Wenger: we are measuring strategy with tactics. The key today is how much
information we have that is headline, tells us the results.

Our group looked at whether they were measurable and we felt we could put a measure
within each. It is important to ensure that the SSQA and other committees work to held
with effectiveness of the management.

Following feedback from the groups it was agreed that:

-   The College‟s mission statement be changed to ‘Excellence in Education and
    skills for work and life’.
-   The Principal and SMT will amend the values and objectives to reflect Governors‟
    comments and produce a draft document for circulation to Governors prior to it being
    forward to the next meeting of the Corporation for approval.
-   Target measures to be set against each of the strategic objectives
-   The document will be subject to regular review.




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