Truro And Penwith College News January 2016

A-Levels Are Not The Only Route To University, Says UCAS And Truro And Penwith College

We would fully endorse UCAS and universities’ message about A levels not being the only route into higher education and degrees. In many ways UCAS is now telling others what we as a college have been telling them – and higher education generally – for a long time, so this is a really encouraging shift of focus and emphasis

Truro and Penwith College has equal numbers following A levels and their vocational and occupational alternative qualifications. Our numbers on A levels, their achievement, and their successful progression to the most competitive higher education are well known and often a focus of press interest. This is not always the case with the hundreds of learners taking higher level vocation routes to a degree, so it is good to have the chance to join UCAS in telling and celebrating their stories.

This college submits 1,500 UCAS applications annually – making it the largest provider of young people into higher education not just in Cornwall but across the South West. This also makes us one of the largest providers of young people into degrees nationally. It means we have a very strong evidence base from which to confirm that Vocational Diplomas at Level 3 are indeed a great route into degrees, both nationally and indeed locally, including here at this college, where we have over 1,000 undergraduates in full and part time study. Many of them followed a non A level route to their degrees.

The data for A level and non-A level routes into degrees in Cornwall are very significant and have just been reissued in the form of the latest government league tables for post-16 students. These show, as well as levels of performance on A levels and their vocational equivalents, the actual volumes of learners taking non A level or vocational routes which can lead into a degree.   There are huge differences between the numbers taking these non A level routes into degrees across the school and the college sectors nationally, and particularly in Cornwall. In Cornwall’s 11-18 schools the numbers of such students are very low. The highest number completing higher-level vocational courses in any school in Cornwall 2015 was 64. In some Cornish schools with sixth forms the numbers of higher level vocational students are as low as 9. The latest government tables show that total numbers in all Cornish schools are below 450. This compares to 604 such students at Cornwall College and 894 students at Truro and Penwith College.

In terms of what such learners are studying the range is very extensive and includes at this college Applied Science, Business, Health and Social Care, Information Technology, Engineering. You need the specialist staff and high quality vocational facilities and resources to offer this kind of pathway successfully.   You need to have and demonstrate real parity of esteem between A levels and vocational alternatives through high quality of outcomes on both pathways. The particular advantage of a Tertiary College is that learners on these different pathways come to the same place, have the same buildings and facilities and staff, and don’t have some kind of artificial segregation after GCSEs, which sends out all the wrong messages about the value and merits of both A levels and their vocational alternatives. This is the integrated approach taken at both our Truro and Penzance sites. It is very much the model we will implement at Callywith to serve north and eat Cornwall if our plans come to fruition.

A final word would be about two other equally valuable and important routes into degree level study – these are apprenticeships and the IB or International Baccalaureate. These are both fast-growing offers at this college. In terms of apprenticeships, the same broad rules about quality and perception apply; they have to be done really well in conjunction with employers who have confidence in the quality of the provision and the value of the qualification. Apprenticeship pathways into degree level study are already available and look to be a major area for expansion in the future as government commitment to apprenticeships up to degree level starts to gather momentum. As for the IB, this is fantastic alternative route into university a student results and their successful degree applications show.

The levels of interest and applications at this college for apprenticeship the IB and vocational diplomas this year suggest that the message UCAS is putting out – that A levels are not the only route to university – is something that increasing numbers of learners in Cornwall are coming to understand. There’s still a lot of work to do, but all the OECD data suggests that we shall have to boost the levels of post-16 participation in vocational and occupational pathways in this country if we are going to close the productivity gap and boost our socio-economic health. In Cornwall the socio-economic benefits of more and better vocational uptake and outcomes post-16 are sorely needed, and colleges like ours are well placed to work in partnership to deliver these.
performance tablesTruro And Penwith College Tops The Latest Government League Tables

Truro and Penwith College is the best performing public 16-18 provider in Cornwall in the Government’s official national 2015 post-16 Performance Tables for schools and colleges, released on 21st January).

Last summer’s outstanding student results now see the College topping the latest performance tables for state schools and colleges on every single measure for A levels and wider academic provision (which includes the International Baccalaureate). The college’s performance in the tables, which cover academic and vocational provision, is well above both the Cornwall and national averages on every one of the key 13 Department for Education measures.

On the ‘points per student score’ for A level, which effectively measures the university “currency” students have earned, the college’s score of 819.4 was not only well above any other state provider in Cornwall but also exceeded the national average score by over 40 points. Exceptional performance on the International Baccalaureate meant that the ‘points per student’ score for all academic courses at the college reached an even higher level at 831.9.

The new league tables also confirm the outstanding progress made by A level and other academic students at the college. Students achieved significantly higher grades than those predicted by their GCSE results and on this value-added measure the college outperforms not only the rest of Cornwall but over 98% of the 2,300 state school and college providers in England.

The performance of students following higher level vocational courses at the college was also excellent. The percentage obtaining 3 substantial vocational qualifications, (the equivalent of a full A level programme and therefore an important element for progression to higher education), was by some margin the highest in the county.

The tables also contain important information about cohort sizes and trends in Cornwall’s school and colleges. They confirm the sustained growth of both A level and vocational provision at Truro and Penwith College. Student numbers show a growth of over 5% over the past three years, despite an overall fall in the numbers of students taking advanced level courses in Cornwall. With 921 students gaining academic qualifications and 897 vocational qualifications, the tables confirm that the College has an equal balance of vocational and academic provision, and that it remains the largest Cornish post-16 provider of both A levels and vocational pathways.

Mark Arnold, Director of Quality, explained both the aims of the DfE tables and their very positive message for the college and its students: “The way the Department for Education assesses the relative performance of institutions offering post-16 education and training is quite complex. There are numerous indicators now relating to the academic and vocational performance and size of post-16 providers, but this is because the Department is determined to inform and empower learners, families and businesses to make the right choices about where to go for learning and training. It is again this college’s very high scores on so many of these key measures, in relation to both local and national comparisons, which confirm that teaching and student support are exceptional. We know that these published DfE tables drive demand for places here. That adds to the urgency of ensuring that our offer can expand to accommodate all those who wish to access it”  

College Principal David Walrond was delighted with this latest official Department for Education assessment of its performance:

“These tables again confirm the great progress made by students here. The official value added data show that the College’s exceptional results are not simply the product of high grades on entry, or selective recruitment of learners. The Department for Education recognises the much better than expected post-16 progress of all learners who attend the college, regardless of those learners’ starting points, and on both vocational and academic pathways. One factor behind such success is that our learners have very high expectations of us, and we have very high expectations of them. The outstanding outcomes published this week are linked to that shared outlook and approach. They are a tribute to the hard work put in by our students, and the outstanding teaching provided by their staff.”


Maths Hub

Richard Light HMI presenting to Maths Hub delegates on OFSTED focuses.

The Future Of Maths

What is Mastery? This was one of the main focus points when over 100 teachers, headteachers and subject leaders from across the South West gathered to attend the second Cornwall and West Devon Maths Hub Conference at Truro College.

Chris Gould, Maths Lead and Headteacher of Chacewater CP School, opened the conference with an introduction to the Hub and a round-up of the national and local projects supported by the initiative. The conference then welcomed its main speaker, Debbie Morgan, Primary Director for the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM).

Debbie led delegates through the principles behind Mastery teaching based on her experience of education in Shanghai. The Mastery approach intends to provide all children with full access to the curriculum, enabling them to achieve confidence and competence. With the introduction of a new Primary Curriculum last year which focuses on fluency, reasoning and problem solving, this was an invaluable session which provided useful approaches to support class teaching.

Richard Light, Her Majesty’s Inspector (HMI), then provided the group with an update on the latest focuses of OFSTED when inspecting Maths in schools. Richard gave excellent advice, with clear examples of outstanding practice observed during inspections. Having an OFSTED perspective was key to giving delegates the confidence to employ new techniques within their classrooms.

Colin Bacon, Strategic Lead for the Maths Hub and Programme Team Leader for Maths, Computing and IT at Truro and Penwith College, said: “The event was a massive success. We’ve received an incredible amount of positive feedback which highlights the expertise of Debbie and Richard. I’d like to thank our speakers for providing such a wealth of advice and ideas, as well as the delegates for making the conference so worthwhile.”


Rachael Osborne’s pewter bowl, which has won her the Precious Metals Bursary.

Rachael Osborne’s pewter bowl, which has won her the Precious Metals Bursary.

Modern Cornish Silversmithing

A prestigious bursary from a royal chartered company has been awarded to a Cornish student allowing her to further explore her creativity in silversmithing.

Rachael Osborne from Newquay, a Silversmithing and Jewellery foundation degree student from Truro and Penwith College, has received a Precious Metal Bursary for her final degree project from The Goldsmiths’ Company. This bursary encourages undergraduate students to produce their final projects using precious materials, such as silver, gold or platinum.

Rachael, who received a Distinction in her FdA Silversmithing and Jewellery course, was one of nine students to be selected for the bursary, out of 51 entries. Inspired by her Cornish surroundings, Rachael wanted to visually mimic sea movement by experimenting with two precious metals. This gave her the opportunity to apply for the bursary.

“It means so much to be awarded by the Goldsmiths’ Company who are experts in the precious metals field. It has given me the confidence to complete my final project,” said Rachael.

Rachael, with her winning pewter bowl, was awarded a bursary of £1000 for Cooksons Precious Metals London, publicity at New Designers and the possibility of showcasing work at the Goldsmiths’ Centre.

“From the start of the Silversmithing and Jewellery (BA Hons) course, Rachael has been pushing the creative boundaries of what constitutes contemporary jewellery and silversmithing.

“I am pleased and excited for Rachael and looking forward to her creative journey through the rest of her BA year. Few students get the chance to explore the possibilities of working on such a project in precious metals, endorsed by the Goldsmiths’ Company,” said Martin Page, Programme Team Leader for Art and Design at Truro College.

With the Goldsmith Company’s’ support, Rachael can complete her final collection which mixes two materials, Ceramics and Pewter – she hopes to complete her project in a couple of weeks.

Rachael said: “It’s going to be a really hard project because I will need help from professional casters. However, my lecturer (Martin) has been really enthusiastic about the design and has edged me on to follow it through.”

To win the Goldsmith’s Company’s bursary, she created four mood boards, design drawings and showed her design development.


Louise Aspinall

Louise Aspinall – Before and After

Weigh To Go Louise!

With one individual’s weight loss totalling 5 stone (and counting!), it’s safe to say that the Health, Wellbeing and Sport programme at Truro College is influencing plenty of positive changes for both staff and students.

For Louise Aspinall from Penryn, Senior Secretary at the College, the initiative has been life-changing. “I started my weight loss journey in summer 2014 – I really wanted to get fit and healthy, and more importantly, set a good example for my children,” explained Louise.

Louise’s first step was to join a spinning class at the College, where she met the College Sports Maker Julian Wills, who co-ordinates the Health, Wellbeing and Sport activities and helped with motivation.

Through the ‘Weigh to Go’ programme offered to College staff through Health, Wellbeing and Sport, Louise attended more fitness classes, plus she also took up running with support from the Couch to 5K app.

By the end of 2014, Louise had already lost a stone, and now has shed a total of 5 stone and a fantastic 4 dress sizes. Talking about the ‘Weigh to Go’ initiative, she said: “I like that it’s an individual programme compared to other weight-loss groups. It’s really worthwhile. The Health, Wellbeing and Sport team are great, any worries you might have they really put your mind at ease and give you the support to keep at it.”

Louise currently does circuit training, spinning classes and runs at least 3 times a week (which includes a 5K run during her lunchtime). Her latest achievement was to complete the Burrator 10K Night Run in just over an hour with other Health, Wellbeing and Sport participants, with a half marathon as her next aim!


 Left to right: Sir John Holman CChem FRSC (President –elect of the RSC), Laura Pamplin with partner Samuel Powell (award winner), Lauren Barry (award winner), Carla Beck (Truro College project coordinator), partner of Lauren Barry, Dr Hilary Jeffreys CSci CChem FRSC (Chair of the RCS’s Admissions). Photo with thanks to Gatsby Foundation/Stuart Boreham.

Left to right: Sir John Holman CChem FRSC (President –elect of the RSC), Laura Pamplin with partner Samuel Powell (award winner), Lauren Barry (award winner), Carla Beck (Truro College project coordinator), partner of Lauren Barry, Dr Hilary Jeffreys CSci CChem FRSC (Chair of the RCS’s Admissions). Photo with thanks to Gatsby Foundation/Stuart Boreham.

Students Receive National Recognition At Access To Science Awards Ceremony

Three students from Cornwall have been invited to receive national recognition from the Royal Society of Chemistry at an awards ceremony in London.

Lauren Barry from Newquay, Amy Hambly-Symons from Falmouth, and Samuel Powell from Padstow, who study at Truro and Penwith College, are among 25 of the UK’s top-performing students on a dual scheme that grants the Access to Higher Education Diploma in Science along with the Registered Scientist Technician Award (RSciTech). Their selection for the awards was based on their presentation of an individual research project earlier in the year.

The awards ceremony, held at the Royal Society of Chemistry’s London headquarters, Burlington House, saw students from across the country presented with their certificates.

Recognising the students’ achievements, Sir John Holman, Royal Society of Chemistry President elect, said: “The UK science sector needs more skilled technicians. At the Royal Society of Chemistry, we are committed to helping close this skills gap, by supporting vocational routes into science, and connecting education and employers.

“The Access to Higher Education Diploma and RSciTech scheme is a great example of this. I congratulate all the students on the dedication they have shown in their industry projects, and the investment they have made in their futures through gaining RSciTech status.”

Jean Scrase, of the Gatsby Foundation, which funds individuals to be assessed for RSciTech and also pays their professional body membership fees, said: “Personally, to be assessing the projects the students have carried out on behalf of local employers’ has been a great experience. It’s a fantastic opportunity to see first-hand how they have added capacity to local businesses, whilst also gaining valuable practical technical skills and knowledge.”

The 9-month Access to HE Diploma in Science programme enables students to meet the entry requirements for university. It is a popular choice with students who may not have received the required A Level results or are changing career. RSciTech, which is now incorporated into the programme, is a professional award that recognises individuals’ competency in a work-based setting.



Chinty Pettitt

Chinty Pettitt

A Rare Experience

A member of staff from a Cornish college has had the rare opportunity of attending a meeting with the recently elected Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago.

Chinty Pettitt from Tywardreath near Fowey, a Learning Services Support Tutor at Truro and Penwith College, was one of the privileged guests invited to attend the meeting with Dr. Keith Rowley at Chelsea Old Town Hall in London. Dr. Rowley was keen to meet and exchange views with a cross section of the Trinidad and Tobago Diaspora.

Councillor Julie Mills of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea welcomed Dr. Rowley on the behalf of the Mayor of London, emphasising the positive effect that many individuals from the Caribbean region make across the UK.

Chinty said of the visit: “I felt very privileged to be there. Dr. Rowley spoke on the state of the economy in Trinidad and Tobago and the development plans of the government. With regards to education, the Prime Minister is aiming to have a comprehensive overhaul of the primary and secondary school system, stating that the education system should revolve around quality and added that more attention should be given to teachers, who are the foundation of learning.”

During a question and answer session, the Prime Minister stated that he would like more young people to focus on agriculture, increasing cocoa production especially the Trinitario cocoa of Trinidad, which is one of the three main varieties of cocoa in the world, and added that diversification in chocolate manufacture will be welcomed.