City College Plymouth becomes South West’s first Google Reference College

City College Plymouth is the first college in the South West to be awarded the prestigious Google Reference College status, which celebrates its innovative approach to digital learning.

‘Google Reference’ status is awarded for the outstanding use of technology to drive positive learning outcomes and recognises the College’s use of G Suite for Education.

This is the first time a further education college in the region has received the award, joining just eight others across the UK and firmly positioning City College Plymouth as a leading further education college in the country, having embedded technology at the heart of learning.

The new status means the College will act as a reference point for other education providers, sharing cutting-edge best practice and offering advice and guidance.

The Google Reference status reflects the College’s dynamic approach to blended learning, as 100% of students and staff use Google Workspace for Education. The College is described as ‘Google First’ in its work and learning, with 120 staff trained as Google Educators (Level 1/2) and six staff members classed as Certified Trainers.

Since becoming part of the South West Institute of Technology, which seeks to provide students and employers with the skills they need on all digital platforms to drive growth, the College has been fully committed to digital transformation, with achieving Google Reference Status a key part of supporting the city and wider region’s digital ambitions.

City College Chief Executive, Jackie Grubb, with Mark Trewin, Chief Digital Transformation Officer (left), and Paul Fanshawe, Director of Business Intelligence

By building new facilities and investing in cutting-edge equipment, the College has been able to develop a highly innovative curriculum that is demand-led and supports the South West’s priority sectors, including the marine, engineering, manufacturing and digital sectors. However, the College fully recognises the power strong digital skills can offer any industry, which is why digital training is threaded throughout the entire College curriculum for the benefit of all students.

Jackie Grubb, Chief Executive and Principal of City College Plymouth, said: “We are extremely proud to be the first Google Reference College in the South West. It firmly positions us as a college of the future, successfully embedding technology into our strategy and operations.

“Google Reference status recognises our innovative work in technology and our commitment to provide students with the best opportunities to work and learn, making them better prepared for employment in the 21st century. It acknowledges the dedication of our people and this is a real achievement for the whole team.

“Our aim is to create a learning environment and organisational culture that benefits the health, wellbeing and sustainability of our community, and our focus on digital learning underpins this.

“Adopting digital learning throughout the College has had a tangible impact on our students and our staff. It has allowed us to maximise technology to make people’s lives better, to keep us safe and better connected, and to be more efficient and more productive.

“This is also fantastic news for the City of Plymouth and the wider area, offering enhanced digital capability and better equipping students for the world of work.”

Clive Rowe and Sean Doogan utilising the Google Suite in the College’s Maths Centre for Excellence

Jess Marsh, Google for Education Adoption Programme Manager, said: “We are very pleased to welcome another amazing Google Reference College to the programme. City College Plymouth has an innovative digital strategy and is an excellent example of a successful digital transformation model.”

Richard Stevens, Chair of Governors at City College Plymouth, said: “This accolade is a testament to the work of our students and staff, embracing the digital landscape and taking their working environment to a higher level.

“The College’s strategic intent sets out our role to provide a first-class skills and training provision and really embodies the College’s vision to be the learning destination of choice: we do this by providing a pathway for our students through excellent teaching whilst continuing to inspire them. The work of the College will lead to student success and the success of the community, the City and the region.”

Nick Kelly, Leader, Plymouth City Council, said: “This is fantastic news for the City of Plymouth and the wider area, and a true achievement for City College Plymouth. Being awarded the Google Reference College status reflects the College’s commitment to innovation and digital transformation.”

Stuart Elford, CEO, Devon & Plymouth Chamber, said: “I am delighted that City College is leading the way on digital learning not just in the city, but across the whole region. This will mean that our young people will have a digital head start as they lead the fourth industrial revolution.”

Tim Jones, Chair of South West Business Council, said: “The news that City College is now a Google Educator is tremendous, not just for Plymouth, but the South West as a whole. It’s a great tribute to the work of the College, and recognises the fantastic progress the team has made.

“Students will really benefit from the enhanced digital environment, business will benefit from digitally native students and it marks out the College as a leading place for education. Well done to everyone!”

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