By Jackie Grubb, Principal at City College Plymouth
City College Plymouth has launched its new Vision and Purpose, which will lead the way as we begin an ambitious journey of transformation – a journey we are inviting you all to be a part of.
It has been two years since I was interviewed for the position of Principal and Chief Executive at the College. As part of that process, I had to share my vision and my ambitions for this fantastic organisation. At the time, the nation was largely focused on Brexit and the uncertainties of securing a deal with the EU. No one could have imagined that, in little over a year, Brexit wouldn’t be the biggest challenge facing our country.
I’m hopeful the success of the vaccine programme means the end of the pandemic is now in sight, but as we enter a period of regrouping and recovery, a clear pathway for the College is needed now more than ever, and I am incredibly pleased we have this in our ten-year, Strategic Intent, with our Vision and Purpose acting as our own North Star.
It has been a team effort to get to this stage, and I am grateful to all of the talented students, staff and stakeholders who have contributed. Envisioning the next ten years for a place like City College Plymouth isn’t a small task, and it has been reassuring to see a lot of our aims mirrored in the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill.
2021 is quickly becoming the year of the further education college, with the Government finally recognising just how important we are to the local communities we serve and the role we play in supporting our local economies.
During the Queen’s Speech on 11 May, the Government made a landmark promise that will benefit tens of thousands – possibly even millions – of adults who do not hold a level 3 qualification. This promise is further acknowledgement of just how essential colleges are as we start to emerge for the challenges of the past 17 months. Providing adults with access to lifelong learning is going to be integral to our nation’s recovery.
We have been on the pathway towards a skills-led curriculum for a while and the relationships we share with our employer partners continue to strengthen. But we are also very aware that this is an ongoing process – a continual cycle of review and implementation.
Unlocking the powers of digital and greater utilisation of the latest technology was always going to have a starring role in our Strategic Intent, but when our world was turned upside down as a result of the partial closure of schools and colleges, we were forced to begin rolling out our plans with 24 hours’ notice. We had already developed strong capability by partnering with Google to support our digital offer and investing in our staff with training, this made it possible for us to quickly respond to the opportunity the lockdown presented to be truly innovative with our approach to providing high-quality education.
The College is committed to improving the digital skills of not just our students and staff, but also those of the wider community. The first stage is the creation of our new Digital Village: an inspiring place for students, staff and the community to collaborate, share and learn, and will ultimately transform the digital culture of the College.
Another vital part of the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill was the role of positive mental health and wellbeing – which is something of a cornerstone for our Strategic Intent.
Fostering good mental health is part of our commitment to students, employers and the wider community. We will not only provide them with the skills our students need to succeed in their careers, but we will develop their resilience and build their self-esteem.
Developing a culture that champions positive mental health starts with our own people, and we are focusing on this more than ever. Not only are we pleased to provide staff with a range of support services and wellbeing activities, we are also giving managers the tools, skills and knowledge they need to lead healthy, happy and productive teams with opportunities like the Making a Difference leadership programme.
Our digital strategy plays a key role here, too, as we look at innovative ways to reduce workload, improve efficiency and empower our staff by providing them with the skills needed to unlock the full potential that is offered as a result of living in the digital age.
With COVID restrictions easing, we are pleased to welcome back our employer partners to a series of conferences taking place in the summer that will allow us to continue to grow our relations and help us to pave the future of training in the engineering, health, and construction sectors.
We want to improve connectivity, not just among students and staff, but with the wider community; but this starts with dialogue, and we are always looking for new partners who share this vision of making Plymouth and the surrounding area the place to live, work and thrive.
If you are interested in being part of City College Plymouth’s transformation, we would love to hear from you.