Leeds City College pioneers new approach to tackling improvement in English & mathematics

Leeds City College, the 3rd largest further education college in the UK with over 20,000 students on roll, has revolutionised the process for improving English and mathematics.

In February 2019, Leeds City College, in partnership with Tribal, embarked on a pilot to adapt the internationally recognised Quality Mark for Excellence in English and mathematics.

Tribal’s Quality Mark, established in 1997, is an internationally acknowledged accreditation supporting and recognising improving standards in the provision, practice and performance of English and mathematics, and providing evidence of high-quality education. It has stood the test of time in an ever-changing educational landscape.

Headteacher and a National Leader of Education looking at policy, Liz Bramley, observes ‘It’s very much current. The Quality Mark agenda reflects national policy and absolutely dovetails with pedagogy but also has the flexibility other accreditations or processes are unable to offer. Quality Mark has moved with the times.’

Leeds City College had already made significant progress over the last few years by implementing a progressive model giving all Leads the autonomy to drive their own delivery model and make a significant impact on progress of learners. Their latest Ofsted recognised this development, stating, “Managers have been bold in developing and investing in a strategy in response to the large number of students, particularly on study programmes, who arrive at the college with no or very low grades in GCSE English and mathematics’.

However, leaders sought to further embed improvement throughout the college. Whilst taking inspiration from other further education colleges, as well as exploring the standards and frameworks being utilised in other education settings, Leeds City College explored the Quality Mark for English and mathematics, a framework originally devised for schools.

Head of English and Mathematics, Carol Layall, and Learning and Development Manager, Jonny Diamond, noted how the Quality Mark standard aligned to national priorities and the new Ofsted Education Inspection Framework; it was also clear how it offered flexibility to support the priorities of Leeds City College. And so, they embarked on a pilot project to ensure the framework’s suitability and rigor for the world of Further Education, working
closely with Tribal to examine and develop each part of the Quality Mark standard, its self-evaluation criteria and the delivery model itself.

‘Piloting the Quality Mark standard in FE was undoubtedly a big piece of work. But it was so worth it… from the outset I believed that Quality Mark was the right approach for us, which meant I could really sell it to my team – and the wider teaching staff’ said Carol.

The pilot has resulted in a highly relevant framework and supporting audit tool which enables Leeds City College, and other Further Education and Skills providers, to have a uniquely focused lens on English and mathematics provision. It has proven to provide high level strategic and governance priorities, scrutiny and triangulation of data and delivery. And, most importantly, Quality Mark identifies key priorities for further improvement. Speaking about the impact of the pilot, Carol stated ‘The Quality Mark has really been the ‘rubber stamp’ of approval of our commitment and efforts to continuously improve and champion best practice. You can go into any campus and see how Quality Mark is benefiting the students and teachers’.

When asked about the importance of the college’s adoption of Quality Mark, Carol sees it as a significant step for Leeds City College and one that could have relevance for the wider sector, “Getting everyone to work towards the same high standard - the Quality Mark – will help to embed good practices and will undoubtedly improve attainment in English and mathematics. I’m anticipating that the Quality Mark accreditation will become very sought after in FE.”

Hear more about Leeds City College’s Quality Mark experience and how it is helping to drive improvement in their English and maths provision – Carol and Jonny explain more on the below on-demand recorded webinar:

Webinar: Revolutionising the process for English and maths improvement in FE &  Skills