Tresham College believes structuring education with an understanding of what local employers need and what students need to get out of their learning is a key focus in creating the leaders of tomorrow.
New Principal Robin Webber-Jones has a mission to build ‘careers not courses’, focusing on preparing people for the rapidly changing world of work with the support of businesses who desperately need well-trained staff.
Robin joined Tresham as part of a restructure of The Bedford College Group that saw long-standing CEO Ian Pryce CBE forgoing his Group Principal title and creating new Principal roles in Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire.
As part of his drive to forge links between Tresham College, businesses, other education provides and local and national government, Robin is planning a series of employer and leadership events that launched last month with a high-level curriculum discussion including representatives of the National Associate of Colleges, SEMLEP and others.
“I said when I arrived there were three main areas I wanted to focus on and that’s exactly what’s happening. Those are, firstly, co-construction – how we work with employers and other organisations to understand how they are changing and what skills and attributes are crucial to managing that that, and, of course, how we work with other education providers to oversee these transitions.
“Secondly, we need to focus on progress and progression. We have to make sure we understand people’s starting point and how they can see the progress they are making. When they can see that, it gets them to a better place and gives then high aspirations. And it’s not just qualifications, people going into the world of work need soft skills, how to talk to people, networking etc. The modern world means you might be meeting colleagues all over the world via Zoom, for instance. That’s exciting but you need the skills to do that and make it work.
“And thirdly, I come back to careers not courses. I don’t think it’s acceptable to say just come and learn this, we need to understand people’s next steps and their ambitions.”
Tresham College has become an increasingly powerful force in education in Northamptonshire since merging with the multi-award-winning Bedford College in 2017, to create The Bedford College Group.
In addition to modern campuses in Kettering and Corby, where a new Sixth Form is opening this autumn, and a Wellingborough campus that has been recently redeveloped, there’s also the Corby Learning Centre helping people access basic IT skills.
“We’re proud of what we achieve at Tresham, but education is a dual profession. Our staff need to be experts in education and in delivering the curriculum, but they also need to be experts in their chosen subject. That’s why as well as offering students work placements businesses can also help with staff development, we’re keen to set up employer advisory boards so that we are constantly thinking about what we’re teaching and how we teach it.
“We want to be having conversations about what employers need and learn how achieving that fits in with the way education is structured. It’s an exciting, fast-moving world to be teaching in, and we need to be working in way that produce the leaders of tomorrow, giving them the knowledge, skills and values that allow them to contribute to this area and its future.”
Find out more about Tresham College at www.bedfordcollegegroup.ac.uk