Annual Report 2014/15

Welcome to our annual report for 2014/15 which is designed to provide a summary of the College’s performance during the academic year.

Download our Annual Report 2014/15

A Year of Partnership and Success

In 2014/15 the College once again confirmed its status as one of the best colleges in the country. The development of partnerships and the continued outstanding success and progression of our students were at the heart of the College’s activity. During the year, the total number of students studying at the College was 19,371, an overall increase of 9% on the previous year. Although the number of 16-18 year old students decreased slightly by 2%, mainly because of the demographic decline of this age group, the number of adult students increased by 14% and the number of university level students rose by 11%, so the year was an excellent one in terms of recruitment for the College.

The overall student success rate across all age groups and qualifications, which measures the proportion of students successfully completing qualifications compared to those who started a course (irrespective of length), dropped by 3% to 87%. This reflects a national downward trend following a change in government policy which now requires all students without GCSE Maths and English grades at C or above on entry to take these qualifications again or undertake a functional skills programme. Our overall success rate in the previous year placed us in the top 2% of colleges nationally and we expect to be in a similar position once national averages for 2014/15 are published.

Our overall A Level pass rate was particularly impressive at 99.4%, which was well above the national average of 97.5%. More than 38% of students achieved the highest grades of A* - B, with 20 students achieving 42 A* - A grades between them. Our International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme results were also exceptional, with students achieving an average point score of 31 out of the maximum 45 points, well above the national average of 29 points. 61% of results were achieved at the highest grades of 5 to 7, equivalent to A* – B at A Level, compared with the world standard of 56%. Vocational results were also outstanding with students achieving an overall 99.1% pass rate.

Despite continued reductions in government funding, our financial performance remained very strong. Plans to grow income through strong partnerships with employers and to develop an innovative curriculum offer for adults and employers were realised, which combined with the successful pursuit of funds from alternative sources (both public and private sector) and a significant focus on reducing expenditure, resulted in the College ending the year in a sound financial position.

Our relationships and partnerships with a wide range of employers were a key feature of the year. Projects developed with both large and smaller businesses provided many opportunities both for local people and those from further afield to take up training, develop their skills or change career. Partnership working with major employers such as Alstom Power, Wessex Water, the NHS Foundation Trust, Thales UK Limited and the Ministry of Defence cemented the College’s position as one of the leading colleges in the UK in business engagement and development. Such projects also created many amazing opportunities for young people and adults in the region.

We were delighted that our work with students with learning difficulties and disabilities was recognised with a prestigious Association of Colleges (AoC) National Beacon Award. This award recognised the work that the College does to supports its high needs students to develop employability skills and to become independent through work experience, volunteering and personal learning opportunities.

Our partnerships within the higher education sector also grew. Relationships with our university partners such as Plymouth University and the University of the West of England moved beyond the validation of courses into engagement on a number of joint projects. These included successful bids for funding for higher apprenticeships, ‘learning gain’ and collaborative commercial projects. Our partnership with Oxford Brookes University also led to our first PhD student working at, and being supported by, the College.

Partnerships with local schools also continued to grow and develop, particularly through the Bridgwater College Trust - a multi-academy trust through which the College sponsors three academies within Bridgwater. All three academies saw great success during the year with the Brymore and Hamp Academies both gaining a ‘Good’ judgement in their Ofsted inspections and the Bridgwater College Academy reporting a 61% A* - C including English and Maths pass rate, which was the highest in their history.

We would like to congratulate and thank our students, staff and governors for what has been another outstanding year for the College. Despite the continuing very difficult public sector funding climate and national economic challenges, we were able to continue the development of our curriculum in response to the needs of employers and to provide outstanding learning and progression opportunities for our students. This is an exciting time for Bridgwater, and the College remains poised and on course to help our local community to realise the benefits and opportunities being created.

Derek Randall, Chairman of Governors.
Mike Robbins, Principal (at time of report).