As we approach the end of this academic year, as Principal of this dynamic and thriving college, I am pleased to be able to report that we are again looking back on another remarkably successful year. I would like to start off by thanking you, as parents and guardians, for your ongoing support, encouragement and challenge. Our success truly is the result of a strong partnership between young people, their parents and the college. Next year we are launching a ‘Parent Portal’ to provide another enhancement to our communications between home and college. For our apprentices, the employer remains an absolutely critical element of the partnership.
This is an interesting year, as this summer, for the first time since the year 2000, A Level results will rest solely on the outcomes of the exams taken this May or June, whereas in previous years students often carried a proportion of their marks through from their AS Level studies. Exeter College has taken an evidence-based approach to the use of AS Exams, which was validated by national research by one of the main awarding organisations. The evidence showed that in a number of subjects, the A Level grade was enhanced by the previous completion of the AS Exam, but in some subjects such as arts and languages the AS Exam did not have an impact on the final A Level grade – our approach was validated. Therefore, on results day, first-year A Level students will get the outcome of both externally assessed AS Levels exams and internally set exams.
At this stage, the range of ‘in year’ indicators that we track appear positive for students at the college. I wanted to reassure you, however, that even if the exams, or an exam, has not gone how your son, daughter or ward had planned there will be options available. We will have a dedicated team on hand on results day; this team can also help if a young person has exceeded expectations and now wants to consider a different progression opportunity.
Since 2014, when Exeter College was recognised as Ofsted Outstanding, very few providers have reached that standard. In this context, I am delighted to share a few highlights of the college year from a quality perspective. In May 2018 Exeter College was recognised as STEM College of the year, for the quality of our programmes in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.
Last August, we celebrated our best ever results. Alongside this, our students also achieved record progression into further study, employment and what are called ‘high tariff’ universities such as Exeter, Oxford and LSE.
In February 2019, the Education and Training Foundation and Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 awarded Exeter College’s Stephen Mariadas a Technical Teaching Fellowship, one of only three such awards in the country – which I feel reflects the quality of teaching here at the college.
In July 2019, a record number of students (nine) were awarded BTEC awards, selected from thousands of students nationally in schools and colleges who complete highly regarded BTEC programmes. Over the year, six A-Level subjects were awarded ALPS Certificates of Excellence, for consistent excellence over a three-year period.
Finally, Exeter College has been handpicked by the DfE (Department for Education) to be a 2020 provider of the flagship qualification T-Levels, making Exeter College the only provider in Devon that is permitted to deliver T-Levels in that year. This is national recognition for the quality of education provided by the college.
However, I am equally proud of our students’ achievements outside of the classroom. In fact, in the current climate, it is often extra curricula activities that differentiate between students in the competitive university or jobs market. Our Rugby Academy team were crowned AOC national champions and also selected by the RFU to play at an international tournament in Japan – our team, representing England, reached the quarterfinals losing to South Africa. In December, our music students and staff held our yearly ‘Carol Festival’ in the stunning setting of Exeter Cathedral – it was a packed event and the talent on show was inspirational, but the students also raised a new record amount for charity.
This year we had a 55-mile team complete Ten Tors, in a very respectable time! Our Model United Nations team and our debating teams have also had an excellent year, winning numerous competitions and accolades. Our vocational and academic students have taken part in numerous competitions over the last year, winning several medals in skills competitions.
Our students studying in the creative sector have put on a number of outstanding end of year plays and performances and the arts shows this year have been stunning. As I write this, we have found out that two dance students have been selected to perform in the latest adaptation of world-renowned choreographer Matthew Bourne’s Romeo and Juliet at the Theatre Royal, Plymouth.
There have also been numerous trips and visits over the year, perhaps the most exotic trip was to Honduras, where a number of students, many of them geographers, trekked and explored a country very different to the UK.
The ambition of the college, the commitment of staff, the engagement of students and the support of parents has created such a range of activities that I have only been able to scratch the surface of the year’s highlights – I would like to thank everyone who makes it possible to offer such an array of enrichment – I hope you would agree that this is a critical part of our outstanding college.
We are also looking forward to further innovative and exciting projects at the college. In June, we opened a new £2.4m gym and dance studio, which also means that over the summer we can now create two new digital spaces and a fantastic new art studio, using the spaces vacated by the old gym and old dance floor.
We, as a college, have been selected as a key part of an Institute of Technology (IoT), along with the University of Exeter and a number of educational and business partners. Following the granting of the IoT license (in the summer, we hope) we will start construction of a new Digital and Data building at the front of the Hele Road Site. This will provide a new iconic front door to the site and enable us, with partners, to meet the needs of students and businesses in emerging and new digital technologies.
The Student Representative Committee (Students Union) has had a fantastic year, raising nearly £10,000 for the College Charity – NIGHTSTOP and investing over £5,000 in improvements to the students’ experience; ranging from flip-down seating in corridors to extra lockers and additional water fountains. I feel it is a real credit to the young people at the college that a student-run organisation has been able to make such a difference to the college community – it truly is an organisation run by students for students!
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate every single one of our students who has achieved success in their chosen field and whose commitment to their own continued development has seen them realise some remarkable personal goals.
For a growing number of our second year students, their Exeter College journey will continue for another two years, as they choose to progress to an apprenticeship or to one of our Higher Education degrees, which are accredited by Pearson or validated by the Universities of Exeter, Plymouth, St Mark and St John and Kingston. The college’s Centre for University Level Studies is ranked ‘gold’ in the Teaching Excellence Framework. This ranking recognises the quality of teaching on our higher education programmes and means that the college joins a small number of colleges and universities to achieve the ‘gold’ standard.
As the academic year ends, I am able to reflect on another year of continued development and I would like to thank our students, staff, stakeholders and governors, because the success of our college is not an accident, but the combined result of hard work, ambition and talent. We are ambitious for our future so, as a parent, please let us know if there are areas that we could develop still further. I do hope that your son, daughter or ward has enjoyed their year at college and that they will succeed on their chosen courses and qualifications. For those of our students who will be leaving us this summer to progress to university or employment, I would like to thank them for their contributions to our college community and wish them every success for the future.
Please encourage your son, daughter or ward to stay in touch through firstname.lastname@example.org - we are working hard to grow our alumni network, as next year is our 50th year - when we will celebrate the year we became the first tertiary college in the UK!
John Laramy, Principal