Since 2014 when Exeter College was recognised as Ofsted Outstanding very few providers have reached that standard, in fact until the last few weeks, no college anywhere in the country had been judged outstanding for 14 months. In this context I am delighted to share a few highlights of the College year from a quality perspective. Last August we celebrated our best ever academic results. In November, the sector newspaper the ‘FE Week’ ranked Exeter College as the number one college in the country using a combination of four different metrics. In March, the College won a trio of Exeter Living Awards: for education provider of the year, business support service of the year (for our apprenticeship work) and then, our apprenticeship work won the overall ‘platinum award’ for the overall winner of the night. Finally, in June the Government published the raw performance data for all colleges, showing the percentage of students that achieve the qualification they embarked upon. I am delighted to inform you that for our work with young people, out of the 211 colleges listed, Exeter College ranked 6th! 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 differentiates between students in the competitive university or jobs market. In December our rugby academy team were crowned RFU AASE national champions, the best 16-18 team in the country. Also 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.
This year we had a number of teams’ complete ten tors, with the 45 mile team adding late drama finishing the 45 mile journey with about 20 seconds to spare. Even the Army Colonel in charge of the event could be heard cheering the team in!
Our Model United Nations team and our debating teams have 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 medals in World Skills Competitions and scoring gold at events like the Physics Olympiad.
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 magnificent – with one student’s A-Level art work being selected from over 4000 entries to be shown at the National Gallery. There have also been numerous trips and visits over the year, in fact at the time of writing we have a group of Business and Information Technology students on a trip to a partner college in Shanghai to look at virtual reality and emerging technologies.
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. Over the summer break we will create a full-size 3G football pitch at our Exwick sports hub. This multi-use floodlit facility will enable to host various sports events during evenings and weekends, so we hope we can play a small part in the development of sport across Devon.
In September we will open a £3m extension to our Technology Centre to support advanced manufacturing, robotics and technical welding. The centre will host the largest virtual welding centre in the South West, if not the country. I have been delighted by the reaction of industry and students to the new facility, which now places the college firmly amongst an elite group for the delivery of robotic engineering. The Student Representative Committee (Students Union) has had a fantastic year, raising more than £17,500 for the College Charity, the Devon Air Ambulance and also investing almost £20,000 in improvements to the students’ experience, ranging from table tennis tables to some flip-down seating in corridors. 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 the students for the 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 was ranked ‘gold’ in the Teaching Excellence Framework, which was published in June. 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, 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 or daughter 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 in the future.