National recognition for student support

Published: Friday 27 May 2016

Blackpool and The Fylde College has earned a national award for its determination to make higher education accessible to all. 

The College’s Flying Start programme, which offers bespoke sessions and mentoring to all prospective and new HE students, was commended at the National Education Opportunities Network (NEON) Awards 2016.

Placed in the top three in a shortlist of 50, the programme was recognised for its effectiveness in helping various groups of students with transition into a HE environment. The sessions, run by higher education learning mentors, are for all students but can include care leavers, people with disabilities and learning difficulties, adults returning to education after a long absence, in fact anyone who just wants that head start and to gain extra confidence as a result of attending.

A mix of individual and group sessions are available during the summer before courses start, or at induction, followed by ongoing mentoring throughout the year. Out of the 330 students who enrolled on the scheme for the current academic year, 93% are still on their original course.

Dr Judith Poole, Head of Student Support and Wellbeing at B&FC, said:

“For many people embarking on higher education can be an exciting but daunting time requiring a whole new set of skills. By mentoring new and prospective students in areas such as time management, wellbeing skills and strategies, research and academic writing, we are removing many of the barriers that traditionally prevent them from applying.”

The College was presented with the NEON award at the Palace of Westminster by Gordon Marsden, MP for Blackpool South and Shadow FE/HE Skills Minister, who also paid tribute to the work B&FC was doing in his opening address.

The award follows news that the College has also been chosen as the northwest’s regional training hub for Making Sense of Autism, a programme for anyone in a post-16 setting who would benefit from a better understanding of autism. The programme is run by the Autism Education Trust and supported by National Autistic Society, Department for Education and Ambitious About Autism.

Training courses offered by B&FC will range from basic awareness aimed at all  staff, or audit and planning sessions for leaders and management, up to a more detailed programme for practitioners and frontline staff.

The College beat off stiff competition to achieve this status and was eventually chosen for its track record, expertise and vision. A celebration of this award will take place on the Terrace Pavilion at the House of Commons in July.

Enquiries about the autism training can be made via AutismTraining@blackpool.ac.uk.

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