At our City of Westminster College regional meeting, we had four speakers covering another wide range of topics. To start us off, Rebekah Westgate from one of our sixth form college members, BSix in Hackney, talked us through her college’s developing community engagement strategy, which is making maximum use of student participation to determine its direction.
Chichester College is one of the country’s leading providers for international students, and Head of Marketing Helen Ward gave an overview of the strategy and operations of the college’s international marketing activities. From marketing materials and website requirements to the pros and cons of working in a range of different countries, Helen had a wealth of experience to share and tips to pass on.
Alec Brand introduced a research project he had commissioned for Greenwich Community College into young people’s decision-making, which had some unexpected outcomes and findings. For example, hardly any of the young people surveyed had heard of apprenticeships or knew what they were.
Finally Angela Bucknor gave a presentation about Waltham Forest’s new mobile website and online application facility, which had a huge impact on their applications numbers by simplifying the process and making it more accessible. Now into its second year, the application is being enhanced and improved.
Our meeting was up on the 6th floor of the college, which has a fantastic view all around central and north London. We all spent time over the lunch break identifying landmarks like Lords Cricket Ground and the Wembley arch! Our thanks to our speakers and to the college for hosting us.
At our York College meeting on 18th April, we heard from Laura Stead at Dearne Valley College on the college’s developing focus on employers, entrepreneurialism and the economic drivers of learning. The focus, although quite new, has already had a real impact on both curriculum and on the marketing strategy.
Kevin Burns went through the perils and pitfalls of running a course that hits the national headlines: Bishop Auckland College restyled a part-time music and drama course as an X-factor preparation course, and the story was picked up by ITV’s Daybreak, the Huffington Post and the national dailies before going viral and international via social media.
And Gareth Murphy of York College explained how a small change to the college’s website brought about a huge increase in adult recruitment. By making it easier for adults browsing course information to express an interest, the college is now able to interact and communicate with potential students much more effectively and to fill adult part-time courses that otherwise would have been withdrawn.
We had a really enjoyable day and were looked after very well by the college’s catering students who provided a fantastic hot buffet and cakes. As always, it was interesting to see a new college building and this one was very impressive. Thank you to all our speakers and to the college for hosting us.
The government launched its new skills strategy on Wednesday 3rd April, alongside an announcement of £214m new capital funding for 47 colleges. A new office of FE Commissioner was also announced, to advise ministers on inadequate colleges, which may be placed into a new “administered” status.
For marketers, there are several key aspects to the strategy, including a strong focus on the provision of good information and data (chapter 7). However, the way information is to be presented seems to take little account of colleges’ own channels, and seems to be woefully out of date, noting as it does that two colleges have already launched their own apps! – It might be more the case that 2 colleges haven’t either launched an app or a mobile site to make information easier to access!
As on many previous occasions, the government is pinning its plans on a national information service – this time underpinned by the National Careers Service (NCS). The government is also promoting a new labour market information tool developed by UKCES, and is committed to publishing new data on earnings and destinations for those who have benefited from FE.
The NCS will be responsible for a new “monthly real time scorecard” of labour marketing trends, job opportunities and courses available in each LEP area and city region, and it will “play a proactive role in connecting employers, education institutions and local partners.”
The strategy also notes “Schools must take the lead in ensuring that their pupils have access to the information they need. This is not something the government can plan centrally. We have created a new statutory duty for all schools to ensure that independent careers advice and data is provided. We will use funding levers to ensure that colleges make similar information and guidance available to their students.” From informal feedback from many CMN members, it seems that there is still a long way to go before all schools comply fully with this statutory duty.
The strategy states that “good data are essential to a rigorous and responsive skills system” – as those colleges providing community scorecard and other information about their success rates and the impact of FE on individuals know.
Other chapters cover the quality of FE, a new administered status for failing colleges, qualifications, apprenticeships, traineeships and funding. It’s quite short and you should read it to understand the government’s priorities which will shape policy, at:
Your thoughts on it would be welcome.
We had an eclectic day of presentations and discussion at our recent Bedford College meeting, covering social media, collaboration and 16-19, as well as how one college marketing team has faced big changes.
Lee Parker, Digital & Database Marketing Executive at our host Bedford College, gave a really useful overview of the college’s social media strategy. He looked at all the drivers and target groups, messages and aims of the strategy, and explained how he and the team were organising themselves to set the agenda and achieve their aims.
Susan Lewis, Director of Marketing at Northampton College, talked us through the background and process of developing a new model for the marketing team, in response to budget changes at the college. Unlike some colleagues faced with a similar situation, she was able to contribute significantly during a process of partial outsourcing, which has meant she has been able to shape the new service and maintain control over the marketing function.
We had time to share experiences and discuss issues with each other over a huge buffet lunch, then Sean Scully, Marketing Manager at Oaklands College joined us to talk about collaboration with the local community. Oaklands was Highly Commended for its collaborative partnerships at the FE First Awards 2012, and it was clear why as Sean took us through the range of projects the college has developed and the benefits he sees in them, including high media profile, enhanced reputation in the community and recognition by a wider stakeholder group.
Finally, Elvie-Jo Shergold, Head of Marketing & Student Recruitment at Barnet & Southgate College talked us through her a prize-winning 16-19 Campaign. Barnet & Southgate won Gold at the FE First Awards 2012 for their campaign based around images recalling well-known movies, casting students as the glamorous “stars”. It was a lively and engaging way to end the day.
Our thanks to BedfordCollege for their hospitality.
Feedback from delegates included:
“Excellent speakers. Wide range of subject matter with a link to an area becoming ever more important – engagement.”
“Very good mix of subjects during the day.”
“Speakers were all very knowledgeable and shared good experiences.”
“Lots of ideas to take away!”
After City of Westminster College on 11th April, our next free (to CMN members) regional networking meeting is on 18th April at York College. Our programme includes:
Laura Stead, Marketing Manager, Dearne Valley College: on incorporating economic information and employer feedback into the marketing strategy.
Kevin Burns, Marketing Manager, Bishop Auckland College: hitting the national headlines with our “X Factor” course.
Discussion time: sharing experiences and information about web development.
Liz Moon, Head of Marketing, York College: sharing information on online capturing of data through the website, targeting marketing and maximising ROI on adult marketing.
Lunch will be provided at 12.30pm and the day will end around 2.30pm.
Although the event is free to staff in CMN member colleges, we do need you to book so we can cater for everyone. Please contact email@example.com to book. Open to non-member colleges at £75 per person, PO number required to confirm the booking.
CAVTL published its report yesterday (25th March), on excellent adult vocation teaching and learning. It makes ten recommendations but the headline is that there should be a “clear line of sight” to work throughout any vocational training, and that there needs to be a “two way street” between colleges and training providers on one side and employers on the other: “The two-way street is about genuine collaboration between colleges and training providers, and employers.”
The introduction to the report goes on: “In the best examples the Commission has seen, employers are not just customers of vocational teaching and learning, but are engaged at every level in helping to create and deliver excellent vocational programmes. Collaboration is based on the recognition that there is added value in working together. Providers and employers make distinctive contributions for mutual benefit. This may seem an obvious statement, but it is fundamental to good vocational teaching and learning.”
For marketers, there are implications here for the way we position ourselves and engage with employers, how we promote ourselves to employers, and how we foster the long-term relationships the Report identifies as being so vital to excellent VET.
The summary report is available to read or download on the Excellence Gateway website at http://www.excellencegateway.org.uk/node/26611