Cardiff and Vale College has been crowned as the best college in the country for its focus on digital skills and its contribution to the local community.
The awards celebrate the best of the best in FE and CAVC won in two categories – Outstanding Use of Technology in Teaching, Learning and Assessment and Contribution to the Local Community.
While judges thought the standard of across the board for use of technology was extremely high, CAVC’s stood out as the outstanding entry.
They noted that the College has a mission to empower learners to be the innovators of the future and its Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) team has produced a range of initiatives to meet that goal.
At CAVC – the first and only Microsoft Showcase College in Wales – all students undertake an element on online learning as part of their course, providing learners with added flexibility and an additional skills set for employment in a wide range of sectors. The judges were impressed by the use of Virtual Reality and augmented reality headsets, 360° films and green screen technology. They also cited plans for a 3D immersive house and a 3D aerospace model.
The judges also cited the work done by CAVC to embed digital skills in its professional development for staff and its work to share best practice across the education sector.
They said: “The strategic approach taken by Cardiff and Vale ensures longevity and concentrates on the world beyond the college walls to provide a bigger, broader economic benefit to the community.”
It was this approach to looking outside of the institution that won CAVC the Contribution to the local community award. CAVC serves the most diverse community in Wales, and the College has a goal to address skills shortages and create employment opportunities.
The Tes FE Awards judges noted a number of the College’s ground-breaking initiatives. This included the CAVC Families Learning Together initiative, where more than 800 parents and children have been brought together for bespoke courses where they can learn literary and numeracy skills together.
They also pointed to CAVC’s REACH+ hub for English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) students. This unique model has transformed the support for those requiring ESOL courses and has now been rolled out in hubs across Wales. The centre has assessed more than 3,000 learners and placed 98% of them into provision, removing large waiting lists and provided an easily accessible central contact point for users.
The College’s work with Cancer Awareness to create ESOL health and cancer awareness resources for the BAME community was also seen as further evidence of its valuable community work.
CAVC’s innovative Junior Apprenticeship programme offering 14 to 16-year-olds full-time vocational pathways and its development of two shared campuses in east and west Cardiff also impressed the judges. They said the fact that the number of young people Neither in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) in Cardiff has fallen from 4.9% to 1.6% was “in no small part” down to CAVC’s work.
The judges added: “Cardiff and Vale has adopted a real strategic approach around family learning and ESOL. The reach of its initiatives is incredible, and there’s a great sense of ‘what next?’ It’s always travelling forward, constantly looking outside of its four walls.”
Cardiff and Vale College Principal Kay Martin said: “We are absolutely thrilled to win two such prestigious awards.
“We serve one of the most diverse communities in Wales and we are determined to do everything we can to create opportunities for those communities and the local and wider economy. I am so pleased that the judges recognised that.
“Also, at a time when online learning has become more relevant than ever, to be awarded for our commitment to using technology to enhance the learning process is excellent news.
“Both awards are a testament to staff across CAVC – it is their hard work, commitment and vision that has been awarded here.”