Month July 2019


Six Ways Employers Can Use the Apprenticeship Levy to Their Advantage

Don’t let the word “levy” put you off apprenticeships. You can use them to benefit your business. That just 13 per cent of the Government’s apprenticeship budget was spent last year means that thousands of employers are missing out.


You might need new skills to grow your service offering or you might be worried about who’s going to replace your current managers as they retire. Apprenticeships can provide the solutions to these challenges.


Here are five ways employers can use the Apprenticeship Levy to their advantage:


  1. Use the Government’s co-investment rate if you’re not a levy-paying business. Here the Government will pay 95 per cent of the training and assessment costs.


  1. If you employ a 16 to 18-year-old, you will receive a £1,000 grant, and for businesses that employ fewer than 50 staff that take on a 16 to 18-year-old apprentice, the Government will fund 100 per cent of the training costs.


  1. Apprenticeship rules state that 20 per cent of an apprentice’s time should be spent on “off-the-job” training. Don’t let this put you off. This time doesn’t have to be spent off-site in a classroom. In fact it can cover a range of activities such as practical training, theory-based learning and special assignments.


  1. Consider the skills line managers and leaders may need to manage apprentices effectively. Skills such as coaching and mentoring are fundamental to making a successful apprenticeship, but other skills such as developing confidence and resilience in apprentices are important and will mean the difference between your apprentices adding substantial value to your business or being a burden on resources.


  1. You can use apprentices to spot and develop future leaders for your business. This also applies to existing staff, as remember the Apprenticeship Levy funds can be used for training people of all ages. For career starters you can expose them to different functions of your business to give them the broad understanding that leaders need, and for existing staff you can leadership qualifications.


  1. Use apprenticeships as a tool for workforce planning. You’ll need to consider what skills your apprentices will need as they progress – so setting milestones and timelines is important for levy payers.


To find out more about what the Apprenticeship Levy means for your businesses and how to take advantage of it, contact NCG’s specialist team on 0191 200 4800 and

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NCG Excellence Awards 2019 Recap

  • Guests pose outside the Newcastle Eagles Community Arena

  • Interim Chief Executive addressing our guests

  • Magician Magic Graeme entertains our guests on arrival

  • Our award winners!

  • Magician Magic Graeme entertains our guests on arrival

  • Elouise hosts a game of Rock, Paper, Mirror

  • Guests pose outside the Newcastle Eagles Community Arena

  • Guests pose outside the Newcastle Eagles Community Arena

  • Elouise hosts a game of Rock, Paper, Mirror

  • Each of the 22 tables sat 8 guests

  • Every guest received an event programme at a star pin badge

  • Our 12 awards were split into our 3 key areas of activity

  • Award winner Marcia Winterburn with Asfa Sohail, Principal at Lewisham College

  • Director of Learning & OD, Elouise Leonard-Cross, served as compère for the evening

  • Magician Magic Graeme entertains our guests on arrival

  • Award winner Amanda Robson with Andy Dobson, Principal at Kidderminster College

  • Christina Maw, representing the award winning Work Experience Team, with Grant Glendinning, Principal at Carlisle College

  • Elouise hosts a game of Rock, Paper, Mirror

  • Award winner Farina Cahm with Denise Williamson, Principal at West Lancashire College

  • Newcastle College based musician Jordan Kendal added to a great atmosphere

  • ❤NCG letters provided by Love Light Hire

The sun was shining as the third annual NCG Excellence Awards took place on Thursday 27th June 2019, with a record number in attendance to celebrate the success of our colleagues.

The Awards evening evolves year-on-year, growing into a bigger and better event to allow us to share the celebrations with more of our colleagues. This year, for the first time, the event was held off campus, at the new Eagles Community Arena in Newcastle – the home of British Basketball League team, The Newcastle Eagles.

This year also some changes to how we categorise our awards, linking them to our three key areas of activity; Great Place to Teach, Great Place to Work and Great Place to Learn.

“These areas are fundamental to our success and there has been amazing collaboration across the organisation this year in driving these forward and sharing practice. The Awards are just one way we can directly see the impact of this work.

– Elouise Leonard-Cross, Director of Learning & Organisational Development

The 2019 awards also debuted a new logo. Retaining the stars, which represent each of the colleges within NCG, and emphasising the 3 strands of NCG’s values; Valuing our People, Taking Ownership and Being Open and Honest.

The Awards event followed our Summer Teaching, Learning and Assessment conference: Reflecting on Excellence. The conference offered colleagues from each of our colleges to come together for a series of presentations and workshops that explored collaborative approaches and techniques to improve TLA at NCG. Once the conference closed, it was time to get ready for the big night.

Guests arriving back at the Arena for the awards were wowed by Graeme Shaw, an expert close-up magician, whose tricks with coins, fire and glass drew gasps and laughter in the foyer. The buoyant atmosphere was aided by the musical stylings of Newcastle College learner Jordan Kendal, as his acoustic covers filled the room and spilled into the main hall.

Once in the hall, which was the Eagles’ centre court, guests had the opportunity to have their photos taken at Platinum Events Newcastle’s Magic Mirror – using the props, including the brilliant balloon art of Buddy’s Balloons, to stage the most creative scene possible.

Chris Payne, Interim Chief Executive of NCG, formally opened the event, welcoming all of our guests, which included all of our category finalists and, for the first time, their nominators. Chris thanked the divisional judging panels, who received 388 nominations, for identifying the overall winners – sharing that the words of our colleagues in those nominations were a real cause of encouragement.

Chris gave the stage to Elouise Leonard-Cross, NCG’s Director of Learning & OD, who served as compère for the evening and introduced a free-for-all game of ‘Rock, Paper, Mirror’, an event-themed take on the classic game. Once we had our game winner and dinner was served, the lights were dimmed and our award winners were revealed:


Great Place to Learn: Information, Advice and Guidance

⭐ Farina Cahm, West Lancashire College

Farina always offers encouragement and helps learners to fulfil their career aspirations; she is continually seeking ways to improve and develop our service to the learners at West Lancashire College.


Great Place to Learn: Learner Support

⭐ Amanda Robson, Carlisle College

Amanda is truly inspirational and supports all of Carlisle College’s learners with a ‘can do’ attitude.


Great Place to Learn: Enriching the Learning Experience

⭐ Work Experience Team, Lewisham College and Southwark College

The team makes a difference to learners by providing them real life work experience and skills in their area of vocational education.

Christina Maw, represented the Work Experience Team in accepting the award.


Great Place to Learn: Unlocking Learner Potential

⭐ Marcia Winterburn, Carlisle College

Marcia deserves to be recognised for her ‘I will do everything I can to help these learners pass GCSE English’ attitude.



Great Place to Work: Internal Customer Experience

⭐ Lee Jennings, Group Services

The Human Resources Team at Group Services simply could not do our jobs without Lee’s knowledge, support, advice and guidance. Lee is an absolute credit to the team and NCG.

Hannah Marshall, Group Head of IT, accepted this award on Lee’s behalf.


Great Place to Work: Taking Ownership

⭐ Beth Tserkezie, Newcastle College

Beth takes ownership of every task asked of her, whether her responsibility or not, and she does so with her signature positivity, goodwill and determination to achieve a great outcome for all involved.


Great Place to Work: Valuing Our People

⭐ Jen Burlton, Newcastle Sixth Form College

Jen genuinely values the staff and students she works with – that level of genuineness is extremely rare


Great Place to Work: Being Open and Honest

⭐ Caroline Carey, Carlisle College

Caroline truly exemplifies the Open & Honest value and provides a shining example of working collaboratively in pulling together a short-course curriculum at Carlisle College, coordinating with managers across the organisation to successfully make it happen.

Andy Dodds, Director of Business Development & Marketing at Carlisle College, accepted this award on Caroline’s behalf.



Great Place to Teach: Apprenticeships

⭐ Louisa Ellis, Kidderminster College

Louisa is highly passionate about apprenticeships and has a strong belief in their ability to raise aspirations and goals for future generations.


Great Place to Teach: Higher Education Teacher of the Year

⭐ Jessica Hall, Kidderminster College

Jess always goes above and beyond to support colleagues in any way she can and is a great asset to the HE Dance department at Kidderminster College.


Great Place to Teach: Further Education Teacher of the Year (Technical)

⭐ Saskia Munden, Newcastle College

Saskia has a real passion for her subject and its success, commitment to her learners, and she cares about the whole learner journey at Newcastle College.


Great Place to Teach: Further Education Teacher of the Year (Academic)

⭐ Melissa Hudson, Newcastle Sixth Form College

Melissa is so friendly and genuinely cares about the achievement and wellbeing of all students and their individual progress. She motivates everyone and anyone she can to be not only better at their work but a better person.


Congratulations to all of our nominees, category finalists and award winners – a great time was had celebrating your successes.

Finally, we’d again like to thank our sponsors ISS, Ellisons, FE Associates, NCFE and Arco Safety for their support and allowing us to deliver the best possible experience for our attendees.

See you next year for the NCG Excellence Awards 2020!

#NCGExcellence #WeAreNCG

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