Month May 2021


NCG’s Liz Bromley Reflects on the impact of Covid-19 in Collab Group Report

“The digital divide has shone a very harsh spotlight on societal differences, societal expectations, and a whole generation of young people who’ve been really disadvantaged because they simply don’t have access to the space, the technology or the bandwidth.” – Liz Bromley, NCG CEO.

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on the daily lives of everyone across the world and those working and studying in further education have seen challenges exclusive to them.

Over the last few months, Collab Group have interviewed CEOs and Principals from Collab Group colleges right across the FE sector about how the pandemic has impacted the day-to-day running of colleges, the immediate and long-term effect on students and what they think the lasting impact may be.

CEO of NCG Liz Bromley was given the opportunity to take part and talks about the digital poverty that many students across the UK found themselves in as colleges closed and moved to remote learning.

Read Liz’s thoughts and the rest of the conversations in a report from Collab Group that reflects on some of the shared experiences and key lessons learned here.

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An Important Update on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at NCG

Today marks the anniversary of the death of George Floyd, an event that renewed the global movement for racial equality.

Soon after, and in response to the conversations happening around the world, we restated our commitment to ensuring that our students, our colleagues and all of our stakeholders across NCG and all of our colleges study and work in environments that embed the principles and practices of equality, diversity and inclusion. We made clear that we do not and will not tolerate racism or discrimination in any form.

NCG remains dedicated to our mission in pursuit of social mobility, in an inclusive and diverse learning community, and we know that great organisations really listen to stakeholders without defensiveness, or being distracted, or making excuses.

Over the past year, we have been revisiting our whole approach to EDI and our new strategy is almost complete. This new approach will help NCG and our communities move forward knowing that we are striving to be inclusive, respectful and tolerant in every area of our organisation.

In the past year we have undertaken the following:

• Commissioned a leading consultant group (EW Group) to review NCG’s existing formal EDI strategy and policy, with associated recommendations
• Formed a working group to help develop a new EDI Strategy with a series of deliverables aligned to our strategic themes and aims
• Consulted with focus groups of governors, colleagues and students on the emerging strategy and its likely impact
• Formally trained a number of senior leaders and nominated college EDI champions
• Paid close attention and responded to any achievement gaps in our learner outcomes
• Undertaken a review of colleague record system (iTrent) to help improve our understanding and response to colleague trends
• Recently completed a new colleague engagement survey to gain additional insight into perspectives around NCG

The new EDI Strategy will be published to colleagues in June 2021 and will contain a number of key actions that will help NCG progress toward its mission and vision, and help ensure we are all proud to be part of NCG.

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NCG Skills Competition Shines A Light On Young People’s Skills

The first annual NCG Skills competition has seen apprentices and students across a number of NCG colleges showcase their talents in everything from carpentry to creative make-up.

The competition was created by NCG to shine a light on the vital skills of industries badly hit by the pandemic and to give students the opportunity to get practical work experience,  grow their practical skills, and develop their employability skills by interacting with employers.

NCG Skills was developed and launched with funding from the Crescent Publishing Consortium and the support of NOCN and employers from L’Oreal to EPA Construction and local restaurateurs. The competition followed the same format as WorldSkills UK, which allows the winners and runners-up to be put forward for a place within the high-profile competition.

Regional heats were held at five NCG colleges between December and February and May’s finals saw students from those colleges competing against each other. Finals across 10 subject areas were hosted live, with students completing the same timed tasks at the same time across the colleges.

Prizes were awarded to the national winner and runner-up in each curriculum area which will assist them in their learning,  including coffee machines and professional knife sets for hospitality, make-up/hair/beauty tools for those within hair and beauty and tool kits for those within the construction finals.

One of the winners was 19-year-old Craig Warnes from Ashington, who is studying Level 3 Hairdressing at Newcastle College. Craig said:

“NCG Skills is the first competition I’ve ever taken part in, so I jumped at the chance and I’ve really enjoyed preparing for it because I’ve been able to come up with my own ideas and make my own decisions, but I’ve still been able to ask for feedback and support from my tutors which has been really helpful.

“With the pandemic, the competition has had to change slightly because in the first round, we got to work on a real client but we did need to be really careful. For the final, we used doll heads and showed our work via photos and streaming live over Teams, but I’ve still really enjoyed the experience and am glad that I was given the opportunity.

“I can’t believe I’ve won and now I’ll progress to WorldSkills, which I think will be a lot of pressure but I’d still love to do it because the competition side of it gives me a lot of motivation and really just helps build skills and confidence. Being able to be back on campus and taking part in a skills competition has also really helped with my motivation.”

Grant Glendinning, NCG Executive Principal North and Strategic Lead for Apprenticeships, commented:

“Since last year while many businesses such as hospitality or beauty have been closed or construction sites have been limited with social distancing measures, vocational work experience has been hard to come by.

“As a national group, our colleges have worked together to offer an alternative, hands-on experience for our students in the form of our NCG Skills competition. Congratulations to all our finalists and well done to the winners. We wish them the best of luck in qualifying for WorldSkills.”

The winners of the first NCG Skills Competition 2021 are:

  • Bricklaying – Shaun Wigzell, Lewisham College
  • Carpentry – Lewis Heaton, Carlisle College
  • Culinary Arts – Owen Connell, Newcastle College
  • Restaurant Services – Ami Ella Patrick, Newcastle College
  • Plumbing – Kamarleo Lawrence, Lewisham College
  • Creative Media Make Up – Sophie Henderson, Carlisle College
  • Hairdressing – Craig Warnes, Newcastle College
  • Beauty – Sophie Cotton, Newcastle College
  • Joinery – Nell Tomlinson, Carlisle College
  • Painting and Decorating – Rebecca Dicks, Lewisham College

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NCG Responds to Skills and Post-16 Education Bill

NCG has today welcomed the government’s plans to introduce new legislative measures that form part of the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill.

Chief Executive Officer of NCG, Liz Bromley, commented:

“NCG welcomes today’s legislative measures set out by the government which puts further education colleges at the heart of our country’s skills system and support economic recovery.

“We strongly believe opportunities to retrain and reskill should be available to everybody throughout their lives.

“Our seven colleges have played an important role in supporting students and their local communities over the past 14 months and are ready to provide learners of all ages with the skills needed to rebuild our local and national economies.

“We are looking forward to delivering these opportunities and await further commitment from the government that will ensure this ambitious plan is supported by the right legislation and fair, adequate funding.”

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