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Inspection report highlights curriculum success for SERC

SERC’s Food Truck concept developed by the hospitality and catering department, which worked collaboratively with the engineering, motor vehicle and joinery departments, was highlighted in the College’s inspection report as a successful cross-college resource.

South Eastern Regional College (SERC) has been praised for its high-level learning experiences offered to students, in a report by the Education and Training Inspectorate evaluating curriculum planning.

“We have invested in the curriculum here at SERC, particularly with the development of project-based learning, which ensures our students are industry ready as they progress, either to work or higher education,” said Dr Michael Malone, director of Curriculum.

“It is fitting that this has been recognised as an element that sets us apart in the report which stated: ‘A sector-leading project-based learning delivery model has been developed…Through their engagement in the projects, students find solutions to real-world challenges and have formal opportunities to review and evaluate the success of their projects… it is a significant strength that the college has supported the development of 84 student companies to date, across a range of different vocational areas.

“In addition, we pride ourselves on the close connections that we have with local industry and employers, an area that we have worked to grow and flourish with our dedicated Business Services and Employer placement teams. This was also highlighted in the report: ‘The college’s wide-ranging, collaborative partnership working with employers and sectoral bodies is used very well to inform the content and co-design of the curriculum, resulting in often innovative and mostly highly relevant learning programme’.”

On the professional and technical areas evaluated, the report stated: ‘The relevance, breadth and currency of the curriculum is a particular strength. It promotes social inclusion and supports very well the needs of the local and regional economy.’

The report further noted: ‘Students have very good opportunities to develop appropriate industry-standard and contemporary digital and technical skills relevant to their professional and technical area. This includes the use of a wide range of industry-relevant software and digital tools to develop relevant analytical skills in science, effective digital music production, creative media skills and industrial coding skills in engineering… As a consequence, the students are prepared well for higher education and the world of work.’

Dr Malone said: “The welfare of our students is central to the learning environment here at the College, where SERC Extra has been established to assist students address any issues that might hinder their success.

“We’re pleased that this was highlighted in the report, which says ‘The quality and impact of the care and welfare provision is highly effective and a significant strength of the work of the college.
“There is a strong commitment at all levels to supporting students to overcome any barriers to learning and progression, to remain on their programme and to succeed. An effective holistic support service is provided for the students and delivered by a coherent, well-integrated team.’

“SERC is very much part of the local community and offers careers advice for everyone regardless of whether or not they are a student at the College. Early in the year we encourage our students to find out their options and routes and access the expertise we have in house to help them plan their future.”

The ETI said: ‘The careers provision is highly valued by the students and almost all of them report that they are well-informed about the progression routes available to them, including employment and progression to higher education.’

Dr Malone said: “The world was a different place when we had our inspection back in March. I would like to pay tribute to all the staff across SERC who contributed to the work that goes into preparing for inspection. Mostly, we are all busy getting on with work, and it is often only at this stage, that we recognise how much we all do to ensure our students have access to high-level learning experiences. The report is testament to our staff – lecturing, technical and support teams who are dedicated to the ethos of further education.”

Paul French, 18, from Lisburn, a student on the Level 3 National Extended Diploma in Applied Science at SERC Lisburn Campus, said: “I would not be in the position I am today if it were not for my tutor’s encouragement and guidance. With the incredible facilities and student care provided – such as counsellors or the many mental health promotion days – SERC not only feels like a place of study, but it also feels like a safe place to become whatever you are aspiring to be.

“SERC gave me the push I needed to start my scientific career path and for that reason, amongst others, I can say SERC is an amazing place of study and I am glad to be a part of it.”

Follow this link to read the full report Education and Training Inspectorate Evaluation of Curriculum Planning at Level 3 in the South Eastern Regional College, March 2020: https://www.etini.gov.uk
Apply now for courses commencing September 2020. For more information, visit www.serc.ac.uk

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