I worked with Jonathan Pratt to deliver an impact assessment of Bolton College early in 2015, producing two reports: one a summary of the College’s overall impact on the local community and the other focused specifically on its Community Learning Service.
The research took place at a time of significant change and challenges relating to Apprenticeship provision and some curriculum areas in the college. The overall Community Impact Assessment, based on data provided by the College and depth interviews with local partners and stakeholders, noted these challenges but highlighted much of the good work going on too. This included the College’s active role in working with local partners to deliver local skills and employment strategies, and in helping local residents progress in the labour market across a responsive range of vocational areas. Both of these positives were subsequently noted in the College’s OFSTED report.
The report also considered the College’s role as a major employer in the town and as a buyer of goods and services (together worth around £20m to the Bolton economy), and identified a number of ways that the College could improve its performance in terms of environmental impact and sustainability.
The Community Learning Impact Assessment explored the role that the College and partners play in working with adults to engage them in learning and help them to progress in terms of skills, qualifications and employability. In a challenging local economic and social context, the Service has been increasingly focused on engaging and helping disadvantaged groups to progress into vocationally related learning and work. Our report noted that the Service is not only reaching the local population which has significant areas of need, but is also positively focused on those places where the need is greatest. There was also evidence of the Service’s high quality and use of a range of highly innovative practices, including the network of Community Learning Ambassadors and Community Learning Hubs.
“We found the work really helpful, both in helping us to understand what we are doing well, and how our services can be improved. I would happily recommend them to other Colleges.”
Sharon Marriott, Director of Adults and HE, Bolton College