Swindon College is a medium-sized, general further education college operating mainly from one site near the town centre. With a turnover of around £21 million it offers courses primarily in work related areas and has industry standard facilities in a number of these, including construction, engineering and catering.
The college has approximately 6,500 further education students (including 500 apprentices) and 500 higher education students. Its main higher education partners are the University of Bath and Oxford Brookes University.
The focus of provision is vocational education and training, taking into account local skills needs, progression to higher education, further training opportunities and the 14-19 strategy for Swindon.
The college’s success rates have risen over the last three years and it is now the *top performing college in Wiltshire for further education long and short courses, apprenticeships and advanced apprenticeships and Train to Gain. (*Framework for Excellence December 2010).
The college has outstanding (Ofsted) Train to Gain (training for those in employment) provision and a further 2,650 students achieved qualifications through this route last year either in the workplace or in college.
Swindon has traditionally been characterised by low unemployment and relatively high wages but despite this the college serves many areas of social and economic deprivation. The economic downturn has had a significant effect on the town with major employers reducing staff numbers. The college has responded well to this and has run a number of courses aimed at the unemployed in addition to working proactively with employers.
The college continues to grow its lower level provision to address the growing numbers of young people not in education, employment or training (NEETs) and runs a number of innovative projects in the community in order to meet the needs of this market.
The college underwent a satisfactory Ofsted inspection in March 2009 and the last Ofsted monitoring visit in 2010 noted that the college had made significant progress in a number of areas including 16-18 success rates.
The college was awarded the Matrix standard in 2010 and the Training Quality Standard in 2011, respectively recognising the quality of its advice and guidance and its high standards of business training and work with employers.