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11 May 2018

Cardiff and Vale College presented with UK-wide award for its Junior Apprenticeship programme at special Senedd event

Cardiff and Vale College has been presented with a national award for its pioneering programme to offer more vocational career routes to 14 to 16-year-olds at a special event in the Senedd.

The College beat off competition from the rest of the UK’s Further Education (FE) providers to win the Association of Colleges (AoC) Beacon Award for Transition into Post-16 Education and Training, sponsored by the Skills and Education Group.

Beacon Awards celebrate the best and most innovative practice among the UK’s FE institutions, rewarding colleges that go above and beyond in providing technical and professional education. Award winners must also offer something exceptional to students and the wider community.

Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning Eluned Morgan was joined by the AoC’s Regional Director for the South West Ian Munro and Skills and Education Group Chief Executive Paul Eeles to present the award to CAVC Principal Kay Martin.

Jointly funded by Welsh Government Creative Solutions, CAVC, Cardiff Council and Cardiff schools, the Junior Apprenticeship programme was launched in 2016 to increase the number of young people in education, employment and training.

Offering Year 10 and 11 pupils the opportunity to study full-time for a future career in a college setting from the age of 14, the Junior Apprenticeship programme was the first of its kind in Wales. The two-year programme is designed for Year 10 pupils and comprises work-related education with work experience and CV building alongside a Level 2 course that is equivalent to four or five GCSEs in six different vocational pathways. These pathways cover Welsh Government priority areas: automotive, construction, hospitality and catering, creative, hair and beauty, and public services.

Each apprentice also studies GCSEs in English and Maths alongside their chosen area.

Particular emphasis is placed on the requirements of each apprentice with a designated Learning Coach to support teaching and learning and help with behaviour management. Welfare Officers support day-to-day issues and provide pastoral care and additional support sessions for English, Maths and Welsh are held weekly.

Its first cohort of Year 11s all successfully graduated and secured places on higher level CAVC courses or apprenticeships. The Welsh Government has since encouraged other Welsh colleges to adopt similar initiatives.

CAVC Principal Kay Martin said: “We are honoured to be presented with this Beacon Award for Transition into Post-16 Education at the Senedd. It is testament to the hard work and determination shown by the College, Cardiff Council and local schools and I am hugely proud of their achievements.

“There has been comprehensive half-time or part-time 14-16 learning pathway provision operating in colleges across the UK for more than 20 years, but the Junior Apprenticeship programme takes that model significantly further. It helps people who might have thought that school wasn’t for them by offering career routes in a fresh environment.

“The stories of success among the first cohort speak for themselves. We have learners who hadn’t previously attended school for a whole years now showing 90% attendance; of the Cardiff learners who were identified as most vulnerable, 75% are no longer in that category and all of the 19 Year 11 graduates in 2017 successfully completed their programme with two successfully completing in just one year. The second cohort are due to graduate in the summer and we look forward to seeing even more success stories.”

Minister for Welsh and Lifelong Learning Eluned Morgan said: “I congratulate Cardiff and Vale College for their award. It is well deserved for the excellent work they do with their Junior Apprenticeship programme.

“Traditional education is not right for everyone and this scheme provides 14 to 16-year-olds with an alternative to school and ensures they remain in full time education.”