Implementing good practice in your college’s project

Is your college applying for VET funding? With the deadlines approaching, it is crucial you ensure your application stands out and grabs the assessor’s attention.

One key ingredient to any successful application is showing how your organisation can embed good practices within your Erasmus+ project. This can help add weight to your proposal. But what counts as good practice? And how can it be implemented effectively?

Fortunately, we’re here to share with you some inspirational stories of colleges, who also applied for funding. Read on to learn the methods they used to make a difference in the VET sector.

Supporting disadvantaged learners

West Lothian College focus their Erasmus+ project on bridging the attainment gap to support disadvantaged learners. They offer international work placements to students who may have financial barriers preventing them from going abroad, in order to engage them in their course.

“Young people from deprived backgrounds are not getting to university or into good jobs at the rate that we need to get them to," explained Daniel Evans, Centre Head for Commercial and Marketing.

Learners from West Lothian College in Portugal

“We try to select people from areas where we know there will be fewer opportunities, using the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation. It’s a really good marker for us to target opportunities towards those who need it most.”

The college also expanded their learning support team, who identified students at risk of becoming disengaged and worked closely with them. “This Erasmus+ project really has the potential to spark their interest. Their eyes light up when you tell them about it, they can’t believe it.”

As a result of their efforts, the college won the Achieving Equalities Award in the 2016 College Development Network Awards in Scotland. By targeting disadvantaged learners and re-engaging them in education, they have helped to make a difference in their lives.

Have you identified the learners you want to focus on in your Erasmus+ project? How can you engage and motivate them?

Spreading the word

In some cases, one aspect that can be overlooked at the application stage is dissemination. However, Grimsby Institute excelled at this with their VET project.

Grimsby Institute participants standing together in street

They also organise work placements – but their focus is on disadvantaged students who pursue creative or digital industries, paying special attention to promoting their learners’ achievements.

Their committed work caught the attention of the BBC, who asked Grimsby Institute to feature in a special news segment.

“The BBC contacted the Association of Colleges and asked who was doing interesting work with European study and work programmes and they recommended us,” explained Emma Forrest-Leigh, Associate Principal. “It was a chance for our learners to share what they have done and the benefits of working in Europe.”

Dissemination needs to be explored carefully, even at the application stage. Have you planned ways to promote your project?

Engaging with employers

When boosting employability opportunities for participants, it’s important to consider how this can be achieved. For Lincoln College, they focused on successfully engaging with employers.

“Through strong partnership work, managers have developed a curriculum that meets the needs of employers well.”

They initially found difficulty in getting SMEs (small-to-medium enterprises) involved in the project. But through honesty, communication and a mutual, clear understanding of benefits, employers gained interest.

By engaging with employers, this helped Lincoln College to strengthen placements. “The one thing this opportunity gives (participants) is that it usually confirms on completion of their apprenticeship they have a permanent job,” said Ann Stanley, European Officer.

In addition, the college has been noted for its high quality apprenticeship training in the 2016 Employers Satisfaction Survey. Its 2016 OFSTED report similarly said: “Through strong partnership work, managers have developed a curriculum that meets the needs of employers well.”

How can your project ensure learners’ employability can be boosted? How can you engage with potential employers?

While these colleges’ projects have thrived, it’s important to recognise their committed efforts, which began during the application stage. By outlining the methods they would use, and applying them in the actual project, they shine as exemplary case studies.

Ready to start your application for VET funding? Find out more information on our dedicated ‘VET funding’ webpage.