New College Pontefract wins double at the 2020 TES FE Awards

We are delighted to have been named as SIXTH FORM COLLEGE OF THE YEAR and OVERALL FE PROVIDER OF THE YEAR at the 2020 TES FE Awards!! We are beyond proud of all of our amazing students and staff!

Overall FE provider of the year
New College Pontefract

New College Pontefract is one of the most successful non-selective sixth-form colleges in the country. According to the judges, it is “doing a truly extraordinary job”.

Since 2014, enrolments have increased by 20 per cent, from 2,100 a year to 2,500. It was one of the first sixth-form colleges to convert to academy status. This allowed it to establish a multi-academy trust containing two new free-school “sibling” colleges: one in Doncaster, which opened in 2017, and one in Bradford, which opened two years later.

The college’s own headline data has continued to improve. In 2018-19, it achieved an A-level performance system grade 2 in both A-level and applied general provision, recording a 100 per cent pass rate in both. The college also achieved its best-ever high-grade rates: 60 per cent at A level and 90 per cent in applied general courses.

But it’s not all about exam results. New College Pontefract places a great deal of emphasis on employability training and skills, progression to higher education and a wide range of extracurricular and supercurricular activities. These include more than 200 trips and events over the course of the academic year, ensuring that students are given a broad educational experience that goes beyond the classroom. 

The judges said: “The college is making a real difference to young people across three communities both in and outside of the classroom. It has a broad intake of students, many of whom are from disadvantaged backgrounds, and is showing others what it means to be a sixth form in modern times.”

Overall FE provider of the year
New College Pontefract

The winners of the five categories for different types of institutions – The Bedford College Group, Skills Group, Inspire, New College Pontefract and Coleg Elidyr – battled it out to claim the flagship award of overall provider.

And it was the sixth-form college in West Yorkshire that came out on top. The judges said that it had been “incredibly adventurous” in sharing skills and expertise with neighbouring schools, and in grasping the initiative by not only converting to academy status but establishing new free schools to meet the needs of the area it serves.

The college has worked hard to disseminate best practice, working with primaries and secondaries across the region through the establishment of a teaching school. A recent literacy project, involving 10 primary schools and three secondaries in the Wakefield area, improved the age-related expectation in reading among disadvantaged children by between 12 and 26 per cent. This reflects the college’s focus on narrowing the gaps of achievement in an area that has suffered from underperformance at key stage 4. These efforts are just as visible within the college, where the overall attendance rate stands at an impressive 93 per cent.

Its strong exam results are supported by an approach to teaching and learning through embedding the principles of metacognition based on research into cognitive developmental psychology.

The judges said: “New College Pontefract is taking on a system leadership role within its sector and is a shining example of what every college should be aiming to achieve.”