Derby College Group (DCG) has become the first college in the UK to achieve the College of Character kitemark – recognising the organisation’s commitment to developing well-rounded and work-ready citizens.
The internationally recognised quality mark was awarded following a visit to the College by assessors from the Association for Character Education, Chair Gary Lewis, and Rachael Fraser, headteacher of Woodbrook Vale School in Loughborough.
The assessment included discussions with both employees and students, as well as observing tutorial groups, lessons and students’ independent study time.
The report confirming the award said: “This award clearly recognises the quality of learning and a values-driven personal and skills development programme enjoyed by all members of the college community.
“The assessors were singularly impressed with the excellent progress the College has made since embarking on its relatively new ‘Character journey’, and there is an obvious commitment from both middle and senior leaders to ensure that the programme is evaluated carefully and that plans going forward are adjusted and adapted as needs dictate.”
The report particularly commended DCG on:
- Leadership shown in the evolution of character education with clear short, medium and longer term plans for evolving character provision so that it has a direct impact on student wellbeing, academic achievement and future life chances
- The universal commitment to and understanding of the impact of character development on both emotional development and professional life chances
- Commitment to staff development and training
- Positive student feedback and the direct action that many had taken to set up clubs, societies and active support groups including a student-led mental health society
- The development of new initiatives such as involvement in the Bronze Youth Award, building on key character traits such as resilience, determination and critical thinking.
DCG Director of Student Experience and Pastoral Support Aaron Denton explained: “The ethos of developing our students as well-rounded and work-ready citizens is embedded across the organisation and we are proud that this has led to DCG being the first in the UK to be recognised as a College of Character.
“It will give us the impetus to further develop programmes and activities that will give our students a head start as they progress to the next stage of their lives – whether that be to higher education, an apprenticeship, work, or to set up their own business.
Seraya Cliff, Character Education, Employability and Tutorial Manager continued: “We are also committed to sharing our successes and experiences with other further education providers to ensure that the benefits of character development impacts positively on many other students across the country.”
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