How Cornwall College has benefitted from People 1st accreditation

Cornwall College has been a People 1st accredited college since 2013. It currently holds a gold accreditation for hospitality, a highly commended AA Rosette for its college restaurant, and Centre of Excellence status for food and beverage service, patisserie and confectionary and fish and shellfish.

We spoke to Grant Mather, the college’s curriculum lead for hospitality and tourism, to find out why he feels their accreditation has been a worthwhile investment:

Why did you decide to become accredited?

Making sure that all the employers and learners out there are aware of the quality that we deliver day-in, day-out, is vital.

This is the third time we’ve been through the accreditation process, and this time it was probably the hardest decision to make, due to the cuts in funding that FE colleges are going through. But actually, if just two extra learners come to the college because we’ve got the accreditation, we’ve recovered the cost of the going through the process. So, for me, it was fairly straightforward in the end.

What have been the biggest benefits you have experienced since becoming accredited?

It helps our staff recognise how good they are in their roles. Staff in FE colleges are working extremely hard these days - they’re all being pushed much harder and they need that opportunity to remind themselves what a great job they do. So that is one real benefit to us.

Going through the process also really focusses you on what you’re good at, and reminds you to try to get out there and sell your courses. It reminds you of exactly what you do that is so good.

Our accreditation also helps us make sure that people are aware of just how good we are. We live in a competitive world, there are other colleges and training providers around us, so we want to make sure that we get our market share.

How has becoming accredited set you apart from the competition?

It reminds people of our overall standards. The Centres of Excellence have been particularly important as industry recognises those titles. For us, down in Cornwall, it’s a bit of a no-brainer that we should be one of the top colleges for fish and shellfish, but the other areas (food and beverage service, patisserie and confectionary) are equally as important.

The AA Rosette also helps. Lots of people in industry recognise what an AA Rosette means, so although we’re in the college system, it sets a benchmark that allows us to remind people of where we sit in comparison to industry, They can relate to it.

I think parents need to be reassured too. They’re looking at where they’re sending their young people – do they stay on at school, do they go into apprenticeships, do they go on to a college of further education? This sort of kitemark helps them make that decision.

What does your accreditation mean to the employers and learners you’re working with?

Employers want to work with us now – we’ve seen a big increase in the amount of involvement they have with us. It’s not just about them sending apprentices to the college, it’s not just about us supplying them with staff for the future, it’s about actually being involved in what we do and supporting our curriculum.

The learners who are with us at the moment feel proud that they’re involved with something that is noted for its standards and has the gold accreditation and Centres of Excellence. It’s also making future learners want to be here. If they’re going to make a choice, we want them to make an informed choice - the best choice they can. Having the accreditation and Centres of Excellence really helps that.

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