Bedford College successfully provides further and higher education for ages 14 - 86. It currently has 14,000 students and provide training and education courses in a wide range of occupational areas from Entry to University level. The College focuses primarily on their students and helps them to achieve and fulfil their goals. The college offers expert guidance and advice in a high quality learning environment.
Bedford College decided to apply for Recognised for Excellence (R4E) in order to help drive the improvement of the college as a whole. The management team realised to fully improve they would need to look at all aspects within the College rather than focus on individual areas.
The College now has the ability to pinpoint the reasons as to why their results did not match the quality of their planning. By using the EFQM Excellence Model, the management team has brought the whole organisation together by showing how each area contributes to their overall performance.
Since implementing the Model, the College has also been able to clarify the type of person that they wish to employ. This has benefited staff recruitment and retention, as both areas have now improved vastly. Staff satisfaction rates are at almost twice their sector average and the college now has the lowest employee sickness absence in their region.
Not only has the Model allowed the College to reduce its purchasing costs, but its marketing and reporting processes are now much clearer. This is highly beneficial when supporting students all the way from initial enquiry to the educational process right through to achieving their qualifications.
The biggest challenge for the College was undoubtedly getting people from an educational environment to see the value of a 'Business' Excellence Model. Many people did not understand the need for business thinking and processes to be applied in an educational organisation. It was difficult to convince people that implementing a business system would benefit the organisation overall.
The College team's found working with the BQF to be extremely valuable, and benefited greatly from hearing from people in other sectors on how their approaches could be transferred over. They found that their submission was thoroughly tested, and the feedback they received was comprehensive and fair. This has enabled them to effectively recognise the areas in which they could improve further.
'We were really keen to overcome our biggest challenge - building business thinking into an educational organisation and also convincing people that by doing this would improve our overall outcome. This will ensure that we continue to develop and provide our students with the best learning experience. Bedford College are looking to implement more performance improvement plans such as the UK Excellence Award and perhaps a European Award in the future. We will concentrate on sector quality frameworks such as the Employer Standard and Framework for Excellence.'
Tony Sanderson, Director of Quality and Marketing